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Our Chicago Booth Scholars Program serves as our deferred MBA path for young professionals. Chicago Booth Scholars apply to our program during their senior year of undergrad, and those accepted can defer enrollment at Chicago Booth for 2 - 5 years. With the security to begin your MBA at your own pace, Chicago Booth Scholars have the freedom to explore their career interests and shape their post-MBA goals before officially enrolling at Booth. Read on as Chicago Booth Scholar, Irene Kuo, shares insights on applying to Booth, how she stayed engaged during the deferment period, and her experience as a full-time MBA student early on in her career.

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Irene is currently completing her first year in our Full-Time MBA Program. Prior to Chicago Booth, Irene worked as a tech risk consultant at EY. Coming from an undergrad background in accounting and information systems, Irene felt the path she was on naturally made sense. However, she found a huge part of her personality and passions missing from the role she had – she longed for creativity. Since Irene has been doing videography on the side for the last 10 years, before deciding to apply for her MBA Irene also seriously considered going to film school. In the end, she decided to pursue a business degree, and she can’t imagine what her life would have been like had she taken another route. Long story short, Irene decided to come to Booth in order to pivot into a product marketing management role, where she can best leverage her business acumen and creative juices.

What was the application process like, and what advice do you have for those considering the Chicago Booth Scholars Program?

The application process was fairly straightforward. Like applying for college or the normal Full-Time MBA track, it requires essays, recommendation letters, your resume, and transcripts. The difference is that the Chicago Booth Scholars Program timeline is much later than the normal process. Applications are due in spring rather than in the fall and winter. After that, you wait to hear back about interviews, which occurred in May for me and decisions were released in early June.

Did you find applying to the Chicago Booth Scholars Program advantageous? If so, why?

Yes, I got to focus on getting the most out of my job, rather than splitting hairs between studying for the GMAT, writing application essays, preparing for interviews, etc. I also had time to connect with Booth alumni, current Booth students, and other deferred Booth Scholars, many of whom are currently enrolled in the program with me this year!

How did you stay engaged with Booth during the deferment period?

There was a structured set-up by Booth called Intros. Every Monday, we received an email connecting us to another Booth Scholar. From there, we would select our availability and the system would find a match to set up a Google Meet. I was also on the Booth Scholars Deferment Committee where we had bi-weekly meetings to organize meetups in cities with a large population of Booth Scholars, some of these locations included DC, Chicago, and NYC.

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What’s been your favorite class at Booth thus far and why?

Competitive Strategy with Thomas Wollmann was a fantastic class. He had a great way of keeping the class engaged by encouraging discussion. I will say, the occasional cold calling helped us stay concentrated during class, it also pushed us to come prepared and have done the readings. My absolute favorite part of the class has got to be the Tuna Game. It was a simple way to illustrate how market incentives can sway personal/company interests.

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Fun Facts about Irene:

  • Irene still makes videos on the side! She even has a YouTube channel that she started last year, and she’s currently focused on making more Booth-related content in hopes of busting common misconceptions about Booth being labeled as only an academically focused school. Irene wants to showcase that Boothies also know how to have fun!
  • Irene is part of the Basketball Club and Volleyball Club at Booth.
  • Irene plays in a band and she’s hoping to win Battle of the Bands this year!
  • Irene wanted to pursue an MBA to pivot into a PMM role and she has successfully been able to do so; furthermore, Irene will be at Adobe for the summer, specifically working on their Premiere Pro Team.


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