Hi readers! My name is Sara Raffa and I’m one of your editors of TBE. I’m also a second year student here at Booth, pursuing a not so traditional path of entrepreneurship – more specifically, building my own start-up. Throughout this past year at Booth, I’ve taken my business from just an idea in a journal to an actual company, and I can’t wait to share my experience with you.
Andrew Edelman is a first year MBA student at Booth from Boston, MA. He graduated from Davidson College, where he captained the men’s swimming team, and then worked in investment banking and alternative investment management. At Booth, he plans on pursuing concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Strategic Management. He and his wife are expecting their second son any day now and are looking forward to actually being able to sleep again one day in the distant future. He enjoys keeping up-to-date on the latest tech trends, playing beach volleyball, and trying out local craft breweries. Follow him on Twitter (@AceEdelman)!
Below, Andrew shares his pre-MBA internship experience with a Booth-founded startup. While pre-MBA internships are neither coordinated by Booth nor necessary to successfully make a big career shift, Andrew took advantage of some free time in Chicago this summer to get some entrepreneurship and marketing experience as part of his professional development at Booth.
Immediately after attending Admit Weekend this past April, my mind was made up. Blown away by the impressive faculty, successful students, and stunning Harper Center facilities, I decided to forever alter my career path and accept my admission to Chicago Booth. With that choice came the quick realization that it meant leaving my finance job where I had just been promoted and moving my family from Charlotte to Chicago. However, these were minor sacrifices to make given the endless opportunities Booth offers for someone like me looking to make a big career change from finance to tech.
To give my pregnant wife, two-year old son, and myself time to settle into our new city before Autumn quarter, I decided to resign from my job a little early to move out to the Midwest. Wanting to spend my summer doing a little more than eating deep dish pizza and drinking Goose Island beer on one of the many gorgeous beaches along Lake Michigan, I began searching for an internship that could broaden my perspective and further enhance my skill set.
I made a connection with Tricia Felice, a rising second-year student at Booth who was participating in the Polsky Center Accelerator Program, which gives ten student teams the opportunity to work on their businesses during the summer in a collaborative and dynamic environment. Needing help with business development and marketing for her startup, Vintage, Tricia was eager to have an incoming Boothie join her small team. As an aspiring career switcher hoping to transition from financial services to the tech industry, it was a unique opportunity to work at a startup and begin developing new skills before even going to my first class.
Vintage brings generations together through storytelling by creating professionally edited “vignettes” to capture the best moments and memories of older adults and celebrate their legacies. I was tasked with leading efforts in “business development,” something with which I had little experience. In this context, I developed a keen understanding of our target market and created a well-defined product offering. I also worked on bringing additional exposure to Vintage through online marketing and beat-the-pavement sales tactics. Part of this exercise involved my first real exposure to search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords, which was a great learning experience.
One of the things I loved most about working for an early stage startup was the opportunity to be intimately involved in shaping the direction of the company. Throughout the summer, I was able to give my opinion about the business or our approach to a certain task and not only have it be heard, but be influential. I strongly suspect this is a feeling I will become quite accustomed to during my two years at Booth as there are a plethora of opportunities to generate significant impact, from participating in Management Lab to joining the Graduate Business Council. I was just elected President of the Davis Cohort, so I am looking forward to making an impact on student life as well.
The support these startups received as part of the Polsky Center Accelerator Program was also extremely impressive. Teams received funding, office space, access to Polsky Center staff, coaching from faculty (including Waverly Deutsch and Bob Rosenberg), and mentorship from alumni entrepreneurs and Chicago-area investors. My favorite part of the summer program was weekly teach-in sessions with area entrepreneurs, which really showcased Booth’s success developing entrepreneurial talent. We met in small groups with Matt Maloney (’10), the Founder and CEO of GrubHub, and Jon Morris (’05), the Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, both of whom started their companies through the New Venture Challenge while at Booth. We also had access to 1871, the preeminent co-working space in Chicago that provides startups with programming, educational resources, space, and access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
This pre-MBA internship was a rare opportunity to develop my skills in an environment that fostered creativity while jump-starting my Booth experience. I’m starting classes this week with a strong understanding of the resources available to entrepreneurs on campus, a growing network of current students and alumni, and additional hands-on experience that will contribute to my career aspirations. Plus, I learned how to navigate via public transit down to Hyde Park—I will be my class’s expert on the differences between the express and local trains! Overall, in addition to a transformative pre-MBA professional experience, I was able to enjoy a wonderful summer exploring all that Chicago has to offer.