Graham School News

Student Story: Jerry Magee

Philip Baker

Jerry Magee | Graduate Student-at-Large

With a degree in finance from the University of Illinois, Jerry Magee began his career in propriety trading at Eldorado Trading Group working with a range of products across various asset classes. Having developed strategies to capitalize on market movements using economic data, an understanding of fiscal and monetary policy, and breaking news, he went on to open an office at the Chicago Board of Trade where along with three colleagues he continued to pursue the sort of proprietary trading he had done throughout his career. While he continued to have success within this realm, he also felt around this time that he was approaching a ceiling and wanting to take on more.

“While proprietary trading gave me investing skills and experience working in the financial world, its scope started to seem a little limited,” he says. “You don’t make many contacts, and opportunities to expand your network can be somewhat limited. After a while, I started feeling isolated and had a desire to make a larger impact.”

“Becoming a student again lit a fire in me to learn more. The class I took not only gave me a sense for the culture at [the University of Chicago] Booth [School of Business], but it also showed me that it was a place I wanted to be . . . Taking a course through the GSALB program was instrumental in educating me about my options and also strengthened my application to Booth. It showed me that getting an MBA was exactly what I needed to build my network and branch out in my career.”

The question was how to do this. Initially, he had the idea of leveraging his experience in proprietary trading to enter a field like private equity or fund management. While learning more about these areas, a friend happened to tell him about the Graduate Student-at-Large: Business (GSALB) program at the Graham School and how it could be an effective way to prepare yourself for applying to business school.

“I wasn’t actually thinking about getting an MBA at the time,” Jerry says. “I’d been out of school for 12 years, I had a family, and I was also working full time. I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to dedicate myself to the work or what the impact would be on my family—not to mention the considerable monetary investment it would entail.”

But his friend, who was in the GSALB program at the time, let him know that taking classes through the program was the perfect way to explore precisely those questions. As an experiment, Jerry decided to enroll and took a statistics class to see if he could balance going back to school with his already hectic work and family life. In the end, he realized he would not only be able to manage, but he also found that the curiosity he had for the broader financial world quickly turned into a passion to continue his education.

“Becoming a student again lit a fire in me to learn more,” he says. “The class I took not only gave me a sense for the culture at [the University of Chicago] Booth [School of Business], but it also showed me that it was a place I wanted to be. I developed relationships with other students and also with the professor, which helped me understand the collaborative environment Chicago Booth has to offer. Taking a course through the GSALB program was instrumental in educating me about my options and also strengthened my application to Booth. It showed me that getting an MBA was exactly what I needed to build my network and branch out in my career.”