Category Archives: Community

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.

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.

A-Team Perspectives

Admit Weekend is a great opportunity for admitted students to experience life as a Chicago Booth MBA. Admits learn about the Booth curriculum, tour Chicago neighborhoods, and have plenty of time to get to know prospective and current Booth MBAs. The “A-Team” is a group of volunteers who are members of the Booth Dean’s Students Admissions Committee (DSAC), and who are responsible for planning all of the weekend’s activities. Here, several A-Team members offer their perspectives on Admit Weekend.

–Matt

Tiffany Lee, International Captain

I ultimately chose not to take the 15-hour flight from Hong Kong to attend Admit Weekend here at Booth, and boy, did I regret it. Many of my fellow first years still often fondly refer to the “you-had-to-be-there-moments” of their own Admit Weekends. So, I chose to do the next best thing when I became a Booth studenthelp plan Admit Weekend and convince international admits to not make the same mistake I did. What I like about being International Co-Captain is that not only do I get to interact with potential new classmates from all over the world, but also, I am able to use my past experiences to help make the selection and transition process easier for students that are moving to the US for the first time. For example, my co-captain and I created a moving guide that is tailored for international students to answer any questions they may have, such as where to buy winter clothes and which country captains they can reach out to. We hope to see many international students at Admit Weekend and in the coming school year!

Marina Lidow and Amanda Litzenberger, Partners Captains

Working on the A-Team and planning Admit Weekend has been a great experience! Both of us attended Admit Weekend last year with our partners and were inspired by how the weekend was not only a great opportunity for us to interact with and learn about Booth, but also a wonderful way to show our partners what the next two years would really be all about. As Partner Co-Captains we help plan and execute the partner-specific programming for Admit Weekend. Through events such as panel discussions and conversations about neighborhoods, we illustrate the Booth partner experience, clarify what to expect, and answer questions about Chicago. It has been a great experience making new friends with each other and the rest of the A-Team, and also getting to know the members of the incredible partner community at Booth!

Emily Stetler, Music and Stage Captain

I had such an amazing experience when I attended Admit Weekend last year that I knew I wanted to be a part of it this year. As Music & Stage Captain, I am responsible for planning all of the music that you will hear throughout the weekend as well as the slideshows showcasing life at Booth. Given my love for music, this role enabled me to embrace my inner DJ in an effort to help create a fun, high-energy weekend that you won’t forget. Being on the A-Team has been a great opportunity to work alongside my classmates and meet the incoming class, who we are excited to have join us next year!

On behalf of the A-Team and Booth Admissions, we look forward to meeting you all this weekend!

Black Tie, Dancing, Camaraderie, and…Jellyfish?

As the Winter Quarter draws to a close, Matt Tracey recaps one of the quarter’s biggest events: Winter Formal. You can check out all of the glitz and glam of the evening on PhotoBooth’s Facebook page.

Dana
***

Chicago Booth’s “Winter Formal” came with a bang three weeks ago…what an event. On the surface, it is what it sounds like: an elegant evening affair characterized by shiny black tuxedos, dashing cocktail dresses, food, drink, and photos galore. But Winter Formal, Booth-style, is so much more than that.

Socially, the Formal is rather unique in that it brings together so many people all at once. “Semi-formal” in the fall quarter, for example, involved only first-year students (that event was fantastic in its own right). Furthermore, our weekly bar events all over the city of Chicago involve both first-years and second-years, but total turnout—although strong—pales in comparison to the 800+ who eagerly attend the Formal. The end result of Winter Formal is a rich social experience that, beyond providing ample opportunity for friend-to-friend interaction, enables students to meet and talk with a number of new and different classmates as well as helps students experience nearly the whole Booth community in all its awesomeness. Connecting with so many peers at once reminds us that not only are our immediate friends and classmates so great in so many ways, but the entire Chicago Booth community is as well.

The Who/What/Where/Why/When
Who? Chicago Booth students. Roughly 800 of them, both first-years and second-years (and their significant others). What? Winter Formal. An epic social event that—in the twilight of winter quarter—gives students and their plus-ones a chance to unwind, share some quality time, dance, talk, look awesome in front of one another, and… Where? …watch some dolphins and beluga whales chase each other around the Shedd Aquarium, a Chicago landmark that features—beyond the aforementioned dolphins and whales—a pretty sweet collection of aquatic life (including a rather unique jellyfish exhibit). This venue offered something for everyone. Those who wanted to eat could do so liberally at one of the many buffets; those who wanted to drink could find an open bar probably within 100 feet of wherever they found themselves at a given moment; those who wanted to dance could hit the dance floor for the Harlem Shake, Booth edition; and those who wanted to carry on a real conversation (yes, there were plenty of those as well) could meander off into one of the Aquarium’s many scenic corridors and park themselves on a bench. Why? Fun, obviously. That and friendship, camaraderie and celebration, all wrapped into one. When? Every year during winter quarter (February 23rd this year).

While a number of first-year students still are evaluating internship opportunities (depending primarily upon target industry), many attended Winter Formal having just emerged from the recruiting process. For those recently finished with recruiting, Winter Formal was an awesome reintroduction to the Booth social scene. For those students still pursuing internships (first-years) or full-time positions (second-years), Winter Formal served as a reinvigorating break from the process—and the perfect opportunity to share interview stories in a relaxed environment.

The Bottom Line
The sense of community amongst the students at Winter Formal was powerful, and the opportunity to celebrate life at Booth together pushed school spirit to a new high. The people make the Booth experience what it is. Check out some photos from the event here: Winter Formal 2013

Already looking forward to the next occasion for which I have to solicit help tying a real bow tie,
Matt Tracey

The Faces of Follies: A First Year’s Inside Look

With auditions this past week (and a fun karaoke event last week to get the Booth community excited), the Harper Center has been abuzz about Follies. With a multitude of ways for students to get involved, whether it’s singing, writing, dancing, or producing, Follies is an excellent way to showcase the talent we have at Booth (and we have fun doing so!). Check out footage from last year’s show on the Follies YouTube channel.

Continue reading The Faces of Follies: A First Year’s Inside Look