#TBT: Business RiViews ft. Three Lessons I Learned from my MBA Orientation
so I wrote this post days after my MBA orientation to document my experience. I’m sharing it with you as a #tbt reflection on how this ross bschool journey began. every here and there, to honor the requests of those who asked to hear about my experience, i’ll be posting my “business riviews.” i call them “riviews” because a. it’s a cute pun, and more importantly, b. to highlight that these reflections are strictly my experience and my experience only. i don’t speak on behalf of anyone else, and that includes you! if you are pursuing an mba or higher ed, take what feels good for you, leave behind what doesn’t quite resonate. your experience is yours to create.
8.20.18 | 5:32 pm
I JUST CLOSED OUT MY MBA ORIENTATION AT THE ROSS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS.
For those of you who don't know, I am an incoming MBA candidate at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. Saying that never gets old - partly because it sounds cool af - but mostly because I am quite literally living the life of my wildest dreams. It's true - I've wanted this for over 8 years. but we can talk about the law of attraction later.
let's talk business. well, kind of. if you clicked this post to learn more about my analytics primer course or pick up some nuggets that will help you get into ross, this post will disappoint you. but that doesn't mean you should leave. you should really stay right here. i would even argue that the more disappointed you are by its content, the more refreshing this post has the potential to be. why? because after two intense weeks jam-packed with career readiness exercises, networking opportunities, academic primer courses, case challenges, cultural competency reflections, being extroverted af, a mock class, and more,
the most impactful lessons i learned are spiritual ones.
i could list out at least 20, but since three is a good number, here are my top 3:
1- there's only one me: identify patterns.
for years, i just wanted to fly under the radar. i didn't want my diversity or uniqueness or creative thinking or compelling story to reveal to others what i already knew about myself: i was different. i first began embracing my difference as an educator because for once, my identity was no longer just about me. it was about my students feeling like they could trust and learn from someone. so i had to be my best (read: most authentic) self. and that meant being the creative, loving, open, rebel that i am. and it worked. i loved them and they loved me, so we learned a whole lot from one other. and we still do years later. because relationships last when they're built on authenticity.
i am different. i don't look for the right answers, i look for the right questions. i've been successful ironically because i care more about the happiness and health of myself and my loved ones than competing or winning. i am extremely emotionally expressive yet somehow unattached: i can be vulnerable in front of millions of people, but i am yet to lean on any one person's shoulder when i'm in pain. my head is often in the clouds but i am far from an "airhead:" some days i drive and can't understand how i arrived at my destination because my thoughts were racing faster than my car ever could. i challenge the idea that logic and emotion cannot coexist: i have to rationalize my emotions through poetry and i can only understand numbers through words. i would say i think outside of the box, but the truth is, i don't even know where the box is.
i am different, and so are you. being different is what got me here - why wouldn’t I lean into that?
see, we all are uniquely ourselves if we only allow ourselves to be. we need to stop apologizing for being all that we are because that is exactly what will work for us. we should look back on all the things that brought us here and identify the patterns that are waiting to be revealed: what moments did we love and enjoy most? what experiences did we hate? what kinds of work felt most rewarding? what made us feel successful? what moments made us feel like an imposter? what do we believe in? what moments mean the most to us and why? what are our relationship non-negotiables? what have been our biggest lessons? what are we afraid of?
these are some of questions i've been asking myself all summer to help me identify my patterns. if we don't identify them, our patterns are going to repeat themselves. and if this orientation taught me anything, it's that i need to get really damn good at being more "me" if i want to succeed. like truly succeed. because like my identity, my definition of success is only my own. i will fail miserably trying to live by someone else's because i will never be great at being anyone but me. in all of my quirks, backwards thoughts, emotions turned prose and commitment to mental health above and beyond all else.
2- time is an illusion: I know MY "why"
i am one of the youngest people in my incoming class. i am coming in with barely three years of work experience. i am also coming in on the lower end of gmat scores and definitely on the lower end of analytics course experience. i have no consulting or "real business" experience. maybe a year ago all of these facts would have made me feel like more of an imposter. maybe these facts would have made me want to hide. maybe they would have made me want to pretend like i knew things that i didn’t. like i shouldn't raise my hand and ask the "stupid question" in class. maybe these things would have made me feel like i should continue to fly under the radar.
but life has taught me that self-doubt is another way to doubt god’s purpose for me.
i have become so intimately connected with my life's purpose, and that's not something i could have learned from an econ course. that's not a skill that a 740 on the gmat could have helped me hone. i'm not discounting the value of a typical business acumen or the lessons that can come out of years of work experience. i am going to business school to gain those exact skills that i lack, and i am hyperaware of my lack of experience in these arenas. i am also hyperaware that time is an illusion when it comes to knowing our "why." i'm realize that god has blessed me with this laser focus that most spend a lifetime in pursuit of.
i don't say this to compare myself to others or to put others down. i say this because i needed to stop doubting myself in order to truly understand the value of a strong "why." my commitment to changing the educational experiences of young people has been the recurrent thread through all that i've done successfully (also something I learned after identifying my patterns). i am walking into my mba with a laser focus on continuing this impact. i am so lucky that i have this lens through which i can view all parts of my mba experience. i am so excited to hone this vision as i move forward.
and don't get me wrong. i am going to struggle in my econ and stats and accounting and finance courses. i am going to be "that girl" always asking questions. I am going to be at tutoring and office hours. but that doesn't bother me 1% because i know my why. I was never meant to be a statistician or an economist or a "numbers person;" i was meant to be a creative problem solver, a lifelong learner and educator, an innovator, a poet. getting intimately connected to my purpose has helped me replace self-doubt with self-accountability.
3- protect my process: nothing is worth even a piece of my peace.
nothing. not her, not him, not them, not my classes, not my family, not my deadlines, not my group project, not my social gatherings, not my essay due tomorrow. nothing is worth my peace.
what this doesn't mean: we shouldn't care about her, him, them, class, family, deadline, group projects, social gatherings, essays due tomorrow.
what this means: we should ensure that our mental health are 1, 2 and 3 on our list of priorities so that we can be healthy enough to deal with her, him, them, class, family, deadlines, group projects, social gatherings, essays due tomorrow.
i think many busy people accurately conclude that "something's gotta give." but i also think many busy people conclude that the "something" should be their peace of mind/sanity/mental health. i am not an idealist to think that they are being unreasonable. i am actually a pragmatist to say that they make no sense. we cannot be ourselves for anything or anyone if our mental health is not intact. this doesn't mean we won't be uncomfortable or even stressed, it just means that we will be "okay" enough to produce "okay" enough work. that's all.
my mental health is everything to me and i am willing to be a hermit on the weekends if it means creating "me-time" (something i personally need to stay sane). I am willing to settle for "passes" in my classes instead of striving for the "good" or "excellent" if it means i sleep for another hour each night. i am willing to be less active in student groups if it means i get to spend more time with my little sister on campus. i am well aware that a lot of things will have to "give" in these next couple of years, but none of those things will be my mental health.
i look forward to writing and reflecting as often as possible along this journey. as busy as it gets, i know that documentation is real, so stay tuned for more of my business riviews coming soon.