My Journey to Business School: The Beginning (Part One)

My Journey to Business School: The Beginning (Part One)

Here’s the first thing I want you to know: I think I’m pretty ambitious.

Before you attribute a negative connotation, allow me to explain. My ambition stems not from a desire for power, but from a deep need to feel like I’ve done something useful for this world. I believe in giving back based upon your gifts, and one of my greatest gifts in life has been the lessons my mother taught my sister and I growing up. Daily, my mother would say “every girl for herself.” What she meant was this: I (mom) will give you everything you need. I will provide clothing, shelter, love, food, and access to experiences. It is up to you (kid) to do the right thing with those resources. Also… don’t disappoint me.

That was it. We just had to do our best with what we were given.

Growing up with that sort of freedom meant I learned from falling, but it also meant I spent significant time learning from my mistakes, all the while becoming a better version of myself.

Why did I just tell you this? It’ll make sense in a bit. First, let me introduce you to a few other streams of thought. I’ll tie them together at the end, I promise.

Thing number two: I once read a book that changed the way I see the world.

In college, I read a book called “A Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown. It was a true story about a young girl whose life was turned upside down after the untimely death of her mother. She was forced into foster care, into prostitution, and into drugs and it wasn’t until someone saw through her facade that she was urged to get help and turn her life around. This book taught me that privilege is real. The privileges that come from having resources and people who love you (and know how to love you in the best way for you) are privileges that, until then, I had taken for granted. Reading this book helped me to realize that, even through hardship, the tools my mother provided for my sister and I were the reason we were able to thrive amidst the freedom she allowed. This book and subsequent reflection drove home this idea: without the proper tools to thrive and guidance around how to best use those tools, failure can be right around the corner. This book sparked my passion to help people help themselves, such that they too can find journies to their own success.

Third thing: I do not like to be told no.

I’ll keep this part short, but most people dislike being told no. I also have a pretty conservative risk profile when it comes to my career. This led me to choose an undergraduate major that would minimize the likelihood that I would be turned away from opportunities in my career.

Fourth thing: Businesses need help helping themselves, too.

From the very beginning of my career, I have always been that annoying employee who questioned why the business made the business decisions they did, and pointed out gaps in efficiency. I would then seek to fill those gaps, and would often have more fun filling a gap I identified than doing the job I was actually hired to do. Luckily, I always performed pretty well at work so various managers and leaders gave me room to explore and play Ms. Fix It to my heart’s content. It wasn’t until the second job of my career that I realized that many companies need work done “on” the business itself, but that they were often too busy working on the day-to-day needs to the business to either notice or allocate resources to business improvement. Fast forwarding through a number of frustrating situations brings me to this: I was also passionate about filling the foundational gaps in businesses so that they could have a better shot at reaching their full profit potential in a way that is meaningful for all.

Ok. So let me tie all of this together.

I’m a girl who grew up trying things, failing or succeeding, assessing, adjusting, and moving forward. I also recognized the privilege I had by my mother and her family providing the building blocks I would need to be successful, and teaching me how to best utilize those tools. Not only did I want to help individuals reach their full potential, but I wanted to help corporations do the same, by helping them identify their unique toolset, and determining the best way to utilize that toolset to reach a realistic level of success. I am also ambitious and allergic to the phrase “you can’t.” My experiences taught me that my ultimate career goal was to be the fixer of businesses. To become the Olivia Pope of corporate America (sans the scandals and illegal shenanigans.)

In order to do that, I needed three things:

  1. A better toolkit consisting of skills in leadership, management, finance, and strategy.
  2. Access to a higher level of influence
  3. A reason for people to trust my judgement (i.e. “No, you can’t” insurance)

Essentially, I needed a MBA.

Over the next few months, I’ll walk you through the journey I took towards getting accepted into business school. I’ll walk you through my decision-making process, my highs, my lows and keep it real about what life looked like for me from Fall 2016 through Summer 2018.

If anyone has questions about anything related to MBA prep, career discovery, and won’t mind a mix of anecdotal and factual responses, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll address them all as we get to know each other.

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