Making the Most of My Booth Experience

Making the Most of My Booth Experience

Toan Vo graduated from the Full-Time MBA Program at Chicago Booth in December 2020 (two quarters early) while working as a contractor for Duolingo and raising a new-born with his wife. He will start his full-time job at Chewy in January 2021. Toan shares with us how he has made the most of his MBA experience and how Booth’s flexibility and amazing network have helped him tremendously along the journey.

Tell us briefly about you, why you wanted to do an MBA, and why Booth?
I am originally from Vietnam. Before business school, I had experience in private equity & investment banking in Boston, before working in consulting at PwC in New York. When I realized I almost checked all the boxes of the most popular career choices, I wanted to pursue an MBA to gain new experience, build a bigger network, and take my career to the next level. Why Booth was an easy question: best faculty in the world, analytical focus, and, something I did not fully appreciate at the time, an extremely flexible curriculum and supportive network.

Great to hear that. Tell us more about the flexible curriculum aspect.
Sure! I was able to take classes that align with my interests and career goal that also suit my schedule. I love that I can easily take almost any class in the evenings or on the weekends. My classmates and professors are also super supportive so that made it much easier. Though it’s not common for Boothies in the Full-Time Program, I was able to work as a contractor for Duolingo, the Google-backed language learning unicorn start-up while pursuing my MBA. I did this all while raising my first new-born with my wife, and am pleased to say I graduated two quarters early in December.

How did you manage to do all of that?
I decided to take most of classes in the evenings or over weekends. I have worked for Duolingo during the day, and, honestly, sometimes even at night after classes or group meetings I’ve joined meetings with the Asia team. There is no specific schedule for the baby, unfortunately, but with self-quarantine and working from home as a result of COVID-19, and that my wife is truly a superwoman, we have been able to handle it. Many Boothies are actually parents with small kids too, so it feels great to be surrounded by a supportive community.

That’s amazing. Can you share with us how the Booth experience has prepared you well for your job at Duolingo?
I enjoy the benefit of doubt given by my co-workers with respect to my capabilities thanks to Booth’s reputation. I have helped Duolingo’s strategy & business operations team with international expansion, leading different marketing campaigns, and working on different strategic initiatives. The marketing, corporate strategy, and analytics classes at the school were also super helpful for my work from running a digital marketing campaign for mobile app, designing an A/B testing strategy, to doing market research about edtech industry trends and competitors.

What about your recruiting experience at Booth and where are you heading to after graduation?
I received tons of career support and training opportunities at Booth. My top two favorite resources are the case interview training program offered by the Management Consulting Group and networking/on-campus interview opportunities provided by Career Services. I knew that I wanted to focus on tech so the Duolingo job helped build relevant experience.

I am thrilled to join Chewy, the largest and fast-growing pure-play pet e-tailer in the US, in January. I feel proud and excited to learn that the CEO of the company is actually a Booth alumnus. During my interview process, a current Boothie who is working there also helped me a lot with preparation, besides my personal network.

Congratulations! Any final advice for future Boothies?
Don’t just stay in your circle and do take advantage of the large network that Booth has to offer by actively connecting with Executive MBAs and Part-Time students as well as your Full-Time classmates!

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