Chicago Booth, in conjunction with several business schools around the country, honored the Black Lives Matter movement this past week. Students and faculty gathered and dressed in black as a sign of solidarity and a desire to engage in dialogue about race relations in today’s United States. These are my thoughts on a topic far too complex to fit an 800-word essay.
Class of 2018, You made it!!
You’re about to start the best two-year journey of your life, which is also very likely the most expensive two-year vacation of your life. But don’t worry about that for now.
You’re excited and you should be, you’ve just joined the best business school in the world. You’re probably wondering what it’s going to be like and what to expect. Well, you’re in luck… I was in the same situation last year and can give you some insights.
What makes this city great? And what about it will you find most compelling?
Many of you are facing the question of whether you want to uproot your life, leave your job, family, and friends and move to a place you may know nothing about. And though that is certainly a daunting prospect, it’s also exciting for a number of reasons. It pushes you out of your comfort zone (the first of many of such occurrences), it gives you a chance to redefine ‘local’, and allows you to navigate it all with many new friends.
Sweat drips down my face and I’ve been hiking for two hours. At this point, I’m just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. Then we get to a clearing and I see majestic rock formations. Time for pictures! Instagram filter, check. Ummm…I’m closing my eyes in this one. Do you mind taking it again? On to the next trail!
While some of my classmates are busy having adventures in Asia, Europe, Africa, I’m in the exotic land of…Illinois! Starved Rock State Park is only two hours away by car and it’s a nice place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. It’s a place not many of my classmates know about, but it’s very familiar to me. I moved to Chicago when I was in high school and have lived here since (except for two years in Korea, 3 months in France, and a summer in Paraguay). As a Booth Experience blogger, some of my posts may cover similar hidden gems in and around Chicago, although I must admit that my fellow Class of 2016 Boothies from other cities have been doing a pretty good job of exploring in just the year they’ve been here!
But that’s not only reason I wanted to write about my hike at Starved Rock State Park. I realized as I was walking that it’s actually a pretty good analogy for MY interpretation of life in business school. For some of you laboring to finish the GMAT or write those essays, it might feel like you’re scaling a mountain and if you just get to the top, it will be smooth sailing from there. As Boothies, we can fall prey to the same thinking (if I just get this perfect internship, I’m set!) What I’ve gradually been realizing during my time here is that it’s more like a long hike through a wooded trail. Yes, there will be highs and lows, and you might change your mind about what you want to do “when you grow up” several times. The great news is that the flexibility at Booth allows you to choose your own trail. You might go left while others go right, but here at Booth, that’s ok!
If you do find that your path is leading you towards Booth, you can look forward to a community that will support you. Even though a large part of why I came to Booth was to transition to a new career path, I know that what I’m learning through my classes, extracurricular activities, and the Booth community, goes beyond just helping me get that first job. I’m gaining skills and making friendships that I can carry throughout the whole rest of my career, and THAT, to answer the question posed by my fellow blogger, Gordon, is why I’m here and not somewhere else.
The Winter Garden was buzzing with excitement on First Day as the incoming Class of 2017 got to meet each other as well as current students, who welcomed them to the Booth community. Just as everyone was about to grab lunch and go to class, the crowd in the Winter Garden got a huge surprise… a FLASH MOB!
How were over 100 Boothies able to pull off this flash mob of epic proportions? The Booth Dance Club (BDC) co-chairs organized it all. Norman Wang, Srividya Pandya, and Emily Theis garnered volunteers through word of mouth and the class Facebook pages. Emily explained that once they got a few people involved, “it grew more organically after word started to spread, and more people wanted to be a part of it.” Understanding everyone’s differing levels of commitment and busy schedules, they offered multiple sections with varied amounts of dancing, as well as a flexible practice schedule. How did they keep track of everything? “In true Booth fashion we had an Excel matrix that highlighted what every group was doing throughout different sections of the song … it was very Boothie of us,” Srividya joked.