Reflections from 1st Year: Be More Purposeful, Reflect More

By Juliana Suarez

Taking two years from the workplace to learn more about business, reflect on what I would like to accomplish through my career, and meet hundreds of individuals from around the world is an enormous privilege. It’s one that, if I am honest with myself, I lost sight of at times in the past nine months. The events that lead me to Booth were a combination of opportunity meeting preparation or what some would call luck.

Between getting settled in Chicago and heading out to Random Walk in under a month, I made little time to reflect on what I had hoped to get out of my first year of business school despite everyone I had spoken to in business school recommending it. The result of this? I found myself saying “sign me up” to so many things first quarter: coffee chats with firms at which I’d never work, a BSG consulting project, the Diwali dance performance, turbo Micro, the CRED Challenge….the list goes on. Everything turned out okay, but I didn’t feel I had truly excelled at any one thing; in fact I remember being so stretched two funny instances come to mind:

1) Knowingly going into a midterm without a cheat sheet and scribbling a few formulas on a scrap piece of paper as I rode the Metra to Hyde Park

2) Stepping onto the dance floor of the Spirit of Chicago and pretending to follow along to our London Thumkada dance others had so diligently practiced for

There’s some lessons that took me two quarters to learn, such as don’t sign up for 8:30AM Friday classes, and others I am still grasping, but overall, I am learning to be more thoughtful with how I spend my time. I reread my Booth application earlier this quarter, and the following line stood out to me: The image does not prescribe how a student should look or what they should pursue as part of the academic and social experience. This sentiment is still what I love about Booth: that we aren’t corralled into certain classes or experiences, but rather that the opportunity always exists to make this incredible experience our own based on our needs and aspirations.

As our first year comes to end, I plan to experience the next year with more intent. Professor Linda Ginzel shared an anecdote in class that has stuck with me about aspiring to live a life full of experiences versus happenings. I hope to incorporate this by forming more meaningful relationships with classmates rather than just stumbling into people in the Winter Garden or TNDC and promising to put lunch on the calendar at some point because ultimately our time at Booth is short and time passes quickly when you don’t take time to reflect.