Katerina Steele was six years out of college and at a point in life when many people start wondering whether business school might be the right path for them. Working in advertising at AbelsonTaylor, however, meant she was in an industry where an MBA was not required. It was a question then of how to invest her time. She wanted what would be most useful for her career. Would it be better to seek out a stretch project at work and invest her time that way, or would a more formal learning path be the smartest approach?
And yet the question had an additional layer of complexity to it. As a senior account executive, her schedule was already, by her own account, unreasonable. Whether she’d even have time to pursue a business degree was a definite question. How would it affect her ability to perform at work? Would she have time ever to see her boyfriend? Enrolling at the Graham School Graduate Student-At-Large: Business (GSALB) was therefore a trial run for Katerina. Over a two-year period she took two classes, both of which happened to coincide with some of the busiest months of her career until then. In the end, her success proved to her that she could do it. And what was more, the classes she took at the GSALB confirmed for her that business school was something she wanted to pursue.
As part of the University of Chicago, the GSALB program mirrors the institution’s core values and encourages the same level of intellectual curiosity and academic confidence within its students. Though she sometimes calls it leverage, she admits that it was the confidence she gained in the GSALB program that allowed her to sit down with her manager and let him know that business school was something she truly wanted. “I sat down with him and told him that I’d need to switch departments because of the time commitments,” she explains. “I wouldn’t have had that confidence without the classes I’d already taken through GSALB.” And it paid off. In fact, rather than switching departments, her manager offered to dial back her workload in her current department. Today, Katerina is associate director of business development and analysis at AbelsonTaylor and preparing to finish her MBA in Booth’s Evening MBA Program in 2016.