How Chicago Booth Changed My Life

How Chicago Booth Changed My Life

Graduation

“Booth changed my life” is a statement I can say quite confidently.

At first this may seem as though I’m speaking in hyperbole or that I’m undermining the value of my own agency. However, getting to this point took an incredible amount of drive and hard work, and I can also tell you that I’ve never spoken in hyperbole a single time in my life and I never would in a million years! Celebrating graduation with my friends and family required a lot of toasting, but the combination of toasting and postpartum melancholy inspired significant reflection. It got me thinking about how Booth impacted me, and while it may seem quite obvious on the surface, it is actually nuanced and goes much deeper. Despite the fact that I am a blogger for Booth, I am a very private person, but I feel that this is important to share, especially if it motivates even one person to pursue their goals via Booth or otherwise. Through my toasting, and toasting, and toasting, I’ve found it very difficult to articulate how Booth changed my life, but here goes:

PROFESSIONALLY
Business school is often used as a transitionary platform for ambitious professionals in achieving their goals. Booth’s corporate connections, professional resources, and student groups have demonstrated an unparalleled record of guiding its students through this process. Like many of my classmates, I was very ambitious with a proven ability to think critically and work hard, but my career path prior to Booth did not align with my short and long term professional goals; Booth had a willingness to invest some stake in me and my ability to achieve this transition.

Because of Booth’s ability to funnel my hard work, I went from an engineer working in a technical sales role for a mid-sized company to a consultant at one of the world’s top consulting firms. This is something I could not have imagined for myself a handful of years ago, and this mutual investment has dramatically changed my career path for the decades to come.

When I tell people I went to Chicago Booth and will be going to BCG they are often awestruck. The University of Chicago and Booth reputation is truly powerful. I have somehow fooled them all (!) but I am so grateful for where I am and the uncapped opportunity ahead. I am once again naively optimistic about the future.

ACADEMICALLY
Working in industry for 6 years after undergrad provided the opportunity to leverage my education and to gain foundational business experience, but I lacked the fundamental business knowledge and credentials necessary for making my career transition and to become a leader. While I had interest in Booth’s flexible curriculum, I didn’t realize how much exploration the unique structure would provide. Booth allowed me to engage in topics of interest, but allowed me to then double click on subjects that struck a chord while providing the agency to veer away from courses of lesser interest.

The professors are producers of formative research in their respective fields and/or teach from real world experience, and the path of exploration in the classroom occurs alongside classmates from diverse, fascinating backgrounds pursuing an array of even more impressive career paths. The Booth experience left me feeling humbled by my relative incompetence, but with so much more to offer from the classmates and professors I rubbed shoulders with.

SOCIALLY
This aspect of Booth was exactly what I was expecting and sooo much different at the same time. There is an opportunity to socialize in some capacity every night of the week, and nearly every event over the two years feels like a celebration—there is this euphoric energy that permeates all things Booth.

The prevalence of EQ and IQ per capita is unequivocally high, which never fell flat on me. Every day I would go to Harper Center excited to bump into all of my friends and hoping to get dragged to The Pub after class. I left Booth with some friends that felt like we grew up together and others from completely different walks of life, and a balance of our class with whom I would connect or help at the drop of a hat.

These new friends of mine are different from childhood and college friends in that we have similar levels of ambition and they first got to know and appreciate present day Ben, but these friends would also love and accept Ben for the same things as my childhood friends. I am leaving Booth with this big group of people who are friends first but also just so happen to be incredible future business connections.

FAMILIALLY
Yes, I know familally is not a word, but you know what it means and it probably should be. My great grandfather went to University of Chicago Law School, and while my family has always emphasized the importance of education, very little of my family has pursued graduate education. This accomplishment has become an immense point of pride for my entire immediate and extended family, and they have truly gone on this journey with me. I am so grateful for the support my family has provided throughout, and to bring The University of Chicago back into our family three generations later. While this may be dramatic, it feels like this restored emphasis on higher education will have a lasting impact on the Rachman family’s legacy.

PERSONALLY
While the first sections are the ones that typically come to mind when considering business school, Booth’s personal impact on me was undoubtedly the most profound. Through this experience, I discovered so much of myself, how I relate to others, the things that drive me, and what I am capable of.

I am leaving Booth with immense confidence in who I am and the grasp I have on life. This journey also came with immense difficulty and many very low lows, but it worth getting to this high; I have grown tremendously and feel that I am leaving Booth a different person than I came in. Even I have been fooled by Booth/BCG Ben. As I alluded to, I am leaving Booth looking through rose colored-glasses at who I am and the things I can do in this life. It feels dramatic, but in this moment it is true.

This post totally got away from me in that it was much more serious and sappy than I anticipated, but it is sincere and I believe it reflects the sentiment of many of my classmates. If you are considering business school or Booth specifically, I empower you to be introspective, to challenge yourself, and to take the leap. It changed my life.

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