Please allow me to introduce myself, I am a man of unconventional taste. I am not the stereotypical Boothie, I have not recruited for banking nor management consulting. I do not understand NFL’s rules and do not live in MPP. So, if you expect to learn about Wall Street networking, I am sorry to disappoint you. I will be sharing my experiences at Booth from the eyes of a passionate nerd. Often enough, I will be writing about the Soccer Club, off-campus recruiting, life as an international student, the social scene, Innovation Consulting, Random Walk, long-distance relationships, and food.
William K. Lee is a rising second-year student at Chicago Booth. This summer he was an intern at Polymath Ventures, an innovative company builder in Bogotá, Colombia, and he shares some of his experiences in this interview. Prior to Booth, he worked as a software engineer for Bay Area Internet companies including eBay and Wikia. He came to Booth because he wanted to shift to the business and management sides of technology, so his summer internship gave him a great opportunity to practice the high-level skills he has developed in business school. Moreover, the opportunity allowed him to step out of his comfort zone and tackle new challenges in a new place. Will is active in the entrepreneurship scene at Booth and in Chicago and is a Co-Chair of the Booth Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group (EVC) for this coming year. Outside of school, Will is training for October’s Chicago Marathon (his sixth) and enjoys playing bar trivia with other Boothies.
While some students come to Booth to transition into finance, others use their MBAs as a platform to take their finance skills and careers to another level. One such Booth student, Yvanna Pérez Morel, worked in M&A advisory in the Dominican Republic, her home country, before business school. This summer, she interned both at BofA Merrill Lynch (Investment Banking, Consumer & Retail) in New York and at Mesoamerica (Private Equity, Food & Beverage Portfolio) in Colombia. This coming year, Yvanna will participate in the exchange program with London Business School as part of the International MBA that she is pursuing at Chicago Booth. During her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, playing squash, and horseback riding in the mountains.
Below, Yvanna recounts her whirlwind summer internship in banking in New York, and how Booth equipped her with the skills to succeed.
After ten weeks as an investment banking intern in the Big Apple, I can fully understand why people say that New York never sleeps – I didn’t! Here’s a quick summary of my busy days (and nights) since my last day at Booth – searching for knowledge in finance and a full-time offer.
As an investment banking intern my life revolved around the blinking red light on my corporate Blackberry, but in my experience, every minute was a new opportunity to learn on assignments including Hudson Bay’s acquisition of Saks Fifth Avenue, a high yield debt issuance for Carter’s, and a not-yet-public IPO. I honed technical skills such as modeling, got deeply immersed in industry-specific dynamics and strategies as a Consumer & Retail coverage banker, and observed the way senior bankers managed their client relationships.
Those interested in pursuing an investment banking track will find that Booth provides all that is needed for a successful summer:
1) Academic courses: Booth’s unique flexible curriculum allows students to choose courses such as Accounting and Financial Statement Analysis I & II (“Footnote Accounting” and “M&A Accounting”), Cases in Financial Management, and Cases in Corporate Governance, that prepare them for a great summer and a successful career in the financial services industry. YOU chart your learning path. While I had some experience in finance prior to Booth, taking advanced finance and accounting classes in my first year made me confident I could tackle anything technical that came up during the internship.
2) Career Services: This team works day and night to manage the relationships with the different banks and to make sure everyone is well-prepared for interviews through events such as weekend modeling courses by Training the Street (TTS) and “wInterview,” and facilitated some great sessions to give us the tools to be successful during the summer, once we landed the internship offer.
3) Investment Banking Group (IBG): A student-run group which works closely with Career Services, the IBG coordinates different initiatives for first year students to learn from second years’ experiences, from the industry-wide and bank-specific cultures to the dos and don’ts of getting a job in banking. I spent countless hours chatting with second years to get prepared for any challenges which might arise during the summer.
The summer was intense but also fun. Corporate events such as attending a Yankees baseball game with clients, having breakfast or lunch with senior bankers, playing kickball in Central Park with the team, and watching a Cirque du Soleil performance with other interns were a lot of fun and offered an opportunity for the firm to evaluate interns on interpersonal skills. Taking Professor Wortmann’s workshop on networking with senior executives showed me the implicit rules of the game, and allowed me to focus on having fun and asking the questions that I was genuinely interested in.
Of course, after an 18 hour a day, 7 day a week marathon, going out for a night was a must. Meeting Boothies working at other firms who understood my schedule (and probably had the same one) was just amazing! It was great to see some familiar faces and relax for a bit!
By the end of the summer, I got exactly what I wanted: I learned a lot, had fun, and, in case you were wondering, was fortunate enough to be extended an offer to return next year for a full-time job after graduating! Whether it was working, attending corporate events, or meeting friends for drinks in the Big Apple, the term “24/7” showed its true colors this summer. Here are some pictures of my personal experiences:
From top to bottom: Yankees game with clients, kickball with the team, Cirque du Soleil with interns and night out with other Boothies.
I spent the summer working at McKinsey in Chicago. I absolutely loved my team. My Engagement Manager was a Booth graduate, and I can’t believe how much trust he and the rest of my team placed in me to drive my own workstream. Hours were tough but fair, and I never worked a single weekend. Overall, it was an incredibly fulfilling work experience!
Before beginning classes at Booth, we’re constantly told that we’re learning how to think, not what to think. And it wasn’t really until this summer that I’ve realized what that meant. As a management consultant, I’ve benefited tremendously from the rigor, openness, and intensity of the classroom. These elements are what drive us to think critically, to share viewpoints, and most importantly, to challenge everything. And it’s also great that Booth students and alumni are everywhere!
This summer I spent time as a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). My summer experience focused on working with a national retailer to develop category and product strategies and deliver $50 million in cost savings. I had the chance to get to know my case team extremely well, including my Project Leader, who is an ex-body builder and Chicago Booth alum. Let’s just say I didn’t win the late night push-up contest among our case team. The knowledge gained from several of my classes at Booth, namely Marketing Strategy, Competitive Strategy, and Economics, came in very handy this summer. Remarkable problem solving, challenging client interactions, and tons of fun with my fellow interns filled my summer months. All in all, my BCG internship was nothing short of an amazing experience.
—Dustin David Deas
I’ve never thought so hard in my entire life. Being a summer consultant has been the most challenging, interesting and intellectual work that I’ve ever done. The supportive team and dynamic environment echoes much of my experience at Booth, as does the openness to new ideas and approaches to solving problems.
I spent the summer with Boston Consulting Group, based in Washington, DC but traveled weekly to New York City to work on a pharmaceutical case. The internship was a significant learning opportunity, not only because the job itself was new, but the industry is one in which I had no prior experience. Learning about pharma R&D and the challenges and new technological advances in the industry, and helping to recommend an innovative concept that could change part of the way R&D is conducted industry-wide, has been fascinating. Outside of the case, Booth alumni working in the DC office have been incredibly supportive in reaching out and volunteering to help me in any way I have needed throughout the summer.
My internship experience was wonderful. I was staffed on the project that I was most interested in, and our team worked directly with the President of Marketing for our client—a major global technology company. I attended and was involved in our presentation to him at the end of my internship. Along with gaining experience presenting and building a business case for important decisions, I have been able to explore Korea and learn about the different industries in which the client operates. On one field trip we toured the company’s shipbuilding yard, and stayed in a traditional Korean pension, sleeping on the floor and eating traditionally cooked Korean BBQ. This experience has not only given me insight into what it is like to be a consultant, but it has also given me experience working in a different country.
I worked on a post spin-off procurement project for a specialty pharma client. A lot of the work I do revolves around negotiation strategy and decision modeling. My Strategies and Processes of Negotiation class was critical for me to develop sound strategies for the client and my Competitive Strategy class gave me a serious edge in thinking about the models from an economic perspective.
—Jorge de Azevedo
I worked on a due diligence project for a technology company attempting to enter a new market through inorganic growth. I really enjoyed getting to know a new industry and helping a client tackle its most difficult problem. On the other side, the hours were long (multiple all-nighters), but my team was fantastic and it was a pleasure to work with them. Booth alumni have reached out every step of the way and my marketing strategy class with Prof. Sanjay Dhar was definitely a great class to take before my internship. Since I was a teacher before Booth, my accounting classes were really useful and saved my butt when I was asked to dig through company financials.
—Freddy A. Elorza
My summer internship experience at Deloitte followed the traditional management consulting schedule: up at 5am Monday morning to rush to the airport, return home Thursday evening, and work in the downtown Chicago office on Friday. The internship gave me the opportunity to see things as differently as possible from my prior experience: the travel model, team-based projects, and the experience of working in a huge firm for another large company. I’ve found this change of vantage points incredibly helpful. Deloitte also provides the opportunity to work as part of a large class of interns, many of whom are from Chicago Booth. I’ve bumped into several classmates, acquaintances, and co-workers at the airport, and even in the hotel lobby, which makes for a fun end to the night.
Hongtae Kim worked in investment banking in Hong Kong prior to coming to Booth. He was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and decided to return mainly because he loved the academic atmosphere of the University of Chicago and Booth, and enjoyed the city and the Chicago Bulls. He is concentrating in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship at Booth, and will be working at AccuRadio, an internet-radio startup based in Chicago, over the summer.
His story shows that in order to land your ideal internship, it sometimes requires patience, motivation, and a little luck—coupled with leveraging the huge, diverse, and generous Booth alumni network. While Booth alumni are well-represented in finance, consulting, and corporate fields, the independent and entrepreneurial nature of our students and alumni means that you can find us in unexpected places.
Coming to Booth, one of the most common pieces of advice I got was to fully utilize the Booth alumni network. As an international student, I was a bit skeptical of how much I would be able to leverage the alumni network and didn’t know how I was supposed to do it. On top of that, I was looking into a music-related career path which isn’t a “traditional” post-MBA field.
While it sounds like a cliché, the Booth alumni network is everywhere and willing to help you out, and you could encounter alums in some random places. For instance, I met Kurt Hanson, Class of 1980, in San Francisco at the SF Music Tech Summit which is a conference for music tech startups. I had decided to fly to SF to make connections and learn about what’s going on in the industry, but I wasn’t expecting to meet any MBAs, let alone Booth alums. Naturally, when I bumped into Kurt (by accident) at the cocktail networking session, we were both pleasantly surprised to meet someone from Booth at the event. Kurt was invited as a panelist as a veteran in the radio industry and the Founder / CEO of AccuRadio, an internet-radio start-up based in Chicago. We casually talked about Booth, our backgrounds and the conference, and the following week, Kurt invited me to visit his office in Chicago. We continued our discussion on the music tech industry over dinner.
After a couple of meetings, I asked if I could work for his company over the summer as an intern, and he was excited to have me on board. Like most start-up recruiting, there was no formal vetting or interview process. He talked about his company and his views of the industry and I expressed my strong interest in the business. I also identified a couple of areas in which I could help the company as an MBA intern. I will be working in a broad range of projects including revamping the company’s search engine marketing efforts, supporting fund raising efforts, and identifying international business opportunities. While the projects are varied, I am certain that the range of my summer experience will help my transition from banking into technology. I am very excited about the opportunity, as the company sits in the exact field I was pursuing, and I will have the autonomy to define my own projects and apply my classroom studies to my summer internship.
When it comes to networking, especially if you have a narrow target list, I think the most important thing is to be aggressive and seek out different venues, rather than relying solely on the on-campus recruiting process. My decision to fly out to San Francisco to attend a conference that fit my interest was what made the difference for me. I ended up meeting a potential mentor in the music tech industry and a Booth alum who was happy to help me out. Especially as a career switcher, having first-hand interaction with an insider helps you express your interest and make a case for yourself.
I am looking forward to my summer in Chicago, especially after going through four winters in Chicago! More importantly, I am excited to get great experiences and networking during my summer that will help me achieve my career goal of carving a niche position in the evolving music tech industry.