Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Booth Networking in Unexpected Places

Hongtae Kim worked in investment banking in Hong Kong prior to coming to Booth. He was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago and decided to return mainly because he loved the academic atmosphere of the University of Chicago and Booth, and enjoyed the city and the Chicago Bulls. He is concentrating in Marketing, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship at Booth, and will be working at AccuRadio, an internet-radio startup based in Chicago, over the summer.

His story shows that in order to land your ideal internship, it sometimes requires patience, motivation, and a little luck—coupled with leveraging the huge, diverse, and generous Booth alumni network.  While Booth alumni are well-represented in finance, consulting, and corporate fields, the independent and entrepreneurial nature of our students and alumni means that you can find us in unexpected places.

--Matt Richman

Coming to Booth, one of the most common pieces of advice I got was to fully utilize the Booth alumni network. As an international student, I was a bit skeptical of how much I would be able to leverage the alumni network and didn’t know how I was supposed to do it. On top of that, I was looking into a music-related career path which isn’t a “traditional” post-MBA field.

While it sounds like a cliché, the Booth alumni network is everywhere and willing to help you out, and you could encounter alums in some random places.  For instance, I met Kurt Hanson, Class of 1980, in San Francisco at the SF Music Tech Summit  which is a conference for music tech startups. I had decided to fly to SF to make connections and learn about what’s going on in the industry, but I wasn’t expecting to meet any MBAs, let alone Booth alums.  Naturally, when I bumped into Kurt (by accident) at the cocktail networking session, we were both pleasantly surprised to meet someone from Booth at the event. Kurt was invited as a panelist as a veteran in the radio industry and the Founder / CEO of AccuRadio, an internet-radio start-up based in Chicago. We casually talked about Booth, our backgrounds and the conference, and the following week, Kurt invited me to visit his office in Chicago. We continued our discussion on the music tech industry over dinner.

After a couple of meetings, I asked if I could work for his company over the summer as an intern, and he was excited to have me on board. Like most start-up recruiting, there was no formal vetting or interview process. He talked about his company and his views of the industry and I expressed my strong interest in the business. I also identified a couple of areas in which I could help the company as an MBA intern. I will be working in a broad range of projects including revamping the company’s search engine marketing efforts, supporting fund raising efforts, and identifying international business opportunities. While the projects are varied, I am certain that the range of my summer experience will help my transition from banking into technology. I am very excited about the opportunity, as the company sits in the exact field I was pursuing, and I will have the autonomy to define my own projects and apply my classroom studies to my summer internship.

When it comes to networking, especially if you have a narrow target list, I think the most important thing is to be aggressive and seek out different venues, rather than relying solely on the on-campus recruiting process. My decision to fly out to San Francisco to attend a conference that fit my interest was what made the difference for me. I ended up meeting a potential mentor in the music tech industry and a Booth alum who was happy to help me out. Especially as a career switcher, having first-hand interaction with an insider helps you express your interest and make a case for yourself.

I am looking forward to my summer in Chicago, especially after going through four winters in Chicago! More importantly, I am excited to get great experiences and networking during my summer that will help me achieve my career goal of carving a niche position in the evolving music tech industry. 

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