Global Boothies: Study Abroad Deepens Local Learning

John Frame '17

John Frame '17

Chicago Booth’s International Business Exchange Program (IBEP) offers students the opportunity to study abroad in their second year at one of 33 partner institutions in 20 countries around the world. Students take the quarter-long opportunity to expand their knowledge of new industries and markets, practice a new language, and immerse themselves in local culture. While some students travel abroad to fulfill requirements for the International MBA (IMBA), others take the opportunity to deepen their business knowledge beyond the walls of the Harper and Gleacher Centers in order to discover the new, exciting, and altogether life-changing.

 

For some Boothies, the study abroad experience helps them rediscover valuable aspects of their lives that may have been neglected while studying and recruiting. “It reawakened my love of the arts,” says Jordy Freeman (’16), who spent the winter quarter studying at the Escola Superior d'Administració i Direcció d'Empreses (ESADE) business school in Barcelona, Spain.

“I took an awesome Life Philosophy course that utilized literature, music, film, and art to extract ‘principles’ for living a good life. I realized that I'd been suppressing my creative side.” Freeman took the opportunity to explore Catalonia, the northern regions of Spain, and nearby France, even meeting up with several classmates on a road trip full of adventure. “The experience reminded me that I'm at my best when I'm leveraging both sides of my brain.” 

2016 Boothies Shahrul Ramli, Jordy Freeman, Melissa Lui, and Pablo Cosovschi in Malaga province, Spain

2016 Boothies Shahrul Ramli, Jordy Freeman, Melissa Lui, and Pablo Cosovschi in Malaga province, Spain

Just over the border in France, Rui “Vicki” Wang (’16), was exploring the luxury goods industry at the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC) business school in Paris. “The MBA,” Wang proclaims, “is not only an academic and career development experience, but also a global exploration experience.” While some students might shy away from the local culture and stay close to the safety net of the business institution, many seek out the local environment and challenge themselves to break out of their comfort zone.

When they do so, students tend to be welcomed with open arms. “From my opinion, as long as you are open-minded, show your willingness to understand the culture, language, habits…regardless of your race or gender, you will receive a warm welcome,” says Wang who chose to study in France in order to expand her knowledge of international markets beyond what she has learned in the United States.

And further still, some students decide to enrich their studies not by traveling far away from their homes (Freeman is from Texas and Wang is from China), but rather returning to them with a completely new perspective. “I really enjoyed spending time in the townships of South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe,” says Alfa Bumhira (’16) who studied at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and took advantage of the country’s proximity to his hometown.

Alfa Bumhira ('16) leads fellow  exchange students on  a tour through Mbare Township, Zimbabwe

Alfa Bumhira ('16) leads fellow exchange students on a tour through Mbare Township, Zimbabwe

“I was raised in the Highfield Township of Zimbabwe and this was like my homecoming...I was able to learn more about the challenges of people from all walks of life and their interest in becoming a part of the change happening all over the continent.” Bumhira decided to spend his time not only enriching his own educational experience, but also the learning experiences of his local friends. “Booth has taught me that economic opportunities are for all. I enjoyed sharing my Booth experiences with ordinary people and fellow students I met in the townships where I grew up or in rural areas where my family is from.”

While the majority of students are perfectly content with spending their two short years exploring all that Chicago offers the MBA student, roughly 10-15% of students—like Freeman, Wang, and Bumhira—decide that a trip abroad is necessary. There is much learning and growing to do in and around the Winter Garden, along the halls of our River North campus, and at the University of Chicago. However, for those that feel the local experience is just not enough, a trip abroad during a harsh winter just might be the thing for you.   

 

John studied abroad in South Africa as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. He is thankful for the opportunity that writing this article with Jordy, Vicki, and Alfa gave him to reflect on such a life-changing experience.

Spring Job Search: The Best Might Just Come Last

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

From the mountains of Kilimanjaro, to the Dead Sea, Boothies have been all over the world this past spring break! For those who already nailed down full-time positions and summer internships — congratulations!  Make sure you join different groups to explore all the interesting, non-recruiting related events that the Booth community has to offer. For those who are still searching, I’d like to share a few tips with you from my own experience as a spring recruit. 

Narrow your target. 

While you still have a good chunk of time for recruiting, 10 weeks can go by quickly. Therefore, you should have clear preferences for roles and locations so that you can spend your time focused on a short list of ideal firms. While a great tool, resist the urge to rely solely on GTS. Instead, utilize external job boards and company websites to check if full-time/ internship positions recently posted. Don’t worry if your qualifications don’t fit the description entirely. The most important thing for you is to have an understanding about the company, and know why you want to work there and your goals. 

Be specific in email communications.

When proactively approaching your contacts in the company, make sure your email contains the following 3 main points: who you are, what you want, and why an interest in the company. For small start-ups, a unique answer for “why this company” is a must-have. Also, be concise. No one has time to read a lengthy email from an MBA student, so optimize your email for the reader so that they can identify your intentions within the first few sentences. It not only saves them time reading, but also saves you time waiting for a response —they can quickly give you a yes or no response.

No worries.

No worries.

Get peer support.

Find friends who share the same agenda as you. Joining a job search crew is a great idea, but creating your own group can also work. Share information and ideas, hold each other accountable, and practice with your peers to improve your interview skills.

Keep an eye on the Career Services Blog.

Unique opportunities show up on the CS blog all the time. Make sure you subscribe and set up an RSS feed to keep abreast of new and time-sensitive opportunities that may be appealing.

I hope these tips help you during your specialized search. Success is closer than you might think. Enjoy your spring quarter!

 

Cathy Hsu, a second-year Entrepreneurship Career Advisor, bought two nice business suits before Booth thinking she’d wear them every day. She recently realized she probably wore them less than ten times over the past two years. #moneywasted