Category Archives: Boothie Life

Diary of an Investment Banking Intern in the Big Apple

While some students come to Booth to transition into finance, others use their MBAs as a platform to take their finance skills and careers to another level. One such Booth student, Yvanna Pérez Morel, worked in M&A advisory in the Dominican Republic, her home country, before business school. This summer, she interned both at BofA Merrill Lynch (Investment Banking, Consumer & Retail) in New York and at Mesoamerica (Private Equity, Food & Beverage Portfolio) in Colombia. This coming year, Yvanna will participate in the exchange program with London Business School as part of the International MBA that she is pursuing at Chicago Booth. During her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, playing squash, and horseback riding in the mountains. 

Below, Yvanna recounts her whirlwind summer internship in banking in New York, and how Booth equipped her with the skills to succeed.

–Matt Richman

After ten weeks as an investment banking intern in the Big Apple, I can fully understand why people say that New York never sleeps – I didn’t! Here’s a quick summary of my busy days (and nights) since my last day at Booth – searching for knowledge in finance and a full-time offer.

As an investment banking intern my life revolved around the blinking red light on my corporate Blackberry, but in my experience, every minute was a new opportunity to learn on assignments including Hudson Bay’s acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue, a high yield debt issuance for Carter’s, and a not-yet-public IPO. I honed technical skills such as modeling, got deeply immersed in industry-specific dynamics and strategies as a Consumer & Retail coverage banker, and observed the way senior bankers managed their client relationships.

Those interested in pursuing an investment banking track will find that Booth provides all that is needed for a successful summer:

1) Academic courses: Booth’s unique flexible curriculum allows students to choose courses such as Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis I & II (“Footnote Accounting” and “M&A Accounting”), Cases in Financial Management, and Cases in Corporate Governance, that prepare them for a great summer and a successful career in the financial services industry. YOU chart your learning path. While I had some experience in finance prior to Booth, taking advanced finance and accounting classes in my first year made me confident I could tackle anything technical that came up during the internship.

2) Career Services: This team works day and night to manage the relationships with the different banks and to make sure everyone is well-prepared for interviews through events such as weekend modeling courses by Training the Street (TTS) and “wInterview,” and facilitated some great sessions to give us the tools to be successful during the summer, once we landed the internship offer.

3) Investment Banking Group (IBG): A student-run group which works closely with Career Services, the IBG coordinates different initiatives for first year students to learn from second years’ experiences, from the industry-wide and bank-specific cultures to the dos and don’ts of getting a job in banking. I spent countless hours chatting with second years to get prepared for any challenges which might arise during the summer.

The summer was intense but also fun. Corporate events such as attending a Yankees baseball game with clients, having breakfast or lunch with senior bankers, playing kickball in Central Park with the team, and watching a Cirque du Soleil performance with other interns were a lot of fun and offered an opportunity for the firm to evaluate interns on interpersonal skills. Taking Professor Wortmann’s workshop on networking with senior executives showed me the implicit rules of the game, and allowed me to focus on having fun and asking the questions that I was genuinely interested in.

Of course, after an 18 hour a day, 7 day a week marathon, going out for a night was a must. Meeting Boothies working at other firms who understood my schedule (and probably had the same one) was just amazing! It was great to see some familiar faces and relax for a bit!

By the end of the summer, I got exactly what I wanted: I learned a lot, had fun, and, in case you were wondering, was fortunate enough to be extended an offer to return next year for a full-time job after graduating! Whether it was working, attending corporate events, or meeting friends for drinks in the Big Apple, the term “24/7” showed its true colors this summer. Here are some pictures of my personal experiences:

From top to bottom: Yankees game with clients, kickball with the team, Cirque du Soleil with interns and night out with other Boothies.

Modern Families: Booth’s Flexible Cohort System

Chicago Booth has a cohort system which matches our independent and flexible outlook on the MBA experience.  We start off with our cohorts during orientation and our leadership development class in the first few weeks of school, but our flexible curriculum means that we have the opportunity to take the classes we want, with any of the other 1,000+ first- and second-years at Booth.
Jen Tan is a first year MBA student at Booth, and was elected by her peers as president of the Bond Cohort.  Jen is currently the only dual-degree MBA-MSW in both of her programs. Her earlier career includes unicorn hunting (“recruiting”) for the Clinton Foundation and rainmaking (“fundraising”) for Facing History and Ourselves, two non-profits headquartered in her hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. Jen is transitioning into healthcare as part of her pursuit of social justice.
Here, she shares her unique perspective on what the Booth cohort experience means to her, but before you get started, she’s just got to say that Bond is the best cohort at Booth of all time. OF. ALL. TIME.
–Matt Richman (Bond Cohort)
For the first decade of my life, I grew up in a house that contained 15 people: my two parents, three brothers, four cousins, and six aunts and uncles. In the years that have followed, the families have moved apart. But my big family, which has only gotten bigger and closer, has provided me with a lifetime of experience in building and maintaining relationships that are as deep and complex as they are diverse and time-tested.
For me, the Booth cohort experience creates that same sense of home for its individual members, much in the way that sharing a house together provides the essential bonding experience by which most families grow together. Booth students are assigned to cohorts which operate primarily during the first two months of school. Students begin orientation together as a cohort by participating in our one required course, Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) and spending a weekend out-of-state competing against other cohorts in the Leadership Orientation Retreat (LOR), Fall Frolics, and a host of other events offering equal parts delight and aggressive competition (at least, for Bond cohort). Throughout the remainder of the MBA program, the Graduate Business Council (GBC) hosts occasional cohort competitions, trivia nights, or t-shirt days to show cohort spirit.
The Booth cohort experience is unique among business schools. At other programs, cohorts take all of their classes together for part or all of the first year, sometimes in the same assigned seats. At Booth, however, the onus to maintain the cohesion that was initiated at the beginning of the year is largely up to the cohorts themselves. Specifically, it is a responsibility of the cohort president to set the tone for the culture and to help foster the sense of community that each cohort ultimately has. For all of these reasons, I decided to run for president of my cohort, a role that I serve with joy and pride.
Much in the way that one’s family can often feel like a household that has randomly gathered together people who share very little aside from an address and, perhaps, some facial features, the Booth cohort provides students with a space to share with people who are smart, social, and passionate in an infinite combination of ways. But while your cohort is assigned to you and you to your cohort, ultimately, each person is given the choice to determine how much meaning that designation can have. It is an arrangement that provides us with the opportunity to forge deep relationships with people we might not have met otherwise, while also allowing us the freedom to hang out with other people if we choose. As one would expect at Booth, given the similar flexibility provided by the course selection process, students are trusted to learn to the best of their abilities and respected for the choices they make in doing so.
Indeed, the opportunities and challenges that are uniquely presented by the Booth cohort echo the school’s philosophy toward the community it has created: that people can find a social environment in which their individualities are respected and appreciated, and that every person feel encouraged and supported in pursuing whatever it is that makes her/him happy.
Growing up in a large family wasn’t without its challenges. As with any large group, you find variety across interests, personalities, and communication styles. But being able to grow into our individual selves and forge unique relationships with each other in the process is the thing I love most about my large family and the lives we now share, no longer in the same house but now across states and time zones.
The same is true for this school we love: your Booth cohort is the big family that will always welcome you with open arms—all you have to do is reach out.

Incredible Booth Experience – Flying with Ronald Falcon

Today’s blog post is about second year MBA student Ronald Falcon. I have known Ronald for many years (well before business school) and this is a story that I was excited to be a part of. Ronald is a trained pilot and has been flying Boothies (or anyone brave enough) around the Midwest while working on his MBA. I have been lucky to participate in a few of these flights. The views of the Chicago skyline and the cool people you meet across the state are Booth memories I will hold onto forever. I hope you enjoy the video.

–Freddy

About Ronald: Before Booth, Ronald was an aerospace engineer, business owner, and musician. He has degrees in music (bachelor’s) and aerospace engineering (bachelor’s and master’s). He enjoys serving his community as a search and rescue pilot with the Civil Air Patrol. During the summer, Ronald earned a scholarship to work as an investment banking associate for a bulge bracket bank in their Technology/Media/Telecom (TMT) coverage group. After successfully completing his internship, Ronald decided to pursue a leadership position with Burger King in Miami, Florida.

Booth Networking in Unexpected Places

Hongtae Kim worked in investment banking in Hong Kong prior to coming to Booth. He was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and decided to return mainly because he loved the academic atmosphere of the University of Chicago and Booth, and enjoyed the city and the Chicago Bulls. He is concentrating in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship at Booth, and will be working at AccuRadio, an internet-radio startup based in Chicago, over the summer.


His story shows that in order to land your ideal internship, it sometimes requires patience, motivation, and a little luck—coupled with leveraging the huge, diverse, and generous Booth alumni network.  While Booth alumni are well-represented in finance, consulting, and corporate fields, the independent and entrepreneurial nature of our students and alumni means that you can find us in unexpected places.

–Matt Richman

Coming to Booth, one of the most common pieces of advice I got was to fully utilize the Booth alumni network. As an international student, I was a bit skeptical of how much I would be able to leverage the alumni network and didn’t know how I was supposed to do it. On top of that, I was looking into a music-related career path which isn’t a “traditional” post-MBA field.


While it sounds like a cliché, the Booth alumni network is everywhere and willing to help you out, and you could encounter alums in some random places.  For instance, I met Kurt Hanson, Class of 1980, in San Francisco at the SF Music Tech Summit  which is a conference for music tech startups. I had decided to fly to SF to make connections and learn about what’s going on in the industry, but I wasn’t expecting to meet any MBAs, let alone Booth alums.  Naturally, when I bumped into Kurt (by accident) at the cocktail networking session, we were both pleasantly surprised to meet someone from Booth at the event. Kurt was invited as a panelist as a veteran in the radio industry and the Founder / CEO of AccuRadio, an internet-radio start-up based in Chicago. We casually talked about Booth, our backgrounds and the conference, and the following week, Kurt invited me to visit his office in Chicago. We continued our discussion on the music tech industry over dinner.

After a couple of meetings, I asked if I could work for his company over the summer as an intern, and he was excited to have me on board. Like most start-up recruiting, there was no formal vetting or interview process. He talked about his company and his views of the industry and I expressed my strong interest in the business. I also identified a couple of areas in which I could help the company as an MBA intern. I will be working in a broad range of projects including revamping the company’s search engine marketing efforts, supporting fund raising efforts, and identifying international business opportunities. While the projects are varied, I am certain that the range of my summer experience will help my transition from banking into technology. I am very excited about the opportunity, as the company sits in the exact field I was pursuing, and I will have the autonomy to define my own projects and apply my classroom studies to my summer internship.


When it comes to networking, especially if you have a narrow target list, I think the most important thing is to be aggressive and seek out different venues, rather than relying solely on the on-campus recruiting process. My decision to fly out to San Francisco to attend a conference that fit my interest was what made the difference for me. I ended up meeting a potential mentor in the music tech industry and a Booth alum who was happy to help me out. Especially as a career switcher, having first-hand interaction with an insider helps you express your interest and make a case for yourself.

I am looking forward to my summer in Chicago, especially after going through four winters in Chicago! More importantly, I am excited to get great experiences and networking during my summer that will help me achieve my career goal of carving a niche position in the evolving music tech industry.

Tradeoffs and Compromises in the 90-Hour School Week

As he sails past midterms in the final quarter of his first year, Josh Hirschland reflects on his experience dealing with a common (and fortunate) problem at Booth:  too many opportunities for too few hours in the day. Read on to find out how he has made the most of his year.

–Matt

After you’ve been admitted to Chicago Booth (Congratulations!!), you will receive several guides detailing the ins and outs of student life. One of these handbooks will helpfully outline what a typical schedule looks like—how much time you will spend in class, on homework, on recruiting, and so forth—which, when you add it up, will account for between 79 and 105 hours per week. And upon looking at that, and you will say, “That’s crazy; that must be wrong.” And you’ll forget about it.
Until you get to school and you realize that it’s accurate.
For those incoming students who see business school as a vacation from work, the volume of requests that are made of your time as a student can be jarring. Between classes, homework, guest lectures, recruiting, extra-curricular activities, mentoring and leadership opportunities, social engagements, and the daily requirements of being an adult human being, there are literally dozens of things going on at any given moment. And with just 21 months to spend at Booth, every activity represents a trade-off—a deliberate choice that must be made.
Some of these tradeoffs are obvious: most students can only participate in one summer internship before accepting a full-time position, so it’s important to think long and hard about what experiences will help you make an informed choice about your post-MBA career. The bathroom scale is happy to remind anyone who forgets about the opportunity costs associated with going to a happy hour instead of the gym. And the rapidly diminishing balance of many students’ bank accounts is black-and-white (or, more accurately, black-and-red) proof of the positive correlation between short-term international travel and long-term Ramen consumption.
Other examples are more hidden. While Booth’s flexible curriculum and vast array of courses is part of the school’s unique draw, and the chance to take classes at other schools within the University was one of the things that sold me on Booth, with just 20 classes to take between enrollment and graduation, many students find themselves having to choose among award-winning professors in their final year. And though students are encouraged to get involved in a wide range of clubs, it is nearly impossible to take leadership positions in more than a couple without sacrificing quality and foregoing many of the rewarding experiences that come from being a co-chair.
My own experience is living proof of these tradeoffs. Last quarter, I was fortunate to have interviews at fascinating companies located in three different time zones, but each time I got a callback, I found myself having to cross plans off my calendar. As great as it was to save some money and catch up on sleep by having a low-key spring break, it was hard to see photos being posted to Facebook of my classmates sunning themselves on the beaches of Mexico or hanging out in Tel Aviv. And though I had to push marketing strategy back for a quarter, I had the great opportunity to take Building the New Venture with Professor Deutsch.
But the rewards have far outweighed the tradeoffs. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview at most of my top choice companies this year and am excited about my internship this summer at Groupon. While I haven’t made every Booth social event this year, I have been grateful to be able to spend a lot of time with my girlfriend. And while I would have enjoyed spending more time with the Epicureanand Marketing Clubs at Booth, being heavily involved with the Dean’s Student Admissions Committee (DSAC) has allowed me to meet some really amazing prospective and current students.
The best thing about Booth is the overwhelming number of amazing opportunities the school offers and the freedom that students have to chart their own paths. But the flip side of all that amazingness is what Booth students refer to as the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). At a school where economics is held in high regard, it is fitting that the student experience is marked by being able to efficiently allocate your scarcest resource—time—to get the highest level of return. Booth offers so many great opportunities, but getting the most from the experience means focusing on those things that are most meaningful to you. And looking back on my first year, I am happy with the choices I have made!