One of the differentiating factors of a Booth MBA is the strong, diverse, and supportive community that is cultivated here. Not only do our students come from around the world, but our flexible curriculum is welcoming to individuals from varying career backgrounds. All of these diverse perspectives means Boothies have the opportunity to connect with so many people and build a network that lasts for years to come. We sat down with four alumnae— Selena J. Roker, ‘10, Jasmine Richards, ‘11, Ameerah Phillips, MBA ‘17, MPP ’17, and Chinwe Aneke, ‘15—to discuss the friends and community they built while here at Booth. Read on to hear their insights.
Once at Booth, what did you discover about you peers that surprised you?
Ameerah: Before starting school, I mistakenly assumed that all of my peers would be coming from careers in banking or consulting, of which there were some; but there were also teachers, engineers, non-profit professionals, and so much more. All of these professional experiences are to credit for an unparalleled diversity of thought and contributions both inside and outside of the classroom.
Selena: In my mind Chicago Booth was only for quant geeks! So, I was surprised at the number of my peers who were pursuing concentrations/careers that were not related to finance. I also knew that I would be surrounded by extremely intelligent people, but I was truly blown away by how smart, courageous, and humble my peers were. Their intelligence was refreshing and challenged me to step my game up.
Jasmine: Through recruiting, study groups, Random Walks, ski trips, and spring breaks, I spent a lot of quality time with my classmates. On the surface, Chicago can appear to be a monolith of quants but one of my favorite parts of business school was getting to know the individual stories of my classmates. The class is full of absolutely brilliant people but they are also truly interesting. I could spend all day in a study group working on a financial model and then spend an evening in their apartment while they cook a four-course meal. I could spend hours preparing for interviews with a group and then go learn dance from a classmate preparing for a performance.
Chinwe: It was amazing to see how diverse their backgrounds were. Even within that diversity, we all had similar goals: To be successful in every aspect of our lives while at business school. Just witnessing the sheer ambition of my classmates really made me want to strive for more than what I thought I could achieve.
The recruiting process can be a bit exhausting. What type of support did you get from your peers?
Ameerah: Everyone has an opinion or thought about your recruiting strategy, but I found it most beneficial to identify a select group of friends and colleagues who understood my particular recruiting journey and consult them when I had questions or just needed to vent. I also made it a point to have fun. Life doesn’t stop when recruiting starts, so I made sure to do at least one fun thing per week not related to class or recruiting.
Selena: My peers were amazing during the recruiting process. A big part of the process was the company meet and greets, researching companies, participating in challenges (IPO and Mergers & Acquisitions), preparing for interviews and, coping with dings (interviews that did not yield offers). I leaned heavily on my peers to help with flash cards on company stats, important people to know, accounting questions, meals, prayers, and endless words of encouragement. My classmates continue to play an important role in my personal and professional life. They are my extended family.
Jasmine: I participated in on campus recruiting which, for a period of time, can become all consuming. My classmates were instrumental in helping me prepare, managing the process, and relieving stress. Whether it was someone sharing interview prep materials, meeting up for mock interviews, or a group of the women getting together for a night of whiskey and cigars to take the edge off, my peers were completely supportive through the recruiting process. In a process that easily could be very competitive, I think the comradery is notable. They helped me celebrate when I got good news and helped me laugh and bounce back when I got disappointing news.
Chinwe: Recruiting can be emotionally taxing, so a lot of the students who went through the process with me became really close friends. Although it was competitive, I felt like I went through the trying recruiting process with family members who cared about me and vice versa. I worked with other student members to practice interviews. We commiserated and complained about recruiting woes as well as celebrated successes together. I also received a lot of support from the diversity office—the smiles and hugs I got from them were priceless.
How many student organizations were you a part of during your two years?
Ameerah: Oh gosh, a lot! I was an active member of the African-American MBA Association both years, serving as club and conference co-chair my second year. I was also an Admissions Fellow, interviewing candidates during their on-campus visits. I mentored a brilliant undergrad student through the Dougan Scholars Program. I participated in the Board Fellows program, which assigns students to the board of non-profit organizations around Chicago. I had the great fortune of working with a small, progressive theatre in Chicago. I was also a member of the Management Consulting Group, I worked as a Teaching Assistant, and more. Suffice it to say, I stayed busy! But I loved every minute of it and my participation in these student organizations are just as much a part of my Booth experience as my classes with world-renowned professors.
Selena: As an extrovert, I wanted to be a part of all the organizations, but the way my budget was set up, I decided to join the groups that made the most sense to my professional and personal well-being. I was a member of the Investment Banking Group, African American MBA Association, Chicago Women in Business, The Christian Business Student Group, Random Walk Leaders, and the Class of 2010 Sendoff Committee.
Jasmine: Tons. I threw myself completely into the Booth experience and joined tons of professional and social student organizations. African American MBA Association was a critical form of support for me both first and second year, which is why I eventually joined the leadership board. For recruiting, I joined the Investment Banking and Investment Management groups, both of which were fundamental to helping me explore new career paths. Socially, Wine Club and Ski Club were definitely my biggest returns on investment. Both of these were clubs where I met classmates that weren’t in my classes or on the same recruiting path.
Chinwe: I was really conscious of not over-extending myself, so I dedicated my time to organizations where I knew I could either provide assistance or receive benefits. I stuck with four student organizations. Some social, some professional, all beneficial.
Read more insights from these four alumnae on the impact Booth has had on their careers and check back soon to learn about their academic exploration at Booth.
Ameerah Phillips is an Associate in the Management Associate Program (MAP) at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., a two year MBA management training program. There, she will complete four six-month rotations across the firm in wholesale, consumer, and corporate businesses in diverse functions and geographies.
Jasmine N. Richards, CFA, joined Cambridge Associates in 2018 as Senior Investment Director, Manager Diversity to lead the firm’s ongoing initiative to identify and research institutional-quality investment managers in all public and private asset classes that have diverse owners or leaders, including women and people of color.
Selena J. Roker received her MBA with concentrations in Analytical Finance, Accounting, and Strategy in 2010. She has worked for Chick-fil-A Inc. since graduating from Booth and two years ago transitioned to Marketing from the Finance department.
Chinwe Aneka works in Strategic Pricing at ExxonMobil. In the nearly four years she has spent at ExxonMobil, Chinwe has worked in both strategic pricing and strategy implementation.