Four shades of sponsored students: Understanding the sponsored student Booth experience

By Aakash Degwekar ‘16

Aakash Degwekar ‘16

Aakash Degwekar ‘16

A studied nonchalance. Unmistakable swagger that comes with having a plum job in the bag. The ‘I-haven’t-worn-a-suit-at-Booth-yet’ attire. All that time to make merry, frosty beverage each night away, and go soak in the sun somewhere far away from Chicago each weekend.  That is  the perception of the archetype of every sponsored student at Booth, much to the annoyance of their peers who are in the death throes of consulting/banking recruiting.

Is sponsored student life at Booth really one long two year hedonistic journey before going back to work for the Man? ChiBus polled 15 sponsored students to better understand their Booth experience.

As expected, over 80% of them come from a consulting background. Geographically, there is an even split between international and domestic students. What’s striking is how sponsored students choose to spend the ‘extra time’ their peers dedicate to recruiting. The group breaks out almost evenly into four ‘segments’:

  1. ‘Grade warriors’- This group seeks to maximize the academic experience at Booth and dedicates nearly half their ‘extra time’ towards either an increased course load, or towards maximizing their academic performance. “I feel like I can afford to be more intellectually curious, and truly go back to a student mentality. I’m more open to a highly academic/theoretical mindset, discussions and experimenting at Booth”, says one.

  2. ‘Family folk’- This subset is using the two year hiatus to spend nearly 60% of their ‘extra time’ to bond with family and friends, both inside and outside the Booth community. An ex-consultant in this segment says that “after traveling almost every week as a consultant, it is nice to have time at home to spend to with Chicago friends and my wife”.

  3. ‘Start-up jockeys’- A quarter of the respondents spend the majority of their time working on start-up ideas. “This is the perfect confluence of events - at Booth I have great resources, a ready test market and two years to try things out. I can go back to a job that I actually enjoy if things don’t work out,” says an aspiring entrepreneur.

  4. ‘Option seekers’- This last group spends its time doing what their peers are doing - recruiting. Some may be looking for a different full-time opportunity than their sponsor, especially if their sponsorship is structured as a reimbursement after returning to the firm. Others are looking for a fulfilling summer experience because as one student says, “experiencing a different industry is a wonderful opportunity not to be lost.”

Regardless of lore, sponsored students at Booth don’t appear to be on a two year pleasure trip.  Like their peers, most of them are focused on goals, albeit, as one admits, “with far lower cost, risk and stress.” That, in itself, may be a testament to the types of students Booth attracts, sponsored or not. With the end of first year recruiting approaching, ChiBus looks forward to examining how freshly secure first years will be spending their ‘extra time’.