Double Header: A Look Back on 1st Quarter of Business School

Hi everyone!

Welcome to this week’s TBE blog! This week, I caught up with two first years, Didier Acevedo and Chloe Williams, to ask them to reflect on their 1st Quarter at Booth. Keep reading to learn more and get a taste of what your first quarter here could be like! Also, make sure to check out our Facebook page for this week’s Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video, where I ask 2nd year students what they are doing to prepare for final exams this week.

Tina

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Hi Everyone!


Thanks for your interest in Chicago Booth! I am sure that as the winter rolls around many of you are thinking about holiday cheer, New Years resolutions and what next year might look like at business school. As my first quarter comes to an end, I thought I would take a much-needed break from studying for finals to reflect and share some of my experiences at Booth so far.

In my last two weeks of employment, one of my coworkers told me “business school is going to be intense but you’ll have a great time!” At the time, I was working in Boston for an investment management firm conducting equity research so I thought I was accustomed to intensity. Thus far, Chicago Booth has been an all-consuming experience. It is an exhilarating, fast paced environment that provides a vast amount of resources and events for my fellow students and I to enjoy on campus and throughout the city of Chicago.

At orientation we were told that we would suffer from FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” FOMO sounds silly but I have learned that business school is a balancing act. It can get pretty difficult because often times you have to pick between hearing interesting speakers, going to club meetings, recruiting events, networking events, group meetings, events around the city, catching up with friends and, let’s not forget, doing homework. Despite this busy schedule, I could not picture myself anywhere but Chicago Booth.

One of my fellow classmates recently published an online article that talked about business school and fit. I was impressed with the article not only because he is a far superior writer than I but also because he captured the essence of why I chose to come to Chicago Booth. Booth is where I feel I belong. As the son of two immigrant parents from Colombia, I realize the importance of risk taking, pursuing ambitions and working hard. It is the combination these three values that have enabled me to go from being the first person in my family to graduate from high school to being a graduate student at the Booth School of Business. One of the things I love most about Chicago Booth is the attitude: Challenge everything! I believe it is this attitude that has produced groundbreaking research and first class alumni.

Upon arriving at Booth, we were greeted by Dean Kumar. Of all the things he said to us in his welcoming address, one sentence really struck a chord with me, “Swing for the fences, Chicago Booth has your back.” It was a challenge and an affirmation all in one. Initially I thought it meant that the faculty and staff were here to help us on our journey through the next two years but in reality he meant the student community as well. The student community is extremely impressive. The students are smart, driven and motivated and, most of all, are good people. We are a diverse group of students with different perspectives and world views yet we all agree that collaborating with each other through this transformative process is pivotal. Every day, I look forward to the interactions with my fellow classmates to draw insight from their unique experiences, talk about current endeavors and, in the process, make life-long friends.

Booth fosters a sense of community and encourages students to network to get to know each other better. Student clubs are a great way to get involved. They range from career-oriented groups such as the Investment Management Group to hobbies such as the Epicurean group. Student run groups are inclusive and put forth a lot of effort to plan events for the Booth community. Whether it is a group dinner at a second year’s apartment, a distinguished speaker event, or a costume party, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know other students.

In addition to an impressive student body, the faculty is very accomplished and includes several Nobel Laureates and professors who are working on the frontier of research in their respective fields. As most of you know, Chicago Booth allows students to tailor the curriculum to their interests. For me, that has translated into taking stimulating yet challenging classes in subjects such as, believe it or not, Accounting and Corporate Finance. I find myself being constantly challenged and learning just as much from my introductory classes as I do from my more advanced classes. Professors teach at a fast pace but are easily accessible via email or in person during office hours to answer questions and help you explore the content in more detail.

Looking back, my first quarter of business school has been awesome! I can’t believe how fast time flies in business school. It seems like just yesterday I was walking into the Winter Garden for the first day of Orientation. Although it has been only three months, I feel like I have known some of my classmates for a lot longer. Booth has enabled me to make meaningful relationships and push my thinking in ways I had never considered. In addition, I have had the opportunity to attend social events and experience the great city of Chicago. As finals come to an end, I look forward to a well-deserved break where I can recharge and prepare for interviews next quarter!

I hope you get to experience the Booth community!

SHORT BIO
Prior to coming to Booth, Didier worked at MFS Investment Management, a long-only mutual fund company based in Boston, as a an Equity Research Associate covering health care stocks. Prior to that, he was in the International Sales Department at MFS, selling offshore mutual funds to Non-Resident-Client Financial advisors in Mexico. Didier holds a BS in Business Administration majoring in Finance from Stonehill College and also holds a Charter Financial Analyst (CFA), designation. Didier is originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island and has spent most of his life in the Northeast. Didier’s hobbies include hiking in the White Mountains and skiing them during the winter.

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A look back on the 1st quarter: Chloe Williams


My first quarter at Chicago Booth is done (almost, 2 finals to go), where did the 10 weeks go? I don’t think there is a book, blog, advice from a 2nd year, or alumni that could have prepared me, and anyone who thinks there is probably shouldn’t be in business school. I came to Booth to be challenged and I was from day 1. I was challenged by my classmates, my professors, by the exams, and even by navigating the city of Chicago and public transportation. The pace of learning is much faster than you will ever remember, so be on your game!

It does seem like day 1 was a year ago, the time goes by fast but so much happens in that 10 weeks. The most impressive thing from the 1st term was learning about my fellow classmates. By Booth being a top business school, everyone that attends is truly amazing. You could spend all year being wowed by these people. Besides that, there are a few things I’m glad to see end and others I can’t wait to continue.

Things I’m glad that are done:

– That awkward getting to know you phase. Of course, I don’t know everyone in my class, but the awkward run-ins with people’s whose name I should know are for the most part over. I’m sure it will still happen, and there are more people to still meet, but at least it’s not awkward anymore.
– Crop circles, I’d like to find one person that likes them!
– Bad groups! If you had the bad luck to pick a group that doesn’t mesh with your personal style…congrats! The term is done and you won’t have to work with those people again if you choose not to.
– The feeling that you’re a freshman. The feeling of being lost, not knowing what to expect, spending way too much time organizing your calendar (I’m not so sure if that actually ends.)

Things I can’t wait to continue:

– The social activities. Personally, I did not partake in as many social activities as I should have. You have to pick and choose your battles in b-school. I’m excited for winter and spring to really let loose!!!
– Great conversation in class. I mentioned all of the great classmates, who come from wildly diverse backgrounds; this makes for interesting, stimulating conversation in class. Often times I learn more from the discussions than from the lectures!
– Group work. While this can go either way, I think I’m equipped with better knowledge to pick my groups wisely! If done right, groups can be your savior on that week that you’re insanely overwhelmed.
– Free lunches! I think that speaks for itself.
– Guest speakers and alumni talks. Henry Paulson, Condoleezza Rice (rescheduled, hopefully soon) and countless amazing alumni come to give talks.
– Getting involved. It’s hard to get that involved in the first quarter, we’re all still trying to find where the bathroom is. Winter term brings amazing leadership opportunities, with Random Walk and LEAD facilitator applications due! Winter begins the transition of positions from 2nd years and the class of 2013 can’t wait to fill the spots.

Fall met all of my expectations. It was busy, of course challenging, stimulating, and fun. Although Winter will bring its own set of headaches (interviews), I think the best is yet to come!

Adventures of our Roving Reporter

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all rested up after Thanksgiving! This week I’d like to introduce our Roving Reporter Jessica, who will be reporting to us from various activities and events on campus. Jessica is a first year MBA student at Chicago Booth. She’s actively pursuing a social venture with students from across the University and found “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” a great resource for better defining how to position the group’s idea in the market. She’s excited to participate in more idea generation and community-building events. Today, Jessica blogs about her experiences at the Healthcare Conference, the AAMBA DuSable Conference, and the Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off. Check out her travels!

Tina

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Spotlight on Healthcare at Booth

With one of the most prominent academic hospitals in the nation, The University of Chicago Medical Center, just a few blocks away it shouldn’t be a surprise that Booth has its fair share of students interested in the health care industry. Backgrounds vary from medical physicians to complete novices. Some students take advantage of the school’s interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP: http://www.ssa.uchicago.edu/gphap) while others may just try to tailor their curriculum in other ways. Regardless of past experience and current education pursuits, they can all interact with each other within the school’s Health Care Group (HCG).

HCG puts on a number of events throughout the school year to keep students aware of the ever-evolving field of health care, but its biggest one is the annual Health Care Conference. For this year, the tenth anniversary of the conference, the theme was appropriately, “The Changing Landscape of Health Care.” Speeches from key players in health care venture capital, and health care services companies, were complimented by panels that covered a variety of perspectives that were just as diverse as the interests of students in HCG. The first panel was on consumerism in health care, with representatives from all types of firms that influence the patient/consumer experience, including consulting retail pharmacy, health insurance, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

The next set of panels looked specifically at entrepreneurial opportunities in health care. “Entrepreneurial Health Care” offered the opportunity for the audience to hear directly from professionals who started their own health care companies, including the founder of Agile Diagnosis – last year’s winner of the New Venture Challenge, and from firms that invest in and consult to health care businesses.

The final panel looked even deeper into the deals that take place within the industry. The “Principal Investing in Health Care” panel featured representatives from banks, private equity, and venture capital firms with a presence in the health care market.

After a day of discussing innovation, consumerism, and venture opportunities within the health care industry, audience members were able to network with each other, speakers, panelists, and sponsor companies, bringing to a close this year’s annual tradition. Till next year’s conference!


The panel for Consumerism in Health Care featured representatives from Bain, Walgreens Co., Abbott Nutrition, Biogen Idec, Humana, Accenture, and Intuitive Surgical.

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The African-American MBA Association’s Annual DuSable Conference

The start of November marked a big weekend for the black, African-American community at Booth. Both the Chicago Booth Black Alumni Association (CBAA) and the full-time African-American MBA Association (AAMBAA) held their annual conferences. The weekend was a time for members of both groups to come together and network, as well as connect with the greater Booth community.

The weekend kicked off with the CBAA’s fifth annual Black Economic Forecast conference. This year’s event, “Removing the Barriers to New Opportunities,” featured a range of panels covering international and business-to-business opportunities for aspiring and current entrepreneurs, along with a session dedicated to career planning. After time for cocktails and networking, the conference closed with a keynote panel where major economic trends and their impact on the job market were discussed among professionals in economics, city government, and human resources.

Building off the momentum from the CBAA’s conference, the following night AAMBAA held its twenty-seventh annual DuSable Conference, presented by Credit Suisse. The evening’s theme was “Synergy.” During the course of the conference dinner, both the scheduled speakers– Andre Hughes, Global Managing Director at Accenture and Andrea Wishom, Executive Vice-President and Executive Producer of Harpo Studios– and the recipients of the alumni awards shared their stories about overcoming challenges to design the professional and personal lives they wanted. The networking hour afterwards was a great culmination to two days of insightful career advice and inspirational stories that benefited not only the black community at Booth but also all students and alums.


Dean Sunil Kumar speaking at AAMBAA’s 27th Annual DuSable Conference.

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Social New Venture Challenge Kick-off and Social Entrepreneurship at Booth

The career interests of Booth students have been changing over the years. While the stalwart career paths of financial services, marketing, general management, and consulting are still popular among students, entrepreneurship is also an area that students are eager to pursue now, not years down the road. Students’ eagerness for starting their own venture has led to the success of the now ten-year old New Venture Challenge – Booth’s business plan competition. But students are not just interested in for-profit opportunities, social entrepreneurship—whether a not-for-profit or a for-profit with a social mission—also has a home on campus. The Social New Venture Challenge (Social NVC) started last year in response to students’ interest in this area, and awareness of this opportunity only seems to be growing. This was evident at Social NVC’s kick-off event, “Big Problems, Big Ideas: Idea Generation for the Social NVC.”

At “Big Problems, Big Ideas” students from graduate and undergraduate programs across the University came together to hear and discuss some of the key areas of opportunity for starting social ventures. Seasoned professionals in the fields of health care, local government, the environment, and education each gave a fifteen minute pitch where they covered the key entrepreneurial trends in their field, unaddressed needs, and suggestions on resources to consult. Then the speakers held break-out sessions where students could come and discuss in more detail the unmet and pending needs in that field. Students even shared their own business ideas to solicit feedback from their peers and the experts and to potentially recruit team mates for their venture.

With the enthusiasm and momentum coming out of “Big Problems, Big Ideas,” there’s no telling what insightful and meaningful ventures will come out of this year’s Social NVC and the active social entrepreneurship community at Booth and the University at-large.

Booth Entrepreneurship Week & Seedcon 2011

Hi everyone!

I know you must be getting excited about Thanksgiving! Here at Booth we have been busy as ever on campus before everyone heads out for the holiday. This week, we check in with our Entrepreneurship Correspondent, Dana, on Seedcon 2011.

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Seedcon 2011: It was the perfect close to what was a very exciting Booth Entrepreneurship Week (BEW), which was brimming with events targeted towards students interested in VC and entrepreneurship.

Seedcon is the annual entrepreneurship and venture capital conference at Booth. This year, the conference spanned two days and included a fast-pitch competition, panels, and a fireside chat with 37signals co-founder Jason Fried.
Panel discussion topics included “What’s in the Future for Non-Technical Entrepreneurs?”, “VCs, Angels, and Accelerators,” and “Big Data, the Next Big Thing.” For me, the data panel was especially interesting. As an undergraduate, I interned in the marketing research department of a firm that had a wealth of subscriber data. At that time, marketers were just beginning to realize the importance of this data and the potential to create more targeted, relevant advertising. Based on the advances in data analytics discussed in this panel, the old pop-up/ banner advertisement model is a notion of the past and marketers should come to rely on real-time information much more heavily. As I create my team for the New Venture Challenge, I now understand the role that my data analytics/ research team member will have to fulfill.

It was also very motivating to see that the Chicago entrepreneurship scene is alive and well. Throughout the three panels, there was no shortage of excitement for the startups that are emerging from Chicago. Chicago has quickly become an entrepreneurial hot-spot; panelists believed that unlike other entrepreneurial cities in the US, Chicago has a much “flatter” network with fewer gatekeepers. This collaborative environment, with members of the community willing to connect with one another, makes Chicago the ideal city for those looking to start a business.

I’ve been a fan of Signals vs. Noise, 37signals’ blog, for quite some time now and rushed out to purchase the blog-inspired book, “Rework,” as soon as it was released last year. It was a real treat to have Jason Fried speak to us candidly on topics related to startups. Jason was quick to point out that data is not the end-all, be-all (ironically, this came after the data panel) and that it is important for entrepreneurs to trust their intuition. Jason also had a great point that truly resonated with me: “focus on doing one thing and do it really well first.” Sometimes, as I synthesize ideas for my business or reflect on the multitude of directions that certain ideas can take me, I have the tendency to get very distracted or overwhelmed. Jason’s advice reminded me that I should focus on the core of my business plan, before expanding into various directions.

Seedcon was a fantastic learning experience and I am proud to be amongst the company of so many innovative minds at Booth. Many thanks to the Polsky Center and EVC for coordinating Seedcon and for providing countless outlets to foster the collaborative spirit of entrepreneurship.

Navigating the Recruiting Maze

Hi everyone! This week we take a look inside Recruiting at Chicago Booth. In our Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video segment, we ask 2nd years and 1st years about how their experiences at Booth have helped shape their career ambitions, and how Booth’s community has helped in their career transitions. In this week’s blog, Nupur writes about learning to navigate the recruiting process as a 1st year.

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You’ve heard it before: Your job hunt at business school starts before you even get there – my mentor mentioned this to me before I came to Booth – and having been in school for 10 weeks now, I can tell you how true this is from my own experience. As soon I accepted my Booth offer, I began receiving invites to pre-MBA networking sessions at firms in the industry I was hoping to break into post Booth. The value of the Booth brand was on display even before I arrived at Hyde Park! Having left a job at UBS that I quite enjoyed a little over 3 months prior, I did not expect the recruiting process to pick up so soon! The process itself is intense and particularly informative if you are exploring alternate career paths or switching careers. Booth however has a great support system and infrastructure in place to help navigate the process – from the impressive career services team to second years and alumni, all of whom are extremely eager to help you navigate the process. The strong reputation of Booth’s Career Services staff was a key factor in my decision to come here, and I’m pleased to report that the resources and training made available to me to date has far exceeded my expectations.

Formal Programming and Resources

Each week we have a designated 3 hour slot for career services programming. These sessions cover a wide variety of topics ranging from crafting resume bullets, to building your elevator pitch (refer to Chloe’s earlier blog on mocktails) and conducting informational interviews. Last week I had a session on drafting cover letters, and I’m finding it extremely useful to go through the various templates that were shared as I begin drafting my own! Additionally the career services team has a librarian dedicated to helping you conduct research on the firms you are recruiting for. She helped me reduce the number of hours I was spending researching firms significantly and I have class mates looking at starting new ventures who have gotten a lot of their consumer data quickly by just approaching her. This week I’m looking forward to the session on conducting informal and formal interviews.

Companies on Campus and Booth Alumni support

Every day as I walk into the Harper Center, I glance at the various TV screens that display the day’s on-campus events, and continue to be amazed by the number and diversity of companies that Booth attracts. In the last three months I must have attended over 50 corporate presentations, networking nights, lunch and learn, and breakfast and learn events (free Starbucks at 7am is awesome!). Most firms visit campus several times within one quarter, and this allows us to engage with senior Partners from a variety of different backgrounds. It really allows you to gain a holistic perspective of a firm: what type of work you might do, what type of people you might work with, and whereabouts in the country (or abroad!) you might like to work.

In addition to all the phenomenal on-campus networking opportunities that exist, several firms are eager to host Booth students at their company sites to really get an up-close look at specific opportunities. Last week I visited a firm headquartered outside Chicago where Booth alumni had organized a full day of events exclusively for current Booth students interested in interning at the firm. They brought in several senior executives to talk to us exclusively and, perhaps most telling, at the lunch event, 6 of us Booth first years had the opportunity to speak to over 15 Booth alumni who were more than happy to share their experiences with us and help us through the recruiting process.

Second year students

The alums are an integral part of the Booth community that eagerly provides support and assistance in your career search, and staying on that theme, so are second year students! Second years have been an amazing resource for me, not just in terms of learning about the firms that they spent their summer at, but also in terms of helping improve my profile and fit for the companies I am targeting. Sitting with a second year Career Advisor for just 30 minutes completely transformed my resume (just a side note, count on having about 20 different versions of your resume while you’re here!). The second years have also been extremely approachable and willing to be a source of advice not just for careers, but for life here in Chicago. In spite of their own hectic recruiting schedules, second years are always looking to help in whatever way they can. There is really a pay it forward mentality here, and I look forward to doing the same next year!!

Clubs

The various industry clubs at Booth are yet another fantastic platform to meet more firms and get advice on recruiting. The co-chairs of these clubs are very well networked with the HR teams of most firms in their respective industries, and they help organize a multitude of events. Each club also organized a resume review session with their members, which was especially helpful. Last week I attended a session organized by one of the clubs on interview preparation and leveraging my resume during informational sessions with firms.

Resumes, cover letters, informational interviews, coffee chats, corporate conversations, case interviews, fit interviews, closed lists, recruiting events, lunch n learns, breakfast n learns, cocktails, mocktails… the list goes on; but with the resources at hand I feel confident that I will be well prepared to tackle interview season!

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Below are pictures from a conference recently held by the Marketing Group, an example of one of many career-oriented events put on by students to connect with prominent industry leaders and alumni.


The conference was held at the University Club of Chicago


Pictured here: Panel on Innovation. Panelists included executives from American Express, PepsiCo, Groupon, and Campbell’s. The panel was moderated by Professor Waverly Deutsch, of the Entrepreneurship department.


The evening concluded with a networking cocktail hour between students and representatives from sponsor companies.


Congratulations to the 2011-2012 Marketing Group Co-chairs on a successful event! Click here to learn more about the Marketing Group.

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!

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