Prior to Booth, James Lovejoy, Class of 2022, worked in a variety of roles across the US Air Force. Ultimately working in higher education within the Air Force overseeing the enlisted flying training program. We chatted with James about his military experience, transition to Booth, and the community he has begun building here.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? Where’d you go to college? Are you here with a partner?
I was born in a small town in Nebraska then later moved to Davenport, Iowa which is where I call my hometown. I graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics. My path is a little unique in that I attended night and weekend classes while I was enlisted in the Air Force. I was enlisted for the tenure of my time in the Air Force. I am here with my wife, Sheralee, who graduated from Texas A&M and currently is completing a Venture Capital fellowship! After a quarter of classes, I think I am slowly convincing her to join me in being a Boothie!
What did you do in the military?
I held a variety of different roles, but I started my career as a repair and reclamation technician. In short this means that I completed heavy aircraft maintenance repairs on the C-130J airframe. I was later selected for aircraft maintenance command and control positions where I advised senior leaders on maintenance actions and procedures on a series of airframes. My last role was in higher education in the Air Force where I oversaw the enlisted flying training program. Across these roles I had the opportunity to deploy to both Afghanistan and Qatar as well as travel in Europe and the United States.
Why was it important to serve your country?
For me serving in the military was close to home. Every generation in my family has served in the military in some capacity and I wanted to continue that. I grew up listening to my family tell their “war stories” about their time in the military during the holidays and I wanted to have my own to share. Needless to say after seven years in the Air Force, I think I have plenty to talk about with my family during the holidays. I also joined because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and immerse myself in a culturally diverse environment.
What do you see here at Booth that reminds you of your military service?
There is a strong camaraderie within the Booth community. Everyone is extremely helpful and the pay-it-forward culture is apparent every day. Furthermore, I have grown close with many of my classmates and we enjoy hosting “family dinners” in COVID-19 friendly environments.
How did AFG support you during the application process?
The Armed Forces Group (AFG) was absolutely pivotal in helping me understand the intricacies of Booth. I chatted many times with students from the Class of 2020 who were helpful with the application, resume, and interview prep. Furthermore, they displayed a genuine interest in my success throughout the application process. The pay-it-forward culture was very apparent to me from the start.
Why did you choose Booth?
Oh, where do I start…
For me the most important factor was the flexibility in the curriculum. I knew, as a career changer, I would need to front-load the finance and accounting courses to fill the knowledge gaps I had going into recruiting. There is only one mandatory class at Booth and beyond that it is up to the student to determine what they want to get out of their education. It also prevents you from taking similar classes that you took as an undergrad or through professional licenses.
The second factor that I took into consideration was the strong data-driven environment. I wanted to develop strong analytical business skills that can be used to solve complex problems. I personally didn’t want to build a toolkit of solutions, I wanted to build a toolkit on how to think about solutions based on the circumstances and that is something I see everyday in my coursework.
Lastly, I wanted to be a part of the pay-it-forward culture. The caliber of people that Booth attracts is unrivaled. Everyone is committed to not only learning, but also helping others learn all while pursuing their own personal goals. Everyone is extremely intelligent and humble in how they approach things. People really are willing to help with anything and everything if you reach out. I knew I wanted to be a part of that and pave the way for the next generation of Boothies. In fact, I want you to reach out. I would be happy to chat!
What student groups and activities are you involved with?
I am a member of the Wine Club, the Investment Management Group, the Student Managed Investment Fund, and naturally the Armed Forces Group. Early in the first quarter the Wine Club held a virtual champagne happy hour where I was able to connect with my classmates. Recruiting and class has kept me fairly busy during my first Quarter but I am extremely excited to get more involved since recruiting has wrapped up.
What do you want to do post-Booth?
Post-Booth I want to work in investment management. For the past few years, I spent most of my free time reading and learning about investing from a 30,000 foot view (Air Force joke anyone?). Now, I am actively engaged with learning about it at all levels. For the summer, I will be interning at Nuveen and I am thrilled about the opportunity.
How are Booth and AFG supporting your career goals?
Booth and the AFG do a tremendous job with helping veterans. They have loads of resources and provide networking opportunities that help veterans show their best selves throughout the recruiting process. Additionally, recruiting can be new to many veterans but both Booth and the AFG set up events to help you understand some of the nuances and guide you every step of the way.
What is your favorite part about Chicago?
First and foremost, Chicago is beautiful. The architecture around the city is stunning, the culture is very friendly, and the city is very lively! In the summer, my wife and I enjoy biking down the lakefront and generally find plenty of things to do outdoors. When it gets a little more chilly, we enjoy meeting up with other Boothies and checking out the food scene across various neighborhoods. One of my favorite things thus far is just walking around town and chatting. There is not a lack of things to do in Chicago!
Any advice for transitioning veterans that are applying to Booth?
Try to seek out as much advice from as many people as you can. Veteran groups, such as the AFG, are a great place to start but you can branch out from there. Feel free to reach out to me as well, I am always happy to chat! Also, there are a ton of resources at your disposal and you should aim to take advantage of them (shameless plug for Service to School). When I was applying to schools I leaned on Service to School for essay review and resume help to ensure that I was getting the right story across. I had such a great experience that I signed up to be an ambassador and help other vets as well. The MBA application process can seem daunting but if you take it one step at a time you will end up where you need to be. Don’t forget to take time to reflect on your military experience. Take some time to care for your mental health and enjoy the process. Lastly, Booth is wonderful and I am thrilled with my decision, and I imagine if you’ve made it this far in my post you would benefit from being at Booth as well!
Anything else you’d like to share?
The MBA application process is full of ups and downs. At times you will feel confident, other times overwhelmed and possibly even uncertain. These are all normal human emotions. If you control the things that you are able to control, you will get where you want to go. There are many applicable skills that you learn in the military that translate directly into the private sector. I wish you the best of luck through your process and I look forward to seeing you at Booth soon! And seriously if you have any questions or just want to chat, reach out!