Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Double Header: A Look Back on 1st Quarter of Business School

Hi everyone!

Welcome to this week’s TBE blog! This week, I caught up with two first years, Didier Acevedo and Chloe Williams, to ask them to reflect on their 1st Quarter at Booth. Keep reading to learn more and get a taste of what your first quarter here could be like! Also, make sure to check out our Facebook page for this week’s Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video, where I ask 2nd year students what they are doing to prepare for final exams this week.



Hi Everyone!

Thanks for your interest in Chicago Booth! I am sure that as the winter rolls around many of you are thinking about holiday cheer, New Years resolutions and what next year might look like at business school. As my first quarter comes to an end, I thought I would take a much-needed break from studying for finals to reflect and share some of my experiences at Booth so far.

In my last two weeks of employment, one of my coworkers told me “business school is going to be intense but you’ll have a great time!” At the time, I was working in Boston for an investment management firm conducting equity research so I thought I was accustomed to intensity. Thus far, Chicago Booth has been an all-consuming experience. It is an exhilarating, fast paced environment that provides a vast amount of resources and events for my fellow students and I to enjoy on campus and throughout the city of Chicago.

At orientation we were told that we would suffer from FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” FOMO sounds silly but I have learned that business school is a balancing act. It can get pretty difficult because often times you have to pick between hearing interesting speakers, going to club meetings, recruiting events, networking events, group meetings, events around the city, catching up with friends and, let’s not forget, doing homework. Despite this busy schedule, I could not picture myself anywhere but Chicago Booth.

One of my fellow classmates recently published an online article that talked about business school and fit. I was impressed with the article not only because he is a far superior writer than I but also because he captured the essence of why I chose to come to Chicago Booth. Booth is where I feel I belong. As the son of two immigrant parents from Colombia, I realize the importance of risk taking, pursuing ambitions and working hard. It is the combination these three values that have enabled me to go from being the first person in my family to graduate from high school to being a graduate student at the Booth School of Business. One of the things I love most about Chicago Booth is the attitude: Challenge everything! I believe it is this attitude that has produced groundbreaking research and first class alumni.

Upon arriving at Booth, we were greeted by Dean Kumar. Of all the things he said to us in his welcoming address, one sentence really struck a chord with me, “Swing for the fences, Chicago Booth has your back.” It was a challenge and an affirmation all in one. Initially I thought it meant that the faculty and staff were here to help us on our journey through the next two years but in reality he meant the student community as well. The student community is extremely impressive. The students are smart, driven and motivated and, most of all, are good people. We are a diverse group of students with different perspectives and world views yet we all agree that collaborating with each other through this transformative process is pivotal. Every day, I look forward to the interactions with my fellow classmates to draw insight from their unique experiences, talk about current endeavors and, in the process, make life-long friends.

Booth fosters a sense of community and encourages students to network to get to know each other better. Student clubs are a great way to get involved. They range from career-oriented groups such as the Investment Management Group to hobbies such as the Epicurean group. Student run groups are inclusive and put forth a lot of effort to plan events for the Booth community. Whether it is a group dinner at a second year’s apartment, a distinguished speaker event, or a costume party, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know other students.

In addition to an impressive student body, the faculty is very accomplished and includes several Nobel Laureates and professors who are working on the frontier of research in their respective fields. As most of you know, Chicago Booth allows students to tailor the curriculum to their interests. For me, that has translated into taking stimulating yet challenging classes in subjects such as, believe it or not, Accounting and Corporate Finance. I find myself being constantly challenged and learning just as much from my introductory classes as I do from my more advanced classes. Professors teach at a fast pace but are easily accessible via email or in person during office hours to answer questions and help you explore the content in more detail.

Looking back, my first quarter of business school has been awesome! I can’t believe how fast time flies in business school. It seems like just yesterday I was walking into the Winter Garden for the first day of Orientation. Although it has been only three months, I feel like I have known some of my classmates for a lot longer. Booth has enabled me to make meaningful relationships and push my thinking in ways I had never considered. In addition, I have had the opportunity to attend social events and experience the great city of Chicago. As finals come to an end, I look forward to a well-deserved break where I can recharge and prepare for interviews next quarter!

I hope you get to experience the Booth community!

Prior to coming to Booth, Didier worked at MFS Investment Management, a long-only mutual fund company based in Boston, as a an Equity Research Associate covering health care stocks. Prior to that, he was in the International Sales Department at MFS, selling offshore mutual funds to Non-Resident-Client Financial advisors in Mexico. Didier holds a BS in Business Administration majoring in Finance from Stonehill College and also holds a Charter Financial Analyst (CFA), designation. Didier is originally from Pawtucket, Rhode Island and has spent most of his life in the Northeast. Didier’s hobbies include hiking in the White Mountains and skiing them during the winter.


A look back on the 1st quarter: Chloe Williams

My first quarter at Chicago Booth is done (almost, 2 finals to go), where did the 10 weeks go? I don’t think there is a book, blog, advice from a 2nd year, or alumni that could have prepared me, and anyone who thinks there is probably shouldn’t be in business school. I came to Booth to be challenged and I was from day 1. I was challenged by my classmates, my professors, by the exams, and even by navigating the city of Chicago and public transportation. The pace of learning is much faster than you will ever remember, so be on your game!

It does seem like day 1 was a year ago, the time goes by fast but so much happens in that 10 weeks. The most impressive thing from the 1st term was learning about my fellow classmates. By Booth being a top business school, everyone that attends is truly amazing. You could spend all year being wowed by these people. Besides that, there are a few things I’m glad to see end and others I can’t wait to continue.

Things I’m glad that are done:

- That awkward getting to know you phase. Of course, I don’t know everyone in my class, but the awkward run-ins with people’s whose name I should know are for the most part over. I’m sure it will still happen, and there are more people to still meet, but at least it’s not awkward anymore.
- Crop circles, I’d like to find one person that likes them!
- Bad groups! If you had the bad luck to pick a group that doesn’t mesh with your personal style…congrats! The term is done and you won’t have to work with those people again if you choose not to.
- The feeling that you’re a freshman. The feeling of being lost, not knowing what to expect, spending way too much time organizing your calendar (I’m not so sure if that actually ends.)

Things I can’t wait to continue:

- The social activities. Personally, I did not partake in as many social activities as I should have. You have to pick and choose your battles in b-school. I’m excited for winter and spring to really let loose!!!
- Great conversation in class. I mentioned all of the great classmates, who come from wildly diverse backgrounds; this makes for interesting, stimulating conversation in class. Often times I learn more from the discussions than from the lectures!
- Group work. While this can go either way, I think I’m equipped with better knowledge to pick my groups wisely! If done right, groups can be your savior on that week that you’re insanely overwhelmed.
- Free lunches! I think that speaks for itself.
- Guest speakers and alumni talks. Henry Paulson, Condoleezza Rice (rescheduled, hopefully soon) and countless amazing alumni come to give talks.
- Getting involved. It’s hard to get that involved in the first quarter, we’re all still trying to find where the bathroom is. Winter term brings amazing leadership opportunities, with Random Walk and LEAD facilitator applications due! Winter begins the transition of positions from 2nd years and the class of 2013 can’t wait to fill the spots.

Fall met all of my expectations. It was busy, of course challenging, stimulating, and fun. Although Winter will bring its own set of headaches (interviews), I think the best is yet to come!

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