Today is the big day for Round 1 decisions! If you’re among the lucky ones to get great news from the Admissions office, let me be one of the firsts to congratulate you!! Today’s blog entry from Nupur is geared around her decision to choose to come to Booth – read on to get another perspective on why Booth may be your perfect fit for an MBA program. If you are thinking about applying in Round 2, this will give some great insight on what differentiates Booth from some other top programs. Also, make sure to check out our Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video where we ask current students to share their reasons for selecting Booth.
Congratulations! You’ve been admitted…but now what?
Hi everyone! At this time of year, many of you must be getting very familiar with your email/browser refresh buttons and your favorite b-school blog(s) of choice as you wait with baited breath for Round 1 admissions decisions. Step One: Breathe! There will be plenty of time for hyperventilation once you find out you’ve been accepted to all of your dream schools. Once this occurs, however, you might suddenly realize that you’re faced with a new dilemma: Where to go? This month, I thought I might try to create a checklist of sorts that hopefully helps you as you make your decision.
The quality of academics and breadth of opportunities for extracurricular leadership are certainly at the top of everyone’s mind when making such a decision, and I’ll direct you to Chloe and Didier’s blog posts from last week for more info on those items as they’ve done a fantastic job describing how awesome the Booth community and curriculum are. Here, we’ll focus a little more on some other fundamental questions you might want to consider; some that perhaps I could have spent more time thinking of beforehand and the answers to which over the past quarter have shown me how lucky I have been with my decision to attend Booth.
Career Switching: it’s all about information
When I was applying to business schools, I was looking at shifting from private wealth management into consulting. Pretty much all the top schools facilitate the switch. At the time, I felt like there wasn’t much to think about when comparing schools on this front. However, having been at Booth for a quarter, I realize that Booth’s key differentiator is its ability to dramatically streamline the process. Booth attracts so much focus from such a variety of consulting firms that I’ve spent the entire quarter learning about the industry. I’ve realized that when making a career switch, information is king. The better informed you are about the various firm characteristics (e.g., culture, problem solving approach, industry focus, geographic reach), the more intelligent and efficient of a career switch you can make.
Booth excels in providing this information for you by attracting so many firms all of who make themselves and people from junior consultants to senior partners extremely accessible to you. Firms have dedicated Booth on-campus recruiters, and these representatives organize multiple coffee chats, corporate presentations, lunch and learns, and more. As I look back at my calendar for the last quarter, most of my time was spent on recruiting activities that were initiated by firms who came on campus to meet us. Even now during winter break, firms are reaching out to us to set up time with senior consultants and partners for one-on-one conversations.
I know my classmates who focused on other industries have had similar experiences. The Booth name led to a lot of firms willingly opening their doors to talk to first years during career treks as they were eager to speak with members of the class of 2013. As you assess your options I strongly encourage you to evaluate the breadth and depth of information you can obtain about your career preferences. Ask how many firms come to campus, what cross-section of the corporate ladder makes itself available to you, and what the level of individual interactions with employees at these firms is like.
City vs. small town
Two years is a pretty sizable amount of time to spend anywhere. I’ve always been a city girl and I love living in a city. When looking at business schools I was definitely looking for a school in a city. I’m sure you’ve all heard how cold the winters get, but if a Singaporean like me can handle it, you can too! (it’s only snowed here once so far and yes I’ve successfully survived a week of 30 degree weather, soon to get colder I’m sure). Everyone is extremely friendly, and there’s a ton of things to do, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy whenever you get a spare moment from the rigors of Booth.
What I didn’t realize or think of before coming here was the access to firms that living in a city provides. Chicago is a hub for most industries – financial services, consumer goods, healthcare, automotive industry etc, and this translates into a diverse breadth of career opportunities and firms that come to campus. If you are an international student and want to stay in the US post b-school then definitely think about what city/area you might want to work in long-term, as recruiting within the city limits will definitely be (a bit) easier for you, especially if you have no roots or personal network in the US.
Access to alumni
Network, Network, Network. It’s one of the main reasons we all come to business school, and again, it is one of those things that seems to be so standard across all schools as to not even merit comparative consideration. But size of the alumni base and the number in prestigious positions are only part of the equation; without accessibility, they remain isolated islands to which you cannot connect. At Booth, the administration has implemented a community directory (accessible to you for life) where you can look up alumni anywhere in the world and reach out to them by obtaining their up to date contact information. That this directory exists is amazing, but perhaps more importantly, the fact that so many Booth alums keep their contact info current goes to show how excited the alumni are to engage. Everyone wants to hear from a fellow University of Chicago community member, and I know I’m looking forward to helping future students in any way I can.
Even more telling is perhaps that I haven’t had an opportunity to use the community directory channel yet, because I have been so occupied connecting with all the alumni that come to campus, whether for recruiting or just to chat with current students and hear what we’ve done or what our aspirations are. For example, some alumni organized an all-day on-site recruiting event for six of us Booth students at the headquarters of their firm. That, to me, was the most telling of the strength of the alumni network. Another classmate accidentally knocked over an older gentleman on a run, and the moment the gentleman found out that my classmate was a Booth student, all the commotion stopped and he was thrilled!! He actually said “Go run, study hard and make us proud!” No surprise there, the gentleman was a Booth alumnus.
Most people will tell you that rankings don’t matter and they are very subjective, but we all look at them. And even if we don’t our friends and family do. But rankings aside, what does the brand really translate into? It opens doors. The moment people hear that you are a student at Booth, they suddenly respect you more (even if you haven’t started the program yet) and are more willing to talk to you – this is true of not just recruiters but your former colleagues and long lost friends (who now might just want you to review their essays for them next year!!). I know my LinkedIn profile views went up significantly once I added Booth to my profile and a firm reached out to me for a summer internship position even before I got to campus. After I resigned, one of my ex-bosses told me that he was only letting me go because I was going to Booth and he wouldn’t have accepted my resignation if it was any other school. He then went on to offer to connect me to all his friends in Chicago. That is the strength of the Booth brand.
I hope this helps you think of some of the other factors you should consider as you evaluate your options. The student body and the community that you feel you will grow most in should definitely be at the top of your checklist, but I would encourage you to think beyond that. Feel free to reach out to any of us Boothies and we would be more than happy to tell you more about why we are here and what we’ve gained. A lot of us are also hosting dinner and drinks sessions around the globe over our winter break so make sure you attend those. More importantly though, congratulations to those who have gotten in, and I hope you have a fantastic holiday season!