Before coming to Booth, Matt Johnson was an Assault Amphibian Officer in the Marine Corps. Ongoing support from Booth’s Armed Forces Group and being able to shape his MBA experience from Day 1, set Matt up for success in a way that a one-size-fits-all curriculum wouldn’t have. We spoke with several of Booth’s veteran students about what makes Chicago Booth such a great place for members of the military to earn their business degree. Read on to hear what Matt had to say.
What did you do in the military?
I was an Assault Amphibian Officer in the Marine Corps, which meant I led a large team of Marines on floating armored personnel carriers and advised infantry commanders on complex missions. I deployed once to the Far East, taking part in humanitarian operations. I then deployed a second time, and was one of the first 300 Marines on the ground in Iraq to counter the advance of ISIS. My last duty station was San Diego, where I led teams of Drill Instructors in training our nation’s newest Marines.
How did AFG support you during the MBA application process?
The Armed Forces Group (AFG) was the first group I reached out to at Booth, and they facilitated my entire visit, introducing my wife and I to their classmates when we toured the Harper Center. We immediately felt a sense of community, which surprised us given Booth’s large class size and flexible curriculum. AFG connected me with MBA students in different industries and helped me refine each part of my application. They were an incredible resource when I was waitlisted, always there to help and offer sound advice and encouragement.
Why’d you choose Booth?
I wanted an MBA that would push me intellectually, provide me with an expansive network, and give me a brand that’s respected the world over. Booth had all those qualities in addition to a tight-knit veterans group and world-class faculty. Living in downtown Chicago was a big plus, too. There’s so much to do and explore here, and the pizza situation is way better than what we had in California.
What have you enjoyed about Booth so far?
I’ve been able to shape my MBA curriculum from Day 1, setting myself up for success professionally in a way that a canned one-size-fits-all curriculum wouldn’t have. I have yet to meet a classmate who doesn’t impress me, and I learn just as much from them as do my professors. Booth is a very active community that has no shortage of academic, professional, and social networking opportunities. Our Spring trip to Colombia, for instance, was attended by over 350 Boothies.
How would you describe the community/culture at Booth?
The Booth culture is intellectually curious, energetic, and analytical, but with a sense of humility and deep-seated desire to help others succeed. Boothies take “paying it forward” seriously, and the “Midwest nice” attitude is apparent throughout. This pairs well with Booth’s stance on free speech: encouraging the open, civil discussion of all ideas and perspectives.
What student groups and activities are you involved with?
I’m an active member of the Management Consulting Group, the Wine Club, Catholics at Booth as well as a Co-Chair for the Armed Forces Group.
What do you want to do post-Booth?
I came to Booth to pursue a career in management consulting and I accepted an offer at EY-Parthenon in Chicago after interning there last summer. I can’t stress enough how helpful it was to have AFG Co-Chairs and Industry Captains coaching and mentoring us from the moment we got accepted to Booth all the way through the end of recruiting.
How is Booth setting you up for your career?
I’ve received multi-layered mentorship from classmates, counselors, and alumni. Career Services also sets up excellent programming before recruiting starts. In terms of coursework, the most impactful was the Strategy Lab with Professor Harry Davis. I was on a team with three engineers, a consultant, an operations professional, and a trauma surgeon that helped develop a go-to-market strategy for a robot-applied coating that made overhead power lines more efficient. The thought-provoking cases and analytical frameworks from my previous courses were really helpful in solving a real-life business strategy case.
How has your family been supported by the Booth community?
My wife Jorden moved to Chicago with me from San Diego, and although she made a lot of friends with the Boothies in my cohort, the Partners Club was truly invaluable in making her feel well integrated in the Booth community since they throw at least four events per month. She liked it so much that she became a Co-Chair and now plans the “Wine and Dine” and “Explore Chicago” events. Of course, she comes to all the formals and class trips, too.
Anything else you’d like to add about your experience at Booth? Booth is still the only top-tier MBA program whose Yellow Ribbon Program covers 100% of the cost of attendance due to the generosity of our alumni, both veterans and civilians. This has been a game changer for many of us, and it’s indicative of the level of support we’ve received throughout this community.