Academics at Booth

Hi everyone!

In this week’s blog and WIWG video, we’re going to talk a bit about the academics at Booth. In our WIWG video, we ask students what their favorite class and/or professor has been so far. And in our blog today, Dana Fortini shares her thoughts on classes and Booth’s class bidding system. Read on to learn more!

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I can’t believe that midterms are over and that it’s time to start selecting courses for the winter quarter; time sure passes quickly!

Here at Booth, we use a system called iBid to bid for and enroll in courses. iBid is a Dutch-auction system where students are given bid points (new full-time students start with 8000 points and accrue 2000 points for each additional course they complete). There are 6 phases of bidding during a bidding cycle, so if you would like to make adjustments to your schedule during the first few rounds, you still have time!

In order to help students better understand how to spend our bid points, there are Course Price History spreadsheets that detail closing prices on a section-by-section basis for past courses. You’ll also hear many students talking about their “Bid Strategy” during the week leading up to the first phase of bidding.

Strategic bidding aside, I feel as though it is important to select a combination of courses that will best prepare me for summer internship opportunities and have a quantitative-qualitative balance. From previous experience, I know that I can feel overwhelmed with three or four very quantitative courses, so I like to add “balance” to my course load by taking at least one management-oriented, people-driven course each quarter.

So now I’ve gotten through the tough part: narrowing down the list of courses I would like to take during winter quarter from 7 to 3. I am dying to take “Building the New Venture”! The course is great for students who would like to start their own businesses. The class focuses on both strategic and tactical issues that arise from entrepreneurial endeavors. Because I would like to enter the New Venture Challenge competition this spring, I believe that Building the New Venture would be great preparation because of the course’s emphasis on building teams and identifying customers. After reviewing the Course Price History spreadsheet, it looks like I’ll have to be a big spender – this course is one of the most expensive at Booth!

I would also like to take my first course to apply towards my International Business concentration, “Managing the Firm in the Global Economy.” If given the opportunity, I would love to have an internship with a wine exporter or distributor in Spain. The course focuses on legal implications and export decision making, amongst other issues that global firms face. If I do end up working abroad, having a working knowledge of how firms make decisions to enter specific markets will be a very useful skill to have.

And last, but certainly not least, my Excel skills could definitely be refined. No matter what functional area of an organization or industry you’re in, strong Excel skills are crucial. I plan to take “Managerial Decision Modeling” in order to better utilize Excel’s analytical tools and to get plenty of hands-on practice before my summer internship.

As you can see, Booth’s academic flexibility definitely helps each student create an individualized program of study that will ultimately allow us to realize our goals. I can’t wait to take my first entrepreneurship class (fingers crossed my bidding strategy proves successful!). Happy bidding!

LEAD at Booth

Happy November everyone!

This week, Chloe Williams blogs about Chicago Booth’s flagship LEAD program.

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There is only one class that is required in the Chicago Booth curriculum. That class is LEAD. LEAD stands for Leadership Effectiveness and Development. As described on the Booth website, this course is designed to enhance students’ self-awareness and interpersonal effectiveness through a series of challenging, yet fun, classroom sessions and events. When I first read that, I thought it would be a fluff class that talks about feelings. I figured we would do a few Myers Briggs assessments, everyone finds out they have a type-A personality, and life goes on. A little cynical, but I had been through those tests, along with 360 degree assessments, and other “find out about yourself” tools many times over the last few years. But I realized that LEAD was different…much different.

First, the course starts off with a three-day retreat in Wisconsin for all first year students. The class is split into 10 different cohorts with approximately 58 students each. While in Wisconsin we do ropes courses, improvement exercises, and have an abundance of social events to break the ice. Then we come back to Chicago and start the good stuff. We meet once a week for six weeks and cover a different LEAD module each week. 2nd year students teach the class and we tackle issues such as ethics, conflict and integrity, giving and getting feedback, interpersonal communication styles, and of course, team dynamics. The modules are seemingly independent but it all comes together at the end of the six weeks with two events called “LEADership Challenge” and “LEADership in Crisis.” A group of students (10 for LEADership Challenge, 4 for LEADership in Crisis) is selected by each cohort as representatives in each of the challenges.

I can only speak to LEADership Challenge as you can only participate in one. Also, given the nature of the day-long challenge, I am not able to disclose all of the details. But trust me when I say that these challenges are where all of the modules and concepts in LEAD come together. Prominent alumni come to Chicago from all around the country and spend a day in the Harper Center with the cohort teams. There are challenges to be completed and the alumni play an interactive role in all of the challenges. These tasks require dealing with all of the concepts brought up in the modules. You get to see your fellow classmates in situations you never imagined, and understand how all of the different components of the leadership course fit together. My initial skepticism of LEAD was blown away by this event, which has to date been the most rewarding experience of school. Lesson for all: Pay attention in LEAD and you’ll do well in the Challenge!

“Live” from the Chicago Women in Business Conference!

Hello everyone,

This week is our unofficial “Women’s Week” on The Booth Experience – it’s like “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel…but so much cooler! This week’s blog post is from the CWIB (Chicago Women in Business) Conference, and this week’s (WIWG) Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video reports “live” from the conference as well. Keep reading to get a flavor for the opportunities open to one of Booth’s largest and most active student groups.

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Hi Prospective Students (especially the women out there),

Last week, Booth’s Chicago Women in Business Group (CWiB) hosted its annual fall conference. This year’s theme was “Get in the Game” and after engaging with all the speakers, I can attest the 190+ participants were more than eager to ensure we left our mark not just on the corporate world but in every sphere of our lives.
But before I jump into the details of the conference and the impact it had – a brief introduction on me: My name is Nupur Bhargava and I’m a first year student at Booth. I’m originally from India, and moved to Singapore 10 years ago for high school. I graduated with a double degree in Economics and Business from the Singapore Management University in 2007. My career began at UBS’s rotational leadership program during which I did research and strategy. Upon completing the program I spent two years doing Marketing and Business Development work for UBS’s private wealth management business in Asia-Pacific. With an undergraduate degree in business, the flexible curriculum and extremely welcoming and close-knit student body were the main reasons I chose to come to Booth. In the last two months, the second years have often gone out of their way to give us career advice and help us with our resumes, and have even offered to put us in touch with their own personal networks. They’ve also been busy organizing the various industry conferences, which provide additional avenues for us to network with and gain exposure to our desired future careers.

Following CWiB’s first social and fundraising events I was quite excited about the Fall Conference. A few weeks before the conference started, we needed to register for the sessions that we wanted to participate in. After much internal debate (all the options seemed extremely insightful) I decided to attend – “Professional Networking: The Art of Small Talk” and “Negotiations: Discussions with Results”.

The afternoon kicked off at the University Club of Chicago with a splendid lunch and networking session with many industry women and Booth alumni. Ava D. Youngblood, a Booth alumnus and entrepreneur introduced us to the 8P’s of getting in the game – Preparation, Performance, Passion, Perseverance, Positive Visibility, Presence, Predictability and Play. Personally, my biggest takeaway was her statement that the ‘Executive suite is what you define it to be– it can be that C-suite job, being a mother or being an entrepreneur’. As we start business school and embark on the journey of defining our careers, her words struck home. A big part of business school is identifying and defining what you want out of your career and personal life, and understanding what you value the most.

Following the opening keynote address we all broke into our individual panels. My first one on the “Art of Small Talk” was led by P.J. McGuire who provides similar training to various Fortune 500 firms. Her advice on initiating conversations and building relationships with people you meet for the first time was extremely useful. As we shift gears into recruiting season and begin networking with firms all that she shared will be put into good use. My second panel was on “Negotiating for Results.” Our panel included senior leaders at banks and consulting firms. They all shared personal anecdotes of negotiations that had gone well, giving advice on what they thought proved effective. Some of them also told us about when negotiations had gone south and what they learned from the experience. It was comforting to realize that I was not alone in my inexperience negotiating, especially on sensitive topics such as compensation.

To wrap up an eventful day, our final keynote speech was made by Gail Evans. A former CNN Executive VP, Gail encouraged us to help each other and make each other powerful. One of the biggest strengths of a school like Booth is the phenomenal people that you meet and the friendships and networks that you build. Gail reminded us that power is all about getting things done and you as an individual define who you are and what power you have. She stressed the importance of using powerful language to define and differentiate yourself – not just at the workplace but in everyday life.

Charged by her rhetoric and vivacity we adjourned into a formal networking session with numerous senior business leaders and industry experts. It was a fantastic way to close the day over drinks networking with these women, many of whom are Booth alumni and now leaders in the industries we want to transition into. It was amazing to see the huge alumni turnout that CWiB was able to generate and I look forward to many more Booth conferences over the next two years.

The Booth Environment (From an “Entrepreneurial perspective”)

Today we hear from Dana Fortini, a first year at Booth with a perspective on the Entrepreneurial track. Read on to learn more about Dana!

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Hello Prospective Students!

My name is Dana Fortini and I am a first year student at Booth. I am a born and bred New Yorker, with the exception of a year or so that I have spent in Spain. My undergrad years were spent at NYU Stern, where I graduated with a degree in Finance and Marketing, a minor in Mathematics, and a concentration in Entertainment, Media, and Technology. (Yes, I still managed to have a life!) After graduation, it was off to Protiviti, where I was a financial risk consultant with a range of high-profile clients in the financial services industry. In my heart, I always knew that something more entrepreneurial was my calling. At the beginning of this year, a business development position for a client-services based start-up presented itself, and I quickly seized the opportunity. Then it was off to Spain, where I received a diploma in Spanish proficiency and made contacts for my future business. I came to Booth to acquire a skill set more conducive to entrepreneurial undertakings; my ultimate goal is to start a vinoteca (a wine retail space by day, wine bar by night) in the US that specializes in Iberian products. This summer, I would love to have an internship in the wine and spirits industry, either in operations or marketing/ business development.

I chose Booth due to its academic flexibility and strong reputation in entrepreneurship. Starting a business requires a breadth of skills and knowledge. By taking a spectrum of courses, rather than concentrating in one particular industry or area, I felt I could emerge a more well-rounded businessperson. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship was also a huge deciding factor for me. After visiting for a day, they made me feel extremely welcome! The Polsky Center provides a tremendous amount of support for students pursuing entrepreneurship via lab coursework, assistance in finding internships, and the New Venture Challenge. The value of these resources and support systems cannot be overlooked which leads me to the topic of my first post…

The Booth Environment

If I had to pick a single factor that has highlighted my experience at Booth during my first month, it would be how supportive the faculty, my classmates, leaders within student organizations, and Career Services are of my goals.
Before coming to Booth, I certainly raised a few eyebrows with my declaration that I wanted to start my own business, a business with high overhead costs at that. Reponses ran the gamut from “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea” to “Dana, are you crazy? With this economy, you expect people to buy from you?”

It’s not necessarily tangible, but to be immersed in the positive energy and supportive environment within the Booth community have been incredibly motivating. As I’ve been meeting fellow students, I’ve received so many enthusiastic responses and offers of support; some students have even offered to assist me with the New Venture Challenge (NVC), an annual competition through the Polsky Center that allows students to present their business plans, receive feedback from judges and seasoned entrepreneurs, and potentially receive funding to make the plan a reality. Preparing for the NVC has been complementary to my coursework at Booth in that both reinforce and help me better understand all of the requirements of starting and running a business.

I am also extremely appreciative of Career Advisors, the second-year students who have taken time to help get my resume and my elevator pitch in perfect condition. It’s no easy task to refine these two critical elements of the internship search, but I have received a great deal of guidance over the past month. In addition to the formal resume reviews provided by Career Advisors, I have found that many second-years in the student organizations at Booth will also review resumes for first-years. There are also second-year students, who after reviewing my resume, have put me in touch with contacts from their networks. As one second-year said to me: “If you ever need anything, ask.”

Professor Linda Darragh has also been instrumental in my early phase of the networking process at Booth. I first spoke with Professor Darragh at an information session for the Booth Food Business and Agriculture Industry Club. She helped me identify contacts and former mentees that have specialized in importing Spanish goods to the Chicago area. Not only are these contacts excellent resources and leads (and I plan to learn a tremendous deal from them!), but Professor Darragh has encouraged that I update her and keep her aware of my progress. Despite how busy professors are, they have a genuine interest in the career development of their students.

All of the mentorship and assistance I have received over the past month has further strengthened my determination to start my own business. I am surrounded by 1,000+ students and professors who believe in me and genuinely want me to succeed. The environment at Booth: of support, encouragement, and positivity, with students and professors who are ready and eager to help and better refine business ideas, confirms that I am in the right place.

As told by our 1st Year blogger….”Mocktails”

Hi everyone!

Now that our first year class has completed orientation and is getting settled in on campus, I will be introducing you to our new guest bloggers for the year. This week, meet Chloe Williams!

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Hi Prospective Students!!

My name is Chloe Williams and I am a 1st year student here at Booth. I am originally from the Midwest – Wisconsin, but recently moved to Chicago from the Los Angeles area. I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering and started with MillerCoors in Milwaukee, WI in a Rotational Management Development Program. After finishing the program I moved to the California Brewery and worked as a Packaging Team Leader. I came to Booth to pursue a career change into Management Consulting.

I chose Booth because of the people I met through campus visits, interviews, and Admit Weekend. I was impressed with how humble and approachable the students were and felt comfortable being myself. After spending a few days surrounded by current students and other admitted students during admit weekend, I knew I belonged here. I hope all of you have similar experiences when you come to visit! If you have any questions feel free to email me through the link on the blog!

This week, I’ll be blogging from Mocktails.

Booth dedicates a tremendous amount of resources to recruiting preparation. The first years in particular are given extensive training and coaching so we can put our best foot forward. The most useful training is by far interactive simulations. Tonight’s event was Mocktails, an event which helps first years adjust to networking at recruiting events. Second years act as recruiters (from the companies they interned at and in some cases are returning to), and first years practice networking with them, going through introductions and small talk. This seems intuitive, but it’s nice to be put in this situation in a risk-free environment to see what could or should actually happen.

I was in the group for consulting which has a fairly big base at Booth. We did two networking simulations and were given feedback at the completion of each of them. Some non-obvious learnings occurred quickly. For instance some people realized how to hold a drink, a plate, and still have a free hand, to shake if need be. Other people realized they should either do the drink or the plate (it really is hard to balance). Another key learning was how to successfully enter and exit a conversation. The most important take away for me was learning how to navigating “crop circles.” I know you’re probably thinking what in the world could patterns created by flattening crops have to do with Business School? A lot, if you want to get a job! A crop circle is the circle that forms around a recruiter or an employee of a company who is recruiting on campus. For most major recruiting events, it is inevitable that crop circles will form. It’s a little awkward and uncomfortable at first, but at least we were able to make mistakes in front of friends instead of in front of real recruiters.

I think everyone walked away feeling more confident about the process and realizing what they need to work on before recruiting events start. All in all, it was great to do a dry run with the people that I will be working besides for the next two years, and it gave us another experience to bond over!

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