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Spotlight on Student Life: The Booth Experience

October 17, 2017

Chat live with The Booth Experience student bloggers as they begin the first quarter of their second year at Booth. Ask about classes, student life, faculty, recruiting, and more. Don't miss this opportunity to chat directly with current students and hear more about living in Chicago as part of the Booth community.

Chat Transcripts 

Guest: What is one thing about Booth that you did not expect?

* Carson Cunningham: Thanks for your question. I think of two things when I get this question. My first reaction when I came to Booth was how down-to-earth and friendly everyone is. I had presumptions coming in about business school being full of people who only thrive in cutthroat, competitive environments, but within the first week I was astonished at how much my fellow classmates are willing to help each other. The second thing that surprised me is how diverse the class really is. Coming from a non-business background and going to a school known for finance, I was worried I would lack business vocabulary compared to the rest of my class. However, people here are from a wide variety of backgrounds and have incredibly different educational and work experiences, and I realized I wasn’t the only person who has never read a financial statement before coming to Booth.


Guest: Hi and thanks so much for hosting today's chat! Could you please discuss any experiential learning opportunities you've been able to take advantage of and how they've impacted your Booth experience and/or career goals?

* Joseph Dang: Negotiations is a very experiential class where you do a negotiation in every class. I am also in Management Lab which is a consulting project with a client where we work with them for the whole quarter and deliver a final recommendation.


Guest: Good afternoon! Did you learn anything about yourself from the LEAD program that you didn’t expect?

* Joseph Dang: Hi, thanks for the question on regarding LEAD. Through all the different personality surveys, discussions, and others, I learned that I'm secretly an introvert. I used to feel that I needed to go to every event and always see people but LEAD helped me get over that FOMO. Now I have JOMO - the joy of missing out.


Guest: Living in a big city, do you feel as if you're having a tight-knit experience with your class?

* Victoria Yunger: Living is a big city has been one of Booth’s strong selling points for me. While us students enjoy the quick pace of downtown and live where every tourist wants to travel in Chicago, we are actually a very tight-knit community. Most of the students live in proximity of 5 minutes away from each other, in front of Millennium Park and Gleacher Center, which is super convenient. We take the train/Uber together to school which is great way to open up our busy days. From study groups to endless parties, we Boothies enjoy the perfect balance of city meets community.


Guest: How do you balance academics, gaining soft skills, recruiting, and socializing?

* Victoria Yunger: Booth has been great about providing me many tools to achieve my goals – starting from LEAD before courses actually start to develop leadership skills and ending with a very detailed program to tackle recruiting that was led by career services and professional student clubs. I felt that I am empowered to go after my goals and be in control of my MBA journey. FROM DAY ONE, SOCIALIZING WAS ALSO A BIG PART OF THE Booth experience with small group dinners, get-togethers like Booth Insights, and many, many, many social events around town.


Guest: Hey, thanks for hosting this! I'm interested in using Booth to transition my career from engineering to investment banking. If you were in my shoes, and were only allowed to join one finance related club at Booth, which one would you join and why? Thanks!

* Dyuti: I would recommend the Investment Banking Group if you are interested in transitioning your career to Investment Banking. They provide a lot of support preparing you for the technical aspects of recruiting as well as the networking portion of the internship hunt.


Guest: From your point of view, what is it that makes the Booth experience so special? Why did you choose to join Booth and have you found your expectations confirmed?

* Yelihan Fofana: I think my experience has been made special by the people, as well as by the learning experience (academically). On the community side I think the pay-it-forward culture plays a huge part in helping to build a strong community: everybody has been incredibly supportive when I’ve had questions, needed help, or just wanted to bounce off some ideas. On the academic side, I have personally found most of my entrepreneur professors stellar and the courses to have a real-world applicability: my Platform Competition class for instance helped during my summer internship where I was working for a platform-based company. Being able to take these electives in your first year is a unique aspect of the program.


Guest: How would you define the "Booth culture"?

* Carson Cunningham: Great question, thanks for asking. My definition of the “Booth culture” would include the “pay it forward” mentality, thinking about decision-making in a quantitative, data-driven manner, and the friendly nature of being located in a Midwestern city like Chicago!


Guest: Why did you choose to apply / to join Booth?

* Dyuti: Booth had a perfect balance of academic rigor and flexibility to allow me to gain what I wanted from an academic perspective. From a career perspective, I loved seeing the connections that Booth has with so many companies. Being located in Chicago, Booth has a number of strong partnerships with incubators, start-ups, PE/VC firms, and large companies. The passion and diversity of the community was the final tipping factor for me!


Guest: Can you discuss your approach to the essay question and how you chose which medium to use?

* Eli Feret: The different mediums allow people to communicate in whichever style they feel the most comfortable with. Some people like telling their stories with words, others with pictures and a more artistic fashion. I have always been a better writer than presenter, so I chose the written essay.


Guest: How often do you interact with alumni? Are there any events or projects throughout the year involving alumni?

* George Boghos: Booth alumni have been very accessible and easy to interact with, in a variety of contexts. I interacted with a number of alumni via informal coffee chats throughout my first quarter as I was exploring various potential career paths. I was pleasantly surprised by the high response rate to my emails asking for advice or setting up a call or a lunch! Formally, alumni come to campus and participate in a variety of panels and “lunch-and-learns” – it’s always nice to go listen to an accomplished alum speak on our lunch breaks between classes.


Guest: Hi all, I am really interested in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital at Booth. Any insights into the Summer Startup program and how students are selected for it?

* Kim Ge: Hi, thank you for joining us today! We have a great article that P&Q wrote about our Summer Start-up and more details, please see here: http://poetsandquants.com/2017/06/30/how-booth-is-redefining-the-pre-mba-summer/


Guest: Has the course structure, student body, and faculty worked to improve the biggest shortcoming/weakness you had going into your first year?

* Eli Feret: This will vary greatly from student to student, but for me my biggest shortcoming was (coming from the Army) a general lack of business knowledge / what different career options were. I received a ton of support by reaching out to my classmates from different backgrounds to learn, career services (faculty) helped me structure my job search, and the flexible curriculum allowed me to take fewer classes during the heavy recruiting months.


Guest: How competitive versus cooperative is the environment among students on campus?

* Yelihan Fofana: I think that there will always be a degree of competition in an MBA setting (which by the way is not a bad thing!), but the way students go about preparing for opportunities is super collaborative. First of all, from the moment you step on campus, second years are helping you dust off your resume, work out your first quarter classes, coach you through interview preparations etc... Secondly, first years also help first years: we prep together, study together, and support each other through the process.


Guest: Which classes / professors did you enjoy most? Why?

* George Boghos: This quarter I’m in Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity with Professor Steve Kaplan, who is a renowned academic in the world of private equity. The class is case based and we get to study various business plans and think about whether or not we would invest in those businesses and how – and often the entrepreneurs in the case are guest speakers in the class!  Another one of my favorites is Negotiations with Professor Devin Pope – the skills I learned in that course have already come in handy!


Guest: Good evening! What does experiential learning mean for Booth?

* Joseph Dang: Experiential goes beyond the classroom (which is lecture or case-based) to working with clients in labs, going to emerging countries to observe the economy, or simulating starting a company and going through negotiations on VC terms.


Guest: How have you taken advantage of the school’s flexible curriculum?

* Eli Feret: Two ways for me. 1) I was able to take fewer courses in the fall and more in the spring, which was very helpful so I could focus on consulting recruiting in the fall and, 2) allowed me to take more advanced courses early in subjects I already had exposure in (advanced economics) so I wasn't just relearning info from undergrad


Guest: What's been your study group experience like outside of the LEAD program? What's the most and least number of different people you've engaged with in your study groups for classes in the first year, among the 7 of you?

* Joseph Dang: Study groups can vary from 2 to 5+ depending on the class - almost every class is group-based. LEAD groups are just for the leadership development class, you will form new groups for your classes.


Guest: Hi there! Interested in CSR/nonprofit management - would love to hear more about the Rustandy Center and its initiatives

* Kim Ge: The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation integrates Chicago Booth’s multidisciplinary approach to business education with experience-based learning and research. Through programs and events, the center increases our community’s odds of solving complex social and environmental problems. More information about our offerings can be found here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/how-we-help-you


Guest: Would you use the optional essay to discuss why you transitioned from one job to another? Is that an appropriate use of that essay?

* Kim Epps: Hi! Thank you for joining our chat today! Yes, please use the optional essay to discuss your transition. The optional essay is meant for applicants to discuss points, which are not easily followed within their application.  


Guest: If you had the chance to do the first year in Booth all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

* Joseph Dang: The one thing I would do differently is say no to more things. There's just so much going on that I didn't want to miss out on that I felt stretched pretty thin with recruiting, classes, and trying to see all my friends. I've started to do that more this year and getting more sleep is amazing!


Guest: Program flexibility is one of the things Booth is known for. How did you navigate choosing your classes and building your curriculum? What resources does Booth provide to help you?

* Joseph Dang: To build my program, I utilized academic coaches who looked over my transcript and what I wanted to do, talked to second years, and shopped classes (attended the first week) before finalizing my schedule. There is also software and spreadsheets that help you plan out your schedule.


Guest: Any advice on how to prepare better for my interview?

* Kim Epps: Hi! Thanks for joining the chat today. My advice on preparing for your interview is to make sure that you’re able to provide clear and concise answers, to the questions that you are asked, but most of all - just be yourself. The interview is meant to be a relaxed and non-stressful environment.



Guest: Can you speak to how the Booth social experience is centered around the campus instead of being spread throughout Chicago? Is there a "centralized" feeling or is it more diffuse?

* Dyuti: The large majority of students at Booth live in the Loop, which is a 20 min drive / train from campus. There is still a fairly centralized community feel, but it is common for that community to be centered around downtown rather than the physical building (Harper Center).


Guest: For those who came to Booth from out of state, what was the determining factor and how are you liking life in the Chicago area? Anything that stands out an area advantage? 

* Victoria Yunger: I came to Booth out of state and actually, out of country. To me, Chicago represented big city life with museums, shows and restaurants, which was important for me as a city-gal. It also has relatively reasonable costs of living in comparison to other big metropolitans. Generally, I still cannot believe the high standards of living that we Booth students enjoy in the downtown area (My friends back home find it shocking that students “live like that”, and have a pool/gym in their buildings). Moreover, it is fantastic to live in such a busy downtown area and easily foster professional connections with companies that are of interest to students.


Guest: What's the role of career services in helping to find your dream job?

* Eli Feret: Career services offers structured programming early in your time at Booth to help you both decide where you want to work, and landing that dream job. This includes everything from resume reviews, to Linkedin techniques, to mock interviews, to networking advice. Additionally, they manage all on-campus recruiting with companies that traditionally recruit MBAs, and serve as advisors for those of us who want to work with firms who don't come on-campus.


Guest: Is it true that Booth values experience working in Traditional firms more than work experience in Startups? Are some startups valued more than others?

* Victoria Yunger: In my eyes, Booth is about diversity and very open-minded about what prospective students can bring to the table. They do not go by titles, but by the actual people. There are so many different journeys and stories here and all of them are valued with an open mind, from my experience.


Guest: Hello, could you tell about your about you experience with students organizations. I was wondering what is the maximum number of clubs do you recommend, if I want to be committed to them. Thanks!

* Dyuti: Student organizations vary from professional clubs that assist with recruiting preparation to special interest clubs that have a wide breadth of topics. There are clubs focused on playing sports (Basketball, Soccer, Rugby, Ski club etc.), while there are clubs such as the Epicurean Club and Booth Hacks club. Each club requires a membership fee to join and clubs vary based on time commitment required. In response to your question, time is the limiting factor when signing up for clubs.


Guest: With so many interesting course options in Booth's flexible curriculum, how do you evaluate the trade-offs? Are there "hopping" periods or advisors to help student chart their paths?

* Carson Cunningham: Great question, thanks for asking. Everyone views the flexible curriculum differently, so I’ll try to give you two different perspectives. From the perspective of a general student looking to take full advantage of the flexible curriculum, you have the opportunity to dive deep into an area where you have a lot of interest, taking PhD-level courses if you desire. From the perspective of someone like myself with a non-business background, I was simply looking to dip my feet in a broad variety of areas, and the flexible curriculum has given me the opportunity to take entry-level classes in the order that I preferred. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “hopping” periods, but students can audit classes before taking them or dropping classes early in the quarter if they don’t seem to be what was expected. Some professors also give students the opportunity to attend different sections during different times/days of the week.


Guest: Hello! Thank you for hosting this. What are the opportunities for the partners? In which ways can they integrate with the experience at Booth and become part of the community?

* Dyuti: There are a number of ways partners can get involved. Many of the clubs allows Partners to join as well. Partners also have the option to audit courses at Booth, based on availability.


Guest: How well integrated is Booth with the UChicago community as a whole?

* George Boghos: Booth is very well integrated into the UChicago community - we can take classes anywhere across the university (Law School, Harris School of Public Policy, etc.) and have them count toward our Booth graduation credits. There are also plenty of campus-wide leadership opportunities that allow us a chance to meet students at other schools across UChicago. 


Guest: In terms of recruitment for finance, do u think Booth is at a disadvantaged position comparing with NYU/CBS because of its location

* George Boghos: Not at all! In fact, I would argue it’s an advantage to NOT be in NYC. Recruiters and companies come to us, instead of the pressure being on the student to proactively reach out to the companies and schedule meetings with them at their offices.


Guest: A follow up for Eli regarding flexible curriculum: Did you take fewer classes in the fall of your first year to accommodate internship recruiting, or was this in second year to accommodate full time recruiting?

* Eli Feret: First year for internship recruiting. This is a consulting-specific timeline, but 1Y recruiting for me took place October - January, so moving my course load around helped. 2Y consulting interviews take place in October, so there's less need to structure your schedule around it. In any case, the flexible curriculum is very helpful for whatever you're recruiting for.


Guest: How does the school support and work to develop female leaders?

* Kim Epps: Hi! Thank you for joining our chat today! Chicago Booth has a variety of programs that support our female students. We also have student-led groups, such as CWiB (Chicago Women in Business), geared towards developing female leaders. https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/student-experience/beyond-classroom/groups/women-in-business


Guest: How many years of average work experience do your colleagues at booth have? How much would you assume is the average?

* Kim Epps: Hi! Thank you for your question. The average number of work experience amongst our students is 4-5 years.


Guest: For those in nontraditional recruiting, what resources did you rely on the most to obtain your internship or full-time offer?

* Dyuti: Alumni and second years were EXCEPTIONALLY helpful. They really help you understand the company, the role, and how to best accomplish this.


Guest: Can you speak to the ways in which you interact with professors and instructors? Are they more/less accessible than you envisioned before arriving at Booth?

* Eli Feret: Overall they are more accessible than I would have guessed before I came into Booth. Professors routinely invite students to events at the University, usually related to their field or research. Most keep office hours that are more than adequate, and also personally respond to most emails rather than having their TAs handle it.


Guest: What opportunities exist on campus for students interested in entrepreneurship?

* George Boghos: The New Venture Challenge (NVC) is an amazing opportunity that a lot of students like to participate in. It’s a business plan competition that puts you through a class in which you get plenty of support, mentorship, and resources as you develop your idea with your team, then you present for a chance to win funding toward your startup. Even if you don’t have an idea, there are always teams looking for members – and who knows, you could be working on the next GrubHub (former NVC winner)!  The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship has plenty of resources too, including Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who serve as advisors to students, as well as a program that matches Boothies with people across the university (like the medical school, engineering department, etc.) who have new inventions / ideas they are looking to commercialize. 


Guest: Have you been exposed to many internship and job opportunities on the East and West coasts, or mostly Midwest opportunities?

* Dyuti: Yes, one of Booth's strengths is their strong company relationships. We have students that go all around the world for their internship, and we have companies from around the world that host recruiting events on-campus.


Guest: Hello, what have been some of your favorite social or community events so far?

* Victoria Yunger: I’m an Epicurean Club co-chair and one of our best events was a private dinner and chat with Naha’s Michelin-starred female executive chef. We not only enjoyed an amazing 4-course feast, but also got to dive deeper into the motivations and hurdles of one of only 10 female Michelin chefs in the US. This event was co-hosted by a few other Booth forces like Common Chromosome and the conversation was out of this world. And the food, the food…. I also deeply enjoyed Booth Insights, small group get-togethers facilitated by a moderator in which 1st and 2nd year Boothies come together and discuss topics like the definition of self, what is happiness, etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg, every week here at Booth looks completely different in terms of clubs and socializing activities.


Guest: What's one activity you wish you would have took part in during first year?

* Carson Cunningham: Thanks for your question. The LEADership Challenge is an opportunity early in your first-year to participate and compete in a team filled with other members of your cohort in a case competition in front of approximately 50 Booth alumni judges to showcase and develop your problem solving and leadership skills. This competition is typically held on a Saturday and unfortunately I already had a prior commitment which did not allow me to participate.


Guest: How does Booth prepare you to get an internship/job with a company you want to work for after you graduate?

* Eli Feret: There's 3 main ways that Booth prepares you to get internships/jobs. 1) Is career services, which runs structured programming to develop the skills to find/get your dream job (see my response on this above). 2) industry-specific student groups (management consulting group, in my case) are very helpful ways for 2Y students to mentor 1Y students for recruiting and interview prep, and 3) the student body as a whole is extremely supportive of each other for the job search and recruiting process


Guest: How is life for spouses/family/significant others at Booth?

* Victoria Yunger: Booth has a strong club of partners that facilitates a support system, and integrates within the Booth community. Many partners I personally know are auditing classes at Booth for a taste of the academic experience, come to LPF on Fridays (and have best friends who are students!), and join different social events at school like the Winter Formal and Spring Fling, two of the most famous parties we have. Moreover, living in Chicago offers partners with professional and extra-curricular freedom, flexibility, and options since it is such a big city.


Guest: Prior to starting your first year, how did you prepare for selecting classes given the high degree of flexibility and many options?

* Victoria Yunger: First-year Boothies rely on advice from second-year Boothies (Community is strong here, I kid you not!). We also have direct access to academic advisors that help us make sense of our academic journeys. However, before classes start, it’s all about research so we use the online tools we have to get an initial sense of how we want to go about our coursework, which usually depends on one's background and career goals. Of course- we are open-minded to our preferences changing because Booth is all about curiosity and expanding horizons, in any way possible.


Guest: I am interested in some of the Polsky Center Entrepreneurship programs, but also want to pursue a traditional career recruiting path. Is it possible to do both?

* George Boghos: Yes, it definitely is. A number of my friends were on teams that competed in last year’s New Venture Challenge while also recruiting for, and getting internships / full-time jobs in, more “traditional” industries. The programming is open to everyone and Booth is a great place to get involved with a startup, even if you end up pursuing a different path after school.


Guest: I noticed on the employment report that the Midwest is a more popular region than the Northeast or West for graduates. Is this a result of there more employment/recruiting opportunities from companies based in the Midwest or does this have to do more with students choosing to stay in the Midwest after graduation?

* Carson Cunningham: That is a great question. I’ll do my best to answer. While Booth gives you the opportunity to recruit for positions all around the world, I would say the more correct answer is the latter. There are many facets to why more students end up in the Midwest after Booth. For one, one of the reasons some students choose to come here is because they’re from the area and would prefer to stay here following graduation. Because of that, the alumni network becomes more heavily-concentrated in this area, and alumni who return to the school to recruit are typically from offices in the area. Students end up making great connections with these firms through alumni, and as a result sometimes end up getting job opportunities due to their relationships they’ve built through the on-campus recruiting process.


Guest: How much is off-campus interaction among your cohort a part of your Booth experience? As a class do you organize dinners at restaurants, weekend excursions, etc.? Do students take any initiative to make events/gatherings like these an intricate aspect of your time in Chicago?

* Joseph Dang: Each cohort will elect a president and representative that is in charge of planning cohort events. These will happen once or twice a quarter. There are various interest groups that organize events in the city (epicurean club to different restaurants, arts & culture to shows, etc). Ad hoc events also happen all the time via the class's GroupMe or Slack


Guest: Thanks for asking these questions. What's a good way to understand/learn more about "Booth culture" for those of us out of the country and cannot make a campus visit?

* Yelihan Fofana: I was in your shoes a year ago. Shameless plug here but one of the first places I went to was the Booth Experience student blog - this gave me a feel for what students did when they were not recruiting or taking class. It gave me a peek into the student life, and what it would be like to be on campus. The second thing I did was talk to people: I reached out to current students to talk about their experience. This gave me a good feel for what it meant to be a Boothie.


Guest: Hi everyone, thanks so much for sharing your perspectives on Booth. I'd love to hear more about how you all manage your time between classes, group meetings, extracurricular/students groups, etc. Can you describe a day in your life? Thank you! :)

* Eli Feret: The truth is, it's a lot to manage! Many of us balance between a jam-packed schedule and various levels of FOMO. But, having a ton of awesome opportunities is a good problem to have. I'll tell you what my day today consists of: wake up at 5:30 AM, workout in my apartment gym. 7:30 share an uber with another boothie who's recruiting for consulting, chat about his progress. 8:30 macroeconomics class, quiz and 3 hour class. 11:30 chat with you guys! as part of The Booth Experience (a club) 1:30 PM financial statement analysis class, role playing an analyst questioning management about suspect financial statements, 4:30 beers (and maybe cards) at the pub with friends from Booth, 6:00 PM McKinsey networking event - representing the firm and helping out 1Ys with their recruiting goals (and having a few more free beers and appetizers). home by 8:30 PM or so. A busier day than normal, but all good stuff!


Guest: Hello from Boston! Can someone speak about their experience recruiting at tech companies? Specifically, what is the timeline for internship recruiting and which companies recruit on campus?

* Victoria Yunger: On-campus big tech recruiting for the likes of Amazon, Cisco, and Adobe starts in fall/winter. Many corporate conversations and Meet & Greet’s begin around late October-November and applications are submitted around December. The Tech Trek to the West Coast is held in the first week of winter break. Off-campus recruiting for tech can be held held year-round, but usually occurs later in the year, in the spring. 


Guest: How many daily hours of classwork should I expect as a MBA student?

* Dyuti: Each class varies in how much work outside the class is required. Some classes may require as a little as 3 hours, while other may require up to 25 hours outside of the class in a given week.


Guest: What are your favorite Booth traditions (Thursday Night Drinking Club, Random Walks, etc.)?

* Victoria Yunger: I really enjoyed my Random Walk as a student in Belize (woohoo!), and found it to be an amazing way to foster strong bonds within the classroom and second year leaders. For me, opportunities to get to know my peers on a deeper level are what I enjoy most. Two of those traditions are Booth Stories in which over lunch, students take the stage and share bits and pieces of themselves. Stories can be anything, from shocking to sentimental to funny. Regardless, they are always worth hearing. I also love Booth Insights, small group meetings in which Boothies discuss topics like the meaning of success, what is family, etc.


Guest: Could you tell me which are the specific activities that the Management Consulting group conducts in order to equip students for a career in consulting?

* Eli Feret: MCG was the primary factor in how I transitioned from being a brand new MBA student who didn't know what consulting was, to landing an internship/job at McKinsey. They are a great collection of 2Y mentors who support the entire 1Y recruiting process from learning about consulting, to networking, to publishing the case book, to interview prep, through how to succeed after you've got the job. They also help 2Y students recruiting for full-time, though their role is more limited with that group because of the timeline.


Guest: For those of us fortunate enough to receive an offer, what is one piece of advice you wish you had been given as an incoming student?

* Carson Cunningham: Thanks for your question. One piece of advice I wish I was given was to prioritize. With so many fantastic opportunities here, from student groups, to recruiting opportunities, to coursework with amazing professors, sometimes it’s difficult to allow your priorities to fall out of line. I think it’s important to sit down before you start school, establish goals around what you would like to get out of your experience here, and learn how to be ok with saying no to things. This is advice I wish I had been given. However, this advice isn’t for everyone, and I know plenty of people here who have said they wish they got even more involved!


Guest: Does Booth has an Energy Club or any club related to Energy?

* Joseph Dang: Yes, Booth has an energy group. You can find it here: http://www.boothenergy.org/


Guest: What traits do you think are needed to be successful at Booth?

* Victoria Yunger: We have so many different students and profiles; I do not think there is an equation to succeed here. There is a place for everybody. However, I think that to get MORE of The Booth Experience, students need to be curious and willing to push themselves. :)


Guest: How has "LEAD," the mandatory course Booth requires, helped you?

* Dyuti: LEAD is an incredible opportunity that, metaphorically, holds a mirror up to your business persona. The class is a combination of self-reflection and peer feedback. For me, it really forced me to think about some of the softer, but arguably more difficult, skills of leadership. One example is the first impression module. You receive feedback on how your first impression is, and then spend time reflecting on positives, negatives, benefits, opportunities from that impression. LEAD creates an opportunity for you to recognize, reflect upon, and react to yourself as a leader.


Guest: Can you talk more about the Random Walk and what most students get out of it?

* Joseph Dang: After attending both Mystery Random Walk my first year and leading Random Walk Vietnam this year, I would say that most students make some of their best friends during Booth during it. It is such an immersive experience taking you out of your comfort zone and sharing that with peers you are meeting for the first time makes it really special!


Guest: Can you provide more information about the on-campus interview process, specifically closed list and open list and how it differs for summer internship recruiting and full-time recruiting?

* George Boghos: Most campus interviews for internships take place in January and February. There are two ways of getting on the interview list: You can apply and be invited to interview by the company, or you can “bid” for a spot on the bid schedule. For the latter, each student gets the same number of “bid” points at the beginning of the year, and it’s up to you to allocate the points towards you highest priority/ “dream” companies. A large number of students end up getting jobs / internships from the bid schedule, so all hope is not lost if you are not on the invite list. The process works very much the same way for full time recruiting, which takes place during Autumn Quarter of your second year.


Guest: Hi! What opportunities are there to get involved in the social impact space at Booth? I know of SNVC and Social Enterprise Lab.

* Dyuti: You can also get involved in the Social Impact space through programs available at the Rustandy Center, such as connecting with Social Entrepreneurs in Resident, being selected to serve on Non-profit boards in Chicago, and through other giving back programs. You can get more information here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/how-we-help-you


Guest: With all your classmates choosing different electives than you, has it been challenging to develop as strong of relationships with them (compared to if you were going through a set of core classes together)? What advice do you have on building strong relationships with classmates there?

* Dyuti: At Booth, many of these "strong relationships" are formed through clubs, interests, and goals. Given common interests, people tend to flock to similar class trajectories and interest clubs. Thus, you will find yourself in very similar groups of people in your classes. I feel like I have formed these relationships in both my extracurricular initiatives as well as through my classes.


Guest: I'm in a long term relationship and a little worried about my significant other feeling left out in new city. How can Booth help with this struggle?

* Victoria Yunger: Second year partners. From professional to social programming, this club does it all. Besides, Booth partners are very much integrated in the Booth life, attending many events like LPF’s and different parties hosted year round, and audit Booth classes on campus. While the city is big, most Boothies live a few buildings away from each other so the sense of community is strong on any way, for students and partners alike.


Guest: Can you speak more on the treks at Booth? Have you taken any - what was your experience?

* Joseph Dang: I haven't personally done a trek but have multiple peers that went on career treks (banking, healthcare, tech, etc) during the break between fall and winter quarter. I've heard from them that meeting with companies is great - there are Booth alum at many of them - and it was a great way to see what the culture of a company was like.


Guest: Hi! Do many students interested in investment banking manage to find IB internships in the Chicago area, or do many of them head to NYC, or elsewhere, for their summer internship? Thanks!

* George Boghos: Yep! Most investment banks will recruit for all of their offices at Booth and a large number of them have a Chicago presence. It’s safe to say that if you are interested in doing banking in Chicago, you will have a good number of opportunities to consider – a number of my friends ended up interning for Chicago offices of major investment banks this summer. You can see a breakdown of employment by geography in the Employment Report: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/


Guest: What is the international community like at Booth? How well integrated are international students, especially those with English as a second language, into the larger Booth community?

* Yelihan Fofana: I'm an international student, and English isn't my first language either. I would say that the school does a good job of integrating international students with the booth community. Your Random Walk group, your Cohort, and your squad within your cohort are all quite diverse and a way for you to connect with classmates from the US but also from all over the world. Finally, I throughout the year, you will most likely become involved in student organizations and will meet and connect with people with the same interests as yours, and their backgrounds will vary.


Guest: Beyond Random Walks and Industry Treks, what other global opportunities exist? (With an eye on the academically focused ones)

* Dyuti: Another global opportunity are through the labs. One such example is the Global Social Impact Practicum, where a team consults for a company in India. You can learn more here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/what-we-do/curriculum-courses


Guest: Follow-up question for Victoria - have anyone been on a "mystery" Random Walk? How do you pack for those trips?

* Victoria Yunger: Actually, one of our TBE bloggers was on Mystery RW in year #1! He says that he received some packing directions a few days before his RW took off, but did not receive any clues on the actual destination, which was New Zealand (lucky him!).


Guest: What aspect of Booth would you say makes you the proudest to be a student there?

* Carson Cunningham: I really like this question. I would absolutely say the community. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by so many intelligent, ambitious, friendly, and down-to-earth people that I can call lifelong friends. Outside of the community, I occasionally feel moments of Booth pride when Richard Thaler is recognized as a Nobel Laureate, when I see Austan Goolsbee on television, or when I read about Booth entrepreneurs building businesses and changing the world.


Guest: Do you ever revisit some of the learnings from LEAD later on at Booth?

* Joseph Dang: You do revisit LEAD concepts and experiences - there are leadership practicums that you can sign up for throughout the year (workshops, coaching, etc), many classmates become LEAD facilitators and teach the incoming class, and then during ReOrientation 2nd year spring, there are LEAD events to close the loop on what we've learned.


Guest: Eli, specifically regarding the veteran network, have you found it to be easy and valuable to connect with veteran alumni, and how involved are they with the current veteran students?

* Eli Feret: 100%, a ton of my networking was focused on connecting with veterans at firms I wanted to work for. In general, anybody I've reached out to who was a Booth alumni OR a veteran was willing to connect with me and give any support they could. If they were a Booth alumni and a vet, then even more so. Booth vet alumni in Chicago still regularly attend our AFG events, and come on campus to recruit for their firms. I also always see them at socials and other events we host downtown.


Guest: Are there any fun activities or annual competitions with the rival school up North?

* Carson Cunningham: Thanks for the question! Absolutely! Almost every athletic club has an annual game against Kellogg. I’ve played in both the Flag Football game and the Running of the Bulls, which is a basketball scrimmage held in the United Center immediately prior to a Bulls game. Here’s a link to an article written by a prior TBE blog member on that game: http://theboothexp.com/2017/04/mbas-masters-of-baller-ambitions/. There’s also Battle of the Bands (which we won last year 😊)


Guest: Have you been able to apply terms/concepts/cases studied in the classroom to the professional world? Can you please provide an example?

* Dyuti: Absolutely. I was in a Global Marketing role this summer, and I literally opened up my Marketing Strategy and Data-Driven Marketing slides over the summer to help frame my recommendation. Through the cases we did in class, I knew how to apply the frameworks to a real-world setting.


Guest: The admission essays seems to be a bit indirect. Which would you advise for us between "being unique", and "being yourself"?

* Kim Epps: Hi! Thank you for joining our chat today. I would advise you to be yourself.


Guest: What's your favorite Booth professional group? And what's your favorite social group?

* Joseph Dang: My favorite professional group is the Healthcare Club - there are so many cool speakers and topics that are discussed. My favorite social group is AudioBooth, the musicians group - I get to use a professional rehearsal space with my band.


Guest: So Eli, you got home at 830, how are u supposed to finish the homework and readings? How much sleep do u get?

* Eli Feret: Great question. So with Booth's flexible curriculum, I chose to have all of my classes on Monday/Tuesday this quarter. This is not uncommon. That gives me 5 days to do whatever schoolwork I need to do, along with my other club responsibilities and social life, before I'm back in class on Monday. Those 5 days are far from empty - generally I'm doing a combination of clubs, hanging out with my peers, study groups, helping 1Ys out with recruiting, or traveling to see my girlfriend in Boston. That's the cool thing about flexible curriculum, you can structure your schedule to support your priorities. Oh, and I generally get around 7-8 hours of sleep.


Guest: Are career development advisors and resources available upon admission to start the process of working with them to create a career path and choose classes for 1Y?

* George Boghos: Yes! Career Services schedules "coffee chats" / phone calls with incoming students in the summer prior to your first year to get the conversation started! 


Guest: Could you elaborate on how your transition was from engineering to consulting? What made you to choose consulting? How did the school help you in the transition in terms of classes, clubs, intern etc?

* Carson Cunningham: Thanks for the question! I would say the transition was much easier than I had anticipated. Taking some core courses, learning basic terminology, and interacting with my classmates really helped me think about business cases in a way than I did prior to coming here. I chose consulting for a few different reasons, but the main reasons were that I enjoyed problem solving, I liked the prospective of working with many different clients in different industries in a short period of time, and finally I liked the ability to create visible impact for companies through collaboration with upper management. Management Consulting Group was a tremendous help in this respect, and I consider it to be the biggest factor in helping me land a consulting internship.


Guest: Is it true that Booth values work experience in Traditional Firms more than work experience in startups? Are certain startups more preferred over others?

* Kim Ge: We value all experience. The Admissions Committee considers a candidate’s potential for success both while in school and beyond. We evaluate candidates using a holistic process that incorporates every component of the application.


Guest: What trends do you see at Booth currently in terms of enhancing/expanding the Booth experience? Are there any aspects you wish changed?

* Eli Feret: Booth is doing a couple of things that I think are cool in expanding the Booth experience. First, they're making a focused effort to integrate the business school with the other schools on campus, and there's now some very cool events and classes that combine the MBA/JD/MPP programs to talk about business/social problems that have overlap there. A second point is that Booth is always adding new clubs (we have like 80 already) that bring students together over common interests and passions. A great example is Booth Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) that teaches leadership and teamwork skills through outdoor hiking/backpacking type experiences. If there's one thing I could change, it would be making orientation shorter (3 weeks)...but there's a ton of valuable in material in there also.


Guest: How can we get involved with the Rustandy Center? I am keen to explore the social impact space. Are specific lab courses offered to an MBA candidate?

* Dyuti: Yes - there are four social impact labs available. You can find more information here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/research/rustandy/what-we-do/curriculum-courses


Guest: How important is it to have astute pre-determined career goals? Furthermore, how frequent is it to change career plans during the MBA.

* Dyuti: While definitely not required, it is helpful to have rough career goals. By demonstrating how your career goals can be accomplished by the Booth MBA, you can strengthen your application and refine your story. It is definitely alright to change your mind once you start at Booth, but having direction can help you be more successful with your efforts.


Guest: Hi! Just wondering if Booth has a mentorship or buddy system throughout the Fulltime MBA for international students? And if LEAD is active throughout that or if LEAD is just a class?

* Yelihan Fofana: Yes you do. Before you get to campus you will be asked if you are interested in having a mentor, and will be assigned one during orientation. This mentor will be matched with you based on the career interests you specify in the form. The mentor is essentially here to help you navigate the MBA. On your second question, LEAD is a class that begins during orientation and extends about halfway through the first quarter of the MBA.


Guest: How do you enroll in classes? Is there a bidding system or are students pretty much guaranteed to get a spot in the class?

* Joseph Dang: There is a bidding system. For introductory classes, there are multiple sections that everyone who wants to get in usually will. Popular classes go for many points and there is a waitlist system after bidding is over.


Guest: Thank you for hosting today. How does "The Chicago Approach" play out in your professional (and personal) life?

* George Boghos: The focus on inquiry and intellectual curiosity that is present in classes and in the Booth culture in general have certainly translated to my internship this past summer and my personal life.  Professionally, I found that asking the "why" behind my work came more naturally to me this summer than it did before, and that enhanced both my enjoyment of the work and the quality of my work product.  In my personal life, I have set some new learning goals for myself during my two years at Booth (including a new-found love for reading biographies!).


Guest: Thanks for hosting this chat! What did you do (or what do you wish you did) between the time you were admitted and LEAD?

* Dyuti: One of the best things you can do is help focus your internship recruiting efforts. Make sure you know what you want to focus on and why, and if you are unclear, what you don't want to do and why. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by recruiting once classes start, and having a "recruiting plan" can help you be more effective through recruiting and keep you from going insane! :)


Guest: Are there are any courses that focus on Product Services or something similar. As more and more companies are marching toward the digital gate, is there a course that marries the tech side along with the strategy

  * Dyuti: Yes! We have a New Products and Services class, as well as a New Product and Services lab in which you provide a specific recommendation to a client. There are also classes such as Digital and Algorithmic Marketing, Data-Driven Marketing, Technology Strategy, and many others that help you understand the trend towards digital.


Guest: Does one need to prepare extensively before each class?

  * George Boghos: Classes at Booth have varying degrees of workload. Some simply require reading before class, while others have regular assignments / write-ups. I would say I spend 3-4 hours per week for each class in preparation for the lecture.  


Guest: How did you approach the Booth moments essay?

  * Victoria Yunger: After conducting research and having conversations with Boothies, I chose the one picture that spoke the most to me. It was the one picture I kept getting back to, and really wanted to be part of that scene in the following year. I think that choosing the right picture helped with conveying passion and conviction in my essay.


Guest: What are three traits you would describe of the typical successful Boothie pre and post admittance?

  * Dyuti: Booth students are driven: they have a desire to develop not just themselves but their entire community. Booth students believe strongly in the pay it forward mentality. Booth students are exceptionally diverse, but the common thread is definitely a desire to push the boundaries.


Guest: What was the main thing that made you pick Booth, and have you actually experience it? Or is it different than you believed?

  * Eli Feret: The reason I picked Booth is because I wanted a school where I would learn the fundamental academic skills and science of business, while at the same time being able to dive deep in the areas I wanted. Booth has 100% delivered on this, I love the strong focus on understanding finance and economics as fundamental to every other business aspect. I also appreciate the fact that I was able to take an extremely advanced economics class in my first quarter, something I don't think is available at most schools.


Guest: Are there are any design (design-thinking, data visualization, UI/UX) classes or clubs available at Booth?

  * Victoria Yunger: Booth has The Innovation and Design club, which focuses on using the human-centered design approach to innovation. Some classes are also driven around developing design-thinking, like the MarTech Lab which had an emphasis on thinking UX, as well as the Application Development course.


Guest: Apart from summer intern are there any other hands on experience opportunities, specifically for career changers?

  * Dyuti: Absolutely! There are various lab classes that give you an opportunity work with companies in the space. Some labs, for example, are the New Product and Services Lab, the Private Equity / Venture Capital lab, Strategy Lab, and the Management Lab.


Guest: Can the essay be answered as a combination of an essay and pictures? Or does it have to be one or the other?

  * Joseph Dang: Mine was a mix - I had slides with longer form writing. Sort of like a graphic novel.


Guest: Are there any pre - MBA meetups for the recently admitted students before the actual commencement of the program?

  * Dyuti: Yes, there are meetings hosted in different major cities around the world before classes begin. On campus, we host a "First Day" weekend for admitted students to meet professors and faculty, explore clubs and housing opportunities, and meet your admitted classmates.


Guest: What advice would you give for preparing for an interview? Is there any specific material concerning Booth that you recommend we investigate?

  * Eli Feret: My advice is to talk to as many Booth students and alumni as you can. Not to get tips on how to crack the interview, but to learn as much as you can about the school and the culture. Also the website and our student blog (http://theboothexp.com/) is a great source of information.


Guest: Who have been your favorite professors at Booth till date?

  * Yelihan Fofana: Favorite professor thus far has been James Shrager who teaches the New Venture Strategy as part of the Entrepreneurship curriculum. It is a pure strategy course that examines entrepreneurial businesses and why they fail or succeed. Jim has a no nonsense approach, is incredibly engaging, and I find his bluntness refreshing. On the first day of class he said "If you came here expecting to sit in class and say nothing, this is not the course for you. If you came here expecting to always to be right and/or get an A, this is not the course for you." I liked him straight away.


Guest: Hello! Is it common/possible for students to hold internships during the school year?

  * George Boghos: Definitely! Many companies recruit for part-time interns and it's a great way for students to explore a new industry prior to summer internships. There are more formal ways to do this, as well, such as the Private Equity / Venture Capital Lab, which is a class that allows students to intern part-time at a Chicago based PE / VC firm during Spring Quarter and is a very popular course at Booth. 


Guest: Is one expected to have technical knowledge in their area of Post MBA goals at the interview stage?

  * Eli Feret: That depends somewhat on the industry, but generally they expect you to have a working knowledge of what the industry does and the basic business skills (basic math, accounting, etc). For consulting or investment banking, there's slightly more practice required for some specific interview-styles (case and technical), but career services and the student groups will more than prepare you for that.


Guest: What kind of opportunity is there for case work in classes? Is this a hallmark of Booth courses, or do professors include cases in courses as they see fit, to a varying degree?

  * Dyuti: Booth classes vary in the amount of case work for each class. Professors leverage cases as another tool to help you best understand the material. Consequently, some classes such as Competitive Strategy has 1-3 cases per class, while others, such as Investments may have only 1-2 cases for the entire quarter.


Guest: How would you describe the mixture of teaching styles across classes (lecture, case, discussion, lab)?

  * George Boghos: All of these styles are readily available at Booth, and the flexibility of the curriculum allows you to explore a variety of teaching styles. Most classes are a combination of lecture / case / discussion, so you should expect each class to have some component of each of those styles.  Some classes are more heavily weighted to the case method so you'll get to take plenty of those too.  There are also a number of labs which are very popular, such as the Strategy Lab, PE / VC Lab, New Product Development Lab, etc. 


Guest: What tips do you have for the time before Booth? (e.g. quit early and travel, explore an internship, classes, etc.)

  * Eli Feret: This depends on a few things, primarily how comfortable you feel with your career goals. Some students (I don't know the %, but probably less than a quarter) do a pre-MBA internship, and I've heard they're very valuable for trying out a job to decide if you want to recruit for it later. Also, sometimes these pre-MBA internships directly result in jobs. If working before school isn't your cup of tea, travel is a go-to. I went to Europe for a month or so before school, and it was a great way to reset and prepare myself for a new chapter in my life. The week before orientation (after random walk) Booth will offer pre-MBA accounting and stats. Again, not required, but if you think they will help they're certainly available.


Guest: Will this chat be made available as a transcript? There is a lot of great information, not all of which I was able to digest at once.

  * Kim Epps: Hi! Thank you for joining the chat today! Yes, we will have a transcript available on our website within four business days. https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/events/online-chats


Guest: Are there undergraduate students taking classes at Booth or are classes confined to MBA students?

  * Yelihan Fofana: Yes: there is an undergraduate program called the Dougan Scholars Certificate Program, in collaboration with the University of Chicago undergraduate program. Essentially students in the second, third or fourth year take up to 6 classes at Booth.


Guest: With some of the more famous professors, how hard is it to get into their classes?

  * Victoria Yunger: Registration to Booth courses is held through the bidding system. The good news are that most professors have many sections in many quarters. As long as you know to identify those famous professors that are really important to you, you can adjust your bidding strategy to reach your goals.


Guest: For those of us out of the academic setting for quite some time, are there any courses Booth offers prior to classes starting, or any particular courses you recommend taking before arriving?

  * Eli Feret: Yes! Booth offers pre-MBA accounting and statistics between random walk and orientation. It's a great way to get caught up if your technical/academic skills are a bit rusty.