The 3rd part of our “Getting to Know the Top MBA Programs” features an interview with Inbar Goodman, MBA student at Chicago Booth Full time MBA program class of 2019:
What is special about your school? In your eyes, what differentiates your school from others?
The two things that make the Chicago Booth MBA special are: the flexibility in designing one’s own curriculum, and the “Pay It Forward” culture between the students in the school and also between the students and Booth alumni.
Moreover, the school has additional advantages, such as: the strong academic level, some of the best professors in the world and living in a big city which provides many social and employment options for me and my spouse.
Any recent changes in your school? or in the admission process?
The school changed the essay questions this year, and now candidates are required to answer 2 essay questions.
Can you share some details about the atmosphere in the school? between students, between students and faculty? How do you spend your free time?
The atmosphere at the school is great, the students here are very smart and friendly, and it’s easy to form friendships. The school creates many options for social interactions, and in the city of Chicago you have countless options for hanging out (in particular a rich music scene and amazing culinary options). Students organize many trips all over the US and abroad.
Like in any other school, students’ time is divided between school work, recruiting (finding summer internships and jobs for after graduation) and social events. Personally, I came to Chicago with my husband and our 18 months old son, so I spend a lot of my free time with them, but I also try to participate in the major school events and devote some time to student groups in which I’m active.
Can you share some details about the area/city?
Chicago is a big city which includes many different neighborhoods. The city is very clean and rich in culture, music and great food. You can find everything in the city, and it has a lot of options for singles, couples and families. Most Booth students live in the Loop, a neighborhood in the center of Chicago, 20 minutes from the main campus in Hyde Park. Many students live close to Millennium Park, the largest park in Chicago, in which many events are hosted during the summer. The main recreation areas in Chicago are also in a walking distance, and since 70% of the students live in this neighborhood, the student atmosphere is present at the Loop (you can take a short walk in the street and meet your classmates).
Unlike the Loop – a modern neighborhood with skyscrapers – the university area is preserving the historic look with brick buildings covered with ivy. However, the business school is located in a new and modern building. Booth has another campus in the center of Chicago (Gleacher Center) where students can take classes (all night and weekend classes are held there).
Chicago is one of the largest cities in the US, and as such its airport is a main hub from which you can take a direct flight to almost any city in the US. The public transportation in the city is very convenient and inexpensive (for example, you can take a train from the airport to the Loop for $2.5). The winter in Chicago is very cold (temperatures below 0°C), but all buildings are heated and with a good coat and boots you can survive the winter. In the spring and summer, the city comes to life.
Can you share some details regarding job opportunities and summer internships for students in your school? How strong is the career office? Did the school name/brand give you any advantage when looking for a job? Are there any specific recruiters who mostly recruit from this school?
Booth is one of the best business schools in the US, and it has a strong brand. I definitely felt that the Booth brand was an advantage, and with Booth’s historic strength in Finance, Booth student are perceived as having strong quantitative orientation.
The school is known for the high quality of its Career Services Office, which employs a big staff of coaches and advisors who work throughout the year to provide quality content and form connections with employers and firms where students would like to work. Each year many Booth students intern and begin full-time jobs at the leading firms in consulting, Investment Banking and more. While in the past the school was considered especially strong in Finance, in the past few years many students choose internships in Tech companies, and one of the main employers in Booth is Amazon, which offers internships and jobs to many Booth students every year. Other prominent employers at Booth are the big consulting firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain) and Google.
The job opportunities promoted by the school are not limited to Chicago and its area, even though many students fall in love with the relaxed atmosphere and pleasant character of the Midwest people and decide to stay after graduation. About 30% of the students in the past few years stayed in Chicago after graduation, while 20% go to the east coast and 20% to the west coast, and the others are spread in the US and overseas.
The school provides its students with many tools for success in the recruiting process, but another important resource in my view is the school’s alumni network. The willingness of Booth alumni to help current students really impressed me, as well as the willingness of second-year students to devote time and efforts to help incoming students. When you first arrive at the school you meet with second-year students who encourage you to reach out to them throughout the year. I personally had the chance to talk with many alumni, starting with recent alumni and even CEOs of leading firms who were willing to take the time to help me and other students succeed.
How did you deal with the Visa issue?
There is no doubt that the Trump election increased the uncertainty around hiring international employees, and some employers are unwilling to extend job offers to international students. When a company hires a non-American employee, it has to submit it to an H-1B Visa lottery, and in case this employee doesn’t get the Visa he can’t stay and work in the US beyond a certain period after graduation. Some companies are willing to apply for a Green Card on behalf of their employees.
In some industries, many companies are willing to hire foreign employees (for example, Tech and consulting), while in other industries foreign employees will have to work harder or stand out in order to get a job offer (for example, entertainment). Companies that have offices outside of the US may be more open towards foreign candidates because they could potentially relocate an employee to another office in case he doesn’t get the work Visa). All of this is relevant to the entire US job market, not particularly to Chicago.
In Chicago Booth, the Career Services team works to clarify the specific situation of each company, so students have all the current and accurate information, in order to allow foreign students to interact only with companies that would potentially hire them. Personally, I was looking for an internship in the healthcare industry, and I focused on big well-established companies which are more likely to offer a job to foreign students. In addition, I spent a lot of time building my personal network and getting to know people in the industry. There were several companies which I was interested in but were not willing to consider foreign candidates. Eventually I got several job offers from great companies, and now I’m in California doing my summer internship in one of the leading Biotech companies in the world.
What did you like about the school/program? Any classes / clubs you would recommend for future students?
In my opinion, the university of Chicago combines a high academic level with a big city that provides endless possibilities of recreation and career. In addition to the high level of Booth professors, the school facilitates many student groups that cover topics ranging from career (e.g. consulting group and technology group) to personal interests such as the volleyball club and the strategy games club. I recommend not to join too many student groups because you won’t have the time to participate in all the activities, not to mention other events taking place in the city that are not related to the school.
Two classes I especially enjoyed this year were Negotiations and Entrepreneurial Discovery. Both of them require students to be very proactive during and outside the classroom. In addition, I participated in the New Venture Challenge, a competition for start-ups held by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It was a highly enriching, not to mention incredibly fun experience.
One of the things that made me interested in Booth is the flexibility the school provides to students in building the curriculum – each student can design their schedule down to selecting specific classes, hours, professors and locations (Hyde Park campus or the Gleacher Center in Downtown Chicago). To me, Booth is the opposite of a “One size fits all” program – no two students go through the same experience at Booth. You have many options and therefore this program is a good fit for someone who wants to tailor their program for their specific needs or interests. It’s not as good of a fit for students who prefer a more structured and pre-planned program.
One of the things I didn’t know in advance and was happy to find out is that the school encourages and supports new students’ initiatives. Where students are interested to invest time and efforts to create something new, the school would usually give them full support, so new initiatives are very common.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the school is very supportive towards students’ partners and children. Every Friday afternoon the school hosts an “end of the week” event, including food and drinks, to which the partners and children are invited. Partners are invited to almost every event held by the school or by student groups, and they can also audit classes and join almost every student group (except for groups that are focused on recruiting). For example, my husband joined Booth’s Rugby Club and traveled with the team to games all over the US. The school also supports students who are parents – for example, the school allowed two of my classmates to bring their baby to a school-organized retreat that was held outside of Chicago during one of our first weekends in the program, realizing that with both parents being students, they can’t leave their baby in Chicago for the weekend.
What kind of candidates is the school looking for? Who will especially enjoy this school? who will be a good fit to the school? Any tips for someone who is considering applying to your school?
Chicago Booth is interested in candidates that demonstrate intellectual curiosity, academic rigor, and a strong passion for making an impact on the world. Booth will fit especially those with high self-awareness who know what they want to get from their MBA and are looking to shape their MBA experience to fit their needs. Also, those who thrive in teamwork and desire a collaborative environment where ideas are vetted by many different points of view.
In my view, the school is looking for candidates who are not only interested in the program but also for those who fit the culture. It is important to demonstrate in your application and in the interview not only how the school can support your personal ambitions, but how you hope to contribute while you are here, too. In my opinion, the best way to prepare is to talk with students and alumni who chose similar paths to those you are interested in, and hear from them how the school was a part of how they achieved their goal. While each student’s experience is very unique, this will provide a better understanding of the specific aspects of the program you may be interested in.