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Real Humans of Chicago Booth’s MBA Class of 2021

Keri Cottle, Chicago Booth’s MBA Class of 2021

Keri Cottle, Chicago Booth’s MBA Class of 2021

Age: 27
Hometown: Lincolnshire, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major
: I majored in Marketing and Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I worked for three and a half years as a credit analyst at Bank of America focused on large corporate industrial clients. Before that, I worked in retail merchandising at Kohl’s Corporation for a year and a half.

Why business school? Why now?
My education and work experience so far have been split between marketing and finance. As I pursue a long-term career in investing, I am excited to focus deeply on financial and quantitative topics in a way that I have not yet been able to. Business school will provide the opportunity to integrate what I have learned from my prior work experience while filling in knowledge gaps in areas I am less familiar with.

Why Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was initially drawn to Booth’s academic rigor and flexible curriculum that would allow me to effectively build upon my experience and dive deeper into finance. My decision to attend Booth was solidified after visiting campus and meeting current students. I wanted to be somewhere where I could challenge myself professionally and academically, but in a safe space where students support each other.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
As a Chicago native, I am excited to introduce my classmates to the community and show them my favorite parts of the city. Additionally, I have spent time volunteering locally over the previous few years and I look forward to connecting my class with opportunities to join in.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
Booth has organized pre-MBA trips called Random Walks. I opted to go on the “mystery” trip where our location was not disclosed until we arrived at the airport for departure. We ended up traveling around Georgia (the country) for a week!

Post-MBA career interests?
I am interested in exploring careers in investment management.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I spent a lot of time talking to current students to gain multiple perspectives on Booth’s offerings and culture. This gave me a clear picture of what my experience would be like at Booth and helped me articulate my desire to attend Booth in my application.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I am glad I was able to tour Booth in the summer, but I wish I could have visited while classes were in session to get to see what campus looks like in full swing.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
It was stressful waiting for an admissions decision! After submitting my applications, I vowed not to re-read my essays nor stress about what I couldn’t change.

What is your initial impression of Chicago Booth’s students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Booth’s community is that students are collaborative and generous with their time. I witnessed the “pay it forward” culture firsthand, speaking with second-year students about summer opportunities. I was able to get a pre-MBA internship through their guidance.

One thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I have been surprised at the strong emphasis on leadership both during orientation and through elective coursework. There are three new leadership classes this year and I am excited to continue working on these skills after our initial leadership training wraps up.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Booth provides many opportunities early on to get integrated into the community and I want to participate in everything! I know there will be difficult decisions when I don’t have enough time to do it all.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to continue meeting new people and to experience Chicago from a new vantage point. Though I have been living in Chicago for a few years now, moving to the Loop to join my classmates has made the city feel completely new.

Posted in: Feature Main, Real Humans of MBA Class of 2021, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: U. Chicago Booth

About the Author


Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as Contributing Writer at MetroMBA and Contributing Editor at Clear Admit, he was also a co-founder of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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