Let me tell you about 2017.
It was a looooooooong year.
I bet you’re wondering why. (I’ll tell you.)
Remember in my last post how I told you guys how in 2017 I was all set to tackle my MBA prep journey with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), had a new job, and a fresh challenge ahead? Let’s start there.
So I think MLT was the best thing to happen to me in 2017. When I finally decided to pursue an MBA in September 2016, I honestly felt like I could just apply to any MBA program, full time or part time, that was convenient for me and decently ranked.
MLT’s 1st gift to me was breaking that naïveté.
Throughout my life, I’ve always sought the best schools for the topics I wanted to study. For high school, I went to the best high school in the city. For undergrad, I chose a top 5 engineering program because anything else seemed like a waste of time. Why I felt that any decent MBA program would do, then, must have been due to some sort of mental crisis…because that did not fit how I made decisions. In part, I think I lacked a full understanding of how different types of MBA programs were useful for different reasons. (Seriously, don’t just go to any school without understanding what you want, and what the school/experience will GET you). Within a month of MLT kicking off, I understood better what I wanted, what it truly meant to aim high, and what I needed to achieve that target.
MLT’s 2nd gift to me was helping me define what good looked like and giving me the structure to achieve it.
MLT has a framework within which fellows get their proverbial sh*t together. It works. It starts with requiring a GMAT score of over 650 and strongly urging us to at least be within the range of acceptable entrance scores for the schools we’re targeting. It continues with coaching us through balancing our weak points in our applications (low GPAs, gaps in work history, etc) and learning how to define ourselves and our passions such that schools can clearly see how well we’d fit in upon admittance. Through it all, I was working with some of the best and brightest to get all of this done and those people become my motivation and support, causing me to almost never fall behind. I also had a coach who never sugar coated but also helped me to see how much I was bringing to the table. In all, after seeing all the work we put in to achieve our acceptances, it would have been insane for me to go through this alone (without MLT).
MLT’s 3rd gift to me was my network & coach.
I made friends within MLT immediately. It’s insane how easy it is to bond with people when you genuinely are in awe of each other and have a common goal. The entire MLT/application process was long, hard, and often felt like a second job. I can’t stress enough how important the support of others was to my success. When all of your friends are going out on Friday nights (living their very best lives) and you have to study for the GMAT or write the 5th draft of your 2nd essay for your application to one school, it helps to have fun people who are staying in with you working on the same things. Bonus points when your friends work for cool companies that allow you to come in on a Saturday, set up shop, and enjoy free snacks and wifi.
My coach was even more amazing. (I mentioned above that she refused to sugar coat). The first time I met her in person, she informed me that my undergraduate GPA required explanation (despite my major and experience) and that I should consider taking a class to offset that. While I was shaken (how could my GPA matter 5 years later), I heeded her advice and fell in line. She continued to be honest with me throughout the next year. She also made herself available to me during holidays, weekends, and evenings editing rushed essays I should have completed months earlier. All while supporting 60 other fellows, raising 2 kids, and supporting her husband. A GEM.
To shorten what could easily be a short story, MLT was amazing. It took me from “I should do this” to “Done” in a little over a year, and that is worth more than I can express. Here’s a quick summary of how it all works:
- Fall (2016): Apply to MLT (Practice or Real GMAT, essays, application, and professional recommendation)
- Winter (2016): Submit official GMAT before program launches
- Late-Winter (2017): Meet cohort-mates, MLT alumni, learn what you’re looking for in a school and why, and learn what makes you unique.
- Late-Spring/Early Summer (2017): Meet schools, build relationships with admissions officers, and strengthen your application components
- Summer (2017): Continue to build relationships and preparing for applications to schools
- Late Summer – Winter (2017/2018): Apply to schools
- Fall-Spring (2017/2018): Interview at schools
- Winter-Spring (2017/2018): Face your fate
In addition to MLT, I also had a new job (new role, same company). I had one idea of what this job would be… and as it turns out, it was not that way. The job had two clear advantages, and a host of annoyances that made 2017 interesting, at best.
Clear Advantage 1: The role was what you made it. There were no measurable objectives for this role outside of revenue so I could spend my days the way I needed to. On days when I wanted to study for the GMAT more than I wanted to work, I could do that. When different business schools had visit days in other cities, I could simply pack my computer and not take meetings to make those trips work. There was nothing I *had* to do aside from keeping up appearances and that was KEY to balancing all that MLT and applications required of me.
Clear Advantage 2: This role required a lot of travel. While this got tiring and contributed to one of the annoyances (more later), it also allowed me to bank hotel and airline points and be in the places and spaces that were important to me some of the time.
[I started to write out my annoyances but decided against it because we’re here to be positive.]
Essentially, just know that balancing something new with executing a long-term goal can be a lot of work. MLT kept me grounded in my goal and surrounded by supporters who understood where I was in life.
I know I promised to take you all the way through my “year of rejection” in this post, but I’ll finish telling you all why 2017 was such a trying year in my next blog. I’ll go over my own progress as it relates to the MLT timeline and speak on my ups and the very real downs.
Leave any questions/comments you have below, and I’ll answer them next month!