By Shiran Cohen-Langman '15
At one of the first events on campus the spouse of another student came to me and asked “Whose wife are you?” I replied that I am in fact the student and that my husband works as a consultant. So wait – not all women here are partners? Apparently not.
I was born in Israel. When I turned 18 I joined the Israeli military and served for three years as an Intelligence Officer. For years I was unfamiliar with the idea of getting an MBA abroad. My turning point happened as I transitioned to the business world and joined the strategy team of a global software company. Suddenly I was surrounded by graduates of top US MBA programs. I was intrigued and fascinated by their career paths.
I went through a self-reflective process in which I tried to answer the question: “is this crazy journey right for me?” During this time I met Jonathan, a graduate of an international master’s degree program who had lived and worked abroad. Jonathan was familiar with the application process and supported me in writing the essays and prepping for interviews. As our relationship became more serious the question became “is this crazy journey right for both of us?” We decided that it was. After a long and stressful admission process I was accepted to Booth. A few months later Jonathan and I got married.
My first year at Booth was more than anything I could have imagined. I instantly felt part of a strong community and became friends with students from various cultures and backgrounds. My calendar was packed with events with changing dress codes and very little sleep – happy hours, baseball games, TNDCs, lunch and learns, corporate conversations, classes and what not.
By the end of January, after an exhausting recruiting process, I landed an offer from Citibank and spent the summer in Manhattan. I remember going out with my fellow interns and looking up at the high-rises on 6th avenue. Suddenly, I realized how my hard work throughout the first year had paid off. The statement “an MBA abroad changes your life” turned from a cliché to a real life experience. I felt that I was learning so much–about the US, the banking industry, other cultures and also about myself and Jonathan.
Our class has about 600 students, of which 36% are women, 37% are internationals and 5% are veterans. Quickly doing the math, I share a similar background with 0.6% of students in the school. Being a part of this half percent has made my experience unique. I remember getting accepted to a pre-MBA Veteran bootcamp at a leading US bank. I was the only International and the only woman in a room full of male US veterans. I believe that the fact that I can wear various hats has made it easier for me to start conversations and relate to a variety of people. Diversity is very much encouraged and it is amazing to be part of it all. I do not feel different; on the contrary, I see much more that we have in common.
It is great to be here - as a woman, an international and a veteran. And as a wife? It is amazing to be able to share this experience with Jonathan, who is part of the community just as much as I am. We have both benefited from taking this path together, each in our own way. And we very much look forward to what’s coming next.
Shiran is a second-year MBA student at Chicago Booth.