Interview season is here!

Hi everyone,

It’s a couple of weeks into the quarter and interview season (for summer internships) is in full swing for our 1st year students! In this week’s WIWG video, we ask students about collaboration at Booth. In today’s blog, we ask Nupur to describe her experience in “Navigating the Recruiting Maze – Part 2” of preparing for interviews that will help her land her dream internship.

Tina

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Navigating the Recruiting Maze – II

Hi all! It’s recruiting season and as you can imagine winter quarter is super intense. December break was filled with submitting job applications and now that bulk of that process is done (corporate deadlines extend well into February), nervousness regarding closed invite lists and actually interviewing permeates the arches of the winter garden. Over the last month, I must admit to having gained a more intimate knowledge of the inner workings of GTS (our internal portal for managing job applications) than I have my textbooks.

So how is the school helping 1st years manage the madness?

Winterview:

Career Services organizes a day-long series of events to get us prepared for the weeks of insanity that lie ahead. The day involved one-on-one mock interviews with a second year (they are recorded so you can watch yourself in absolute glory), a demo interview of a classmate with an industry practitioner (usually a returning alumnus), and practice time with career advisors to prepare for the fit portion of interviews. Finally, there was a much needed education session on how to make the most of all the features offered by GTS. I found the mock interview extremely helpful for two reasons: 1) the second years managed to simulate the exact feeling of an interview and 2) the video evidence of how awesome (aka terrible) I am made a huge difference to how I strategize and focus my prep over the next two weeks just in time for interview season. (See picture below from Winterview)

ITP: (Interview Training Program)

Here’s another avenue to be taped (some people do this twice) while interviewing again with second years who volunteer themselves as representatives of a specific company you want to interview with (most likely they interned there or worked there prior to Booth). The point of these mock interviews is not just to give you a ‘live’ example of what the actual situation will be like but also to get some really constructive feedback on how you can improve your interview performance, with specificity to the particular firm. I know watching myself get grilled really showed me how fast I speak, and even though I’d heard a lot of people say it before, watching myself on video really drove the message home.

Company mocks:

Apart from all the time you spend with second years practicing (one second year volunteered to help over 30 first years with their case practice…. God bless her!!), a number of the firms organize 3-on-1 and 1-on-1 prep sessions. I’ve seen at least 4 current consultants in the last two weeks alone as they help prepare us for the actual interviews with their firms. This experience has been critical in assessing how much work I still need to do and also in better understanding the subtle differences in the way different firms interview.

First years:

My initial thoughts were that first years would either be a blind leading the blind situation or that competition would get the better of us and getting useful feedback would be an issue. Having done mock interviews with 20-30 of my classmates now, I can attest to the collaborative spirit at Booth. We all want to see each other succeed and have been egging each other on as we move from one case to another. I have learnt tremendously from just observing my classmates and also from the candid feedback they have given me.

Now as we enter the final leg of interviews, I hope we all are successful and get the jobs we have all worked so hard for. While you think about getting into school (aka Booth), we are working hard to get jobs and back into the work force. Here’s wishing both of us plenty of luck!!

From LEAD to FEAD

Hi there!

We are excited to bring you our blog entry for this week. In this week’s WIWG video, we have ask students about the Booth community. In this blog entry, we wanted to explore a particular element of the community and the student experience, which is participating in student groups. While Booth already has over 100 student groups to choose from (ranging from professional clubs to social clubs, to pick-up sports groups), students are encouraged to form their own group if there is none directed towards their interests.

This year, a group of enterprising students started FEAD, the Food, Environment, Agribusiness, and Development group. Read on to learn more from Carolyn Kriss, one of the founding members of FEAD. Carolyn is a first year at Booth interested in general management, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Prior to Booth, she worked almost five years in political campaigns and government, concluding at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she helped launch the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.

Tina

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First, for those who have already been gotten in, congratulations on your admission to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business! I remember being in your shoes a year ago and then having to make the difficult decision among schools. For those still applying, I hope you’ll find that Booth is a place where you can see yourself fitting in and thriving.

One new ace in Chicago Booth’s pocket—the newly-founded Food, Environment, Agribusiness, and Development (FEAD) group, an official club formed this year for students with a professional interest in food and agribusiness. I had the honor of working with an incredibly talented and dedicated core of first and second year students in founding the group, and our ability to so quickly mobilize interest from students and support from the school is a testament to the hunger for a food and ag group, so to speak, and Booth’s commitment to backing up Dean Kumar’s “Swing for the Fences” ideals with real resources.

While the group may be new, Chicago Booth’s excellence in the food and agribusiness space is anything but. Chicago is the world capitol for agricultural commodities and is poised to become a food hub with cutting-edge agribusiness developments, packaged good conglomerates, and food-focused startups. Over 1,000 Chicago Booth alumni are at the cutting edge of each step of the value chain, from farm to fork, including:

• Charles Harper, former CEO of ConAgra (and namesake donor of the beautiful Harper Center)
• David W. MacLennan, President and Chief Operating Officer of Cargill
• Hugh F. Johnston, Chief Financial Officer of PepsiCo. Inc.
• Robert Mariano, CEO of Roundy’s Supermarkets
• Matt Maloney, CEO of GrubHub.com

With FEAD, Booth is uniquely positioned to leverage its location and strength in business to empower the next generation of food and agribusiness leaders. And Booth’s commitment to building the bench comes not a moment too soon—by 2050, global food production must nearly double to feed the estimated 9 billion world population.
This humanitarian and business challenge motivates us in everything we do. Already, we’ve organized a trip to the Chicago Board of Trade (photo below), and successfully executed a consulting project with Green City Market, Chicago’s leading, year-round farmers’ market, to help them more effectively process food stamp benefits and provide greater access to fresh, healthy food for low-income families. We’ve held entrepreneurial brainstorms for those interested in launching food-focused startups and will host PepsiCo’s Vice President for Innovation and Strategy in their newly-established Global Nutrition Group.

While we’re very much looking forward to the networking events and consulting projects lined up down the road, we’re looking forward to something else—you. Because FEAD is so new, the class of 2014 will have a huge opportunity to help shape the group, moving it in the direction that matches the passion of its student members. The FEAD Co-Chairs look forward to welcoming you on campus and are available in the meantime to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to reach out, and again, congratulations!

Carolyn Kriss, ckriss@chicagobooth.edu; Tyler White, twhite0@chicagobooth.edu, Andres Imaz, aimaz@chicagobooth.edu; Monica Ganley, mganley@chicagobooth.edu; Khairunisa Mohomed; kmohomed@chicagobooth.edu

Surprise, Surprise

Hi everyone!

First of all happy new year! We hope you took some time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. For those of you who just submitted Round 2 applications yesterday, congratulations on getting that in!

Students here are back at Booth and gearing up for our winter quarter. In today’s blog we thought we would step back and reflect a bit on first quarter. Today’s blog entry comes from Jason Wright, who is a 1st year student originally from Southern California, concentrating in Operations Management and Entrepreneurship, and looking to become a difference maker in urban education reform after spending some formative time in strategy consulting. Read on to hear more from Jason!

Tina

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The sigh of relief. That’s what is passing through my lips as I write. I completed my last Final exam five minutes and half a Mushroom Swiss burger special ago. As such, I can finally reflect on the first chapter of my Booth story. I would entitle that chapter “Surprise, Surprise” as my first quarter at Booth has been characterized by a series of pleasant surprises:

1) This school is not full of socially inept nerds. I already knew that the incoming MBA class was full of brilliant, accomplished women and men recognized as rising stars in their respective fields. What I didn’t know was the level of kindness, sociability, and humor almost each of my peers exudes. I have seldom met a person I didn’t immediately want to spend my non-existent free time with. I’m now convinced that I significantly bring down the average “cool factor” of this school since I do little else but study and spend time at home with my wife and seven month old daughter.

2) This student body is not full of stone-hearted, exploit-you-to-death ambition. I honestly believed that I would be one of the only students on campus with a commitment to work in the social sector. I figured I would regularly voice the dissenting opinion of compassion in classroom discussion. Wrong again. A large chunk of both the 1st and 2nd year classes on campus have intentionally chosen career paths that allow them to do socially impactful work. More surprisingly, there are an inordinate number of students interested in my personal area of passion, education reform. I’m very excited to work with a number of them in the Social Entrepreneurship Lab course next quarter. Prior to enrollment, I would’ve bet you a significant sum of money this wouldn’t be the case.

3) I am not the only student from a non-traditional background or with color to my skin. Every business school claims to value diversity. As I’ve become acquainted with my first year class, Booth’s stated commitment has been proven true. As a recently retired National Football League player, I believed I would likely have one of the more interesting stories on campus. Then I met a classmate who performed and taught dance all over the country. Then I met another who worked in the White House. At a networking event I met an international volleyball player who became an accountant. I was shocked to see on Linkedin that one of my humble friends is a multilingual phenom who did multiple high level military missions in the Middle East. And let’s not forget about my friend who started an educational non-profit while sailing around the freaking world! Additionally, it has been so comforting to meet so many fellow African-American students as well as other minority and international members of our first year class. All of these men and women are extremely intelligent and as they inevitably succeed, Booth will have a noticeable presence in the increasing diversity of the global business landscape. That is an exciting thing.

4) I DO belong here. As confident as I may sound in the preceding paragraphs, I came to school expecting to be something of a village idiot given my low baseline of business knowledge. It turns out the Admissions office knows a thing or two about who to let in. While I have certainly had to spend additional hours in preparation compared to classmates who’ve come from corporate positions, I’ve also seen myself rise to the level of gifted peers in coursework and debate. This was in large part facilitated by the patient instruction of Marketing study group members, encouragement from academic advisor Christine Gramhofer, and impactful mentorship by the LEAD course facilitators. I’m grateful to each one of them for bringing me light years forward in both personal and professional development.

So with all that has happened this quarter, I can hardly imagine the remainder of my time at Booth being as dynamic. But if I’ve learned one thing about business school (and life in general for that matter) it’s that I don’t know truly know how things are going to pan out. I expect that the surprises yet realized will make my experience at Booth more fulfilling than I could ask, think, or imagine.

Aspen Ski Trip!

Hi everyone!

So first quarter is over after finishing a grueling week of finals and everyone has gone their own ways for winter holiday. You’ll want to check out this week’s WIWG video where I ask students what their plans are for winter break. Some students head home to their families, or spend more time with their spouses. Others go on adventure treks all over the world with their classmates, or career-related treks that have been planned by fellow students. There is a tradition for each winter break where about 250 Booth 1st and 2nd year students pack up their skis and snowboards and head out together on a ski trip for a week, planned by the Booth Ski Club. This year, I went on this trip and this week I’ll be blogging about the highlights from this jam-packed, super fun week. Read on for more!

This year’s Ski trip took place in Aspen, a cozy town nestled among the Rockies, “where the beer flows like wine”…if you believe the line from the now infamous classic movie Dumb and Dumber. I had been hesitant to go on the trip initially because I had only gone skiing once in my life, which I didn’t even count because it involved tumbling down miles of “blue” slopes in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I was intending to go to Aspen and just lounge around a fire, curled up with a warm drink, and catching up with friends. Instead, I found myself strapping on skis and hitting the slopes for four days out of the week (as most people did). This leads me to my first highlight of the trip – learning to ski! A week is a perfect amount of time to learn to ski if you give yourself a chance, take a lesson, and find a group of fellow beginners that will be your ski buddies for the week. No matter what level you are, if it’s been a while since you’ve last skied, scheduling a lesson on day 1 is a good idea. While my instructor taught my group how to actually put on skis, other classmates were learning how to gracefully approach moguls. Once I felt comfortable at my own level, I let the thrill of the blinding beauty of the Rockies overtake me and I was hooked. Some of the best parts were the beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains, whether reached by chair lift, or a 2 hour climb to the highest bowl (as some of my more advanced classmates did). We even got fresh “powder” (aka, it snowed) on our 3rd day skiing, which is a delightful experience (especially because it gives a little more cushion to your fall). The best part about learning to ski though was learning with a group of classmates that supported me and challenged me to do my personal best (see picture of my ski buddies below).

Given the short winter days, most of us were off the mountain by 3:30pm, after which we headed to an Apres Ski event that was sponsored by one of our generous sponsors, Accenture or MillerCoors. These gatherings of usually about 100-150 people were a fun way to mingle with those you didn’t necessarily ski with that day and swap stories of glory or comedy. These parties however, only served to warm us up for the evening festivities, and my next highlight from the trip – costume parties. My husband has always been amazed at the number of costume parties in business school (he had gone to law school, where apparently there is a little rambunctious less fun). At Booth, we take costume parties seriously, and the ski trip was no exception. This year’s themes were: Wild West, Rockstars & Models, and Lloyd and Harry’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, on separate nights. I think at business school we get a little tired of partying as ourselves, so we like to switch it up a bit and show some alter egos (and our creativity) in our costumes. It was incredible to see what people came up with for each of the themes. For the Wild West party, a 2nd year came as full-fledged prospector/gold-digger from the 1800s, while others ran around looking more like a version of cowboys. For the Rockstar & Model party we had everyone from Tina Turner to Tigger, and other (male) classmates just used it as an excuse to wear spandex. For the Ugly Christmas Sweater, it appeared that we had bought up every vintage holiday sweater in Chicago. See some pictures of the best and worst below and more pictures on our Facebook album.

Finally, the last highlight for me was the Scavenger Hunt, where we ran around Aspen in teams of 7 trying to find places and items on a list of over 75 clues. The scavenger hunt tested teamwork skills, creativity, and ingenuity, but mostly it was just a lot of fun. In a 3 hour time period, my team became acquainted with Sheriff Mike of the Aspen police and got to ride his squad car (without getting arrested), met the good folks at the Aspen fire department, “rode” on a snow mobile, had drinks with locals, made snow angels, and many other things that we can’t divulge (but unfortunately probably have photographic evidence for!) It was lots of fun getting to know the nice people of Aspen (who really are very nice, especially given what we were requesting of them for our clues). We ended the scavenger hunt with a somewhat perfectly appropriate 80s dance party spun by an amazing DJ in downtown Aspen.

All in all, I’d say that the Aspen ski trip was a huge success, thanks in big part to the team of 2nd years who spent the last 6 months planning it. We all parted ways this past Sunday, eager to recover from a week full of activity, but also looking forward with excitement to the Spring ski trip this April.

Happy holidays everyone, thanks for reading! Since we are on break, we are going to take a short break from the blog for a couple of weeks and will return on January 4th. Good luck to those who are doing their Round 2 applications now, and if you want to learn more about life at Booth from the student perspective, go back and read previous entries on this blog, check out of WIWG video series on YouTube or Facebook, and check out our Facebook page.
Tina

Why Booth?

Hi everyone!

Today is the big day for Round 1 decisions! If you’re among the lucky ones to get great news from the Admissions office, let me be one of the firsts to congratulate you!! Today’s blog entry from Nupur is geared around her decision to choose to come to Booth – read on to get another perspective on why Booth may be your perfect fit for an MBA program. If you are thinking about applying in Round 2, this will give some great insight on what differentiates Booth from some other top programs. Also, make sure to check out our Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video where we ask current students to share their reasons for selecting Booth.

Happy reading!
Tina

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Congratulations! You’ve been admitted…but now what?

Hi everyone! At this time of year, many of you must be getting very familiar with your email/browser refresh buttons and your favorite b-school blog(s) of choice as you wait with baited breath for Round 1 admissions decisions. Step One: Breathe! There will be plenty of time for hyperventilation once you find out you’ve been accepted to all of your dream schools. Once this occurs, however, you might suddenly realize that you’re faced with a new dilemma: Where to go? This month, I thought I might try to create a checklist of sorts that hopefully helps you as you make your decision.

The quality of academics and breadth of opportunities for extracurricular leadership are certainly at the top of everyone’s mind when making such a decision, and I’ll direct you to Chloe and Didier’s blog posts from last week for more info on those items as they’ve done a fantastic job describing how awesome the Booth community and curriculum are. Here, we’ll focus a little more on some other fundamental questions you might want to consider; some that perhaps I could have spent more time thinking of beforehand and the answers to which over the past quarter have shown me how lucky I have been with my decision to attend Booth.

Career Switching: it’s all about information

When I was applying to business schools, I was looking at shifting from private wealth management into consulting. Pretty much all the top schools facilitate the switch. At the time, I felt like there wasn’t much to think about when comparing schools on this front. However, having been at Booth for a quarter, I realize that Booth’s key differentiator is its ability to dramatically streamline the process. Booth attracts so much focus from such a variety of consulting firms that I’ve spent the entire quarter learning about the industry. I’ve realized that when making a career switch, information is king. The better informed you are about the various firm characteristics (e.g., culture, problem solving approach, industry focus, geographic reach), the more intelligent and efficient of a career switch you can make.

Booth excels in providing this information for you by attracting so many firms all of who make themselves and people from junior consultants to senior partners extremely accessible to you. Firms have dedicated Booth on-campus recruiters, and these representatives organize multiple coffee chats, corporate presentations, lunch and learns, and more. As I look back at my calendar for the last quarter, most of my time was spent on recruiting activities that were initiated by firms who came on campus to meet us. Even now during winter break, firms are reaching out to us to set up time with senior consultants and partners for one-on-one conversations.

I know my classmates who focused on other industries have had similar experiences. The Booth name led to a lot of firms willingly opening their doors to talk to first years during career treks as they were eager to speak with members of the class of 2013. As you assess your options I strongly encourage you to evaluate the breadth and depth of information you can obtain about your career preferences. Ask how many firms come to campus, what cross-section of the corporate ladder makes itself available to you, and what the level of individual interactions with employees at these firms is like.

City vs. small town

Two years is a pretty sizable amount of time to spend anywhere. I’ve always been a city girl and I love living in a city. When looking at business schools I was definitely looking for a school in a city. I’m sure you’ve all heard how cold the winters get, but if a Singaporean like me can handle it, you can too! (it’s only snowed here once so far and yes I’ve successfully survived a week of 30 degree weather, soon to get colder I’m sure). Everyone is extremely friendly, and there’s a ton of things to do, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy whenever you get a spare moment from the rigors of Booth.

What I didn’t realize or think of before coming here was the access to firms that living in a city provides. Chicago is a hub for most industries – financial services, consumer goods, healthcare, automotive industry etc, and this translates into a diverse breadth of career opportunities and firms that come to campus. If you are an international student and want to stay in the US post b-school then definitely think about what city/area you might want to work in long-term, as recruiting within the city limits will definitely be (a bit) easier for you, especially if you have no roots or personal network in the US.

Access to alumni

Network, Network, Network. It’s one of the main reasons we all come to business school, and again, it is one of those things that seems to be so standard across all schools as to not even merit comparative consideration. But size of the alumni base and the number in prestigious positions are only part of the equation; without accessibility, they remain isolated islands to which you cannot connect. At Booth, the administration has implemented a community directory (accessible to you for life) where you can look up alumni anywhere in the world and reach out to them by obtaining their up to date contact information. That this directory exists is amazing, but perhaps more importantly, the fact that so many Booth alums keep their contact info current goes to show how excited the alumni are to engage. Everyone wants to hear from a fellow University of Chicago community member, and I know I’m looking forward to helping future students in any way I can.

Even more telling is perhaps that I haven’t had an opportunity to use the community directory channel yet, because I have been so occupied connecting with all the alumni that come to campus, whether for recruiting or just to chat with current students and hear what we’ve done or what our aspirations are. For example, some alumni organized an all-day on-site recruiting event for six of us Booth students at the headquarters of their firm. That, to me, was the most telling of the strength of the alumni network. Another classmate accidentally knocked over an older gentleman on a run, and the moment the gentleman found out that my classmate was a Booth student, all the commotion stopped and he was thrilled!! He actually said “Go run, study hard and make us proud!” No surprise there, the gentleman was a Booth alumnus.

Brand

Most people will tell you that rankings don’t matter and they are very subjective, but we all look at them. And even if we don’t our friends and family do. But rankings aside, what does the brand really translate into? It opens doors. The moment people hear that you are a student at Booth, they suddenly respect you more (even if you haven’t started the program yet) and are more willing to talk to you – this is true of not just recruiters but your former colleagues and long lost friends (who now might just want you to review their essays for them next year!!). I know my LinkedIn profile views went up significantly once I added Booth to my profile and a firm reached out to me for a summer internship position even before I got to campus. After I resigned, one of my ex-bosses told me that he was only letting me go because I was going to Booth and he wouldn’t have accepted my resignation if it was any other school. He then went on to offer to connect me to all his friends in Chicago. That is the strength of the Booth brand.

I hope this helps you think of some of the other factors you should consider as you evaluate your options. The student body and the community that you feel you will grow most in should definitely be at the top of your checklist, but I would encourage you to think beyond that. Feel free to reach out to any of us Boothies and we would be more than happy to tell you more about why we are here and what we’ve gained. A lot of us are also hosting dinner and drinks sessions around the globe over our winter break so make sure you attend those. More importantly though, congratulations to those who have gotten in, and I hope you have a fantastic holiday season!

Official Student Blog for Chicago Booth. Here we talk about our experience and share stories about our time at Booth.