Five Pleasantly Surprising Facts about Life at Chicago Booth

My name is YaoYao Wang and I’m a first year MBA student at Booth, originally from Los Angeles, California. Prior to business school I worked as an Operations Manager at a health products startup while being the CMO of a volunteer-run nonprofit. Outside of work and school, I love playing badminton, cooking, and Yelping. Follow me @yaoyaowang where I tweet about all sorts of business school fun.
In just a few short months as an MBA student at Booth, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons and pleasantly surprising facts.  I share my Top 5 with those of you considering an MBA at Booth. Hopefully my lessons will provide insight into the wealth of opportunities at Booth, as well as the best way to navigate your decision-making to get the most out of your experience.
1. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
No, I’m not actually referring to Newtonian physics here. As a business school student, you quickly learn to manage your time very well; and often, what you’ll find is that you can’t add events to your calendar without taking something off. Planning your career, networking, learning in business school? I’ve quickly learned the key to success is actually all about mastering the art of making tradeoffs. If you can’t decide which amazing classes, student clubs, and recruiting opportunities to sacrifice over others, you’ll get great guidance from Career and Academic Services. And since this is Chicago Booth, home of brilliant professors and Nobel prize-winning economists, concepts like opportunity cost and marginal utility will creep into your daily vocabulary before you even know it, and will help you make these tough decisions.
2. Use your pre-MBA summer wisely.
Once school starts you will have 20 million events and deadlines on your calendar (Legal disclaimer: OK, maybe not literally 20 million events and deadlines, but there are tons of opportunities here!). If you can, take time before Booth to travel, spend time with family and friends, work out, eat healthy, and sleep.
See if you still know how to study. This sounds pretty basic but you’d be surprised at how many of us realize that being in the workforce for a few years has made us forget how to be students. A great way to regain your learning skills would be to take an online class or even a local language or art class.
3. Second years are to first years like sliced bread and zippers are to humanity.
A third thing I didn’t fully understand before starting Booth is the tremendous value that second year MBAs add to the business school experience. Their willingness to help knows no bounds. Got questions about internships, careers, resumes, interviews, classes, housing, transportation, or what to wear in the Chicago winters? Second years will help you with that. I always find myself shocked with the amount of time second years put into planning events that improve first years’ business school experience, whether it be Random Walks, LEAD, student groups, school-wide events, company presentations, workshops, social events, trips, or mixers. If you ask them why, you’ll get a shoulder shrug that downplays their involvement and the usual, “the second years were there for us when we first got here.” You’ll see this sense of paying it forward permeating the Chicago Booth network from the first years all the way up to the alumni.
4. There is such a thing as free lunch.
In the form of Lunch ‘n’ Learns, that is! Career Services and the career-focused student groups host prominent companies from various functions and industries to recruit MBA talent and these presentations often come with free meals! Though I’ve enjoyed not having to buy lunch my first quarter because I’ve been to so many events, the real “free lunches” are the valuable interactions Career Services has facilitated with Booth alumni from companies large and small. Through presentations of mini case studies of recent challenging problems they’ve faced or explaining their company culture and values, I’ve found it invaluable to learn about fit and culture at companies I’m interested in. It’s a two-way street, because as much as companies are recruiting us, we are also scoping them out to make sure we might enjoy our time there as an intern or full-time hire. Additionally, Career Services has been really helpful in working with us to make sure we have a good sense of our career goals and personal needs to get the most out of these events and interactions.
5.  Any interest or hobby you can think of, it’s probably here.
We have an amazing array of student groups solely focused on fun, hobbies, diversity, and interests. Food, wine, boxing, rugby – you name it, we’ve got it. Clubs are a great way to meet new friends who may not be in your classes or recruiting for the same career path. In addition to the extensive list of student groups people are constantly organizing informal events.
I could easily go on and on about the wonderful experience that Chicago Booth has been for the last two and a half months (that’s right, we’ve only been here for two and a half months!) but, there’s no blog or list that could tell you what it’s really like at Booth. For me, speaking with current students and alumni at locally-hosted Booth events and visiting the campus really helped me decide that Booth was the right place for me. As a prospective student, I met so many great people with diverse backgrounds and fascinating life stories, and I’m enjoying getting to know them now as my peers and classmates.
I look forward to seeing you at an on-campus event and welcoming you to our school!

 

Living and Learning in Hyde Park

Adam Hanselman is a second year MBA at Chicago Booth.  After graduating from BYU, Adam worked in economic consulting with the Analysis Group and then in operations strategy at Capital One.  After graduation, he will move to Houston to work in energy investment banking.   Adam is a member of the Dean’s Student & Alumni Representatives (DStAR),the Investment Banking Group (IBG), and Energy Group , and he and his wife are members of Parents of Little Ones at Booth (POLO).  He is married with two children (future Boothies?!?!).
Adam is also a proud Hyde Park denizen.  While many students live in downtown Chicago, Hyde Park, the home of the Harper Center, is a vibrant community which offers many amenities and a great intellectual environment around the University.  Adam shares why he loves living in Hyde Park, and how he and his family have built their academic and social lives in and around the University of Chicago community.
–Matt Richman
When I decided to return to school for my MBA, the impact on my family was one of my main considerations in choosing which program to attend.  Chicago Booth and Hyde Park are a unique combination of a great MBA program and a family-friendly neighborhood.  Chicago Booth has been a great experience for my entire family and living in Hyde Park is a big reason why.
On the way to school
My family and I live within 3 blocks of tons of other families with one or sometimes both parents in graduate school at Chicago Booth or elsewhere at the University of Chicago.  There are fellow MBA and Law School families that we do babysitting swaps with for date nights on a regular basis (gotta keep the romance going!).  It’s always fun to stop by the University tot-lot, which is only one block away from our apartment, and catch up with whoever is there letting their kids get the wiggles out.  My son goes to pre-school a block from the Harper Center and it’s convenient that I can drop him off at school and then go right to my classes. Our apartment is also a nice size for our family, for a very reasonable price.  My family and I get a great quality of life in a walkable neighborhood.
Hyde Park soccer league
In addition to the community of families in Hyde Park, I love that I can walk to school in about 10 minutes or I can head over to one of the two (super nice) University gyms, get a workout in, and then go to school.  The gym is free for students and my wife also has a membership (she gets a discounted price).  We like being so close to Lake Michigan, with its beaches and footpaths, and there’s even a beautiful vintage movie theater two blocks away.  Although there is great public bus service within Hyde Park, we can walk to most everything we need and want, and when I need to go downtown it’s only a 15 minute Metraride from the station between my house and Chicago’s Loop, including our downtown campus at the Gleacher Center.
Hyde Park has helped my family to develop lifelong friendships and to enjoy the 2 year Boothexperience more than I could have hoped.  We’ve taken our kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and at the Harper Center, and put them in sports leagues in Hyde Park.  My family is part of the social life at Booth, and we rarely miss a Friday afternoon Liquidity Preference Function (LPF) at Harper.
Booth kids trick-or-treating in Hyde Park
Whether or not you have a family, Hyde Park is a great place to get access to everything that Booth and the city of Chicago have to offer, at a relaxed pace.  Booth students have so many options for which neighborhood to live in, depending on their preferences, and I’m glad that I picked Hyde Park.  Although I’m looking forward to moving to Houston, I’ll really miss the community my family and I built in Hyde Park.

 

Adam’s kids playing in a Hyde Park park

Chicago Women in Business: 2013 Conference Recap

Booth’s Chicago Women in Business (CWiB) recently held its Fall 2013 conference. CWiB is one of the largest and most active student groups on campus, and provides great programming for Booth’s women to network with one another and alumni in a variety of fields, and participate in educational programming such as golf and self-defense lessons, wine tastings with Booth faculty, and investing strategies.
To get a sense of what the conference was like, check out The Booth Experience’s interview and video with conference organizers Gigi Wong and Aditi Mehta (Class of 2014). In this edition of The Booth Experience blog, second-year students Michelle Breunig and Elizabeth Kim also offer their perspectives on what the conference meant to them.
–Matt
 
Michelle Breunig
One of the best things about being at Booth is having the chance to hear and learn from top business leaders. There are so many different opportunities –the Corporate Speaker Series, the Alumni Breakfast Series, conferences organized by the various student organizations, and more. As a first year student last year, CWiB’s annual fall conference was one of my favorite activities and was a great start to the year and the recruiting season. I was excited to attend the event again this year – and it was another great conference! The CWiB co-chairs and volunteers did an excellent job.
The theme of this year’s conference was Success Redefined – Defining Success in a Personal Way. This theme was reflected in the keynote addresses and throughout the different panels. Panel topics included the art of negotiation, networking, leadership stories, and managing career changes. Two Booth alumnae gave the keynote speeches. Paula Fasseas, ’96, Founder and Chair of PAWS Chicago, talked about starting her career in banking and bringing her business training and knowledge to PAWS in Chicago to help spread the No Kill model to shelters across the country. Valerie VanMeter (’04), Senior VP and CFO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, took her own spin on Sheryl Sandberg’s popular “Lean In” message to women. Her message was incredibly powerful and very personal!
I enjoyed learning about the different paths to success everyone has had – and the constant message of pursuing your passion. I also appreciated the candid advice – including the recommendation to take full advantage of all of the opportunities here at Booth. Definitely a great reminder to carry through my second year!
Elizabeth Kim
CWiB is a terrific resource for Booth women. Apart from the practical programming the group hosts to prepare women at Booth for internships and full-time jobs, women can also leverage CWiB to build meaningful friendships and professional networks. 
When Gigi Wong, one of the two Co-Chairs in charge of organizing the CWiB Conference, asked me to facilitate two of the panels, I was grateful for the opportunity as a second year to give back to Booth and to get more involved with the CWiB conference attendees and panelists. The panels I facilitated were called “Leadership Stories: Definition of Success” and “Moving Up and Managing Career Changes.” As I listened to the stories of the panelists, I recognized themes of flexibility, leveraging relationships, and being tenacious. Something that I learned from the panelists and observed first-hand last year was to be attentive and cordial to others. This will build goodwill with others and yourself, which will also pay dividends while at school and beyond.
About the authors:
Michelle Breunig is originally from the Milwaukee, WI area and went to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for an undergraduate degree in Accounting. She then worked for a big 4 public accounting firm. At Booth she is pursuing Concentrations in Finance, Economics, and Entrepreneurship. This past summer Michelle interned at Goldman Sachs in Private Wealth Management in the firm’s Chicago office, and will be returning full time after graduation. At Booth, she is an active member of Chicago Women in Business (CWiB), the Investment Management Group (IMG), and the Dean’s Student Admissions Committee (DSAC). In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and their dog, traveling (currently planning a 2 week trip to Italy post-graduation), and enjoying Chicago’s fabulous restaurant scene.
Elizabeth Kim is a second year at Booth and is a Co-Chair of the Management Consulting Group and the Latter-Day Saints Students Association (LDSSA) in addition to being an Admissions Fellow. She is currently pursuing concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Operations Management. This past summer, Elizabeth spent her summer at McKinsey & Company in Chicago where she will be returning full-time. Elizabeth grew up in California and attended UCLA, graduating cum laude with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Accounting. She joined Deloitte & Touche LLP upon graduation and was an Enterprise Risk Services Manager in the accounting consultations group in the D.C. area prior to coming to Booth. Elizabeth enjoys cooking for her friends and family and exploring the city of Chicago.

Bringing the Harvest Home: A Pre-MBA Internship at a Food Startup

Emily Wang is a first year MBA student from Detroit, Michigan. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Emily worked at Deloitte Consulting in the Strategy & Operations practice prior to coming to Booth. Her professional interests center around food and healthcare, and she plans to pursue concentrations in Strategic Management, Finance, and Entrepreneurship at Booth. Her hobbies include playing ukulele, running, and cooking.
 
Below, Emily shares her pre-MBA internship experience with a Bay area food delivery startup. While pre-MBA internships are neither coordinated by Booth nor necessary to successfully make a big career shift, Emily took advantage of some free time this summer to get some entrepreneurship experience to help her refine her goals for professional development at Booth.
–Matt
 
A few years ago, I came across a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Reading it made me realize that I was deeply passionate about the interaction between health and the environment. I decided that bringing positive change to the food industry would be one of my long-term goals.
I kept this goal in mind when choosing which business schools to apply to. When I learned that Booth students had recently started a Food, Environment, Agribusiness, and Development(FEAD) group, I knew that I would find a community of people here with similar professional interests to build a strong network of colleagues during and after my MBA. Upon my acceptance, I decided to use the summer to gain some experience in the food industry, so that I could make the most of my time at Booth.
Through my own network, I was able to secure an internship at LolaBee’s Harvest, an online farmer’s market startup in the Bay Area. LolaBee’s Harvest aims to connect local and organic producers with consumers through its online platform and home delivery system. During my internship, I was responsible for all of the company’s marketing and supported the CEO in her fundraising efforts. Through this experience, I gained a good understanding of the competitive landscape around the grocery delivery business, as well as the ecosystem of entrepreneurs in the Bay Area at large.
Now, having spent almost two months at Booth, I greatly appreciate the experience of having worked at a startup in the food sector before coming to school. For one, having a deeper level of focus has allowed me to better utilize the excellent resources provided by Booth Career Services, such as the Industry Immersion program during Orientation and ongoing Corporate Conversations which bring a wide variety of companies to campus. Secondly, I am better at articulating my interests to my classmates and Booth alumni, who are deeply involved in entrepreneurial communities and have done an amazing job connecting me with people who share my passion. Because of these two factors, I feel prepared and incredibly excited to kick off my search for startup internships in the coming months!

Booth Beginnings: My Pre-MBA Entrepreneurial Internship

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.
–Matt
***
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.

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