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How to Prepare for Business School

Taking classes alongside Chicago Booth students through the Graduate Student-at-Large: Business program shows you what business school is really like.

Written by Philip Baker
headshot of woman in black suit

For Edita Kuberka, taking big steps in life is nothing new.

When Kuberka was nineteen, she moved from Ukraine to Florida for college, where she majored in business. After graduation, she accepted a job in operations at Amazon and, following stints in Tennessee and Georgia, she made her way across the country to Seattle. Now with six years of experience at Amazon under her belt, during which she gained additional experience in project and program management, she decided she was ready for another move—not a geographical one this time, but upwards in her career.

About Edita Kuberka

Position
Engineering Program Manager at Amazon
Hometown
Chertezh, Ukraine
Program
Hobbies
Group fitness classes, traveling, playing piano

“I knew I needed to improve my strategic and analytical skills in order to continue to advance into leadership positions,” she says. “I was already set on going to business school at Booth, so when I learned about the Graduate Student at Large: Business (GSALB) program at a student event, I immediately saw it as the perfect opportunity to make my transition to business school as productive and efficient as possible.” 

Students in the program have the opportunity to explore the academic culture of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business while testing out Chicago Booth’s rigorous, discipline-based approach. 

“For me, the GSALB program has been about getting a head start and easing my way into business school at Booth,” says Kuberka, who will start officially at Booth in winter 2021. “I would encourage anyone who is thinking about business school to try the GSALB program as a way to experience both the culture and the rigor of Booth’s curriculum.”

Learning to lead

From operations to project management and now engineering program management, Kuberka’s roles have changed and her responsibilities have grown since she started at Amazon. As someone who collaborates with different stakeholders across a variety of cross-functional teams, the goal of her business education will be to enhance her ability to understand these various functions and to communicate with her teams in her capacity as a leader.

“Getting a business education that covers the variety of functions of business will help me be a better leader and better business partner,” she says. “I’ll learn how to speak the language of my stakeholders and understand each of the functions I’m working with.”

Ultimately, Kuberka would like to transition to technology management. She is particularly interested in the ethical implications of the way we use technology today. 

“I don’t want to be a computer engineer who codes and knows all those details, but I do need to know the basics as someone who wants to make decisions as a leader in the technology field. Being involved at that level is how I realized that I really enjoy this type of work and that I am excited to continue doing it.”

Knowing what to expect in advance

Unlike many GSALB students, who use the program to assess whether business school is right for them, Kuberka needed no convincing. Her mind was already made up. For her, it was about ensuring the transition back to school was as fluid as possible. 

“GSALB has been an excellent way to prepare myself,” she says. “Not only the administrative aspects around getting everything set up and being familiar with all the tools and resources for students but GSALB also gave me an opportunity to network with my fellow Booth students and participate in virtual events.” 

“GSALB also provides a lot of support,” she adds. “Through the weekly meetings, I made some wonderful friends who were very encouraging throughout the quarter.”

One of her GSALB classmates even organized a virtual Thanksgiving brunch. It worked out perfectly for Kuberka, whose family is not in the United States and who did not have plans otherwise.

“It was really great because I got to spend Thanksgiving with my GSALB classmates and share that holiday with them. That was a really special experience.”

Align yourself with your career goals

One thing that particularly impressed Kuberka about both the GSALB program and Booth was their collaborative and pay-it-forward culture.

“There are people all over the world who are eager to help you and make connections if they know someone. I have always felt a bit overwhelmed in that area, but it is very easy here. The diversity of the students and alumni network is also a great help in that regard.”

As a woman working in the operations and engineering areas at Amazon, Kuberka has spent much of her career in traditionally male-dominated fields. The opportunity to expand her network while engaging with Chicago Booth’s Women’s Network was also a big part of her decision to come to the University of Chicago.

“I have felt really supported and that has gone a long way to ensuring my success and growth as a leader during my time in the program,” she says. “As both a woman and an immigrant, I know how important it is to have a strong and diverse support network.” 

It has also given her insight into why she finds her present career path so fulfilling.

“I like bringing people together and working towards a common goal. Even if everyone has their own interests, I have learned how important it is for everyone to be aligned and to find compromises when needed. At GSALB and Booth, I’ve learned that no matter what your background is, there is one thing that all students here have in common: a collaborative, pay-it-forward culture to help each other succeed.” 

Discover the Graduate Student-at-Large: Business program at the University of Chicago

Test the MBA at Chicago Booth

Graduate Student-at-Large: Business students have the opportunity to take classes at the Chicago Booth School of Business. Exemplary students may be granted admission into Booth and may transfer up to three of their courses towards their MBA.

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