Reflections on Year 1 at Booth

Mod Note: Each day we'll be posting the top WSO forum posts of 2014. This one was originally posted on 7/5/14 and ranks #15 for the year by total silver banana count. You can see all our top ranked content here.

I recently completed my first year at Booth and felt compelled to share my experiences and advice through a follow-up post to: To Anyone Considering an MBA

It would take me forever to do a complete synopsis of my first year. As such, I’m going to hit some of the highlights and turn this into in a Q&A session rather than a lecture. So questions welcome. And for those of you who lack the patience to read through the post, the summary is that b-school has been amazing and truly lived up to the high expectations that I had set prior to matriculating.

The first important thing for people to realize is that the MBA is an individual journey. You complete it alongside hundreds of peers, but your experience is uniquely yours. Everyone has their own reasons for pursuing the degree. For many it is to explore new career opportunities or land that much-coveted job at McKinsey. Others are looking to establish a professional network. Some put a priority on academics and challenge themselves through classes. There are those that are simply looking to enjoy themselves. Finally, there are people who have no idea why they are there and are figuring it out as they go.

Before It Began

So, on to my story. I took a little over three months off before orientation and traveled extensively, both internationally and domestically. It was easily three of the more enjoyable months of my life. Nothing compares to the peace of mind that comes with having absolute freedom over your schedule while not having to worry about the future. I was able to connect with friends and family I hadn’t seen in forever, read books, and pursue hobbies that had fallen by the wayside when I was working. After six years of working, it was exactly the mental reset I needed. I encourage everyone that isn’t cash-strapped to leave to take at least a month off. It is worth every moment.

Social

Regarding the social aspect to Booth, I’m going to borrow from a post I made a few months ago on another thread:

CompBanker:
The MBA is crafted in such a manner that you design your own experience. If you want to be academic to the exclusion of all else, you can certainly fade into the shadow of your 600 classmates only to be seen at class and study groups. You can also choose to be hyper social and attend what is daily or even twice daily social events, taking advantage of Booth's grade non-disclosure and doing the bare minimum to get a B (which is usually about 15 hours a week, including nine hours of class time). People self-select. One's impression of the social aspect of b-school is more a reflection on him or herself rather than the school as a whole. This is true for EVERY top business school. Some examples from the past 10 days:

Two weekends ago, more than 100 Booth students rented RVs and drove to the Kentucky Derby for the weekend. They partied all weekend, grilled food, played games, watched and bet on the horse races, etc. Despite this being one of the most "American" experiences during the MBA program, there were tons of internationals South America and Europe.

On Thursday, Booth held its weekly TNDC (Thursday Night Drinking Club). Essentially, this is an unofficial club where a few students reserve an entire bar each week and hundreds of students always show up. It happens every week, even during finals.

On Friday, Booth students performed the annual Follies, a three hour set of skits that poke fun at b-school life. Before the event, students attended the weekly Liquidity Preference Function where they had free food and drinks. More than one hundred students participated in Follies and hundreds of people attended LPF and Follies.

On Saturday, the Jewish Business Student Association reserved the roofdeck of a bar and held an afternoon party to celebrate Israel's Independence Day. More than 125 people attended.

On Sunday, the Armed Forces Group (military vets from all countries) organized a full-day outdoor paintball match. I don't have a final count but more than 100 attendees I believe.

Meanwhile, many people were out of town as a large group of second years had organized a weekend trip to Miami to hang out and have fun.

I'm not even cherry-picking dates or events here. This is literally what went on in the last week and doesn't include any of the athletic events, house parties, trips, and other things that people do on a weekly basis. The number of opportunities to partake in social events at Booth exceed the amount of time you have in your schedule. I'm assuming that the same holds true for other top MBA programs, but you're way off base if you think Booth kids lock themselves in their rooms all day and study


From my understanding, Booth wasn’t a fun school 10+ years ago. The majority of students lived in Hyde Park and focused on academics. This has been completely flipped on its head in recent years. Most Booth students now live close together in downtown Chicago and place a high degree of value on social activities. The student body definitely has “nerdy” undertones – it is hard not to with a class full of professionally accomplished 700+ GMAT scorers. However, we still have our fair share of people who like to rage and blow off class to go play volleyball at beach.

The Value of Academics

Academics is probably the area that I have been most disappointed with. As someone who didn’t have an undergrad finance degree, I was really hoping to broaden my knowledge base beyond what I learned at work. Unfortunately many of the classes have deep seeded roots in theory that are only marginally applicable to the real world. For example: after taking “Investments,” I still don’t know what a Swap is, but I can certainly tell you how to identify and profit from a mispricing arbitrage opportunity if one were to exist. This is prevalent not just in some of the finance courses but many of the international business and strategy courses as well. Not every class is theory-driven as I’ve already found a few to be quite useful in PE. I suspect it is similar at all of the top schools.

The saving grace to this is simple: Grade Non-Disclosure. GND is a closely abided by policy that prevents every student from disclosing their GPA or GPA-like indicators to employers. Similarly, employers are forbidden from asking students about their marks. The result is incredibly powerful. I have no idea who is getting As and who is getting CS, and it really doesn’t matter. This enables students to either take challenging classes or focus their efforts on getting a job without worrying about consequences. Whatever your reason, you don’t get penalized in recruiting for leading a balanced life. And for those who enjoy hitting the books, we have distinction designations for the top 5% and 20% of the class.

You Want a Job?

Now onto careers. This is probably the most talked about subject for MBA students. The whole degree is surprisingly career centric, particularly for those interested in investment banking or consulting. In fact, both of these paths have an overwhelming amount of events and requirements that include networking, meals, one-off conversations, and info-sessions. Starting in week two through the entire first quarter the students are faced with an onslaught of recruiters from every institution under the sun. Pretty much everyone that puts in the effort ends up at a bulge bracket or elite boutique in the geography they want. A lot of people seemed to have about three internship offers each when recruiting was done.

For those conducting off-campus searches, your ability to succeed is up to you. I spent very little time looking for an internship but found all the alumni that I contacted to be extremely helpful in sharing information or connecting me to people I wanted to speak with. The Booth network is surprisingly strong in PE, albeit less-so as you expand outside of the Mid-west and the country. When combined with my existing network I found that I had a 1st degree connection to pretty much any fund that I was interested in learning more about. Pretty powerful stuff as the school continues to build in reputation.

At this point I’ve probably written too much and lost 99% of readers. But remember, what I have shared is a small glimpse into my experience. Everyone has their own.

 
snakeoil:

What are you doing this summer?

MM PE. However, I recommend to most people with PE experience that you do something completely different for the summer. Go work at a start-up, new geography, or anything "different." The reason I went back to PE for the summer was due to a unique situation.
CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 
CompBanker:
snakeoil:

What are you doing this summer?

MM PE. However, I recommend to most people with PE experience that you do something completely different for the summer. Go work at a start-up, new geography, or anything "different." The reason I went back to PE for the summer was due to a unique situation.

Why on earth would you recommend this? Wouldn't a summer job at a shop you want to go to be the best thing to do? Or at least some kind of PE experience?

Also, how do you feel about being so far from NYC? One of my sticking points with Booth is the location.

 

Thanks for this update! I agree with everything here. My program also has GND, which makes life a whole lot easier. I barely spend any time on classes but have still done relatively well and have instead focused on recruiting, networking, and socializing. If you do it right, b-school is truly the best 2 years of your life and a transformational experience, one that cannot be replicated elsewhere. It's so much better than college that it's not even comparable.

Best of luck in your second year at Booth!

 

Could you touch on your observation on PE recruiting at Booth? Are there a lot of people with solid 2+2 BB/topMM IBD + PE backgrounds that are seeking a post-MBA position, and are they successful at it?

 
BlueShirt:

Could you touch on your observation on PE recruiting at Booth? Are there a lot of people with solid 2+2 BB/topMM IBD + PE backgrounds that are seeking a post-MBA position, and are they successful at it?

This was actually one of the more surprising elements for me. There are very few kids at Booth that did the 2+2 and are looking to go back into PE. Some of them exist, but it is definitely the exception rather than the norm. I have a few theories on this which I'm happy to share.

I have four five that applied to Booth with great academic profiles, 2+2 (or 3+2 as seems to be common these days), and a host of other strong characteristics. They were ALL rejected. I was a bit shocked at first. One got into Wharton, one into Kellogg, one into Fuqua, another took a post-MBA role in PE and skipped the MBA, and the last left the industry to found a start-up. All quite talented people. I think the rejections were due to two things though:

1) Booth isn't looking to fill up its class with IBD + PE people. While there are a handful, the school could easily have more if it didn't reject their applications. It really is true that the school attempts to build an entire class rather than accept the "smartest" or highest paid individuals that apply. Booth is teeming with people from non-finance backgrounds that were successful, be it at Teach for America, F500s, Consulting, or their family business.

2) Playing off thought #1, I think fit is an incredibly important filter that the school uses to select candidates. Booth definitely has a midwestern feel despite its global student body. It is very apparent to me that the school only accepts people who fit this mold. As you might imagine, the stereotypical image of the NYC banker / high-finance guy would really struggle in this regards. I think many of them get filtered out as a "bad fit" as a result. To be clear: We have plenty of folks from New England and NYC at Booth, they just tend not to align with the stereotype. Self-selection probably plays a meaningful role as well.

Regarding how successful were people at PE (internship) recruiting, that's a long topic. Two highlights:

1) Also surprisingly, there are a small number of people with PE (and banking) backgrounds that aren't interested in returning to finance. They are leaving the industry to pursue start-ups or even try their hand at marketing / corporate gigs. Whatever their personal reason, they aren't interested in returning to PE despite their eligibility.

2) Everyone I know that was "qualified" for a PE gig ended up in PE for the summer. This is probably a benefit of not having too many pre-MBA PE people in the student body. When alums come to Booth to hire a PE guy, the competition isn't fierce at all. In fact, there were probably 10-20 people that did not have PE experience that landed gigs at small PE shops thanks to the school's PE lab and similar programs. The size range of PE shops that people are going to is quite diverse. We have people going to everywhere: from 2-man shops to Apollo. Most seem to end up at a similar size shop to the one they were at before school. Note, this is just summer internships I'm talking about here.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 

CB, could you elaborate a bit more on the "midwestern feel" of Booth despite the global student body? I assume this refers more to the laid-back personality, unpretentiousness, and humility, that characterize the midwest? I know poets&quants did a breakdown of undergrad schools represented at various top b-schools, and Booth had a very low % of ivy grads compared to the other M7+tuck schools. I imagine this has an impact on the overall culture.

 
CompBanker:

This was actually one of the more surprising elements for me. There are very few kids at Booth that did the 2+2 and are looking to go back into PE. Some of them exist, but it is definitely the exception rather than the norm. I have a few theories on this which I'm happy to share.

I have four five that applied to Booth with great academic profiles, 2+2 (or 3+2 as seems to be common these days), and a host of other strong characteristics. They were ALL rejected. I was a bit shocked at first. One got into Wharton, one into Kellogg, one into Fuqua, another took a post-MBA role in PE and skipped the MBA, and the last left the industry to found a start-up. All quite talented people. I think the rejections were due to two things though:

1) Booth isn't looking to fill up its class with IBD + PE people. While there are a handful, the school could easily have more if it didn't reject their applications. It really is true that the school attempts to build an entire class rather than accept the "smartest" or highest paid individuals that apply. Booth is teeming with people from non-finance backgrounds that were successful, be it at Teach for America, F500s, Consulting, or their family business.

2) Playing off thought #1, I think fit is an incredibly important filter that the school uses to select candidates. Booth definitely has a midwestern feel despite its global student body. It is very apparent to me that the school only accepts people who fit this mold. As you might imagine, the stereotypical image of the NYC banker / high-finance guy would really struggle in this regards. I think many of them get filtered out as a "bad fit" as a result. To be clear: We have plenty of folks from New England and NYC at Booth, they just tend not to align with the stereotype. Self-selection probably plays a meaningful role as well.

Realizing that I'm being purely speculative here, it seems more likely that this is just a numbers game, no?

There are, call it, ~300 kids that go 2+2 or 3+2 every year. Assume 2/3rds of them are interested in an MBA. Even if every last one elects to attend, you're talking about ~200 kids across a handful of business schools. You're never going to have more than 20-30 kids attend a single school. In a class of 600, it's bound to feel like an insignificant portion of the class if your reference set is your peer group from consulting / banking / WSO.

"For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment we can savor, and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible."
 

Comp, why did you do the MBA? What do you hope to get out of it? How old are you?

I havent really used WSO in over a year, as I spent a lot of time learning my new job. But I do remember you were progressing in your career doing MM PE. Seemed like you were happy with where you were at.

Array
 
Cries:

Comp, why did you do the MBA? What do you hope to get out of it? How old are you?

I havent really used WSO in over a year, as I spent a lot of time learning my new job. But I do remember you were progressing in your career doing MM PE. Seemed like you were happy with where you were at.

All of these questions are outlined in pretty excruciating detail in my To Anyone Considering an MBA thread. The link is in the first sentence of my original post.

On a related note, the average age of my class at matriculation was 28. Individual ages varied a lot. Two years of experience seems to be the minimum. I get the impression that the average age is pulled up by international students who tend to have more work experience while the domestic students hover in the 4-5 year range. I have no data to support it though. It is definitely an older crowd than I anticipated though, which has proven to be a good thing.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 

I second CompBanker's point on academics. I have found this very disappointing as well. The core curriculum has been useless for the most part; much of the stuff is theory that people don't use in the real world, and the case study method is an outdated way of studying contemporary business problems. Strategy and marketing were particularly bad because the professors are academics who never worked in the real world. Microeconomics was so poorly taught that I can't tell you what I learned in that class aside from Nash equilibrium, prisoner's dilemma, and auctions.

 

Hey CB,

Thanks for somewhat emphasizing on the negative elements of the MBA program. I think it's sobering advice to some of us to have unrealistic expectations of what the program is really all about (this is probably brady's fault)

Might sound like a dumb question, but I'm curious on what URM representation at Booth is like. Any insight?

 
Best Response
Reinhard von Lohengramm:

Hey CB,

Might sound like a dumb question, but I'm curious on what URM representation at Booth is like.
Any insight?

I can only comment based on observation rather than data. I'll do it high level because my assessment is also clouded: how do you classify international students who are technically URMs in the US but didn't come from the US?

We have an extreme amount of diversity as it pertains to people with different ethnic backgrounds. A large part of this is due to internationals which make up about a third of the class. If I were to guess, the largest non-Caucasian group would be the Latins, followed by the Asians and Indians. Most of them were working in their home countries prior to coming to Booth and may not fit your description of URM (I recognize that Asians and Indians tend not be classified as URM). The school doesn't have an overwhelming amount of Europeans or Africans, although I think this is probably due to self-selection above all else.

In terms of the LBGTQ community, they definitely have a presence at Booth. In fact, I find them to be one of the most social and out-going (no pun intended) contingents at the school.

One thing to note though is that everyone is extremely bright and motivated. You hear a lot of stories online about people who "only got in because they were an URM." I don't think that's the case at Booth. People that check the URM box more than hold their own academically and socially.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 
CompBanker:

One thing to note though is that everyone is extremely bright and motivated. You hear a lot of stories online about people who "only got in because they were an URM." I don't think that's the case at Booth. People that check the URM box more than hold their own academically and socially.

I reckon that that has to do with the fact that there are likely several times as many qualified applicants as there are spots at all of the top schools; I remember the director of admissions at Wharton saying that something like 2x the amount of people who actually end up at Wharton are also very much admissible, but just can't possibly fit in the school, and have to be rejected.

So we have URM students who are perfectly capable students, taking the place of other equivalently-capable students. Net/net, you have a student population that is equally talented, except with more URMs.

 

Hello CompBanker!

Thanks for this post! I am starting at Booth this fall, and I am super excited! One of main reason why I choose Booth over other schools is for the intellectual stimulation. However, hearing you comments, I am a little concerned that I cannot apply much of what I learn to the real world.

Is there like a ratemyprofessor system at Booth? I want to try to find classes where the professors can teach and where I will learn real world applicable material. What classes do you recommend?

My second question, did you feel like the environment was very competitive for consulting recruiting?

Thanks!

 
VodkaGuru:

I am a little concerned that I cannot apply much of what I learn to the real world.

Is there like a ratemyprofessor system at Booth? I want to try to find classes where the professors can teach and where I will learn real world applicable material. What classes do you recommend?

There is no shortage of intellectual stimulation in the classroom. The classes can be extremely challenging. You move quickly through the material and therefore cover a LOT. I know of undergrad econ majors who struggled to do well in Booth's introductory econ courses. The school also offers accelerated and advanced versions of the introductory courses if you want to challenge yourself.

Depending on your background, you may find the classes more or less valuable. Coming from PE, I've had both wide and deep exposure into a number of different business disciplines. Knowing that I would return to the industry (and maybe this is just the plight of non-career changers in general), I didn't learn much that I felt would enhance my ability to do my job. I'm definitely not alone. However, those who were looking to do banking found the classes incredibly helpful. There are classes where you need to build a full blown financial model akin to what is built at investment banks. These skills easily transfer directly to the real world.

Either way, Booth gives you an incredible amount of data to sort through classes and professors. It is all available on the portal through a feature that was JUST launched called Booth Book. Check it out, I believe you should have access by now.

My second question, did you feel like the environment was very competitive for consulting recruiting?

Depends on how you define competitive. The individuals are incredibly collaborative when it comes to helping each other secure jobs. People do joint case-prep with peers and second years frequently. Former consultants share their experiences from working at McKinsey, BCG, Deloitte, or wherever. In this sense it is very much a team environment.

Consulting is the most popular destination though. A LOT of people are gunning for these positions. Also, people are generally trying to secure jobs at McKinsey, Bain, or BCG. While a LOT of people end up at one of these three, there are definitely those who land outside the big three. Geographically, people go all over the country and world to work in consulting. MBB and others recruit for offices globally out of Booth.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 

I have to respectfully disagree here--not to be a contrarian, but rather for a different perspective. Classes at Booth are pretty bimodal when it comes to difficulty. Neither the intro classes, nor the soft skills classes here are particularly difficult. (Macro econ here is especially not difficult, the undergrad in my class set the curve) and the classes are taught at a very accessible level. That being said, the work load of courses becomes difficult as most of the material for classes falls in the last three weeks of the class leading up to the final--so people always see they do well on the midterm only to get crushed on the final. As a grader, I see it all the time. The more technical/finance classes get quite involved, granted yes, more so in theory, but involved none the less, and the more well known professors can be soul crushingly difficult, as are the PhD courses. So yes, if you want to go the 'easy' route and steer clear of the challenging classes, you definitely can. But if that's your plan don't come to Booth, you dont belong at UChicago, better to mentally prepare yourself for it to be difficult. The point about the grades though is too true. Many people kind of coast on by because of it, although honestly, they're missing so much.

Just my thoughts.

 
wannabeaballer:

My only question: Are you being forced to do menial data entry and ridiculous grunt work for your internship?

Absolutely not. I think most MBA internships don't work this way. It definitely doesn't work this way for consulting and investment banking interns. Not every internship is going to be your dream job, but it is rare you'll spend your summer doing grunt work.
CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 
AnalyzeThat:

Are there many people that really focused on getting a job at MBB and failed? What do you think the general success rate is for people targeting MBB without a consulting background?

You're wasting your time trying to figure out success rates and odds. Your ability to succeed will depend entirely on yourself. I couldn't even begin to filter out "who was serious" and "who put in a lot of time to prepare" to determine a number that would be even remotely helpful to you. The truth is MBB takes a LOT of people. However, Consulting is far and away the most popular path (for internship recruiting). Many people seem to do it because they don't know what they want and everyone else is doing it. Some people take it very seriously. Some get internship offers from all three of M+B+B (we had a handful). Some get none even though they were really gunning for it. It may have been because they were competing for popular MBB offices. Maybe their personality didn't mesh well with the interviewer. Maybe they got a case that they weren't prepared to handle.

If you know you want to do consulting, you have a real shot at MBB regardless of your background. That's the best I can really tell you.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 

According to the Booth website, Tuition + Student Life Fee + Health Fee + Administrative Service Fee + Lifetime Credentials Fee + Computer ~ 70K. Total budget is of 94K. Was 24K (2.7K / month) enough for you to cover rent/utilities, food, personal, transportation? Did you live frugally? Will it handicap your social life if you only want to participate in events on or close to campus, i.e. if you’re unwilling to pay for weekend trips to Kentucky, Miami, etc.?

 
El Lebani:

According to the Booth website, Tuition + Student Life Fee + Health Fee + Administrative Service Fee + Lifetime Credentials Fee + Computer ~ 70K. Total budget is of 94K. Was 24K (2.7K / month) enough for you to cover rent/utilities, food, personal, transportation? Did you live frugally? Will it handicap your social life if you only want to participate in events on or close to campus, i.e. if you’re unwilling to pay for weekend trips to Kentucky, Miami, etc.?

I'm not the best person to answer budget questions. I'm paying for school with savings and don't really have the same budget constraints. From observation:

People live frugally compared to the lives they were living prior to school. But frugally means different things to different people. No one is living in a bad neighborhood or turning 1 bedroom apartments into 2 in order to save cash. They do abstain from participating in events based on price though. A few examples:

There is an annual week long ski trip in December after first quarter finals end. Hundreds of students go, but it costs about $1500 all-in. A lot of people elect to skip this trip on the basis of price. Some people decide to splurge and go but cut back on eating out, etc.

The Kentucky Derby trip cost about $350/person for the entire weekend. Very few people at Booth would consider this an insignificant sum. There were still 100 - 150 people who attended though. Of course, that means that 450 - 500 people DIDN'T attend.

The reality is that there are enough events on campus that are absolutely free (and even provide free food and drinks) that you could have a very active social life without spending a penny. There are people who do this. You'll miss out on some of the marquee events because there is no way you're going to go to Miami without having to at least pay airfare. People's budgets seem to allow for them to partake in at least one big event each quarter.

Again, I'm not the best person to talk to regarding budgeting. People seem to build their own and largely ignore the one set forth by the school. It is really hard for anyone to stay within that budget. The one thing you should keep in mind though is that you'll make money during your summer internship. A lot of employers will also pay you a sign-on bonus or partially reimburse second year tuition once you land a full time job. There are also ways to win scholarships during the school year if you're a rock-star. So overall, you aren't as broke as you think you are.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 
CompBanker:
El Lebani:

According to the Booth website, Tuition + Student Life Fee + Health Fee + Administrative Service Fee + Lifetime Credentials Fee + Computer ~ 70K. Total budget is of 94K. Was 24K (2.7K / month) enough for you to cover rent/utilities, food, personal, transportation? Did you live frugally? Will it handicap your social life if you only want to participate in events on or close to campus, i.e. if you’re unwilling to pay for weekend trips to Kentucky, Miami, etc.?

A lot of employers will also pay you a sign-on bonus or partially reimburse second year tuition once you land a full time job. There are also ways to win scholarships during the school year if you're a rock-star. So overall, you aren't as broke as you think you are.

Most MBA's in IBD earn 21K (8,333 dollars / month * 2,5 months), right? So that's 15K post-tax, right? How much money do MBA students usually save over the summer?

 
ValueBanker14:

Since Booth doesn't particularly favor or look for the traditional 2+2 or 3+2 candidate, how do some of these guys distinguish themselves from that path? For those candidates who do get in from this path, what set them apart from those who got rejected?

I am way too unqualified to answer this question. Only the admissions committee really knows what they are looking for. I don't have a good appreciation for the pool of candidates that were denied versus admitted. My best advice would be to take a look at the other dimensions on which admissions judges candidates and try to strengthen those.
CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 
BlueShirt:

Comp, why do you think more and more top MBA students are gravitating towards MBB consulting versus investment banking post-MBA?

Hard to say if this is a trend or just the way it has always been. The appeal of investment banking is very narrow. The folks that want to do it tend to be those who want to make a lot of money and don't mind putting in the time and effort required to do so. A few of them have their sights on PE longer term and are hoping to make the transition after working a couple of years. There is also the whole belief that investment banking isn't what it used to be (not true) and that the compensation is no longer there (also not true). I don't think there are many people who show up to the MBA and say "this banking thing sounds pretty cool, I guess I'll do that!"

Consulting has much broader appeal. It is the perfect career for those who don't know what they want to do because it keeps so many doors open. Consultants go on to run their own businesses, join F500s, etc. Some of the top consulting firms even encourage it (ex employees go on to hire their old firms). Consulting also enables people to have their weekends free, so it is seen as a lot of work, but still gives you time to see family and friends. This is a lot more tenable than banking life.

Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I think these factors lead people to consulting far more than banking.

CompBanker’s Career Guidance Services: https://www.rossettiadvisors.com/
 

"There is also the whole belief that investment banking isn't what it used to be (not true) and that the compensation is no longer there (also not true)."

Can you elaborate on the Investment Banking "not true" statements?

 

Really enjoyed the first thread and have been looking forward to this one, SBed.

Seems like there still exists a lot of people who go into MBA not really knowing what they want to do and apply to stuff because everyone else is doing it. I saw this a lot in undergrad and would have thought people would have a much better idea of what they wanted to do and exactly why they were going to business school after 4+ years or experience. Did this surprise you or do you think most come in with a clear understanding of what they want to pursue?

 
Quaneaser:

Really enjoyed the first thread and have been looking forward to this one, SBed.

Seems like there still exists a lot of people who go into MBA not really knowing what they want to do and apply to stuff because everyone else is doing it. I saw this a lot in undergrad and would have thought people would have a much better idea of what they wanted to do and exactly why they were going to business school after 4+ years or experience. Did this surprise you or do you think most come in with a clear understanding of what they want to pursue?

I think most people do have an idea of what they want to do. For those of us who have already been in the business world for many years prior to school, it is easy for us to formulate an opinion on which division / sector / industry / geography we want to be in. However, there are a number of people who had no exposure to business prior to school. Military folks have plenty of life experience but no idea what it is like to working in consulting / banking / corporate. Teach for America / Peace Corps folks who are similarly talented, but lack professional business experience. Professional athletes are the same. Not all of the people with these backgrounds go to school with no direction, but it is easy to see why they may still be exploring options when they show up on campus day 1.
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Great thread Comp. I understand there's GND, so how much time are you spending per week on school? Leading up to mid-terms and finals, I'm sure more, but I'd be interested to see your typical weekly schedule broken out. I'm very interested in going to Booth in 3-4 years. Chicago's great, minus the weather, it sounds like socially its really come along, and I think the location allows you to really go anywhere you want quickly. Obviously, O'hare has direct flights everywhere which would be important to me.

Any badass trips? A little private jet action to Miami or Vegas never hurt anyone.

 
CorpFinanceGuy:

Great thread Comp. I understand there's GND, so how much time are you spending per week on school? Leading up to mid-terms and finals, I'm sure more, but I'd be interested to see your typical weekly schedule broken out. I'm very interested in going to Booth in 3-4 years. Chicago's great, minus the weather, it sounds like socially its really come along, and I think the location allows you to really go anywhere you want quickly. Obviously, O'hare has direct flights everywhere which would be important to me.

Any badass trips? A little private jet action to Miami or Vegas never hurt anyone.

Booth is on the quarter system - Fall / Winter / Spring + a summer internship. You're required to take 20 courses (+ a orientation-like Leadership class) in order to graduate. Breaking it down, that's four semesters of 3 classes each and two semesters of 4 classes. Classes meet once a week for three hours for 10 weeks a quarter and then finals. This means I'm in class for nine hours a week except for one quarter a year in which I have 12 hours of class a week. Depending on the courses you're taking, some classes require less than an hour of homework a week while others require closer to 10. A lot of classes require group work where you get to pick you own teams and work collaboratively or divide and conquer.

I try to stack at least two of my classes on the same day so that I have five days a week class-free. As you might imagine, this gives me (and every other student) a TON of free time relative to when we were working. What you do with it is really up to you. Most people join a few clubs that they're interested in. My school-related activities are pretty diverse -- I'm heavily involved in a school sport as well as school governance stuff. I also spend a massive amount of time socializing with peers either in common areas, over meals/drinks, or at events. I also take time to work out, read books, watch movies, and some other personal hobbies that I delayed way too much prior to my coming to school.

While I do all this, I definitely take my classes seriously too. Despite my extensive business background, it still takes a lot of effort to get an A- or an A. On the other hand, it takes a lot of lack of effort to get a B- or a C+. Some classes are quite difficult and will leave you in the dust if you don't keep up with the homework or put in 5-10 hours of studying prior to the exam. You'll still pass if you blow off class and are reasonably intelligent, but no one coasts to straight A's. Everything is curved and you're competing against some of the brightest students in the world -- some of which came to Booth exclusively for the academics. I've heard from friends that this is quite different at HBS (where it is hard to study for exams because everything is case based and qualitative). But at Booth, even the soft classes are backed by data and analysis.

As for badass trips, definitely. I did both Vegas and Miami with classmates -- although no private jet. A number of other trips as well. My understanding is that they really pick up in the second year once people have jobs and really don't care about academics at all.

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Thank you for doing this OP. I will MOST DEF. be taking into consideration your time off to travel suggestion.

Before I ask you my question I'll give you a brief background on myself. Im living in NYC going to a NY non-target approaching my last 3 semesters of school. Haven't taken school as seriously as I should and I now have a (relatively) awful GPA (and have to take an extra semester). Fortunately enough I have been accepted to the Summer Business Scholars Program for 3 weeks at Booth and I'm intending it to spark the academic/professional turning point in my career. I am looking to work in consulting as soon as I possibly can.

Would you happen to have any suggestions for myself as I fly to Chicago this saturday in regards to Booth, academics, careers, and the city of chicago? Thank you again for your post!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."
 
WhoSteen:

Thank you for doing this OP. I will MOST DEF. be taking into consideration your time off to travel suggestion.

Before I ask you my question I'll give you a brief background on myself. Im living in NYC going to a NY non-target approaching my last 3 semesters of school. Haven't taken school as seriously as I should and I now have a (relatively) awful GPA (and have to take an extra semester). Fortunately enough I have been accepted to the Summer Business Scholars Program for 3 weeks at Booth and I'm intending it to spark the academic/professional turning point in my career. I am looking to work in consulting as soon as I possibly can.

Would you happen to have any suggestions for myself as I fly to Chicago this saturday in regards to Booth, academics, careers, and the city of chicago? Thank you again for your post!

Sounds like a fun time. But a three week program isn't going to make up for years of under-performance. You really need to step up TODAY and get on the right track. So start performing your best ASAP and don't delay.

As for the city of Chicago, it is awesome in the summer. Go see a performance at Second City, walk / run / bike down Lakeshore Drive, eat out at the restaurants, go to some sporting events, and try to get a feel for the city.

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Thank you for advice, much appreciated. Good luck with PE and the rest of your time at Booth.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."
 

Nothing of value to add; just wanted to reiterate that this is another great CompBanker thread, and his findings mirror those from my first year MBA experience to the letter. SB for you.

 
Sil:

CompBanker, great thread as usual. How realistic would you say it is to go from MM PE pre-MBA to megafund PE post-MBA? Did you consider this move or was MM PE more of what you preferred? Thank you for the great thread.

Somewhere in between really improbable to impossible. I don't know the first thing about Megafund PE recruiting, but my understanding is that they primarily take people that worked there before business school. My guess is you're fighting an uphill battle even if you have great deal experience at a top notch large-cap fund prior to school. Maybe I'm wrong, but I wouldn't count on it.

Personally, I would never go work for a megafund. I don't even particularly think the $1bn+ funds are all that attractive. It's not a market I'm interested in and the work / life balance is pretty miserable. Certainly a good career path if your goal is to maximize earnings though.

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FYI, while I can understand the allure of going to a MF... the culture/lifestyle at these places generally pretty brutal, even at the better shops. When you're coming out of b-school you're no longer of the 2 year mindset and you're much more of the longer-term mindset -- you don't want to hop around anymore and if you're switching jobs its usually because something really bad or something really good has developed in your career.

For these reasons, there are a fair amount of former MF Associates who do plan on going back to PE but at a smaller fund where they aren't getting crushed 24/7.

I've said this before, many of the MF Associates I've met that are figuring out what their next step is have a traumatized "I'm can't go back there" mentality.

 

Great writeup. I have a question on the student body in your program - how many old fogeys like me (30+) do you see at Booth?

I ask because I read the statistics and see the occasional outlier (40s-50s) and people ask the question on this forum occasionally about getting an MBA after 30, but for practical purposes I was curious how often you'd see that.

 
Scott Irish:

I have a question on the student body in your program - how many old fogeys like me (30+) do you see at Booth?

I ask because I read the statistics and see the occasional outlier (40s-50s) and people ask the question on this forum occasionally about getting an MBA after 30, but for practical purposes I was curious how often you'd see that.

I was quite surprised at the number of "old fogeys." The average matriculating age at Booth was 28. That means a LOT of people were 30+ when we all walked through the door. I think you'll find that you're in good and plentiful company.

Additionally, age isn't really considered a factor in b-school. Everyone is assumed to be more-or-less the same age. Unless you're an extreme outlier (straight out of undergrad, 35+), you'll be regarded as the same as everyone else. Heck, pretty much no one will know unless you tell them.

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Yup. Age is not an issue at all. I'm one of the oldest guys at school, and this was never a problem. Heck, I know a 36-year old guy at Wharton who just finished his first year there, and he's having the absolute time of his life.

 

Great to hear all those events are still going strong (i finished at Booth in '12). I remember the Armed Forces Paintball trip being a blast so def check it out next year if you can!

Any idea how the IM kids fared this year? My firm didn't take a Booth intern this summer so I haven't heard how recruiting has been going. I know for my class PIMCO basically swooped in and took a bunch of kids, but not sure if they've slowed down...

 

This is getting off topic from the thread, but PIMCO did NOT do any full-time MBA recruiting this past year. My best guess is that this was due to the total return fund getting crushed. Unsure whether they will resume FT recruiting this year.

 

There seems to be a large social atmosphere when it comes to B-school in general. Would a highly introverted person have trouble succeeding during the MBA and getting an MC/IB offer?