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A Stepping Stone to Business School

By taking business classes through the Graduate Student-at-Large: Business (GSALB) program, an accountant realized that an MBA was her next step.

Written by Philip Baker
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A GSALB alumna thought her student days were behind her—but her persistent curiosity led her to consider business school as a way to expand her career path.

If at first the idea of going to business school was only a fantasy, testing the waters at Chicago Booth through the GSALB program set the stage for her application and acceptance to the Booth Evening MBA Program.

Business school was not something Aimee Schauer had always seen in her future. In fact, after getting her MS in Accounting, she was more or less certain that her student days were behind her. She wanted to get on with her life. She’d been in a classroom long enough and was excited to enter the real world. “I’m a numbers person,” she says. “I enjoy working with numbers. I thought for sure that wherever I was doing accounting work that I’d have a happy and fulfilling career.”

Springboard to New Career

But as Aimee moved further along in her accounting career, she began to want something more. The feeling was subtle at first and hard to pin down. Not so much a matter of leaving numbers behind, it had more to do with adding something else. She wanted a little more variety, maybe even excitement. “I was not even aware of it at first,” she says, “but I found myself being curious about the backgrounds of new hires at work. I wanted to know about the paths they’d taken to get where they had. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d already started imagining ways I might combine my finance background with something else. I was looking for ways to springboard myself into a new career.”

At first, she concedes, these were mostly daydreams. Even if she knew that business school was what she was looking for by this point, it wasn’t something she was seriously considering. The commitment was just too great. She didn’t have the time. The expense was too great. These were the more basic feelings she had on the matter.

Unexpected Enjoyment

And yet the desire to move in a new direction kept growing and eventually she reached a point where—though not ready to commit yet—she decided she had to at least give business school a try. She’d heard of the GSALB program at the University of Chicago and that it was a great way to test the waters.“Honestly,” she says, “I was surprised. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I do. I didn’t think I’d feel as comfortable as I do. The first class I took through the GSALB met on Friday nights, but it didn’t feel like I was sacrificing my weekend to be there. I felt comfortable in the classroom. I’d raise my hand without worrying about asking a stupid question. I liked the professors, and I enjoyed and connected with the other students in the program. This feeling of comfort was confirmed on other fronts as well." Aimee has many examples, but one she focuses on is the ease she found in accessing people. She was really impressed by that. The GSALB program staff were always available to speak. If she emailed or called them, they always responded right away. In the end, her experience convinced her to submit an application to Booth. Aimee was accepted to the Booth Evening MBA Program.

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