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Live Chat with Summer Business Scholars Alumni

Learn more about the Summer Business Scholars Program through the experiences of recent program alumni! During an SBSP Live Chat, you will be connected with SBSP scholars from around the word. Alumni are able to answer your questions about the program’s experiential learning curriculum, the many engaging corporate visits they attended, and what they enjoyed most about exploring the city of Chicago.

Transcripts from our most recent chats can be found below. Please reach out to SummerScholars@ChicagoBooth.edu with any immediate program or application questions you may have.

Chat Transcript

Moderator: Hello and welcome to today’s SBSP Live Chat! We would like to begin this chat by allowing our alumni panelists to introduce themselves:
* Lindsay Gelb, SBSP ‘17: Hi. My name is Lindsay Gelb I am from San Francisco, California. I participated in SBSP this past summer, 2017. I am currently attending the University of Connecticut. My two favorite SBSP memories are going to the Chicago Cubs game and the Negotiations Workshops.
* Evan Veryard, SBSP ‘17 : Hello! My name is Evan Veryard, I am from Kingston, Ontario and I participated in the SBSP program last summer 2017. I went to McGill University for Chemical Engineering and I participated in the program because I was considering changing career paths from engineering and I wanted to get a sense of what a business pathway would look like, as well as figure out if I would enjoy an MBA program.
* Jeroen Audenaert, SBSP ‘16: Hello everyone! My name is Jeroen Audenaert and I attended SBSP in 2016. I'm from Antwerp, Belgium and I went to the University of Leuven. My favorite SBSP memory is when we went with the whole group to the Chicago Cubs game!

Program & Experience

Guest: Why should I apply to SBSP?
* Evan Veryard: I would say the biggest reason you should apply to SBSP is for the overall experience and the people you meet. Realistically, you aren't going to become a marketing wiz or an accountant through a three week program (and no one will think you have), but the opportunity to learn whether you enjoy the subjects, as well as other subjects you would encounter in an MBA is invaluable. On top of that you get to meet some really cool (and very smart) people and work side by side with them for three weeks - that in itself is a great learning opportunity. Lastly, visiting the city of Chicago is great! It's a beautiful city with lots of action, and the program is set up well so that you get to be exposed to things you may not have thought of otherwise.

Guest: What industries were participants mostly exposed to during the program?
* Evan Veryard: There was definitely a wide variety. From what I remember, we had presentations/corporate visits from management consultants (Bain & Company), finance (Morningstar), non-profit (Cara), innovation designers (IDEO), and entrepreneurs (The Eastman Egg Company).

Guest: Can you talk more about some of the personal or professional development workshops that you participated in?
* Jeroen Audenaert: The most memorable professional workshop I participated in was a negotiations seminar from Professor Wu. During that workshop two students each had to negotiate to respectively buy/sell a company to the other. This provided a great opportunity to actually practice how to negotiate in real life.

Guest: Can you describe a typical day during SBSP?
* Lindsay Gelb: Students will arrive at the class between 9:00-9:30 (depending on the day). Classes run until Lunch afterward depending on the day there either will be more class after or workshops or corporate visits. By 4/5ish the programing ends.

Guest: Can students who are not coming from a business background be successful in the program?
* Jeroen Audenaert: Students not coming from a business background can definitely be successful. Although I personally studied economics and business, a lot of my friends did not and they completed it successfully. The program is designed in such a way that whatever your background is, you will learn a lot!

Guest: I am currently studying law. Will it be difficult for me to grasp business concepts if I am not pursuing a business degree?
* Lindsay Gelb: I am in the same boat as you! I am a political science and sociology major. While at times I did find the content to be a little challenging it was nothing that I couldn't handle. SBSP has a wide range of academic backgrounds and people with the business background were able to help me out greatly. Also the professor helped to make the content more understandable.

Guest: May I start with a question for Evan? I am also from Canada (Vancouver), and studied ChemE.  With a technical background, what were some challenges you encountered during the program?
* Evan Veryard: Nice to see a friendly Canadian face! I wouldn’t say there were any huge challenges with a more technical background. The program welcomes people from all degrees (arts included), so it certainly helps to be comfortable working with numbers for accounting and finance. While it would help to have a basic background in finance, it is by no means necessary, the professors are great and there are lots of other people there who can help you learn quickly. The only other thing I can think of is that there is a lot of collaboration and group activities (networking and negotiations workshops etc.) so you want to make sure that is something you're aware of and ready to really jump into if you want to make the most of the experience. I hope this answers your questions, if you have a specific concern in mind I'd be happy to discuss that with you!

Guest: Where will students be living?
* Nahida Teliani – Admissions Director: For the first time this year, students will be living in Hyde Park, on the University of Chicago's campus.  Classes will still be held at both the Harper Center (Hyde Park) and the Gleacher Center (downtown), and a shuttle bus will take you downtown on the days when you have classes at the Gleacher Center. There will also be corporate visits and some activities planned downtown which students will be shuttled to and from.

Guest: If we already live in Chicago, what is the cost without housing and meals? Or, would you recommend living on-campus to get the full experience of the program?
* Kristen Robinson – Admissions Director: Great question! Students are required to live on campus, even if they or their families already live in the city.  That way, students will get the full experience by living in the dorms together, going to classes, and participating in activities.

Guest: What is it like to be an international student participating in SBSP?
* Jeroen Audenaert: The nice thing about being an international is that you're in an unfamiliar setting and thus that you learn a lot on a cultural level.

Guest: Did any of you also have internships over the summer (or did you have classmates who did?)?  How did you balance that?
* Jeroen Audenaert: I personally did not have an internship during that summer but I was starting up a company at that time. It was not easy to combine as the program is quite intensive, but I recommend that you just try to plan it carefully. This way it worked out perfect for me.

Guest: I saw in some of your profiles that you've been inspired by the program to pursue MBA at Booth. What is it about this program that inspired you?
* Lindsay Gelb: I am a political science and sociology major. Although I had always been interested in business, I wasn't quite sure how to get into the field with my academic background. The program helped me to see how useful an MBA is for what I want to do. I am very interested in international business, and after the program, I have a much clearer picture of how an MBA can help me achieve my goals. More specifically, it helped me to determine that an MBA is a right path for me.

Guest: Evan, you mentioned that you used the SBSP program to explore a possible interest in an MBA. What did you learn?
* Evan Veryard: Great question! I learned a few things from the program. The first was simply that I personally found the material very interesting, whether that was because I took very math heavy courses or simply a personal preference I'm not sure. But it was great being exposed to topics like marketing, negotiations, networking and then also seeing a more business-like approach to financial modelling (as opposed to purely project based). On top of that, I realized I would absolutely love the opportunity to make my own degree for my MBA as opposed to being given three electives for an entire degree (my Chem Eng degree). Then lastly, I think another big take away was just building a foundation and getting some practice for some business skills that could come in handy when trying to prepare myself (experience, application, etc.) for an MBA.

Guest: Do you get to choose your courses?
* Evan Veryard: We don't get to choose our courses for the program. They have it very well structured, and honestly, I think it's for the best. The nice part about the program is that it exposes you to a wide variety of topics and, above all, experiences. So while you may know one subject well, it just means you can help the other scholars learn. Then for the topics you don't know, you will find them new and interesting (the professors really do make it fun). Every day has something unique – a negotiations course, networking workshop, corporate visit, etc. - so there will always be something to walk away with, every day.

Guest: Have you been able to stay in touch with your fellow SBSP alumni?  Did you feel like it truly was a global network?
* Evan Veryard: Absolutely! The people we met were really from all over the world. Social media makes it really easy to keep in touch. I also had a great group of roommates, so we still talk very regularly and keep in touch on any big updates or inside jokes, etc. I definitely plan on coming back to Chicago to say, ‘hello.’

Application Process

Guest: What piece of advice do you have for applicants?
* Jeroen Audenaert: I recommend researching a lot about Booth and see how the program can enrich you. Then try to show in your application why you are a good fit in a creative way.

Guest: What do you look for in the application review process?
* Kristen Robinson: Our admissions process is very holistic - we look at all parts of your application equally to understand: 1) will you be academically successful in a rigorous program like SBSP?; and 2) will you be a strong contributor to the diverse, global SBSP network?

Guest: I would like to ask about the criteria on which they choose applicants? Also, does the professional experience add credit to my application or not? Moreover, what should I take into consideration when writing down my essay, in other words what does the admission committee look for in an applicant? Thank you!
* Lindsay Gelb: The program has people from a wide range of academic background with various levels of leadership experience/professional experience. When I applied, I wrote about why I wanted to do the program and what I could gain from it. In addition to that, I highlighted how my experiences could help contribute to that year’s class. 

Guest: How can I be considered for a scholarship?  How much does the program cost, and what does it cover?
* Nahida Teliani: All admitted students will be considered for scholarship; approximately 35% of students in the program will receive a scholarship. The program costs $6,300 and will cover tuition, on-campus housing and some meals.

Guest: What is the average age and work experience of attendees?
* Lindsay Gelb: The average age my year was 21. Students were entering there junior, or senior year of college some had just graduated, and a few had been working.

Guest: If I apply 15 days prior to the deadline for Round 2 on February 27, am I in a disadvantageous position in the admissions process?
* Kristen Robinson: Not at all! We will only begin reviewing applications only after the application deadline passes, so it doesn't make a difference in the admissions process whether you submit your application 2 months before or 2 minutes before the deadline - although we don't recommend waiting until the last minute to submit!

Guest: Are students eligible to apply to SBSP if they have not taken their SAT/ACT? I transferred to a state university via the California community college system and was not expected to take any standardized exams. 
* Kristen Robinson: Great question! You can absolutely apply to SBSP if you did not take the ACT or SAT.  We know that, even within the United States, some schools are test score-optional.  If you did take either the SAT or ACT, though, we would ask that you submit those scores.

Guest: I need to submit a TOEFL score but I cannot find the requested score in the application.
* Kristen Robinson: We do not have a minimum required TOEFL or IELTS score for the Summer Business Scholars Program.  For those who don't know about this requirement, a TOEFL or IELTS score is required for any student whose most recent university did not feature English as its official language of instruction. We only require an unofficial, self-reported score for your SBSP application.

Guest: since I belong to a med school, my institution sometimes would be skeptical to give me a Letter of Recommendation on non-holidays. Is there any chance I can apply without a LOR on special request?
* Nahida Teliani: The Letter of Recommendation is an important part of the application and is required. Feel free to ask someone who can best speak about your strengths, capabilities and areas of improvement. Your recommender does not need to be someone from your medical school program.

Guest: Question for admissions: should Round 1 waitlisted candidates expect to hear back on Round 2 notification day?
* Kristen Robinson: That's right.  If you have been waitlisted in Round 1, you will hear back on the Round 2 decision notification day, which is March 29th