Your Biggest Surprise

The Booth MBA experience is truly unlike anything else, which is why it’s hard for prospective students to know exactly what to expect. Considering this, I went around asking my classmates from the Class of 2022 one simple question:

What has been the biggest surprise about Booth relative to your expectations?

I was surprised by how strong the pay-it-forward culture is. For example, there was an alum who I cold-reached out to on LinkedIn, and not only did he help me learn more about his company, but he also connected me to his friends at other companies. I also had an incredible Booth Technology Group (BTG) interview family lead, who certainly went above and beyond in providing a tremendous amount of support to each person in our interview family. These people and many more have been critical to me being able to achieve my dreams at Booth! – Victoria Wen

One of the biggest surprises to me about my Booth experience was the diversity in opportunities available to students, socially and professionally. The Booth community encourages exploration of different industries, career paths, or passions through student-run organizations, which range from the Retail and Luxury Group to the Volleyball Club. I wasn’t expecting to meet so many people with such a variety of passions! – Catherine Woeste

Looking back, the biggest surprise to me about Booth is the robustness of the community you can build here. Beyond being great assets in recruiting and classes, I’ve been able to meet a lot of smart people with a clear view of what they want for their careers (and lives). Coming into business school as an introverted international student during a pandemic, I was worried that I would have a difficult time finding “my people,” but I leave knowing a lot of great new people and a sense of belonging to the Booth community. – Earl Chua

The most surprising part of my Booth experience has been the friends and support system I made. Starting school in the fall of 2020, I didn’t expect to have a normal experience given everything was virtual. I was surprised by the kindness of my peers and their willingness to help with anything from local recommendations to recruiting. Many of the people I met virtually last year are now some of my closest friends. As I near graduation, I am surprised that I had such a fulfilling Booth experience despite the unusual circumstances. – Gabrielle Bates

Coming to Booth, I expected to learn a ton and make great friends. What surprised me most was exactly how much of the hectic and busy time would be spent having an amazing time. Every single week is a marathon. Time management is everything, and I couldn’t be more thankful for how much of that time I’ve spent making amazing friends. – Sean Wareham

The most surprising thing to me about business school has been the number of people who come from non-traditional backgrounds. I thought that with a major in International Relations and Russian language I’d be an outlier, but I have learned that a lot of other students have similarly unique backgrounds outside of finance. – Lauren Barnhart

In line with the stereotypes surrounding UChicago, I expected it to be very quant focused and that most people would be primarily interested in finance over other business topics—This couldn’t be further from the truth, and in fact, a lot of my peers only briefly study finance at Booth and instead focus on things like entrepreneurship, impact investing, marketing, etc. for most of their 2 years at Booth. – Jason Lally

Since matriculating at Booth, I have been fortunate enough to co-lead our 360+ member Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, one of the largest and most active student groups on campus. Throughout my time at Booth, I have consistently been surprised and inspired by my classmates’ passion—passion for building new projects, investing in the future, and making an impact. In particular, Amira Khatib’s passion for improving healthy food access has been incredibly inspiring to observe. I’ve watched her passion manifest itself in the form of establishing the Iowa Vegfest to starting a role recently at Bluestein Ventures, where she will be investing in early-stage start-ups focused on all stages of the food tech value chain. As I reflect on these last two years, I feel very grateful to have spent two years alongside members of the Booth community, such as Amira, and to have shared in the growth of their respective areas of passion. – Alex Chung

This might not have been too much of a shock to some people, but for me, the challenge of balancing all the different aspects of business school – academic, professional, and social priorities – has been a big surprise. Not necessarily in a bad or stressful way like I anticipated, but there are always lots of exciting opportunities like internships that sound interesting, classes you want to take, and trips you want to be on with friends. It isn’t realistic to do all these things all the time, but I do think it’s okay to get a bit out of your comfort zone within high-priority categories. – Patrick Mays

The biggest surprise to me about Booth was how sincerely welcoming people are of others, whether it’s inviting a stranger into their study groups, reaching out to someone interesting they met at a party, or having dinner parties bringing new people together. A great conversation with someone new is never far away. – Harper Du

I was surprised by how integral the pay-it-forward attitude is to the culture at Booth. During my first year, countless second-year students and peers helped me out with recruiting, classes, and life in general with no expectation that I repay the favor to them. I have been grateful for their help and have been sure to pay it forward myself! – Andy Hammond

While we’ve all had our fair share of surprises, one thing we current students can all agree on is that life at Booth is pretty freaking great! We hope you found this post helpful and that you’re able to join us as part of a future class of Booth MBAs!