Winter break provided me with time to reflect about 2016, a year in which I moved 9,896 km from home (Israel) to pursue my Chicago Booth MBA. This was a thrilling voyage and as a social media enthusiast, I had to share my recollections online (see below). My posts resonated with many who reached out to me, inquiring about this whole MBA-in-America thing. TBE readers can find the topics relatable, so here’s a quick recap.
I remember one of the weirdest sensations of business school being that I was now a part of a 500+ group of grownups who were set and ready to make friends with one another like it was the first day of 5th grade. It was something I hadn’t been used to doing in many years having attended a large secondary school that fed from my elementary school, a college that pulled heavily from my high school, and an initial job that was located in the same geographical area I grew up. While I added handfuls of friends at each juncture, I had never done so in such a holistic and comprehensive manner.
Another related quirk about business school is the length of the timeframe. At just two years long, it’s one of the shorter graduate programs available and an undoubted reason the experience shapes up as it does. You spend a fleeting year with the outgoing class and another one with the incoming one, but the bulk of relationship building, memory making, and trip taking happens with classmates in your same graduating year.
As I think about how my time at Booth has shaped up, there is definitely an opportunity to compare and contrast each school year. Both have virtues that make them unique, and both have had challenges that required hard work, sacrifice, and a whole lot of hope. I hate to sound like I’m already drafting my sign-off as a student, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel (or is it darkness, for having to leave this place?) for me to consider a moment of reflection. What made each year great? And what made it different from the other?
I get it okay – between the rockstar Economics professors and Finance gurus walking around these halls – it can be easy to think that Booth is a haven for the quant-inclined. And I won’t lie to you, it is. Notwithstanding the explosion in applications for big data, Booth’s analytical foundation has offered a great springboard for many students who are interested in careers outside of finance as well. Let them tell you in their own words:
When I first got admitted to Booth, a lot of people were excited for me but most of that excitement was followed by “are there any Africans there?” In the spirit of the holidays and because a lot of recent admits might be getting the same questions while prospective applicants may be asking those questions, I’d like to present (some of) the Africans of Booth. I’ll start with myself:
The Booth experience (no pun intended) is meant to encompass a lot of things in a short amount of time. You can take classes with Nobel winning professors, you liaise, and are potentially hired, by some of the world’s premiere companies, and you travel around the globe to fulfill your ‘experiential’ learning component. But maybe most importantly of all, you build out a tremendous network that stays with you in some capacity for the rest of your life.