I moved to NYC a few days before the start of my internship and, as I entered the leased accommodation, I realized that I had been duped by false advertising! The accommodation was significantly smaller and lacked any furniture (literally didn’t have a desk or chair), but I needed to manage to survive the first week of training. As a result, the following few days were filled with internet searches and frantic posts on slack, while I was consuming copious amounts of coffee and donuts (mostly for the taste). With the support of my family, friends, and the forever helpful Booth community, I successfully booked an overpriced dingy apartment very close to my internship location, and that was just the beginning of the adventure! (I changed apartments three times in nine weeks!)
I had never lived in NYC and during my internship I went through a cycle, a progression – from the obvious tourist on the subway hopping on the wrong train to becoming the (newly inducted) New Yorker who knew which train would take you to the West Village. My internship highlights include –watching a Yankees game, attending a summer social in Liberty State Park, dining at some of the best Indian and Italian restaurants, and queuing for over an hour for the infamous cookie and vanilla milk shot at Dominique Ansel Bakery (It was worth it!). My internship made me realize – I could be very efficient with my time and could pack an inordinate number of experiences and activities into 24 hours!
I had lived in California for eight years before moving to Chicago. While I was not sold on the remote environment when I joined Booth and questioned my decision of moving to Chicago rather than continuing to enjoy sunny California, upon reflecting, I am happy I did. The remote environment, the proximity to the Booth community gave me the opportunity to not only have meaningful interactions with my cohort and classmates from the comfort and safety of my apartment and in socially distanced settings.
The remote environment was unchartered territory for everyone, but Booth ensured that the academic, social, and recruiting experiences were not hampered by the limitations of being virtual. I truly appreciated the flexibility provided to international students, from the option of having a reduced course load during the first quarter to having recordings of classes always available, to seamlessly adjusting recruiting practices to meet the virtual environment, which helped me focus on school and recruiting while grappling with visa issues.
Furthermore, Booth went above and beyond to ensure that the incoming first-years had avenues to interact within the class and with the second years. I enjoyed the small group dinners, Chicago architecture tours, and all the other activities organized by the Booth Graduate Business Council and the social clubs. These initiatives to create an environment for a holistic MBA experience were truly commendable and showed that Booth cared for its students!
To sum, was I apprehensive about the virtual environment as a rising first year? YES. Have I grown to appreciate the positives that came with it? Also, YES! Do I look forward to in-person classes and events? Very much a YES. I will be sharing my experience as an international student, career switcher, coffee, and yoga lover throughout this year. Stay tuned!