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Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2023

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chicago mba class of 2023Megan Ostria, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2023

Age: 27
Hometown: Rockville, MD
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Accounting at University of Maryland, College Park
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years in the accounting industry (both audit and advisory)

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
My decision to attend business school was driven by my desire to make a career change from accounting to investment banking. In my latest role in accounting, I was working in technical accounting advisory for transactions. While working on these deals, I noticed that there were many decisions being made outside of the scope of accounting that we didn’t have influence over (e.g. why did the company choose this transaction structure? Why are they raising debt over equity?). I became really interested in learning more about and helping clients make these decisions and ultimately decided to pursue a career in investment banking. My MBA will help me make this transition by helping me build the technical skills required and further developing my leadership abilities through both traditional classroom and experiential learning opportunities.

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Chicago Booth for a variety of reasons, but will highlight three primary ones. First, the flexible curriculum really appealed to me. I graduated from an undergraduate business program and spent 5 years in the accounting industry pre-MBA, so I was weary of having to take courses like introductory financial accounting all over again. Booth’s flexible curriculum allows for a variety of different courses to satisfy the requirements, so I can customize my MBA curriculum to what I want to get out of my MBA experience.

Additionally, the Chicago Approach factored into my decision to attend Booth. The Chicago Approach provides frameworks for thinking about problems and solutions. I think that approach to learning is so important in business because rarely in our careers will we have to solve an exact problem that we discussed in class. Rather, the Chicago Approach empowers us to have the toolkit to analyze and solve whatever comes our way.

Finally, the Boothie community was the deciding factor that made me come to Booth. Booth has a huge pay-it-forward culture, which was so apparent throughout the application process. When I received my acceptance, so many Boothies reached out to me and kept on referring me to their classmates that could help address specific questions I had. This welcoming and helpful community was the type of environment I was seeking for my MBA.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
All of my classmates are so unique and have so much to contribute, so it’s difficult to identify my most differentiating contribution. However, I think my previous experience has helped me develop a strong blend of quantitative and “soft” skills. I hope the ability to apply quantitative analysis to qualitative problems will be valuable in Booth’s data-driven curriculum.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I’m in the acknowledgements of a book about Breaking Bad, the TV show. During my undergrad, I took essentially a film class on Breaking Bad as one of my electives. One of the guest lecturers was writing a book on the show and liked one of the ideas I brought up in class. He ended up crediting me in the book for my idea!

Post-MBA career interests:
Investment banking in a healthcare coverage group—I actually did pre-MBA recruiting, so I already have an internship for summer 2022 focused on this!

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Take the GMAT early. Back in 2019 when I first thought that business school was something I might want to pursue down the line, I started studying for the GMAT. Knocking out the GMAT early made the rest of the application process so much less stressful, as I did not have to balance researching schools and writing essays with studying. If you’re considering applying to business schools a few years down the line, I would highly recommend taking the GMAT or GRE now to save yourself stress later.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Apply to fewer schools. I knew that I wanted to attend business school this year, so I decided to apply to more schools than if I had more flexibility in timing. In hindsight, I was a little overzealous in the number of schools I applied to and definitely felt stretched thin during the application and interview stages. I would suggest staying focused in the number of schools you apply to.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Easier said than done, but I would have skipped all of the stress and worrying about the admissions process. The periods when I was waiting on interviews and admissions decisions felt so long and stressful. I wish I could have skipped them or distracted myself, so I didn’t spend so much time worrying about results.

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
My initial impression is that the community is so diverse and talented. Everyone brings such a unique perspective to Booth, and I’ve loved listening to and learning from my peers.

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I’ve been surprised at how genuine the pay-it-forward culture at Booth is. It’s something you hear as a differentiator during the admissions process, but it’s so real once you get to campus. The second years want to help out and support the first years academically, professionally, and personally.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Not necessarily unique to me, but the transition to virtual events affected my admissions process by making it much busier than anticipated. Traditionally, pre-pandemic, MBA programs would host in-person events on campus, a few in-person events in various cities around the world, and a few webinars throughout the year. The move to virtual events was great in that it made events much more accessible. However, because so many more events were available to me, it made it much harder to balance work with the admissions process.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I’m most anxious about going back to classes for the first time in five years. We have a quarter system, so each class moves significantly faster than the semester system my undergrad had. It’s definitely been a transition starting classes again.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m excited to continue to get more involved in the student groups at Booth and hopefully become a co-chair of one later this year!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.