Today marks a year since I moved to Chicago to pursue my MBA at Booth. I remember feeling excited about this new chapter but also feeling anxious about all the unknowns. I had created a list of what I thought to be the most important things to accomplish: classes I would take, student organizations I would join, and companies I would apply to, etc… But as I reflect on my first year, I realize that it wasn’t always the activities I took part in that I remember most today, rather it’s the people I shared those experiences with. Here’s a look at a couple of my most memorable ones.
International travel is a popular passion for many Boothies and if I had a plan to visit any location in the world, I’m sure I could find a classmate who could give me a recommendation in the area. So, when I read in our class GroupMe that a small group of my classmates were interested in taking a weekend road trip to the Cleveland/Akron, Ohio area over the 4th of July weekend, I was honestly shocked. “With all the travel opportunities available here, why on EARTH would anyone want to visit Cleveland or Akron?” I thought to myself.
However, like any other Clevelander, I’m passionate about where I’m from and could show them things they wouldn’t find on a travel site. I conveniently did not yet have plans for the weekend, so I immediately offered to be their tour guide.
The Booth experience (no pun intended) is meant to encompass a lot of things in a short amount of time. You can take classes with Nobel winning professors, you liaise, and are potentially hired, by some of the world’s premiere companies, and you travel around the globe to fulfill your ‘experiential’ learning component. But maybe most importantly of all, you build out a tremendous network that stays with you in some capacity for the rest of your life.
One of the things that makes Booth such a unique place to learn and grow is the LEAD program. LEAD is a dynamic course where first-year students focus on developing the most critical aspects of leadership – cultivating support and influencing others, understanding different working styles and motivating diverse teams, presenting ideas, and managing under crisis. At Booth, we believe these skills simply can’t be learned in a traditional academic setting, so LEAD is a fully experiential program where first-year students are constantly challenging themselves to practice these skills and incorporate feedback from each other to improve.
Collaboration is a cornerstone of Chicago Booth’s pay-it-forward culture. First year students receive help from second year students even before class officially starts. One example is during Random Walks, when second years lead one-week trips to destinations around the world, and start showing first years what Booth is all about. A few weeks later on campus, second years facilitate LEAD, become career advisors, and run the many different social and professional clubs.
Perhaps a few visual representations will help illustration the deep involvement of Boothies in our student community…