First of all happy new year! We hope you took some time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. For those of you who just submitted Round 2 applications yesterday, congratulations on getting that in!
Students here are back at Booth and gearing up for our winter quarter. In today’s blog we thought we would step back and reflect a bit on first quarter. Today’s blog entry comes from Jason Wright, who is a 1st year student originally from Southern California, concentrating in Operations Management and Entrepreneurship, and looking to become a difference maker in urban education reform after spending some formative time in strategy consulting. Read on to hear more from Jason!
The sigh of relief. That’s what is passing through my lips as I write. I completed my last Final exam five minutes and half a Mushroom Swiss burger special ago. As such, I can finally reflect on the first chapter of my Booth story. I would entitle that chapter “Surprise, Surprise” as my first quarter at Booth has been characterized by a series of pleasant surprises:
1) This school is not full of socially inept nerds. I already knew that the incoming MBA class was full of brilliant, accomplished women and men recognized as rising stars in their respective fields. What I didn’t know was the level of kindness, sociability, and humor almost each of my peers exudes. I have seldom met a person I didn’t immediately want to spend my non-existent free time with. I’m now convinced that I significantly bring down the average “cool factor” of this school since I do little else but study and spend time at home with my wife and seven month old daughter.
2) This student body is not full of stone-hearted, exploit-you-to-death ambition. I honestly believed that I would be one of the only students on campus with a commitment to work in the social sector. I figured I would regularly voice the dissenting opinion of compassion in classroom discussion. Wrong again. A large chunk of both the 1st and 2nd year classes on campus have intentionally chosen career paths that allow them to do socially impactful work. More surprisingly, there are an inordinate number of students interested in my personal area of passion, education reform. I’m very excited to work with a number of them in the Social Entrepreneurship Lab course next quarter. Prior to enrollment, I would’ve bet you a significant sum of money this wouldn’t be the case.
3) I am not the only student from a non-traditional background or with color to my skin. Every business school claims to value diversity. As I’ve become acquainted with my first year class, Booth’s stated commitment has been proven true. As a recently retired National Football League player, I believed I would likely have one of the more interesting stories on campus. Then I met a classmate who performed and taught dance all over the country. Then I met another who worked in the White House. At a networking event I met an international volleyball player who became an accountant. I was shocked to see on Linkedin that one of my humble friends is a multilingual phenom who did multiple high level military missions in the Middle East. And let’s not forget about my friend who started an educational non-profit while sailing around the freaking world! Additionally, it has been so comforting to meet so many fellow African-American students as well as other minority and international members of our first year class. All of these men and women are extremely intelligent and as they inevitably succeed, Booth will have a noticeable presence in the increasing diversity of the global business landscape. That is an exciting thing.
4) I DO belong here. As confident as I may sound in the preceding paragraphs, I came to school expecting to be something of a village idiot given my low baseline of business knowledge. It turns out the Admissions office knows a thing or two about who to let in. While I have certainly had to spend additional hours in preparation compared to classmates who’ve come from corporate positions, I’ve also seen myself rise to the level of gifted peers in coursework and debate. This was in large part facilitated by the patient instruction of Marketing study group members, encouragement from academic advisor Christine Gramhofer, and impactful mentorship by the LEAD course facilitators. I’m grateful to each one of them for bringing me light years forward in both personal and professional development.
So with all that has happened this quarter, I can hardly imagine the remainder of my time at Booth being as dynamic. But if I’ve learned one thing about business school (and life in general for that matter) it’s that I don’t know truly know how things are going to pan out. I expect that the surprises yet realized will make my experience at Booth more fulfilling than I could ask, think, or imagine.