Often you have heard me talk about the vast and diverse network of friends and colleagues you will build while at Chicago Booth. Today, I would like to address another important aspect of Booth – diversity of experiences. Be it in future career fields, geography, clubs, or academics, there are endless opportunities to create the Booth experience you want. This quarter, Ward Pendarvis, a fellow classmate of mine, decided to study abroad in Hong Kong. Although he is just starting the program, Ward offered to share his experience and thoughts thus far:
Winter quarter has just started at Chicago Booth and as most of my classmates are hunkering down for a Chicago winter I have just arrived in Hong Kong with 6 of my Booth classmates. We are here for a 3 month long International Business Exchange Program (IBEP) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Classes start this week and I’m excited to break into a new routine and a pretty eclectic set of Asia focused business courses.
When I first began researching MBA programs during my application process, one of the most important characteristics that I was looking for was a strong international business component. Prior to school I had been working in Beijing, China for a little over two years with a private equity firm. During this time, I came to fully appreciate the importance of “emerging” markets for small US companies and international conglomerates alike. This experience highlighted the importance for me to pick an MBA that could offer significant international opportunities. While I knew Booth had a remarkably strong worldwide alumni base and an extremely diverse student body, it was their IBEP program that sealed the deal for me.
Based on Booth’s exceptional reputation, the school secured partnerships with 33 MBA programs across 21 different countries. As HKUST is arguably one of the best MBA programs in Asia and is situated in a geographic region I am interested in, it immediately caught my attention. At HKUST I found offerings of core business courses, but I also found a unique offering of courses specific to the region such as “Investments and Finance in China” taught by Professor Larry Franklin, an accomplished businessman in the region, and the Entrepreneurial and Family Business Seminar. Finally, while studying abroad I will gain the opportunity to build another network of classmates and professionals, similar to the one I have built at Booth, who will hopefully be valuable friends and contacts going forward. Along these lines, I am also planning on also using the IBEP opportunity to find careers in the region following business school.
Although international exposure was very important to me, it was equally important that I didn’t miss out on the full Booth experience. The quarter system at Chicago meant that instead of missing 1/4 of the MBA program, as I would have if we were on semesters, I would be away for just 1/6 of my MBA. Booth’s flexible curriculum also supported this goal. The ability to take the classes I wanted, when I wanted, meant that I could plan my schedule around the IBEP program and not miss any of the classes I was interested in.
Finally, as I said earlier, I’m here with 6 other Booth classmates. In the months leading up to IBEP, Academic Services planned several social events for us to get to know eachother better prior to our departure. Although we each have a different career or industry focus, we are all bringing our Chicago experiences and camaraderie to the table. As I begin to settle in for the quarter, I’m extremely excited about everything this experience has to offer.
Thanks Ward. Hopefully when he gets back we will hear how the experience was. Prior to closing, I want to comment a little further on the IBEP program. While some of the Booth community travels to our partner schools, Booth is simultaneously hosting 75-85 international students at Booth–an experience which enriches those who decide not to participate in the IBEP program.
As always, good luck on the applications. If you want to learn more about the IBEP program you can read about it here.
Ward traveling through Asia prior to starting the IBEP program.