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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, Yiğit Akdemir, touches on his experience applying to Booth, working in a corporate banking role during the deferment period, and more.

Yiğit (pronounced ‘Yeet’) is currently a first-year joint degree student pursuing an MBA and Computer Science degree at the University of Chicago. Originally from Istanbul, Yiğit came to the United States for the first time in 2014 to study at UChicago for undergrad; he double majored in Economics and Statistics. Yiğit became a Dougan Scholar towards the end of his second-year and began taking courses at Chicago Booth. He decided to apply to the Chicago Booth Scholars Program his senior year and was granted admission. Following his graduation from undergrad in 2018, Yiğit went on to work in Liquidity Solutions at J.P. Morgan, where he helped large corporations with their global cash management needs. After five years, he decided it was time to pursue his MBA in order to improve his management and strategy skills, while also learning about computer science through pursuing the joint MBA/MPCS degree.

What attracted you to the Chicago Booth Scholars (CBS) Program?

I took 47 classes during undergrad, six of which were from Booth. I really liked my Booth classes because, compared to undergraduate classes, they were more practical and immediately applicable to real-life scenarios, especially for someone who would like to have a business career. Theory is still very important at Booth as part of the overall University of Chicago paradigm, but there is a lot of focus on how to use that knowledge in a business career once we are out of the classroom. I was able to take a handful of Booth classes during college, but there were numerous other courses that I wanted to take.

I was also attracted to the CBS Program because I saw it as an amazing way to start a career after college, while knowing that all I would need to do is click a button if I wanted to make a switch onto my MBA path. Indeed, it made me more comfortable during my five years working at a bank as I appreciated having an alternative pathway available at all times. It also made me more willing to take risks and initiatives at work, which likely helped me become more successful.

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

The key parts of the application process that I remember were the GMAT exam, the letters of recommendation, and the application essay. The GMAT exam is a multiple-choice test, so like all other multiple-choice tests, there is one key way to get a good score: solve as many practice questions as possible, ideally from tests published by the GMAT administrator, so that the mind can adapt to the style of the exam. The essay was about a business leader of our choice. The Booth Admissions team really encouraged me to select whoever I wanted, as long as I would enjoy writing about them, and therefore I could comfortably link the essay to my personal values.

How did you prepare for the GMAT?

GMAT is a multiple-choice test. I've taken numerous multiple-choice tests in my life, and one thing I realized is that the key to cracking all of them is to practice their questions as much as possible. Each multiple-choice test has a distinct pattern in terms of how they ask questions, what they look for in answers, and how it can trip you up if you’re not prepared. I bought all of the official GMAT preparation kits and solved hundreds of practice questions for the reason I mentioned above, but also to understand where I made mistakes most of the time. I noted my mistakes after each test and moved on to the next one quickly. I was able to get a score in the 99th percentile as a result.

Tell us more about your deferral period and where you worked.

As I mentioned previously, I worked at J.P. Morgan for five years during my deferral period in groups responsible for helping large companies with their global cash management. After two internships during college, I started as a rotational analyst in the Global Treasury Management Program. In this program, I worked in strategy and sales roles, after which I started permanently in Liquidity Solutions. I had a variety of roles there, at times working simultaneously on multiple teams, including analytics, solutioning, and strategy. I worked on deposit and balance sheet modeling, designed global funding structures for clients, and managed a framework for client interest rates. The last five years have been some of the most tumultuous in economic history, due to trade disagreements, COVID-19, corporate liquidity issues, decreasing margins, inflation, rate hikes, and bank crises. Working in a liquidity group at a large bank during this time meant that priorities changed every few weeks, which made my experience very interesting and rewarding.

What career path are you pursuing at Chicago Booth and how is Booth helping you reach your professional goals?

I decided to make a switch to investment banking, and the support I've received from Booth has been absolutely amazing. The entire recruiting process, tried and tested many times over the past years, was explained to us during our first meeting with the Investment Banking Group. It included 60+ coffee chats (i.e., informational interviews) and numerous networking events with people from 10-15 banks before we had the actual interviews in January. I counted that I sent 400+ thank you emails over the past 4 months, each of which had to be specific to the conversation I had with each person.

The Booth alumni at these banks were responsible for our evaluations and became advocates for us during the process. For someone who is relatively introverted like me, the process was challenging, but I strongly believe the process helped me secure an internship within investment banking. The academic structure at Booth is designed in such a way that I was still able to do well in my classes while spending 80% of my time on recruiting. The entire institution is truly dedicated to helping us become successful in recruiting.

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

Since I am a joint-degree student who spent a great deal of time doing banking recruiting last quarter, I’ve only completed two Booth classes and one Computer Science class since I began my MBA. With that in mind, my favorite class so far is a Booth class that I took during my undergrad: Money and Banking. It was extremely useful to understand how the banking system works and how a central bank manages the economy. The Diamond-Dybvig banking model that we learned got Professor Doug Diamond a Nobel Prize recently, and the knowledge I obtained regarding central banks and macroeconomics was extremely relevant to my work at J.P. Morgan as the Federal Reserve increased the interest rates in 2022-23.

I am currently taking another great class named Business, Politics and Ethics, where we are learning how Milton Friedman and Adam Smith thought about businesses and morality, which has been extremely intriguing.

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Fun Facts about Yiğit:

  • Yiğit is a big fan of movies. On his wall, he has a poster that lists the best 1,500 movies ever made across 50+ genres and he marks his impression of each after watching.
  • Yiğit enjoys traveling a lot. He enjoys taking unconventional flight routes in order to visit multiple cities as part of a “long layover” to his destination. He’s also looking forward to going to Brazil and Colombia with other Boothies soon!
  • Yiğit is a fan of hanging out with friends and exploring nightlife in Chicago. He appreciates living in close proximity to other Boothies and being able to hang out with such a large group of like-minded people.


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