Monday, December 3, 2012

First experiences at Booth: my first campus visit, Random Walk, and my first quarter

It's hard to believe that this is the last week of classes for the fall quarter. Especially for the first-year students, the fall quarter has been packed with memories and exciting opportunities on the horizon. In the following post, Felipe Marin, a first-year student and Country Captain for Cuba, recounts the highlights of his first quarter at Booth and how the experience has been for him thus far.


It almost feels surreal, but the end of my first quarter at Booth is almost here and the experience has been all that I expected, and then some. I first thought about applying to business school in 2009, but multiple factors did not allow the goal to materialize until I began to study for the GMAT in mid-2011 – from then on, time seems to have flown and somehow I’m here, reliving the process through this blog.

My first visit to the Harper Center, and to Chicago, was only ten months ago, but as soon as I walked into the Winter Garden I knew that I had found the place where I wanted to be for the next two years.

At Booth, many of us participate in one of the twenty-five Random Walk trips that take place before orientation, and I would absolutely recommend this exciting adventure to all future members of the Booth family. I had the opportunity to visit Russia for Random Walk and I am convinced that I made friendships on that trip that will last well beyond my on-campus experience. Having heard many Soviet stories while growing up in Cuba, I had always wanted to visit the Kremlin, and I’m thankful that I was able to visit Moscow with classmates who were also interested in seeing the evolution of Russia’s new capitalist society.

Statue of Peter the Great and the Russian Random Walk team

Many exciting things have happened since our arrival on campus, but I’d have to admit that our orientation retreat to Wisconsin tops all other experiences thus far. It is difficult to summarize the retreat on a blog; more than being read, it has to be lived: the outdoor adventures, the games, and the group exercises all converge into a mélange of unforgettable memories. To be perfectly candid, I really did not have many expectations from a three day trip to the woods in Wisconsin, but there’s just something about high rope obstacle courses, improvisational acting lessons, and hanging out by a camp fire that makes people bond – even when the group is as big as 576 new Boothies.

Before coming to Chicago, many people familiar with the business school process told me that the first quarter would probably be somewhat overwhelming, and they did not exaggerate. Since I had been working as a Financial Analyst at a REIT for some years, I wanted to join Booth so that I could switch into a career in investment banking. The banking recruiting process begins three weeks into the quarter and it is all about adaptability: one has to juggle classes, group meetings, the endless array of bank presentations, and social events, which of course, happen quite regularly at Booth. Recently, I’ve learned the true meaning of the phrase drinking from fire hose, but we all get through it. As a matter of fact, not only do we get through it, but we also help each other in the process. I’ve gotten contact information of recruiters and bankers from many classmates, and I’m convinced that other Boothies have been helped in this regard as well. In the end, we know that more than competitors for the same jobs, we’re a family of 576 rooting for each other. I’ve even heard some former students say that they wish they could do this process again, so I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I’m sure that, at some point, I will miss it as well.

All in all, the quarter has flown by, but I am thankful to be part of a community that has been extremely supportive throughout this initial process. From a professional development perspective, I have to say that our Career Services office has impressed all of us – yes, I really mean all of us. My classmates and I feel that the school does everything within its power to prepare us not only for the interview process, but also for a career post Booth. As a true baseball enthusiast, I would like to summarize my Booth experience with words from Dean Kumar’s welcome speech: “Swing for the fences, Chicago Booth has your back” – he means it!

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