Coronavirus Updates

Our Chicago Business Fellows Program is specifically designed to enhance the MBA experience of early career professionals with three years or less of full-time work experience. Read on as Chicago Business Fellow (CBF), Michelle Florian, provides a glimpse into her journey to Chicago Booth, career aspirations, and involvement outside of the classroom.

Originally from West Chicago, Michelle moved to the Bay Area in 2020 to make a career pivot to join a biotech startup as their finance manager. After two years, she entered the technology space as a senior financial analyst for VMware, affording her the unexpected opportunity to work on a blockbuster acquisition (Broadcom announced the merger and acquisition transaction on her very first day on the job!).

These experiences inspired Michelle to pursue an MBA to deepen her knowledge of finance, build a multidisciplinary network, and explore opportunities at the intersection of biotech, technology, and finance, all while charting a long-term plan. Michelle is currently still located in the San Francisco Bay Area and travels on weekends for class. With an open mind to where her future in the finance industry lies, she’s made it a priority to take advantage of opportunities to build a foundation in finance and reimagine the limitless possibilities of where her Booth MBA can take her.

Grey Placeholder Image

What attracted you to the Chicago Business Fellows Program? Why was getting an MBA early on in your career important to you?

When I was in the process of applying for MBA programs, CBF was a major draw to Booth for me. Considering that the average age of the part-time class is higher than that of the full-time, I understood that my peers would naturally be highly successful in their respective careers, which was honestly a bit intimidating. I believed that bringing together students who are in a similar stage of their careers to learn together was a compelling value-add. At LAUNCH, I quickly learned that the entire Booth community is welcoming, and being a part of CBF truly added value to my experience from the start.

I appreciate the way CBF is a space where we can support each other in the unique challenges that come with having under three years of work experience. For example, I have related to other CBF members over common experiences of overcoming imposter syndrome, leveraging our in-progress MBA degrees for career switching, being passed over for job opportunities due to not having enough years of experience, and striving to forge connections with leaders of our organizations. Many of these common barriers are also the reasons that drive us to invest in our education at Booth, especially early in our careers.

Grey Placeholder Image

How have you benefited from the Chicago Business Fellows programming?

I have benefited from the specialized professional development opportunities within the Chicago Business Fellows program through the speakers’ stories and advice, the network I am building, and the friendships I am making. Some of my favorite CBF events include the Etiquette Dinner, Alumni Flag Football Game, Ugly Sweater Party, and Spring Brunch. This year, I am also looking forward to the Elevator Pitch Workshop, Alumni Reunion, and Student Panel events.

Grey Placeholder Image

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

Corporation Finance is among my favorite classes at Booth so far, not only for the content, but for the people who bring the lessons to life. My study group brought diverse background experiences, and we were all very interested in learning about financial governance, leadership, and decision-making in our respective areas of expertise. Enjoying the content and envisioning how I could put it to practice in my career made this class particularly meaningful.

I’m also currently enrolled in Corporate Governance, a class which is worthy of highlighting as a favorite! Taking Corporate Governance is a change of pace from the quant-heavy class I am typically drawn to, and between the guest speakers, lively professor, tough questions, prop shop, and more, it is quickly becoming a favorite course. It has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and I look forward to every class.

Grey Placeholder Image

In what ways are you involved at Chicago Booth? How has your involvement contributed to the connections you’ve made throughout your MBA journey thus far?

As a weekend student who commutes from San Francisco weekly to attend in-person classes and events, I see great value in being a part of the Booth community and making the most of the amazing opportunities offered. In addition to being a member of many Booth clubs, I am also a Graduate Women in Business co-chair and on the CBF Advisory Board. Through these positions, I have been able to work with other groups (Booth Pride and Coalition of Minorities in Business, for instance) as well as the Student Advisory Council to plan meaningful events. I also participated in the International Business Exchange study abroad program in the summer of 2023 to represent Booth at the ESSEC School of Business in Paris, France.

I have certainly benefited from the valuable support of the Chicago Business Fellows programing and Graduate Women in Business events during my first year as a Chicago Booth student, and being a co-chair allows me to embrace the pay-it-forward culture at Booth.

Fun Facts about Michelle:

  • Whenever veering from her usual round-trip flight from San Francisco to Chicago, Michelle enjoys traveling to new places to learn about different cultures and cuisines around the world.
  • Michelle loves being outdoors for an occasional run in her free time.
  • Michelle likes to have deep conversations over a cup of coffee.