Many people recognize their professional paths early on and the steps to achieving their goals become well-defined and linear. While not extraordinary by any means relative to my incredible peers, my path to business school was indirect and filled with moments of self-doubt and hesitation. Luckily, through a series of fortunate events and reflection, I have found my place at Booth.
I began my studies at UC Berkeley with the absolute certainty that medical school was the natural (read only) next step. I did not hesitate to declare my major as Molecular and Cellular Biology, solely focused on the fact that I enjoyed the idea of working in healthcare and more specifically, the coursework for the major fulfilled all medical school prerequisites. Jumping through the premed hoops in the next four years included working towards publishing research papers, volunteering, shadowing, interning in hospital administration roles, and taking the MCAT. After graduating, I decided to pursue a gap year internship at Genentech within their Clinical Data Management department to garner industry exposure and devote time to medical school applications. Taking this time ended up being the most instrumental in shaping my future career.
My experience working in biotech completely changed my perspective on what it meant to work “in healthcare” and provided me the opportunity to understand the important work being done by various contributors in different capacities. I saw that while doctors play a key role in administering direct patient care, a variety of players existed behind the scenes to develop groundbreaking medicines and therapies, construct enhanced care delivery models, and help push the boundaries of healthcare.
I gradually found my thoughts gravitating towards things like pharmaceutical go-to-market strategies, pipeline analyses, and identification of attractive acquisition targets. It was becoming clearer that I viewed healthcare through a more macroscopic strategic lens rather than an individualistic administrative one. Over time, I teased out the next natural step – business school.
There were many moments during the process of identifying target schools and applying that I questioned my experience and qualifications. Many of the student profiles at elite programs like Booth showed candidates with traditional paths and roles that were easily understood by all. I found it difficult explaining what I did to those without industry knowledge, and was almost apologetic for having a resume that seemed so imbued with premed hopes. Even when acceptances started being sent out, I mentally braced myself for the possibility of being rejected and having to pivot once more. Much to my surprise and delight, I received my acceptance in late March.
Once at Booth, I realized that my insecurities and hesitations of being different from the business school archetype could not have been more unfounded. I found a cohort of remarkably intelligent students with their own unique stories to tell and perspectives to share. There was no homogeneity and a raw, authentic desire to just learn. Their passions were palpable and easily seen through the verve at which they approached recruiting, leading student groups, paying it forward to future classes, and still making time for fun and classmate connection. What I initially assumed would be a school just like any other proved to be just the opposite. The validation and confidence I received from Booth was not just from the name brand or the job opportunities, but the inherent value that I felt having a voice in this community.
To anyone who still doesn’t feel like they have everything fully figured out – that’s okay. Each experience provides an opportunity for a new challenge for self-discovery. As a favorite Booth mantra states, why are you here and not somewhere else? Hopefully your road leads you to where you hope to be too!