What to Expect Year One

Katherine Storer, Chicago Booth, Classroom, Class

Whatever your questions may be as you research programs or prepare to start, rest assured that you aren’t alone in your uncertainty. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had my uncertainties addressed and I hope this article shares some tips on what you may have in store during your first year as a part-time student.

Organization Can’t Be Understated
This seems like an obvious one. Working 40+ hours a week and living out our personal lives with a top-tier MBA course load on top of it will quickly make you an expert of time management. Effectively managing and prioritizing your time will allow you to optimize your calendar. Admittedly, I was never one for planning my life out, but just by buying a planner to track my work, school, and personal commitments, I was able to make the most of every minute and discover time I didn’t have before. Even if you are a very organized person, test yourself to get better...you’ll appreciate it when you have extra time to kill at the Midway Club, Booth’s lounge on the fifth floor of the Gleacher Center where many of my fellow students unwind, or at one of many Booth events going on.

You Will Push the Bounds of Your “Comfort Zone”
It is natural to be afraid of change, many of us are. Getting your MBA at Chicago Booth will teach you, very quickly, that you should leave your trepidations at the door. This is a chance for you to immerse yourself in the whole MBA experience. From having classes with 40-50% of your grade based on class participation and your ability to contribute to having the entirety of your grade based on group work, your success at Booth may not entirely be based on your individual test grades. The ability to verbalize your opinions and effectively succeed as a part of a group are things we may have avoided in undergrad, but ultimately our success as leaders and managers rely on our ability to challenge ourselves, and lead others, in many arenas.

Be Prepared for your Phone Contacts to Increase at Least Threefold
Beyond the classroom, I think the next greatest value at being at Booth is building your network. From professional connections to someone to join your book club, there is no shortage of ways to meet people with common interests at Booth. Make sure you carve out enough time to attend events like Midweek at the Midway, a Wednesday night social event that occurs after class a few times each quarter, the MBA Cup, a Chicagoland business school fundraising event that culminates in a day of competition, or Career Services Talks, such as their “Career Essentials” series,  to meet your peers. I’ve heard countless stories of businesses deals struck, new jobs landed, and best friendships made simply by being active within the Booth community.

All in all, the first four quarters as an Evening and Weekend MBA student is a time of exciting change and unique challenge that will help you grow both inside and outside the workplace. As I approach the halfway point of my Booth MBA, I look back at the past year and this has, without a doubt, been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.