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Chicago Booth MBA Student Reflects on First Few Months and “First-Time Ever Experiences”

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The University of Chicago Booth School of Business helped kick off an exciting if agonizing time for Round 1 applicants to leading MBA programs—Decision Week (or weeks, as the case may be). Chicago Booth released decisions on December 7th, among the first in several waves of notifications that will flow out from top schools over the coming weeks.

Were you among those invited to head to the Windy City in the fall? If so, a hearty congratulations! Or maybe you’re gearing up to apply in Round 2? In either case, today’s Fridays from the Frontline column could be useful reading as you try to gauge whether Booth is the place for you.

In a recent post to the Chicago Booth MBA student blog, first-year MBA student Atsushi Yamazaki reflects on his first three months at Booth and the many “first-time ever experiences” he’s enjoyed. Among them: a pre-term “Random Walk” trip to Morocco, a Leadership Orientation Retreat (LOR) in Wisconsin, running for president of his LEAD cohort (and winning), and becoming co-chair of the Japan Club and beginning to organize a “Japan trek” for 70 students over spring break. Add to that the fact that he signed up for four advanced classes in his first quarter. Is it any wonder Yamazaki says he’s busier than he was working as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan?

The following post has been republished in its entirety from its original source, “The Booth Experience.”

First Few Months Full of First-Time Experiences

by Atsushi Yamazaki, MBA Class of 2019

The first three months in Booth gave me so many “First-time ever experiences.” I am busier than when I was as an investment banker!

Surprisingly, there are so many “First-time ever experiences” since I started my Booth journey this summer. It is more than expected that there is so much going on in Booth! As I was an investment banker before coming to Booth, I got used to being busy. However, I have been overwhelmed by the life in Booth and have to manage my time allocation more than ever (in a good way). Let me share with you some highlights from my Booth Experience so far this first quarter!

Chicago Booth MBA studentRandom Walk
I think it matters where you go, but more so who you go with. In addition to the beautiful scenery I have met in Morocco, I met really the BEST people in my Random Walk which is literally my first event as a Boothie. Firstly, the second-year Random Walk leaders (Nina, Disha, Herbert, and John) were extremely fantastic. They not only welcomed us first-years as new Booth students but also used their creativity to make us feel at home. One of their biggest achievements was to lead us to create and perform a dance “Get Your Morock-On” during our nine-hour bus ride. Search for it on YouTube if you want to see it. Secondly, all the first-years who came to Morocco were totally amazing. During the entire trip we talked about our stories, dreams, and interests. I realized that life-long friendships with those buddies will be a treasure for the rest of my life.

The next big adventure I took part in was LEAD! After we were divided into 10 cohorts, we enrolled in a number of courses to develop our leadership skills. I really enjoyed this experience because it gave us a lot of opportunities to self-reflect and learn more about our leadership styles. Over and over again, I asked myself what I believe is the most important question in life: “Who am I?” In terms of activities, I was impressed by the Leadership Orientation Retreat (LOR), which is a trip to Wisconsin to spend three days with my cohort. I learned that one of the biggest differences between Booth and other top schools is that Booth gives us a lot of opportunities to spend time getting to know other students, such as LOR and Random Walk: The more time we spend with buddies, the more friendships and bonds we can foster. In addition, I was really impressed by the fact that LEAD is taught by trained second-year students based on the pay-it-forward culture, so this program is also designed to help second-years develop their leadership skills.

GBC and Cohort President
Each LEAD cohort, about 60 people, elects a president and a representative. Since I love my cohort members and want to contribute to it, I ran in the election and became the president! And our representative is the greatest ever Manali. Manali and I organized a cohort potluck and gave gifts and message cards to our LEAD facilitators Disha, John, Tobias, Karthik, Lauren, Analyssa, and Purva—they are all awesome. In addition, becoming the cohort president means becoming a part of the Graduate Business Council (GBC). In GBC, I found that we always ask ourselves: How could we make Booth better? I think that GBC is the place where I can most contribute to the Booth community with a pay-it-forward mind, and I can make a difference in Booth. I am super excited to do this over the next two years.

Chicago Booth MBA student

Co-Chair of the Japan Club
I immediately wanted to become the co-chair of Japan Club. Our first big project is to lead the “Japan Trek” where we take 70 Booth students to Japan during Spring Break. As a co-chair, I am involved in all aspects, including contacting the travel agency, talking to the school, and marketing the trip to current students. We had an info session to pitch our trip, and many students showed up to indicate their interests. There are many logistical challenges, but we are so excited to lead the Japan Trek to share the greatest Japan experience with our friends.

Four Discipline-Based Advanced Classes
Before I started classes, I was overconfident; so, I took four advanced classes in my first quarter. That was a huge underestimation of how much time and effort they would take. I must say that the advanced classes at Booth are not easy at all. They all require a huge time commitment, and I was so impressed with how smart everyone in my class is. While it is tough to keep up with the coursework, which sometimes means sleepless nights, I am happy to accept a challenge I have never undertaken before. Two of my favorite professors are Kevin Murphy from “Advanced Microeconomics” and Mark Tebbe from “Entrepreneurial Discovery.” They are not only good at teaching, but also very friendly and helpful.

As I am involved in all of the above “First-time ever experiences,” it is difficult to make time for myself and yet still enjoy everything Booth has to offer. However, every day I learn something new, and I meet new people: This is the experience I could never have somewhere else, and this is why I am here and not somewhere else. I am super excited to spend the rest of my time in Booth!

For more on student life at Chicago Booth, don’t miss: Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2019.,

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