Real Humans of Chicago Booth’s MBA Class of 2021
J.P. Bowgen, Chicago Booth’s MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: Greenwich, CT
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Northwestern University, Organizational Psychology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, primarily in Innovation & Corporate Venture for Macy’s and early-stage venture capital
Why business school? Why now?
I discovered my interest in venture capital and working with startups while at Macy’s. I realized that if I wanted to move into venture capital full time, I needed to build a strong “toolbox” of analytical skills and frameworks that would help me identify compelling investments.
Business school gives me the opportunity to get back in the classroom to establish that toolbox and provides significant outlets for applying those skills in real-time settings through participation in group work, internships, and many other opportunities.
Why Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
With little academic background in business, I knew I needed to attend an institution with both a very strong business reputation and a rigorous, data-driven academic course load. Additionally, I wanted the opportunity during my business school career to get real world experience and apply the skills I learned in the classroom to tangible business challenges.
Not only is Booth highly renowned for its data-driven approach to academics, but through a variety of Lab courses, students can roll up their sleeves and meaningfully impact organizations of all sizes as they tackle challenges in their day-to-day operations. I’m particularly looking forward to participating in the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab in my first year. With all that in mind, Booth was a no-brainer top choice for me.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
I think my most differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021 is the experience I had this summer working in early-stage venture capital in San Francisco. I had the opportunity to source, conduct diligence, and pitch two companies to my General Partners, both of which were selected for investment.
Through the experience, I got a strong understanding of the end-to-end venture capital process, so I’m looking forward to contributing to venture discussions, events and opportunities as soon as I get to campus.
Additionally, for any classmates who are considering venture, I would happily be a resource in any way I can to answer questions from my experience or to have a discussion.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
One of my biggest passions is learning about and collecting wine from all over the world. I’ve even successfully completed 3 of the 4 levels of wine certification through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
Post-MBA career interests?
Early-stage venture capital with a focus on tech-enabled consumer startups.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing I would absolutely do again:
I would absolutely talk to as many current students as possible and ask them why they chose to attend business school and why they selected Booth. The breadth of perspective I received through that process helped me learn a great deal about what the Booth program and community are all about and helped me solidify that it was the right program for me.
–One thing I would do differently:
I would have taken the GMAT/GRE much earlier so that I could have spent the summer focusing on crafting a compelling application, rather than having to balance finishing my application and studying for standardized tests concurrently.
–Part I would have skipped if you could and what helped me get through it:
There’s nothing I would have skipped – I recommend going to info sessions and even traveling to campus if you can. However, I would have paid less attention to what my friends and peers were doing in the application process, because it can sometimes be overwhelming to feel like you’re not doing something that everyone else is.
Ultimately, I got through it by remembering that my MBA journey is my own – from application to graduation – and there is no one right template for how you build your application or even what you do when you finally get to school.
What is your initial impression of Chicago Booth’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Chicago Booth is that it’s an incredibly supportive community of students, teachers, and advisors. There is a palpable “pay it forward” mentality at Booth.
The community thrives off accomplishing goals while at the same time helping each other achieve their full potential. I’m looking forward to helping my peers as a member of the Booth community in an effort to pay it forward in whatever way I can.
One thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I always knew how diverse our incoming class would be, but after meeting countless first years in the past few weeks and months, I am both surprised and blown away by just how expansive that diversity truly is.
Our incoming class is comprised of very impressive people from Chile, India, Japan, Mexico, and numerous other nations. I’ve met veterans from all branches of the military. I’ve met former professional athletes. I’ve met entrepreneurs, business leaders, and innovators.
Needless to say, I’m excited to get to know the rest of my classmates, because I know I’ve only just scratched the surface.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m most anxious about going through specialized search recruiting to find a venture capital internship for the summer. In the short time I’ve spent at Booth so far, I’ve already built such an amazing network of friends, peers, and colleagues who have expressed support to help me be successful in my search.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about getting involved in several clubs with the hopes of becoming co-chair in a couple during my second year. Notably I’d like to join the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club and because of my passion for studying and learning about wine, the Wine Club.
I’m also really looking forward to getting to know the Chicago entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem by engaging with the Polsky Center and 1871 and attending events around the Chicagoland area.