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Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

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Annelise Escher, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Age: 26
Hometown: La Crosse, WI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Economics and International Relations at Drake University in Des Moines, IA
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years in government affairs research and consulting in DC, 1 year in the Master of Public Policy program at University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I am a non-traditional business school applicant: I was already in my first year of a Masters of Public Policy at the University of Chicago when I decided to apply to Booth for a joint MBA. I have experience working with highly regulated industries at the intersection of policy and business in DC, and wanted to home in on financial access and economic mobility issues. I identified knowledge gaps I needed to fill, particularly in finance and corporate strategy, and was so impressed by the Booth community at the university that I decided to apply in Round 3 of admissions. 

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Booth prides itself on its academic rigor and its flexible curriculum, both of which major factors in my interest in Booth. I knew intellectual engagement was a major motivator for me to come back to school full time and that I wanted to be challenged in my coursework. Being able to tailor my degree to gain exposure to marketing and accounting principles, while learning advanced economic theory and targeted finance topics was ideal for my MBA goals. I also found the Chicago Approach very compelling; learning analytic and strategic skills that can be applied to any and all business and social issues really resonated with me given my interest areas across sectors. 

I also had the benefit of getting to know Booth over the course of my first year in the broader University of Chicago community. The thought leadership and opportunities available from professors’ seminars and organizations like the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation were so enriching to my first year on campus and made me all the more interested in being a member of the Booth community. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I think I bring a unique perspective on the way that government and private sector interact. My professional experience in DC impressed upon just how intertwined government, nonprofit sector, and business interests are in executing transformational change, and how necessary it is to have well-informed voices shaping and pursuing the social objectives of the private sector. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I was a music minor in undergrad: I love playing piano, still sing in a community choir, and saw several Broadway shows this summer in New York. I also teach yoga on the side in Hyde Park (come see me at CorePower, 6:30am!) 

Post-MBA career interests:
I will work at the intersection of public and private sectors to make financial systems more accessible and efficient. I interned this past summer with the New York Federal Reserve and really enjoyed working in a mission-based organization, and I’m currently exploring roles in fintech and traditional financial services working on social impact issues. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
Do a lot of personal reflection on your story, and why you specifically need an MBA. The process of speaking with current students, writing applications materials, and interviewing forces you to do a lot of soul-searching on your experiences, goals and values. Having a clear understanding and unified narrative for your trajectory and what an MBA would add made the process of applying feel more like professional development than a chore. 

–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Speak directly with current students. My coffee chats with current Booth students were invaluable in helping me understand the student experience and identifying differentiating factors that define Booth. Hearing how students were approaching everything from course planning to utilizing career development resources to intramurals brought to life how personalized a Booth MBA can be. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I originally thought that my not being a ‘typical’ business school applicant was a hindrance; in actuality, it was a differentiator. I wish I would have embraced what made me unique earlier, rather than trying to mimic a mold of what I thought an MBA student was, and I encourage other applicants to do the same.  

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Business school is a big commitment of time and resources, and I felt a lot of stress after being admitted about financing an MBA. I did a lot of reflection on whether it would give me the return on investment I was hoping for, both in terms of my career trajectory and personal development. I crowdsourced guidance from many trusted sources – friends, family, mentors, current Booth students, and a career coach – and ultimately decided that the Booth MBA was critical for the type of impact I hope to have. 

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
The Chicago Booth community seems very well-rounded. Students, faculty and staff all have multiple interests and projects going at once, and still make the time to support each other. Booth places a strong emphasis on participating in student organizations and being entrepreneurial to create opportunities for yourself- whether that’s through a student org event or a start up in the New Venture Challenge. 

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the emphasis on self-reflection and personal development at Booth, particularly through both Booth’s LEAD program and the career development resources. I have a year of formal management experience from my previous company and I’m looking forward to doing more thinking on what kind of leader I hope to be in the workplace. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Balance. I know that maintaining coursework, student organizations, meeting new people, and recruiting for internships will be a lot to manage, but it will be a great problem to have. My interviewer for Booth asked me explicitly how I balance competing priorities in my life, so it’s clearly top of mind for many Boothies. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to get involved with the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. I plan to get involved with the Net Impact Board Fellows program, which pairs Booth students with local nonprofit boards to pro bono consulting projects. I’m excited to dig into their events and resources on impact investing and the social impacts of business.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
If anything, the pandemic gave me even more time to reflect on my professional goals. I deferred enrollment for my Masters of Public Policy in 2020, instead spending another year working and reflecting on what I wanted my career to look like.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.