The MBA Experience Through the Lens of a Booth Partner

The MBA Experience Through the Lens of a Booth Partner

Happy Valentine’s Day from Katie and David O’Brien!

Love is in the air for current Booth student Katie and her husband David O’Brien. In honor of Valentine’s Day, David shares with us a glimpse into what it’s like being married to a Boothie, along with how working in Admissions at Booth continues to elevate his unique Booth partner experience. 

Guest Blog by David O’Brien (Booth Partner)

About Katie and David
Katie and I grew up in Colorado Springs. Our paths came close to crossing multiple times in our three-decade long search for one another. Katie and her father watched movies every weekend at a theater one block away from my childhood home. Katie’s swim team competed at my high school on multiple occasions. We were even both in Florida at the same time during our 20s. 

Katie and I finally met, of all ways, through Facebook Dating. The day after our first date, I told my sister-in-law that I was going to marry Katie. A little over a year later, I did just that. We got married on September 5, 2022, drove to Chicago a few days later, and Katie started LEAD the next week while I began my new job in Admissions at Booth. 

Katie has a background in psychology, research, and aviation. She holds multiple patents from her time at Boeing, worked as a researcher for AWS, holds a Master’s in Human Factors in aviation from FIT, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from UC-Denver. She’s an avid Blues dancer, baker, and outdoor enthusiast. She is focusing on tech and entrepreneurship at Booth. I, on the other hand, have done everything from firefighting to air traffic control, I served in the United States Air Force, and have a BSB in Business and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. I plan to pursue my second MA degree from the University of Chicago to make my PhD application more competitive. I’m also an avid reader and some would say that I have an unhealthy obsession with my cats.

How have you supported one another while one partner pursues their MBA? 
Typically, a partner would get a job, transfer to a Chicago office, or work remote while their Boothie attended school. My situation is different—my time in the service left me as a permanently disabled veteran. Fortunately, Admissions staff got to know me during First Day 2022 and offered me a flexible full-time position at Booth. Because of Booth’s accommodating atmosphere, I’m able to financially support Katie and I during her MBA program.

Katie makes a concerted effort to spend time with me as, even working in the same building, the demands of the Full-Time MBA schedule are extremely high. We are both active communicators and proactively work on our relationship with monthly check-ins, acts of service, and other supportive methods.

What about the Booth Partners community impressed you the most during the admissions process?
When visiting B-Schools, current students offered us reassurance that we wouldn’t be alone or completely out of the social life scene if we didn’t feel like drinking and partying. Boothies assured us that Booth would be home for students and partners of all ages, family responsibilities, and lifestyles.

During First Day, Katie and I saw that Booth had less ‘programming’ for partners because almost all programming is already for partners as well. Furthermore, the general feel and vibe of the partner panel and lunch during First Day was one of deep integration and community.

How has your experience as a partner been different than how you thought it would be coming in?
I consider myself to be quite the introvert. When coming to Booth, I assumed that I would remain at arms-length from the community and only occasionally join Katie in activities. Other than professional clubs, I have been with Katie on every social-outing, except the Diwali Cruise (I was sick). Even if I wasn’t working in Admissions, I would still find myself completely ingrained in the Booth community and truly enjoying my time with the friends I’m making. On that note, I truly thought—much like ‘work friends’— that all the Boothies would be Katie’s friend first and I would basically be an add-on. This couldn’t be further from my actual experience. In truth, I introduce Katie to as many Boothies as she does with me. We’ve both found our own communities and identities within the Booth community.

What have you enjoyed most about being the partner of a Boothie? Is there any specific memorable experience that comes to mind?
As a Boothie partner, I have experienced two things that bring me the most joy. First, the caliber of people I interact with daily, both as a partner and manager in Admissions, is mind-blowing. And that’s not to say anything about the caliber of the professors here at Booth.

Second, I have seen my wife deal with imposter syndrome. I know it’s a feeling shared among many a Boothie. While I know Katie belongs at Booth, my happiest moments come from seeing Katie slowly start to realize for herself what I’ve known all along, she’s exactly where she should be and I am honored and humbled to be along for the ride.