MBA, Ten Years On

Ten years ago today I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with my Masters of Business Administration. 

It was the end of a long, improbable journey. 

I wasn’t a model student as an undergraduate. It took a herculean effort to get my act together and finish what I had started – a bachelor’s degree in communication – and to join the business school I had to take business calculus before applying to graduate school. THEN I had to teach myself the quantitative skills necessary for the GMAT, and finally, write one heck of an essay to convince an admissions team that I imagined would need a lot of convincing.

In that essay I wrote about how I intended to take this opportunity, this one gifted moment, to work for and build socially responsible organizations. I wanted to help people with my education and skills. In some ways what I wrote was a message to myself.

“Take this opportunity, if you get it, to put some good into the world.”

When I crossed that stage it was the culmination of years of hard work that I had originally never intended. I wanted to go back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree, this time in entrepreneurship and got talked into pursuing my MBA by a particularly convincing advisor.

But it wasn’t easy. 

When I crossed that stage I didn’t have a job. It was the height of the great recession, and I had been laid off on the first day of my last semester of graduate school. I remember this distinctly because when I went to class that evening, the professor of my capstone class asked us to introduce ourselves and where we worked. There was a clear series of gasps when I told my story. 

Looking back it’s far too easy to say that everything worked out as planned; there were more bumps, bruises, resets and backtracks along the way than I could possibly fit into one blog post. But today, I’m thinking about where my mind was as I crossed that stage, and how incredibly lucky I’ve been to work in a profession, an industry, and in an organization that makes its most important work the work of helping others.

And if there was a way I could get back into my mind, ten years ago as I crossed that stage, I’d tell myself that although I’ve come a long way, and I’ve worked towards fulfilling the promise of that entrance essay, there’s still a whole lot work, and good, to be done.

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