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Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

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Long Phan, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Age: 34
Hometown: Carmel, IN
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Indiana University, Finance and International Studies
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 11 years, U.S. Navy

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
After making the tough decision to transition from the military, I felt attending business school would be necessary to successfully translate the skills I’d gained to the private sector.  I knew I had a unique set of experiences that would be impactful in the business world from leading high-performing teams across the globe for over a decade.  Ultimately, I believe attending an MBA program will help me develop the fundamentals required to make an impact in my next career and allow me to gain valuable insights from leaders in different industries.

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Aside from being one of the top business schools in the world, the academic flexibility really appealed to me.  Booth has only one required course, Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD), and three foundational areas; financial accounting, microeconomics, and statistics.  Other than those, you can design your MBA curriculum to focus on areas of study you feel will be most beneficial.  The freedom is unlike any other top program and will allow me to strengthen my business knowledge while concentrating on courses that will prepare me for my post-MBA goals.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I know many of my classmates have backgrounds in business, and I anticipate that my experiences and way of approaching problems may differ from theirs.  In the Navy I was fortunate to have worked alongside extraordinary teammates and learn a great deal about leadership, teamwork, and perseverance through nearly insurmountable adversity.  I believe those collective leadership experiences in challenging, high-stakes environments will help contribute to the diverse perspectives of the class.

Post-MBA career interests:
I’ll be pursuing venture capital investing.  I interned at a Chicago-based early-stage venture capital firm this summer before matriculating at Booth, and fell in love with the dynamic, fast-paced, and challenging environment.  I see venture capital as a platform for good, a way to partner with remarkable founders who will change the world.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I spent a lot of time connecting with current students and alumni before, during, and after the application process.  This helped me better understand the school, world-class curriculum, and exceptional resources available to students.  As a transitioning service member, I also leaned on Booth’s Armed Forces Group (AFG), a student veteran group on campus.  They were highly supportive, prepared me for the application process, and helped me navigate my transition from the military.

What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have started writing my essays earlier and allocated more time to self-reflection before putting pen to paper.  I was surprised at how long it took me to get to my final version; after all the changes and edits, my initial draft hardly resembled my final submission.  My advice to future applicants is to start early and set hard timelines to complete your essays.

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I thought the entire application process was quite beneficial (for me).  It forced me to re-establish good study habits, create a resume, and better define my post-MBA goals.  As tedious as the process is, I know it led me to where I’m meant to be.

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
I’ve been blown away by Booth’s ‘pay-it-forward’ culture.  It’s truly ingrained in the entire community, from current students and alumni to the faculty and staff.  Throughout the application process, my move to Chicago, and my first days on campus, I felt their eagerness to help and support was incredible.  It’s very apparent that the entire community is truly invested in one another’s success.

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
I’ve been surprised at how close-knit the student body is, considering so few students live near campus in Hyde Park.  Most students live in ‘The Loop’ in downtown Chicago.  I thought the distance would hinder building a close and collaborative community.  However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that this is one of the community’s greatest strengths- living with your classmates in the heart of Chicago!  This unparalleled opportunity has allowed me to enjoy all the city has to offer, bond with my classmates at amazing venues, and still be a short train ride to campus.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Going back to the classroom—it’s been a while since I’ve been in an academic setting, and it’s certainly very different from what I was doing in the military.  The three-hour classes seem somewhat daunting, but I’m looking forward to challenging myself and learning from my peers and the outstanding faculty.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m excited to get to know all of my classmates.  Booth does a phenomenal job of bringing together highly accomplished professionals from all walks of life.  I’m excited to hear about their backgrounds and learn from their experiences prior to Booth.

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.