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Tristen Utterback and Casey Hammond are Business Fellows within the Evening MBA Program at Chicago Booth. Here’s what they have to say about the Hearing One Another + Welcome Reception event, why they became Chicago Business Fellows, and what their experiences within the program have been like so far. 

Why did you choose to become a Chicago Business Fellow?

I decided to apply for the Chicago Business Fellows (CBF) program after hearing about how I could start pursuing an MBA early on in my career. I found this opportunity to be advantageous and unique when I started looking into different MBA programs. I always knew that I wanted to obtain an MBA degree at some point – doing so early on in my career through the CBF program was the best timing for me personally. Having a small cohort when starting out at Chicago Booth was also attractive to me as it provided me with a close-knit network of friends and professionals at a time when I had just moved to Chicago.  - Tristen

I chose to become a Chicago Business Fellow in order to join a cohort of young professionals and find a community of peers. As someone early in my professional career, I think it is important to have a strong base to support and challenge you in personal, professional, and academic settings. My fellow Business Fellows are not only my academic colleagues, they are also my friends and network outside of the classroom. - Casey

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“My experience with CBF has been so fun and rewarding thus far. Many of my closest friends have come from this program and it has been nice to be able to connect over being at similar stages in our careers. We have so much support for each other, both personally and professionally.” - Tristen Utterback

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“My Booth experience thus far has been intellectually stimulating and very positive. I have enjoyed the opportunities to connect with Business Fellows casually at social events and in structured settings like the Hearing One Another event where we can, together, grapple with leadership questions and learn from one another. I have friends in other academic programs and business schools who often wish they had a community like CBF at their institutions.” - Casey Hammond

The purpose of the Hearing One Another + Welcome Reception event was to welcome CBF students to a new academic year and provide them with insight into how behavioral science plays a prominent role in understanding one another across different dimensions of diversity. This event is an example of the type of programming offered to Boothies within the CBF program. We encourage students to network with one another as they navigate working full-time and completing their MBA journey simultaneously as young adults.

What were your takeaways from the Hearing One Another + Welcome Reception Event? 

My overall experience at the event was great! It was absolutely worthwhile and I would recommend more CBF events like that take place in the future. I found the event to be very beneficial in helping me apply interpersonal skills to cultivate meaningful relationships with my peers. Here are my key takeaways from the event: (1) Listening to another person involves so much more than just hearing what is being said. Eye contact, commentary, and questions throughout a conversation are so important to ensuring both parties understand each other. (2) Finding non-visual similarities with other people can be intimidating but it isn’t always as difficult as it may seem and can lead to insightful dialogue once they are discovered. (3) Communication is about what we say but also how we say it. Changing the tone and energy behind your words really makes a difference and can give the other person a good sense of how you’re feeling. - Tristen

My key takeaways from the Hearing One Another event are understanding (1) intent behind message delivery and (2) active listening. I have attended workshops like this before, but I think it is easy to brush off the message and lose sight of the aforementioned takeaways when we are bogged down in the trenches at our workplaces. Especially in a hybrid work environment, I think the lessons I gleaned are important reminders as I continue to work virtually and try to build engagement with my direct reports and management team. - Casey

The Chicago Business Fellows Program is a great program for young professionals interested in getting their MBA early on in their careers. The exclusive programming, tight-knit community, and limitless networking opportunities make the CBF program worthwhile. If you’re interested in the Chicago Business Fellows program, we encourage you to visit our website to learn more and apply.