Guest: Has the Dougan Scholars program given you the opportunities to pursue your interests in business?
* Anna Li: Yes, the Program has given me the opportunity to pursue my interests in business. I've been able to take a class called Introductory Finance to explore my interest in finance, talk to my mentor about his experiences in consulting, and attend co-curricular programming sessions (including one about entrepreneurship!). You are able to get a lot of exposure to different areas within business through the Program.
Guest: Besides the number of Booth classes one takes, how does Dougan Scholars differ from UCIB?
* David Liu: The Booth classes are obviously the biggest difference from UCIB and I think that’s worth expanding upon. Dougan Scholars is seen as the academic counterpart to UCIB, so we’re able to get into almost any Booth class and is not limited to just a few or only the undergrad sections. With this comes access to the best professors, the network of MBAs, and in general the MBAs are highly receptive to what you have to say because they know you’re smart and can think/problem solve at a high level. And, Nahida is the best (brownie points!). But literally, she is so open to help with anything that comes up and is so accommodating to everyone’s different situations. I’ll email her randomly on Sunday night sometimes not expecting to get a response until the morning, and suddenly a reply will be in my inbox within a half hour.
Guest: What kind of experience had you already obtained prior to applying as a Dougan Scholar, and do you think this significantly factored into your application? What did you gain from the Dougan Scholar program that you think is unique to the program and cannot be found elsewhere? Has this program been the most impactful experience during your time in the college, and if not what has?
* Xinyi Ge: First of all, I applied to the Dougan program twice. Prior to my second application to the Dougan program, professionally I have worked at Aon during summer after first year as part of the Summer Links program by UCSC. Academically I was taking my first Booth class at the time of application. Outside of academics, I have been very involved on campus with IOP’s Shriver fellowship, CI+I’s OMSA office etc. I believe that all of these experiences helped me explore my academic and professional interests. Having a refined story of what my goals are and how Dougan will help me achieve my goals were important in my application. It’s hard to say which experience is the most impactful during my college career so far – they all shape my experience in different ways and domains. Having said that, I do think Dougan has been an important part of my college experience because it has introduced to me to the world beyond undergraduate education, taught me important soft skills and helped me explore my professional interest.
Guest: What is the highlight of your experience with the Dougan Scholars Program
* Anna Li: The highlight of my experience with the Program has definitely been the mentorship aspect. During your time with the Program, you will be assigned a Booth mentor. My mentor and I have become really good friends, even though we've only known each other since the beginning of this academic year. He has helped me both professionally and academically, and we meet every other week to grab lunch together and catch up! This mentor-mentee relationship is something really valuable to each Dougan Scholar.
Guest: How do you like the program? How has it shaped your campus experience/job search?
* David Liu: Obviously I’m a huge fan of the program. It’s great and I think fills a need at the university. It’s growing and has been successful in my opinion. Campus experience? I spend more time at Booth now and I think I’m going to be researching at Booth next quarter, which was opened up to me through Dougan Scholars. My job search (I think?) was easier as I got offers from banks that I had Dougan Scholars friends at, although I didn’t end up choosing those. They were great and willing to introduce me to recruiters/co-workers, and tell me the honest truth about the industry/banks that I was walking into. When it came time to make a decision, they gave me unbiased, great advice and really just wanted to help me make the best decision for myself.
Guest: What is a characteristic that Dougan Scholars have in common?
* David Liu: Not really sure because it’s such a diverse group. That being said, I suppose there must be something that brought us together. Maybe Nahida liked our shoes during the interviews? Just kidding. I think it would simply be being pretty smart, pretty hardworking, an outstanding problem solver (important in Booth classes), and not afraid to speak up in class because this is where all the learning comes from in Booth classes.
Guest: What advantages does the Dougan Scholars certificate program have over strictly going to business school? How typically "business-y" is the program vs. how much room for flexibility and creative business ventures is there?
* Anna Li: The Dougan Scholars Program is a great way for students to explore the different opportunities at Booth (classes, research opportunities, events, etc). Scholars are able to develop academically, professionally, and socially; we're able to get our foot through the door into the Booth experience. In the future, Scholars can reflect on their experiences as a Dougan Scholar and determine if they want to pursue an MBA (at Booth or elsewhere). While the Program does have an emphasis on business, it is different from UCIB in that it is more academic-focused instead of professional-focused. That being said, there is a lot of room for flexibility because the co-curricular programming sessions provide these opportunities (there was a recent session on entrepreneurship).
Guest: How did your choice to be a Dougan Scholar impact your choices of other courses- did you choose easier courses to compensate for the Booth courses?
* Xinyi Ge: The Booth courses are not necessarily “harder” than college courses. They just have a different flavor since they focus more on application as opposed to the theoretical approach in many college courses. In addition, there are a great variety of Booth classes – some focus more on academic models and concepts (eg. Investments) while the others might teach you soft skills (eg. Negotiation). I usually try to balance my courses in terms of the time required for each course and its disciplinary focus. For example, I would take one humanities class + two math/stat/computer science focused classes + 1 Booth class.
Guest: Does each Dougan Scholar have the same mentor for the three years of the program?
* Xinyi Ge: Dougan Scholars almost certainly do not have the same mentor for 3 years since the full-time MBA program is only 2 years. Hence, you might have 2 or 3 different mentors over the course of the Dougan program.
Guest: Has the practical education of Booth Classes positively affected how you learn in courses The College provides?
* David Liu: I think the practical element of Booth classes helps you to understand how the theory of Undergrad classes can be applied in the real world. For example, in Econ you begin to think one step further, so rather than just solving for the output of the economic model, you think critically about how this exists in the real world and how you can apply it.
Guest: What sort of opportunities has the booth programing opened up?
* Anna Li: The Program has opened up various opportunities for its Dougan Scholars, from academic classes to RA/TA positions to co-curricular programming sessions. All of these opportunities help us gain a better sense of what we are interested in and hope to pursue in the future, and they are great learning opportunities as well. Personally for me, it's been a great way to step out of my comfort zone and take classes that I find are challenging but necessary and useful in my academic and professional development. Regarding the co-curricular programming, recently we had a session on entrepreneurship which really got me interested in an area I was not exposed to before.
Guest: What advice would you have for first-years looking to take Booth courses early on in their UChicago career?
* David Liu: I'm not sure you can take Booth classes first year, but in general I would say to take as many as you can whether you're in Dougan Scholars or not, because they're so valuable going into business. I'm guessing you can start polling for them in the fall of 2nd year, which is what I'd do. Make sure you have a plan for which ones you want to take and how they'll fit into your schedule, as you only have limited space.
Guest: What is it like being in class with graduate students?
* Anna Li: This quarter, I'm taking a Weekend MBA class on Saturdays at Gleacher Center. Some of the graduate students I attend class with fly in from the East and West coast to attend class every week. It's really cool to learn not only from the professor, but also from the other students in the class because they all have professional experience in various industries. Even though they are older graduate students, however, they are all still there to learn and are very open and willing to help you out. Although I'm not in a homework pset group with graduate students this quarter, I know others who have been in groups with them and they say it's a very valuable experience as well. The Program provides you this opportunity to take classes with graduate students, and it's definitely something to make the most out of it!
Guest: I came here to ask about the interview process. What should I expect from the interview (question wise or length) and how should I prepare?
* Nahida Teliani: The interviews will be conducted in late April and will be behavioral. They will be approximately 45 minutes in length and will be conducted by our current Admissions fellows.
Guest: What was your favorite course / professor at Booth and why?
* Xinyi Ge: My favorite Booth class so far is Investments with Professor Kelly. He explains the complicated concepts and models in a very clear and organized manner. He always highlights the intuition behind the sophisticated financial models and this has been very helpful for me to grasp the concepts. I appreciate the real-life example he gives to illustrate the concepts.
Guest: What Booth event/class did you enjoy the most as a Dougan Scholar?
* David Liu: My favorite class has been Negotiations for a few reasons. 1. I met another DS who I've become great friends with, so much so that we're going to be living together in San Francisco this summer during our internships. 2. Very fun class, and you learn a ton about the strategies behind negotiations. Prior to this, I thought the financial models were the end all be all for company valuations (sorry about the jargon for any non-finance people) but then you realize how much of the deal value depends on what happens in a room between two negotiators. Pretty cool stuff! 3. The final project finally forced me and my apartment roommates to negotiate over apartment duties so we can keep that place clean.
Guest: How is the student-to-student mentorship program structured for Dougan Scholars?
* Anna Li: Within the Program, there are two types of mentorship opportunities: Dougan Scholar to Dougan Scholar and Dougan Scholar to Booth Mentor. The first mentorship program is helpful since we are able to learn about the experiences of older Dougan Scholars and how they made the most out of the program. The second mentorship program is also very helpful because we are able to learn about the experiences of a graduate student, as well as his/her experiences before business school. These matches are made at the beginning of the school year, and they are based on each person's interests so the Program does its best to match people up appropriately.
Guest: How was Dougan scholars better than simply taking classes for undergrads at Booth?
* David Liu: With Dougan Scholars, you get assigned "bid points", which you can use to bid for classes. The way that works is that Booth kind of simulates a market where you use these points to bid for classes, and therefore having points lets you get into higher level/cooler Booth classes than you would otherwise. Also I think the professors/experiences with MBAs is night and day.
Guest: What advice do you have for the application process?
* David Liu: The funny thing is, it's not really about the application process in my opinion. A lot of it has to do with everything you've done leading up to that, so that would be my advice. Do well in school, get involved with stuff on campus, explore your passions, etc. and this will shine through on your application. And if I had to add anything about the application itself, I would say it's important to write some good essays to show off your writing skills. Write them well in advance, step back, read them again, have friends proofread them (you know the drill). Send a message and tell your story through the essays.
Guest: Who should I ask to be my recommender?
* David Liu: You can ask anyone (either faculty at the college or maybe even high school teacher, double check on that) who will best represent you as a student in the classroom and as a person outside of it. For me, I asked my second quarter HUM teacher because I had worked closely with her and we were very close. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to ask an Econ teacher, or a Booth professor, or someone like that. It is much less important who writes the letter, as opposed to what they have to say about you and if they can give us a good idea of who you are.
Guest: Is there a particular major that is better for the program?
* Xinyi Ge: No. As you are curious and willing to learn, any major will work! Having said that, since you do have to fulfill Economics and Statistics requirements for the Foundation classes of Dougan Scholars, having some experience in these fields might help. But you will be just fine even if you don’t have any prior experience in Economics and Stats. Embrace the challenge and learning opportunities!
Guest: Do you think that by being a part of the Dougan Scholars program, you have gained significant practical business experience?
* Xinyi Ge: Dougan Scholars is still primarily an academic program so while I haven’t gained significant practical business experience out of this program other than the practical cases you would do for classes, Dougan Scholars does introduce many opportunities that might lead to practical business experience. For example, we always receive information about new programs and opportunities at Booth. You can utilize such opportunities to explore your interests. The people you meet as part of Dougan Scholars are not to be overlooked as well – fellow Dougan Scholars and mentors might introduce practical experience opportunities to you as well.
Guest: How transformative have the Booth courses been for your understanding of business?
* Xinyi Ge: The Booth courses provide an incredibly comprehensive introduction to the fundamentals of business. For example, I did not know much about Finance prior to DSP. After taking Financial Accounting and Investments, I have a much better understanding of how the financial market works, how businesses manage their finance and what businesses’ priorities are in terms of finance.