Having my Booth interview two weeks after I delivered my baby, calling the movers with the constant sound of the baby crying in the background, having an unexpected wrist surgery one month before I moved to Chicago, juggling coursework, recruiting, and taking care of my not-yet-one year old baby….I knew my MBA experience was not going to be an easy ride from the beginning. Now, after finishing my last week of class at Booth, it is finally sinking in that my MBA journey is coming to an end.
I cannot easily tell you the biggest highlight of my two years, as there are just too many of them. It could be representing Booth and winning first place of the National Energy Finance Case Competition with my team for the first time, or serving as co-chair of Mothers at Booth and Corporate Management Group (CMG) during an unprecedented pandemic—and making it work. Perhaps it was planning and hosting the first virtual CMG annual conference or organizing the first dual-career couple panel for Mothers at Booth and Chicago Women in Business to facilitate more conversations around family and diversity in our community. Though I also can’t forget visiting Italy with my classmates for Random Walk and writing for The Booth Experience blog to share different voices in the student body and shape our community.
Though it certainly didn’t win as biggest highlight, the pandemic no doubt impacted my MBA experience. It also opened up opportunities for me to flex, to be creative, and to test my ideas in a risk-free environment. When it brought the unexpected, I learned reposition myself and try to get the most out of the situation. Looking back, there were certainly FOMO moments I had over the last two years, but the number one lesson from my MBA experience is to be confident that I made the best choice at the time, and to be ok with that!
So, as I transition into my new status as an alumna…here is some advice I’d like to pass along to you:
- Realize you may not always be the smartest one in the room and see that as a positive. You are accepted by Booth: chances are high you’ve usually felt like the smartest person in the room. In the past two years, however, I have been constantly amazed and impressed by the intelligent group of people I was in the classroom with. That reality might have hit me hard, but I became so humble and really appreciated hearing the different perspectives. So remember: you might not ALWAYS be the smartest person in the room, and that’s ok – cherish this experience and learn from others.
- Don’t worry about not being 100% sure what the best career option is for you post-MBA. Instead of stressing about that, go to different events, talk to people in different industries, and find your pack. It will be easiest to realize where your passion lies once you see the different paths firsthand. A lot of us place the greatest emphasis on the job itself, but really evaluate the culture – are these the people you want to spend 8+ hours a day with?
- Believe that it’s possible to be a mother and an MBA student who is deeply involved in the community. Though it’s rare to find mothers who are pursuing an MBA, I’m an example of it being the case. What I’ve realized is that simply by my existence—and that of the other mothers of Booth—we are making an impact. By living the experience, we’re examples that encourage more prospective students to be confident and apply for an MBA. If you are considering having a baby while you are in B-school, please reach out, and we will talk 😊
- Step outside of your comfort zone. B-school is a risk-free environment, which makes it the perfect setup to push your boundaries and really challenge yourself to try new things and explore new areas within yourself. When you do so, you’ll be surprised by what you learn not just about yourself, but about those around you as well. Even though you are most likely not going to be able to do everything you thought you were going to do, that’s ok! Try out things that interest you anyway!