Stranded in Oakland = Finally, Time to Write!

Oh hey there! Greetings from a lovely Oakland airport hotel, where I’m spending the night before heading to LA for the start of Thanksgiving break. For those of you who aren’t traveling or who don’t live in the Midwest, we had our first snowstorm of the year yesterday, after a long fall of temperatures in the 50s. Winter is here, y’all. And it doesn’t give a crap about our travel plans.

On the upside, I met a very nice Kellogg grad (class of ’82) who is also stranded at this airport hotel, and the staff here is very nice, even though I look (and feel) a little (a lot) crazy.

Also on the upside, having a little break from my plans is giving me some time to write! I’ve been dying to tell you about so many things, but this MBA thing really is as hectic as people say it is, and it’s been very hard to find time to reflect and write. But that changes tonight!

Thoughts about two things tonight:

1. Starting B School

Oh man, so much I could write here, so I’ll go really high-level right now. The start of business school is SUPER crazy. You move across the country (potentially), start learning to become a student again, get involved in extracurricular leadership, then start recruiting for summer internships — all within a couple of months!

It’s a lot to adjust to, and it is challenging. Making new friends as an adult (which we can all agree is tough, right?), learning how to learn, managing time, trying not to lose your mind about recruiting, resisting the temptation to constantly compare yourself with your super talented peers. It’s a lot.

BUT. For all its challenges, b school is an amazing experience. I came here to learn, to gain new skills, and to have new experiences, and I am getting so much of all of those things. I’ve run my very first regression, been accepted to an experiential analytical consulting course for next winter, and will be spending my spring break in Kenya and Tanzania learning about social enterprise. I can’t imagine having these opportunities anywhere but b school, and I am constantly reminded that this really was the right choice for me.

Coming in with an unusual background, I was nervous about a few things. Would I be able to keep up in class? Will people take me seriously? Will I be able to connect with these MBA people? The answer to everything has been a big fat YES. Classes are challenging for everyone, and even though I have to catch up on the basics, I don’t feel like I’m the slow gazelle in class. People are super excited about my background, and I have met some very like-minded (read: food-obsessed) people at Kellogg who I spend a lot of time with.

2. Applying to B School

I’ve been tracking this blog’s stats, and views are starting to go up, even though I haven’t posted anything super substantial lately. I’m guessing this is because people are starting to gear up into maximum Round 2 application anxiety mode? If this is you, welcome! You are not alone.

At this point last year, I had just taken the GMAT, was working on my resume, and was starting to nail down my career goals and overall application story. I remember this time between Thanksgiving and January being very stressful and very emotional. Something about the MBA application made me feel like it was a test / evaluation of my worth as a human being (anyone else feel that way?). Remember that it’s not, and try to keep in mind that stat that 80% of applicants are qualified for admission to b school. You are the 80%!

Some advice I got last year that was really helpful was to keep coming back to this equation in your application: Experience + MBA = Career Goal. Make this as tight as possible, and explain the reasoning it all. Why, after your past work experience, are you going after your career goal? What specific skills and knowledge are you missing that your MBA will give you? What unique opportunities will each MBA program give you that will lead you straight to your goal? Doing the work here will pay off when it comes time to write / polish essays and when you go in for interviews.

Wherever you are in the process, remember that you’re awesome and you got this. Wishing you a ton of luck and a very happy Thanksgiving!

Image courtesy of Anthony Hitzig. Winter courtesy of the Midwest.


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