I wanted to quickly share the best piece of advice I received before I began my MBA program. Disclosure: this was the best piece of advice for me. I do not claim to know what you need to hear before you start your MBA journey, but this is the piece of advice that has stuck with me and I definitely want to share hoping others can benefit from this piece of advice that someone wise offered me.
I nervously stepped into a coffee shop, glancing around quickly, trying to to stare but at the same time determine who amongst the bustling customers was there to meet me. I had done it. I had gotten into UC Davis’ Graduate School of Management. I had kicked butt on the GMAT, written my essays, and apparently done well-enough on my in-person interviews. The hard part was over (or so I thought) and I was now ready to meet an Ambassador (who would have known a short year later I would be in her shoes) so that she could give me some insight into how to excel in the program.
A blonde young woman with a pony-tail bouncing on top of her head bounded towards me with a huge smile on her face. We had only spoken over the phone, but through her energy and her happy voice, I immediately knew it was her! We chatted quickly and excitedly, and within minutes were like old friends. We talked about sports, high school, working out, life, boys, art, travel, and more.
To keep it short, I finally asked her if she had one piece of advice that would be the one she wished she had known upon entering the program.
She looked at me and asked if I still had a job.
Was I planning to work until school started?
Alright, she said. Quit your job as soon as possible. Travel. Organize your room. Dance. Go some where with your boyfriend. Don’t have a boyfriend? Get one. Have on that’s not worth it? Break up and have a girls night. Play your favorite sport. Practice yoga three times a week. Talk to your mom. Talk to your dad. Hang out with your brother.
I was a little shocked. Here I was, hoping for some organizations, time-saving tips about being an MBA candidate and my new best friend was reading me quotes of a lululemon bag. But, she was right.
All I can say is, the MBA program will change your life, in many more ways than one. If you go forward with a strong motivation and great attitude, I can guarantee you those changes will be for the better too. I (a closet-introvert) had to promise myself that I would go to every event. When I felt like sitting at home, I would call someone. When I knew I had too much homework, I would go to a networking luncheon. When I was scared of taking charge, I would run for a leadership position. I was not going to let a single opportunity pass me by. And I am much better for it. That attitude has landed me the roles of Ambassador, President of the ASM, active club member in C4C, Net Impact when I can, Marketing, I have three part-time jobs, I go to every event physically possible, I do yoga, I play on several volleyball and soccer teams. But when my Ambassador friend told me to quit my job….despite every particle of my body screaming “No, try harder! Do it all!”… I quit.
I quit my job in July. School didn’t start until late September. I would go back and quit my job in January if I could. Don’t get me wrong, I hope from my description of all the activities I involve myself in that you truly believe I am a hard worker, but something special happened when I congratulated myself and let me get ready for what lay ahead. You are amazing. You have been selected by a group of people who are very good at what they do. Learn to live with yourself when you do not have work piling on top of your head. Because, trust me, once the first day of your program starts, you will not have time to breathe until…well, I haven’t yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.
Your life will change through this program. You will be in incredible classes with amazing professors, and sure, you will learn a lot that way. But so much of what will happen to you through this program will be internal. Not something you can splice out with metrics and analyze. It will be a transformation of who you are today and what you think you are capable of to who you are going to be and trust me, you will KNOW what you are capable of and it will amaze you. So make sure you are ready for that. Leave your job early if you can. Take some “me-time”. If you have a chance to travel on winter break- DO. And get ready for the ride of your life. It is tiring and truly amazing.
I still cannot express my thanks to my friend properly who gave me such good advice. She has now graduated, is working way too hard, but loves her life and all the things she was able to fit in before moving on to that next phase. I can’t wait to be in her shoes…well, actually I can. But when I am there, it will be wonderful, and I will look back on everything I have completed with pride, exhaustion, and joy.
Take this advice as you will and good luck in your journey!