Like most of my peers, I knew when I decided to pursue my MBA that this was likely going to be my last back-to-school experience (or as Gen Z folks would eloquently put it, YOMO – You Only MBA Once). Leaving behind a lucrative and promising career at Goldman Sachs, I was determined to make the most of my MBA, and I couldn’t have possibly chosen a better place to do that than Chicago Booth. Booth likes to ask its students “Why are you here and not somewhere else” (a neon sign posing the question without a question mark hangs in its Harper Center) and I’d like to explain my “why Booth,” through a highlight reel of my incredible experiences here.
Booth’s biggest strength is its inimitable pay-it-forward culture, and the paradoxical beauty of it lies in the fact that giving back to the community is way more gratifying than benefitting from it. As intense and long-drawn-out as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed the Booth admission process and decided to give back by becoming an Admissions Fellow, a select group of second year students who work with the Admissions office on various efforts, including acting as final round interviewers for applicants. As a Country Captain for India last year and as a Global Booth Ambassador this year co-leading a team of over 75 Country Captains, it has been fulfilling to help incoming applicants in a challenging COVID-19 world, while working on big-picture initiatives to improve diversity and expand Booth’s foothold globally.
Booth provides a plethora of leadership opportunities, both formal and informal, for students to indulge in. I look at these through two different lenses – opportunities where I can bring my past experiences and knowledge to strengthen the community, and those where I can flex outside of my comfort zone and gain exposure in new areas. A pertinent example of the former is my effort to sustain an active trivia forum at Booth. I’ve been into competitive quizzing for almost two decades now, and I wanted to harness the combination of fun and nerdiness to bring a group of curious Boothie minds together and challenge each other to learn something new every day. An example of the latter is my role as the Editor-in-chief of the Chicago Business (ChiBus) campus newspaper, which serves as the voice of the Booth community with hundreds of active readers. I’m a strong believer in the power of writing but never had an opportunity to get involved in a systematic writing/editorial capacity before (and perhaps never will again), and it has been an enriching experience to formally drive a journalism platform that brings the community together.
As a life-long vegetarian and an ardent epicurean, I decided to co-chair the Booth Veg Club to act as a resource for students and their partners who are looking to adopt a plant-based diet, while building a community to share recipes and explore vegetarian/vegan options in Chicago together. As a member of UChicago’s Travel Fund Committee, I had the opportunity to peruse and approve numerous funding requests for student conferences and presentations, disbursing thousands of dollars in travel grants for several community members across all schools at UChicago. These unique roles helped me truly appreciate the diversity and aspirations of the Booth and the broader UChicago community.
Recruiting is an integral part of MBA for most students, and one where the pay-it-forward culture exceedingly stands out. I owe my recruiting success pretty much entirely to other students and alumni, and I’m sure most of my peers would concur. To pay forward the incredible benefits I reaped, I accepted the role of a Career Advisor, a select group of students who work closely with Career Services professionals to help the student community with recruitment. I have interacted with hundreds of students in just two months to help them prepare for the upcoming recruiting season, and I cannot wait to celebrate their success with them over the next few months!
It would be unfair if I didn’t mention my incredible academic experiences at Booth. I’ve had the fortune of learning directly under the very best minds on the planet. This has ranged from an ex-Chief Economist at the IMF to an economist who was also basketball star Yao Ming’s agent to a slew of millionaire professors who are eager to share their academic knowledge and practical wisdom.
I want to end with some of my most memorable social experiences at Booth thus far. A Euro-trip to Austria and Hungary before start of school, a professor-led tour of Booth’s contemporary art collection (one of the very best in the world today), a black-tie formal at the Field Museum (that was all ours for the entire evening), the extremely popular Diwali cruise on Lake Michigan, partying at Tao Chicago with unexpected guest appearances from several NBA All-Stars, the list goes on….. While a lot of these are pre-Covid history, the resilience of the community and the undying spirit of Boothies to be there for each other has helped us all surmount these challenging times. I’m excited for what’s in store at Booth over the next few months and beyond!
Author Bio: Mukunth Raghavan is a 2nd year MBA student at Chicago Booth. He was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs prior to Booth, and will be joining McKinsey Chicago upon graduation. In his free time, he enjoys trivia, reading long-form articles, following Twitter drama and exploring breweries.