Two years ago, I was anxiously awaiting business school acceptances. Not for me, but for my boyfriend Andrew. In the months leading up to the decisions, I had distracted myself with proofreading his essays, helping him with practice interviews, and researching different business schools and the cities they were in. When Andrew got his acceptance at Booth, it finally hit me that we would be leaving San Francisco. And not just San Francisco, but all my friends and family were in California, where I was born and had lived my whole life. We were about to move halfway across the country to a city with real winter, where I basically knew no one, and had no job lined up. Though all of that was truly daunting, I couldn’t help but be excited for the adventure.
Moving Cross-Country to Chicago
And adventure it was! After a cross-country road trip, some setbacks with our hired moving company, and a week alone in an empty apartment while Andrew was on a Random Walk to Dubai, we had made it to Chicago. In the past year and a half, I have explored more of Chicago than I ever thought I would, I have personally and professionally grown in a new job, and most importantly, I have made lifelong friendships.
I don’t think many people would argue that those three components—new city living, career opportunities, and adult friendships—are the most nerve-wracking when embarking on the “Booth Experience” as a partner. Even though we are thrilled for our Boothies to get a world-class business education, there is a bit of sacrifice on the side of the significant other, and hard questions must be asked. Should we try long distance, or do we move in together? Should I try to stay with my current job, or do I pivot my career? Should I take up new hobbies to make friends? (Will I make friends at all?)
My career path when settling in Chicago was uneventful in the best way possible. I quit my finance job in San Francisco the summer before moving, and upon arrival I was fortunate to quickly connect with recruiters through my network on LinkedIn. Chicago is, of course, a huge city with a strong job market, and after a month of looking I found an investment management company that fit my background.
Making New Friends with Diverse Life Paths
While Andrew has made connections with his fellow students, I have found incredible friendships with their partners. And I have been amazed and inspired by the diversity of experiences across our Booth Partners community.
The men and women who form my social circle come from all over the country and abroad. They are dating, engaged, and married. My friends are teachers and nurses and architects, work in marketing and academia and finance and publishing; they are working parents and stay-at-home parents, students, volunteers, and so much more. Some were able to transfer the role in their company to Chicago, others have found new positions, some kept their job back home and visit Chicago on weekends, and still others have completely reinvented their careers.
I have been exposed to a wide range of experiences from my new friends. My fellow partners have taught me a lesson that many of us struggle to grasp: everyone’s timeline in life is different, and that is okay! There is no perfect time to start a job or start a family, and there is no one correct way to grow a relationship or advance professionally. Chicago Booth may be full of talented students, but don’t underestimate the Booth Partners—we are brilliant in our own right.
Booth Partners Club
If I were reading this as a prospective Booth Partner, the question that would be on my mind right about now would be: How did you make all these friends you’re talking about? And the answer is, without a doubt, the Booth Partners Club.
I stumbled upon the Booth Partners Club by accident. After Andrew went on a Random Walk, he came back with new friends and I was quickly brought into the fold. Out of a happy coincidence, many of them had significant others who had also moved to Chicago for the Booth Experience, and they let me know about a “Partners Welcome Party” they were attending. This party, put on by the Booth Partners Club, was a way to meet other first- and second-year partners as the school year was beginning. I was impressed that the club was officially affiliated with the University, and excited about the events the leaders were advertising.
I joined the club right away and signed up for trivia nights, workout classes, happy hours, comedy shows, and street festival excursions. Those first friends I had met grew into larger concentric circles of Booth Partners after each organized event. These friendships continued to grow, and I was introduced to more people outside of club settings. We formed book clubs, attended “Bachelor” watch parties, and planned outings to explore the Chicago restaurant scene. With my new friends, I have road-tripped to Green Bay for a Chicago Bears game, traveled to Disney World for a bachelorette party, and danced at Chicago Booth formals and spring flings. We all have plans to visit each other once this business school phase of life ends.
Life After Booth
Life is going to look a lot different once Andrew graduates and our group of friends scatter across the country for their new MBA jobs. I expect it to be a bittersweet moment. For all the times I felt frustrated or alone after moving to a new city, I have countless other memories learning to love Chicago’s beauty and grit, and exploring it with dear friends.
Taylor Hanson is the President of the Booth Partners Club. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked for Vestor Capital since moving to Chicago with her partner, Andrew Rhoads (Booth 2020).