Why I Am Here and Not Somewhere Else: My Admit Weekend Experience

By Jatin Jindal, Class of 2015

On behalf of the Admit Weekend Planning Committee, I would like to congratulate Round 1 admits on being selected to join the best business school in the world! When I got the call from the Booth Admissions staff last year, the first thing I did was book my tickets to Chicago for Admit Weekend. I knew that the 24 hour-long flight from Mumbai to Chicago would be well worth the experience I would have at Admit Weekend.

Well, I was not only proven correct, but Admit Weekend exceeded all of my expectations. I had such an amazing experience that I knew I wanted to be a part of the next class’s Admit Weekend planning team. So, I volunteered for the position of Social Media Captain for Admit Weekend 2014. As a Social Media Captain, admitted students will hear from me through social media channels, including photos and posts to the Class of 2016 Facebook page.

I grew up in Mumbai, India. I spent three years in investment banking in London, and after that, was fortunate to scale up and successfully exit from my own startup. Yet, as I considered my next career moves, I realized there were some gaps in my business training necessary to advance my goals. I was impressed by the awesome resources at Chicago Booth, particularly in tech and entrepreneurship, as well as by Booth’s discipline-based approach to learning, which further confirmed my decision to apply. I should reveal that I am a child of a tropical climate who had never seen snow. So, when I landed in Chicago for Admit Weekend in February 2013 and was greeted by snow, I was both terrified and excited. What amazed me was the fact that the snow had only made Chicago’s sprawling skyline and magnificent architecture look even more beautiful. After reaching my hotel, I made my way to the Gleacher Center, where international student ambassadors were waiting to welcome the international admitted students. It was amazing to see the variety of nationalities present at that event, and I met many of my current friends there for the first time.

Admit Weekend is designed to give newly admitted students a glimpse into what life as a full-time student will be like. One of the most exciting sessions at my Admit Weekend was a chance to sit on an entrepreneurial sales class with Professor Craig Wortmann, who is founder and CEO of Sales Engine and has been a professional sales person for 20 years. We also learned more about Booth’s Leadership and Effective Development (LEAD) course through some fun team-building activities with our future classmates. We capped the day off with an introduction to the Booth tradition of the Liquidity Preference Function (LPF), which is a bi-weekly happy hour in the Harper Center Winter Garden sponsored by the Graduate Business Council (GBC). During the rest of the weekend, we met representatives from every Booth student group – including the Soccer Club, which I immediately got involved with when I started school – and learned about the wide array of Random Walk locations we could choose from. Admit Weekend ended with a celebration at the majestic Art Institute of Chicago, located in downtown Chicago.

Enjoying beautiful scenery of Fiji during my Booth Random Walk

Overall, Admit Weekend was a sneak peek into what Booth has to offer, both academically and socially. At the end of the event, I could see that many of my fellow Admit Weekend attendees were convinced that Booth was where they were going to spend their next two years. I had also made up my mind, and could not have been more excited to start at Booth in the fall.

Overall, my experience at Booth so far has exceeded all of my expectations. I have made amazing friends from all over the world and have learned so many new things in a short span of time.

Dancing at this year’s South Asia Business Group (SABG) Diwali-themed cruise on Lake Michigan.

I highly recommend attending Admit Weekend for two main reasons: first, it will help you decide for yourself “Why are you here, and not somewhere else”, and second, if you are already sold on Booth, you will get a first-hand experience of a compressed two year b-school experience in 3 days, which is valuable in helping you start to think about how to get the most out of the MBA experience. So, buckle up and get ready for Admit Weekend 2014 – you have to be here to experience it for yourself!

My ‘Why Booth’ Story: Perception and Reality

Chad Strader is a first year MBA student from Augusta, GA. He graduated from Georgia Southern University where he was a member of the men’s soccer team. Prior to Booth, Chad worked at Entrepreneurial Capital Partners – a private equity firm based in Atlanta, GA – and PepsiCo. He is a member of the Booth African American MBA Association (AAMBAA), Booth Entrepreneurship through Acquisition (BETA), Booth Soccer Club, and Private Equity Group. Chad’s hobbies include playing Scrabble, rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, and cooking.
 
As Chad was thinking through important questions about which MBA program he should attend, he took the time to come to Chicago for Admit Weekend. It was a transformative experience for Chad, and one that made Booth his top choice. In this post, Chad talks about what he learned about Booth during Admit Weekend and his first quarter at school, and why Booth was the right fit for him.
–Matt

Congratulations to the Round 1 applicants who were recently admitted! As I reflect back on the day that I received the glorious call from Chicago Booth Admissions, I remember the questions swirling through my mind. Is Chicago Booth right for me? Growing up in Georgia, can I manage the cold? Will the alumni be helpful? How will life be without a paycheck? After attending Admit Weekend and completing my first quarter, I would like to answer a few of those questions.

Is Chicago Booth right for me?
After reading countless blogs, attending admissions events, and participating in online chats, I thought that Booth would be a great opportunity for my career progression.
 
However, I saw Admit Weekend as an opportunity to confirm that Chicago Booth would be the right fit for me, through being there in person and meeting the rest of my future classmates, as well as members of the Booth community. From the moment I arrived at Admit Weekend, I was blown away by how smart, yet down to earth, the current students and other admits were. I had the chance to speak with professors and current students who provided their own perspectives on what made Booth unique. Most importantly, I found that some of the stereotypes I’d heard about Booth were completely wrong, and that for me Booth would be the perfect mix of stellar academics, career advancement, and socializing and building connections with current students and alumni.
 
Will I enjoy student life?
Booth Random Walk South Africa

 

This summer, I went on a Random Walk where, along with 15 Boothies (11 other first years and 4 second year trek leaders), I visited the beautiful country of South Africa. We spent nine days in Johannesburg and Cape Town doing various activities ranging from shark cage diving (which I will never do again!) and a safari to wine tasting. The Random Walk trips take place before arriving at Booth for Orientation, and it was a great bonding experience, allowing us to really start forming relationships with classmates. 
 
Booth Soccer Team
The Booth administration creates an environment that cultivates relationships with other classmates, second years and alumni. Another venue to meet students is through clubs; Booth offers over 70 professional, special interest, sports or diversity/cultural awareness groups. As mentioned above, I’m a member of the Chicago Booth Soccer Club. Recently, 32 members of the school represented Booth to compete in a MBA soccer tournament in Los Angeles. Booth emerged second, the best finish in history by the Booth soccer club, narrowly losing out in the finals on penalty kicks. It was a great opportunity to get to know a great group of my Booth classmates and build strong bonds as we practiced and competed together.
 
Lastly, we’re in Chicago! Chicago is a great city with countless activities from hanging out on the beach to seeing a Chicago Cubs game (the owner, Tom Ricketts, is a UChicago graduate). And if you come out to visit campus in the next few months, you’ll see that the winter’s not so bad here!
 
How strong is the community at Booth?
In searching for the perfect business school, I wanted to feel connected to my current classmates as well as the alumni community.
 
While it’s true that most current students live downtown in the Loop or South Loop, and not in Hyde Park where the Harper Center is located, we have great communities in all the locations that students chose to live, work and play. The majority of Booth students live within a two mile radius (including a handful of buildings in the Loop lovingly dubbed “the Dorms”) which provides a close-knit community. I have had several study groups, social events and intellectually-challenging conversations in the lobby or elevators of these buildings. And when it comes time to go to campus, Booth students take over the 15-minute Metra train ride down to Hyde Park (lovingly dubbed “the school bus”).
Chad and his classmates at Booth’s Leadership Orientation Retreat (LOR)
At Chicago Booth, I have found that the alumni have been instrumental in maximizing my experience thus far. From the time I was accepted, I met with alumni who were passionate about my career and how to best help me succeed. Over the summer, I reached out to over 40 alumni to hear more about their experience at Booth and how to approach internship recruiting. I was overwhelmed at how thoughtful the responses were. From phone calls to morning coffee, each alumnus made an effort to help me grow personally and professionally.
 
The transformative experience at Admit Weekend solidified my choice to attend Chicago Booth. Not only did I meet my roommate at Admit Weekend, but I also started cultivating relationships with fellow classmates. The housing search was another great opportunity to explore Chicago, an amazing city I now call home. My classmates, professors, and the Chicago Booth culture are second to none and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. This blog post is only a preview of what to expect at your time at Booth. The only thing that I can promise you is that you will enjoy it, and I encourage all of our newly admitted students to attend Admit Weekend and get a taste of what you’re in for over the next two years.
 

My First Booth Case Challenge – Kilts Quantitative Marketing Case Competition

First-year MBA YaoYao Wang recently competed in a quantitative marketing case challenge sponsored by Booth’s Kilts Center for Marketing and Kraft Foods.  It was a unique opportunity for YaoYao and her team to test out the marketing skills developed during their first quarter at Booth, and to engage with Booth alums at Kraft, who were very involved in making the competition a great experience for the participants. The case competition shows a number of Booth’s strengths – our analytical and data-driven approach to business problems, the deep and active alumni network represented in a variety of industries and functions, and the Kilts Center – which make Booth an incredible choice for anyone looking get into a career in marketing.

Booth is off for Winter Break for now.  Enjoy the holidays, and stay tuned to The Booth Experience to learn more about what students do during break, including Ski Trip, career treks, and planning for Round 1 Admit Weekend!
–Matt

As a first-year taking Marketing Strategy and recruiting for marketing internship roles, I was naturally drawn to Booth’s inaugural Kilts Quantitative Case Competition, sponsored by Kraft Foods. Since the Kilts Center for Marketing focuses on advancing marketing at Chicago Booth, this was a perfect fit. I appreciated how involved Kraft Foods got with the case competition; not only did they send three executives, including Deanie Elsner (’92), Chief Marketing Officer; Greg Guidotti, Senior Director of Marketing, Ready-to-Drink Beverages; and Triona Schmelter, Vice President of Marketing for Meals, to be judges, they also developed the case from a recent and very real business issue the company was facing with one of its major brands, Planters. Two Booth alumni and Kraft Senior Associate Brand Managers, Johnni Rodgers (’12) and Ketan Vaghani (’09), developed the case over the course of eight months using Nielsen data.


My team of five first-years was an unlikely assortment of Boothies hailing from several different backgrounds, including a former economic consultant, Peace Corps volunteer, researcher, engineer, and start-up enthusiast. We joined together to form Team A1. We were fortunate to be picked for the case competition, as only half of the 20 teams that applied were selected to participate. We attributed this initial success to our fun-filled PowerPoint presentation that highlighted our differences and complementarities as well as our fit with Kraft.

At the start of the competition, all 10 teams gathered at Harper to get more information about the case from the original case “Krafters” themselves, Johnni and Ketan. We were introduced to Kraft’s history and more importantly, that of Planters and Mr. Peanut. My team and I went home from the kick-off full of ideas and energy. Our first strategy? Stop by our local drugstore to browse the aisles, check out Planters’ direct and indirect competitors, and of course, pick up some Planters to snack on for the group brainstorm session.

The next few days passed by in a blur. In between classes, corporate events, study groups, and other case competitions (two of our members were involved in a Booth Business Solutions Group case project as well), we somehow found time to meet, discuss our findings and come up with a solution. By the time we presented our recommendations to the Kraft and Chicago Booth faculty judges three days later, we had learned much in that short time about marketing, Nielsen data, managerial decision-making, and strategy. Everybody in my team was invigorated by the fact that we had an opportunity to take a sneak peek into a real challenge that a huge Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company faces. We had been told countless times by recruiters, alumni and second-years that companies look for future employees who can deal with ambiguity, and we finally had a chance to practice. This wasn’t an in-class case where a professor would guide us in discussion to a particular solution, and it wasn’t a homework problem set where we would get the answers. We had to use limited data, analyze it, and come up with suggestions for future steps. That’s as real as it gets as an MBA student practicing critical business skills, and exactly the kind of problem solving that our Booth classes train us for.

Though my team did not win the competition, we felt that we gained a great deal through the experience.  We were reminded once again of why we chose to apply to and attend Chicago Booth and why it is the right place for us. We were able to combine our quantitative and qualitative analytical skills and apply them to a real-world business. We were able to present our ideas to the real decision-makers at Kraft. We listened to Deanie Elsner’s words of wisdom, and were gratified to learn that she was impressed by everybody’s findings and mentioned that with the increasing importance of big data, it was a great time to be Chicago Booth students on the forefront of research designed to grapple with these kinds of high-level analytical problems. The Kilts Case Competition was simply unreal in terms of the level of learning, application of our classroom marketing knowledge to actual business problems, and teamwork and camaraderie we got to experience with our new classmates over the course of a few days. 

Moneyball at Booth: Sports, Analytics, and Business

Jeffrey Chao is a first year student at Chicago Booth. Prior to Booth, Jeffrey worked as a financial analyst on an energy trading floor and as a consultant focused on financial transformation and procurement analytics. Jeffrey has always had a passion for sports, and, once upon a time, he interned for Major League Baseball and the National Football League. At Booth, Jeffrey is a member of the Corporate Management & Strategy Group, Dean Student’s Admissions Committee, and Wine Club.

Jeffrey is also active in the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group (MESG) and attended its annual conference. He recaps some of the highlights and talks about how some unique features of Chicago Booth academics and the alumni network are helping him position himself for his dream job at the nexus of business and sports.
–Matt Richman
For students like me interested in the business of sports, MESG’s 4th Annual Sports Symposium felt like Christmas Day. The Symposium featured industry panelists discussing a range of topics, including front office management, sports analytics, digital marketing, and litigation in sports. Panel discussions gave attendees unique insight into the rigorous analytics and business methodologies now performed in many facets of sports business, as well as personal anecdotes about how to land that dream job in the industry. My experience at the conference showed me the breadth and strength of Booth’s varied alumni network, and how I might combine the analytical skills I’m developing in my Booth classes with my passion for sports.
Michael Girsch, a 2003 Booth alum and currently the assistant general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, set the tone for the day by stating, “there is no equivalent in the corporate world to winning games.” That statement highlighted the motivation behind why people work in sports, and certainly got me pumped to hear more about how sports and business intersect. Throughout the day, many panelists offered sound words of advice to attendees looking to break into the industry. Enthusiasm, passion, and tenacity are key traits, while the ability to communicate and sell an idea is paramount.
Jon Hay and Michael Gries share their
experiences in sports business
I felt encouraged to learn that Booth provides ample opportunities and connections to break into sports business. Two recent Class of 2013 Booth graduates, Jon Hay and Michael Gries, gave back to current Booth students by participating in a panel discussion on the increasingly prominent role of analytics in sports. Gries, who works in baseball operations with the Baltimore Orioles, said his current position is “like a fantasy job.” Both Gries and Hay, a member of the Boston Red Sox’s baseball analytics staff, stuck around long after their panel finished in order to chat with Booth students and symposium attendees about their recruiting strategies and job experiences.
Second year Booth MBAs present
their research
During the lunch hour, second-year Booth MBA students Ryan Jones, Mauricio Zachrisson, and Matt Frankenfeld delivered academic presentations on various sports analytics topics. They developed their papers in a class called Sports Analytics, which I am personally excited to take. This class, taught by renowned professors (and fellow sports lovers) John Huizinga, Tobias Moskowitz, and Kevin Murphy, was one of the reasons that I was so excited about the academics at Booth when I was researching business schools. It turns out that business school professors tend to be sports fanatics as well.
Booth alum David Sally’s keynote
It was also exciting to hear from a Booth alum who could soon be known as the “Michael Lewis of soccer/football.” A recipient of a PhD in economics from Chicago Booth, David Sally delivered the symposium’s keynote speech. He discussed findings from his new book, The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong, which has drawn comparisons to Lewis’ Moneyball. In one example, Sally described soccer as a “weakest link sport,” correlating the likelihood of wins to the quality of a team’s worst player rather than its best.
During breaks and at a reception following the Symposium, I had a chance to network and make personal connections with panelists such as John Ball, the founder of a sports consulting firm called Beyond Box Scores. In chatting with another panelist about his career trajectory, I discovered that not only did we have the Booth connection in common, but we went to the same high school.
While the sports business can be a difficult industry to break into, the combination of events like the MESG Symposium, Booth’s rigorous analytical curriculum, the connections with companies and sports organizations facilitated by Career Services, and the incredibly varied and supportive Booth alumni network give me the confidence to pursue my passion. I am personally excited to take all these tools and put them to good use as I pursue a summer internship.

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!

 

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