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April 09, 2012

Q&A with a Member of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2012

In this post, the first where I have done a Q&A with a former client in both the first and second year of his or her program, is with “Booth1Y” who is now “Booth2Y”. Booth2Y is a member of the Class of 2012. You can find his earlier Q&A here. Booth2Y wanted me to share his background with you: “After the four year experience as an equity analyst and the three year experience in the corporate in one of the major investment banks, I got an MBA sponsorship from my company and chose Booth due to its amazing finance program (however, again Booth is not just finance school).”

Adam: Looking back on your Booth MBA experience, what do you think you have gained?

Booth2Y: I have gained the following.
  • Advanced knowledge of finance: I worked as an equity analyst before coming to Booth. In order to continue a career in an investment management company, I wanted to learn advanced level of finance. At Booth, we can take PhD level courses of finance. Through such courses, I definitely think I could get a deeper understanding of finance and broaden my knowledge (i.e. from equity to fixed income and derivatives)
  • Soft skills in several areas (please read the following questions)
  • Global network with talented students: Through tons of student activities and study groups, I can get a lot of friends from all over the world. If I just had continued working in Japan, I would not have been able to get these precious friends.
  • Deeper understanding of myself and Japan: This MBA experience is my first time to live and study abroad. Through studying and being involved in student activities with talented students from all over the world, I could understand my weaknesses and strengths deeply. In addition, by looking at Japan from U.S., I feel I could rediscover problems and attractiveness of Japan.

: Beyond Booth’s flexibility, which you mentioned last time, what parts of the program have you liked the most?

Booth2Y: I like that Booth offers us tons of resources to learn and to create network. For example, other than courses, Booth offers us lots of seminars about leadership and practical financial skills. Through these seminars, we can have more opportunities to learn and grow as business people. In addition, various student clubs organize conferences, which enable us to expand our network.

Adam:  Booth has a strong reputation for teaching the hard skills, but have your soft skills improved?

Booth2Y: Definitely. Although Booth is famous for its hard skill courses in finance and entrepreneurship, Booth has also various kinds of soft skill courses such as negotiation, organizational management, and leadership. Although I was skeptical about learning soft skill in classes before coming to Booth, I have learned a lot from soft skill courses and am feeling that my soft skills have improved. For example, this quarter, I am taking one negotiation class called “Strategies and Processes of Negotiation”. In this class, we learn various techniques of negotiation thorough a lot of exercises with our classmates. This is my first time to learn negotiation systematically. And, I feel my negotiation skills are definitely improving through the lectures and the exercises.

Adam: How would you describe Booth’s culture?

Booth2Y: I often feel professionalism from our friends. For example, in study group meetings, we don’t depend on each other too much. Each of us makes most effort to solve homework before the meetings. And, we try to finish the meetings within predetermined time because we have a tight schedule and because we respect time of our friends and us. Of course, if our friends cannot solve the homework, we help our friends learning.  And, of course, like other business schools, all of us are very friendly. However, we are not just “friendly” and don’t respect superficial “teamwork”.

Adam: I know you are active in a number in a number of clubs, which ones did you end up being really involved in?

Booth2Y: I am really involved in the activities of Japan Club. This March, as an active member of Japan Club I led the Booth Japan Trip 2012 which 39 Booth students and partners joined. It took 4 months from November in 2011 to this March to prepare for this trip and we were busy with the preparation during the winter quarter. We considered itinerary, collected the applications and money, and organized the information sessions, etc in the preparation. Through the preparation and the trip, I could improve my leadership skill and extend my network. And of course, although I was hectic during the trip, the trip was very enjoyable.

Adam: Do you think Booth is successfully expanding its scope beyond being a “finance school”?

Booth2Y: I think, only in Japan, applicants tend to consider Booth just a “finance school”. However, in U.S. Booth is considered a school which has strengths in not only finance but also entrepreneurship and marketing. Thus, the backgrounds of students are well balanced from engineers to consultants. In terms of qualities and quantities, Booth offer great courses in entrepreneurship, marketing, and other areas. Thus, Japanese applicants should discard the wrong image of Booth = a “finance school”.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for those considering application to your school?

Booth2Y: My advice may be commonplace and basically the same as last year but I think applicants need to write very, very, very specifically what they want to learn and do by taking advantage of Booth’s flexible curriculum and rich resources. Applicants should plan precisely how they will spend two years at Booth, i.e. which courses they will take, when they will take the courses, which activities they will be involved in (student clubs?, new venture challenge, parties?). In order to make their essays more feasible, applicants should talk with the Booth students or alumni who have the similar backgrounds and career interests.

I want to thank Booth2Y for his willingness to answer my questions two years in a row.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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