Before I even came to the University of Chicago, I wondered how I would summarize my eventual two-year journey. How would it begin? What experiences would change me? And most important of all, what plot twists would there be? The answers lay somewhere in a humble recount of my journey.
I came to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business not only because it was my dream school, but also because of what it represented - curious pursuit of the unknown. Here, I experienced moments of passion, different sides in intellectual debate, and interactions with people which helped me to augment my worldview - and perhaps, help construct a wholly new one.
I was privileged to have attended several conferences, to have traveled the world, to have studied abroad, and to have taken courses with some of the brightest minds. From meeting the former coach of my hometown Chicago Bulls at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to scaling the highest mountains of Jammu & Kashmir while I studied abroad at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (as a part of the International Business Exchange Program), my friends from Booth have been with me through it all, in person or in spirit.
I would be dishonest if I were to minimize my greatest challenges at Booth to just final exams or recruitment interviews. I was challenged much more often than that. I grappled with how to approach business problems, how to approach C-level executive with whom I wanted to network, and how to make the right decision when in a group working through disagreements. Fortunately, I’ve been able to expand the scope of my thinking and abilities in large part because of the support system I had through the people. My friends encouraged me the entire way. It was okay for me to make mistakes, and as always, there was always tomorrow to get up and try again.
So how would I summarize my experience at Booth? After all, parting words are part of the legacy that graduates leave to future classes. Authenticity. What I mean to say is, authentic exchanges defined my experience. From serving as a groomsman at two Booth student weddings, to connecting with entrepreneurs in India, to co-chairing one of the most important student organizations on campus, I have had the opportunity to connect with people from all around the world on a deeply intimate level - and it mattered. In the long run, authentic exchanges will not only strengthen relationships but also the groups and institutions that encourage them. Authentic exchanges have the power to validate someone on a journey of self-discovery, or perhaps even inspire someone to do something great, such as making a career switch or working on a startup. I speak from experience.
With my MBA experience almost behind me, I am nostalgic. However, I am fortified by experiences of strengthened character. I am so excited for what the future has in store. I encourage everyone to chase their passions with vigor and to take chances. Go talk to that CEO after a guest lecture or go break bread with someone new. Intern in a new industry or go start a business. I am proud to be a part of the Chicago Booth student community, and I look forward to future exchanges that I will have with its members.
Pratik Desai is a graduating 2Y and the former Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Business. He has a passion for people and a craving for authenticity. When not traveling, writing, playing guitar, or watching basketball, you may find him connecting with someone over a cup of his favorite beverage - chai.