How Weekend Road Warriors Work The Commute

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Christina Fellows and Brandon Fellows

Booth's Weekend MBA students are an organized bunch. They have to be. Most are juggling their course load with full-time jobs and, sometimes, family responsibilities. Three-quarters of Weekend MBA Program students travel from outside Chicago each week. Successful commuters plan ahead, master the details, and make the most of their time on campus. Here students share tips and tricks that make their weekend trips efficient and enjoyable.

Enabling us to grow

Christina Fellows and Brandon Fellows, a married couple based in Minneapolis, decided to pursue an MBA together. "My sister graduated from the Full-Time Program and, judging from her experience, I knew Booth take us out of our comfort zone."

Support at work

Anastasia Mironova worked at ConocoPhillips in Houston as a geophysicist but was interested in the investment side of the oil and gas business. That requires expertise in finance, "and my mentors at work encouraged me."

Striking work-life balance

Jessica BlakeJessica Blake, who works at an energy company in Washington, D.C., strives for balance.

"I take Sunday off and chill. On Monday and Wednesday I have conference calls with my study group. I work out on Thursday and then do homework. My company lets me work remotely on Friday, my travel day."

Relish the journey

Many students fly into Chicago on Friday afternoon for an evening class. Others fly in Saturday morning. Alek Auxier usually takes an 8:30 a.m. flight from Seattle, which arrives in plenty of time for a 6 p.m. class. Most times he catches a Saturday evening flight home. If there's an event he wants to attend, he stays over until Sunday. "I work on the flight to Chicago, but going home, I watch a movie, let my mind relax."

In the bag

Many students keep a bag for the weekend packed and ready to go. Blake never checks a suitcase: "Waiting at baggage claim could slow you down by an hour." Mironova recommends TSA Precheck to avoid the uncertainty of long waits on the security line.

Time to explore

"I get so much benefit outside the classroom," Fellows said. "I grab lunch with people or go to an event. You learn about other industries and other people."

Track travel

Mironova recommends booking hotel rooms in advance to get the best rate. "You can always cancel," she says. "For flights, hold off until your class schedule is nailed down." Blake keeps a spreadsheet to track her flights, hotel reservations, special events, and meetings with professors. "One time I flew to Chicago and realized I had forgotten to book my return."

Downtime at the airport

After class on Saturdays, students ride complimentary Booth shuttles to O'Hare and Midway airports. They evolve into a cohort of travel pals that grab a drink or snack before their flights home. "You're hanging out with five or 10 students on the same schedule but going to different states," Auxier said. "You build strong friendships."