Making the Most of Virtual B-School

Making the Most of Virtual B-School

Meet Alexandre Lin, a first year who has already paid it forward in more ways than one. I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandre on his interview day when I was an interview greeter. Today, I’m thrilled to call him a peer and a friend! Read more on how Alexandre has made the most of the virtual environment, and how he leads at Booth.

Q: What were you doing prior to Booth?

Before Booth, I was at Block Renovation, a Series A startup in real estate renovation based in New York. I was in charge of setting up the analytics function, but my role ended up being a bit of a catch-all role (i.e. Chief of Staff). I learned a lot from the team there and it was refreshing to be in this environment after four years in management consulting with AT Kearney London.

Q: How was matriculating in a virtual world?

Not as bad as I thought it would be! While being virtual made it harder to meet a ton of people at once, it did allow me to nurture a good number of relationships in a short amount of time. Being intentional was super important in the virtual world to ensure I would get the full social experience of the MBA. 

Beyond that, the pay-it-forward mentality didn’t suffer from the virtual environment– I still felt the warmth of second-year students ready to give a hand to new Boothies faced with  myriad choices (because that’s what Booth is about – providing a lot of options!)

Q: You’re an incoming LEAD facilitator. What inspired you to apply for this position? How was this decision impacted by the virtual environment?

I was actually inspired by second-year students who were LEAD facils and did an awesome job at leading this module (no pun intended, or maybe intended). Shoutout to Carly Zhao, our lead facil, who managed to convert six out of eight Boothies in her squad to become LEAD facils!

In all seriousness, I have a strong belief that any MBA student has a decent core of hard skills, so what differentiates that MBA student from others is the way they interact with other people. LEAD is all about strengthening those interpersonal skills/enhancing those interactions.

Virtual environment or not, I was always going to apply for that position. I believe that doing some parts of the module online will be beneficial given that the workplace is most likely going to keep some of the online format after the pandemic is over.

Q: Let’s get introspective … It’s wild that your first year is almost over! What are some of your biggest learnings from your experience at Booth so far?

The value of signaling (meaning, I took every chance to share my goals in the hopes that it fell on the right ears)! I came to Booth to either launch a business or join the founding team of an existing one. Whenever I met people, this is what they would hear, and four months into the program, I joined Ollipsis’s founding team (started by some second-year students) to help democratize access to fertility options. 

Not to sound too cliché, but meeting as many people as possible and trying out new things proved invaluable. Like Steve Jobs said, you do things that may not make sense in the first place, but at some point, you look back and connect the dots in a way that fits your story – if you don’t go out there, you don’t have anything to connect together.

Q: How would you say Booth has changed you?

To be even more cliché, I will say that Booth has made me bolder and sharper. Bolder because the collegiate environment in which we operate automatically gives me daily opportunities to grow out of my comfort zone. Sharper because these opportunities give me a chance to practice what I learn in class (be it about leadership skills or sales skills). I’m loving it!!

Q: What was something that surprised you about Booth/your experience?

Deep dish pizza is not the best pizza in town – shocking revelation given all the hype around it!

Beyond that, as an international student, I always forget how big and diverse the US is – it’s not just the coasts. I have really enjoyed getting to know Americans from all over the country (and learning cool Midwestern games in the process).

Q: Any words of wisdom for incoming first years? 

Come to Booth with a high level plan, try to stick to it while remaining flexible with the details of your plan. Re-evaluate your plan every quarter and pivot if need be.

Always choose what makes you feel uncomfortable!