The Chicago Business Fellow Ambassador Award is presented to students for outstanding contributions and support of the CBF program (designed specifically for young professionals with three years or less of full-time work experience). This year, two of the students recognized look back during graduation and reflect on their Booth experience. Read Stephanie Sahota's reflection here.
Raj Hirpara, CBF, Evening MBA
What’s your favorite memory from your time at Booth?
One of my proudest accomplishments was when I ran the annual Booth Consulting Club Symposium event last year. The event was really impactful for Evening/Weekend MBA students because students had the opportunity to network with 13 consulting firms on campus while gaining exposure to a vast array of future career opportunities. I was really proud that we had so many firms represented.
What surprised you about Booth?
Even though I have an engineering background, I was concerned I was not going to be able to compete with the rigor and the challenges of the quantitative coursework. I quickly discovered that the base level courses really do set up a strong foundation for you through the rest of the program. It wasn’t as much of a challenge to get up to speed as I thought it would be.
Community was the other surprise. I thought the environment would be more competitive and less collaborative. I met people who really cared for me and were there for me, whether it was my academic advisors, career counselors, or fellow students. Everyone is always looking out for each other and I didn’t expect that going in. There are weeks when you’re busy and your classmates pick up your slack and they know you’ll do the same when they have a need. When I went on my tour at Booth, my guide said ‘everyone at Booth pays it forward’. That is something I saw from everyone.
Did you enter Booth with preset goals and did you end up following the path you envisioned?
I had a vision of where I wanted to go in my career, thinking I was going to go the finance route. I ultimately realized it wasn’t the most interesting to me. I really enjoyed the strategic and qualitative courses, like negotiations, and for some reason, I loved accounting. I ended up walking away with new interests and a wealth of information I didn’t know I’d have.
How did Booth impact your career?
It’s like jumping on a rocket. I feel I’ve advanced so much further beyond my peers than I would have if I had just continued working and not gotten this MBA. While in the program, I went from being an engineer to changing function and industry in one shot. The alumni network is incredible and a resource I know I’ll always have. I know as an alum, I can always call Career Services to get advice or think through a negotiation. I’ll always have someone who can point me in the right direction.
Do you have any advice for prospective or incoming students?
Get involved really early. A big fear of starting at Booth is that you might be overloaded with classes and work, so how would you be involved in clubs and everything else, but it’s possible. Part of it is just getting into a new rhythm. Budget your time wisely. There are hundreds of things to do here. Think about your calendar and your commitments. It’s challenging but you can be involved and have an impact. Over time I realized I could do more than I thought I could.
Libby Smoler is a marketing specialist for the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.