At Long Last, Graduation and Farewell!
So long, farewell, but this is not goodbye.
On an unusually warm and sunny day in March we donned our caps and gowns, heavy with the velvet and satin trim that mark us Booth. The resonate sound of bag pipes accompanied our march down the long isle in Rockefeller Chapel carpeted in red. People spoke, we tried to listen. We smiled for the camera, our families, ourselves. We shook hands with the President and received our leather bound diplomas.
It is done.
The serious gravity and the beautiful simplicity of a timeless graduation ceremony seems a fitting way to punctuate an experience that has weighed on us in many ways but has been anything but simple. I have written about the intensity of the courses, the schedule, the friendships, how much we were all looking forward to a break last summer, how we wondered if we would be able to keep sprinting for these last 21 months. Now that we have survived and stopped to catch our breath I am beginning to realize that although the classes may be over, I will never really be done with Booth.
OUR LIVES WILL BE FOREVER IMPACTED BY OUR EXPERIENCE FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS
Most of us are in regular contact with others in our class – whether it’s to grab a beer and catch up, get a referral for a new vendor, advice on a career move, plan the next vacation together or to start a new business. Our lives will be forever impacted by our experience the last two years – more so than I would have thought. Over the course of this program, I have learned to speak a new language of sorts and Booth has provided me access to professors, resources, a network and a whole new way of approaching problems that has opened up new and interesting opportunities that will forever change the course of my life.
We have become a part of this school and it has become a part of us.
People want different things out of business school – some to move up, others over to another industry or function, and still others to move out on their own. Now that I am finished with the program and have evaluated several options on what to do next I have decided to put everything that I have learned at Booth and prior to use and start something new. I wasn’t specifically focused on building a company when I started this program but I could not be more motivated to do exactly that now. Frankly, I am certain there is nothing I would rather do!
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS THE NEW INVESTMENT BANKING
During the last few quarters of school, I worked with several classmates to build out an existing business that sells re-useable dry cleaning bags and ended up as a finalist in the highly competitive Global New Venture challenge. It’s not a complicated new drug or fancy tech platform but Dry Greening is poised to capture a huge market with an innovative patented design and we are tremendously excited about the potential of this product and are moving full steam ahead with the business. Booth played a big part in making this happen and has certainly spawned or inspired several other new ventures in my class alone. It almost feels like entrepreneurship is the new investment banking…
In closing, I have to thank all the staff and faculty involved in the executive program at Booth who were instrumental in making all this possible. We had a cadre of amazing and esteemed professors that thoughtfully imparted their knowledge to us over countless hours of lecture and discussion. In the program office Toby and Patricia travel all over the country, read countless applications, conduct hundreds of interviews to be sure the best students are admitted to the program. I’m surprised that either Brad or Deb have any hair left after working with class after class to be sure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing at any given minute. They answered an endless stream of questions about classes, books, travel, food, you name it. Eric in the Alumni office worked to develop a relationship that will keep us tied into Booth for years to come.
And, as the Associate Dean, Patty Keegan ensured that all the pieces fit together perfectly. Her dedication and commitment to the program and students is unmatched. Last but not least, our econ professor and faculty liaison, Mike Gibbs made a huge difference in connecting us to the faculty and always had an open ear to discuss our thoughts on the curriculum, current events or career decisions. He is an invaluable part of Booth and made our experience so much the richer. All of these folks facilitated the amazing experience I had at Booth and I will be forever grateful to them.
I have loved hearing from people reading this blog over the course of the program so if you stumble upon this in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or through Linked-In/Twitter. I look forward to continuing the dialog and will always have time to talk about Booth….
Chicago Booth Executive MBA, Class of 2012 (XP-81)
Elizabeth Rogers, an Executive MBA student at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, blogs about her journey through an EMBA program for Poets&Quants. Her earlier posts: