Receiving my graduation regalia in the mail, earlier this week, brought about a series of reflective emotions. I am about to complete a Masters in Business Administration from a great program that I worked really hard to get into. As I think about my time at Booth, I realize that this experience wasn’t necessarily what I expected it to be, neither good nor bad, just different. In my opinion, this is the problem with setting expectations with anything – you mentally prepare yourself to think, feel, and act a certain way only to find that the experience you’re thrown into is entirely different. Rather, when I look back on my Booth experience I’m choosing to evaluate it through the lens of the three goals I set for myself when I was beginning the business school process:
- Improve my hard, academic skills
- Fill gaps in my soft skills
- Gain the credibility that I feel I need to confidently join my family’s business
One of the core reasons I wanted to come to business school was to improve on hard skills that I felt I missed developing through my undergraduate and previous work experiences. For me, this involved taking Investments and evaluating risk for different portfolios to understanding the complexities of employment law for managers and entrepreneurs. I spent significant time actually doing all the readings for my classes and thinking through the nuances of what was being taught and how I could apply those learnings to my specific job situation post-MBA. I was able to attend lectures from visiting professors, industry leaders, and overall some really interesting people. These firsthand accounts rounded out my technical knowledge and prepared me well for my time after Booth.
The second goal I was hoping to achieve while at business school was to fill in the gaps on some of my soft skills by expanding and further defining who I am as a leader. I feel I accomplished this goal through a series of classes, extracurricular activities, and cultivating my friendships while at Booth. One of my most favorite and impactful classes at Booth has been Interpersonal Dynamics. In this class I was able to learn academic frameworks that helped me evaluate what leadership areas I was excelling in, how I could better connect with others, and what pieces of myself I was withholding that would benefit me to share with others. This class positively impacted the way I see my relationships with my boyfriend, family, and friends and has led me to be much more introspective and reflective. A skill that is proving helpful as I think back on my time at Booth.
My last goal was much more ambiguous. Joining a family business is veiled in nepotism and I wanted to prove to myself (and to others) that I had the credentials to at least be considered on my own merit. In evaluating myself on this goal, I look to my classmates. My wildly accomplished, surprisingly humble, and uniquely diverse classmates. They are about to go off and influence the industries they are joining and all the while carry the Booth name with them. If they’re able to get these amazing post MBA opportunities then I, too, must have some credibility, despite being given my next job.
So, as I try on my regalia in anticipation of a day that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time, I can confidently say I met and exceeded the three goals I set for myself when beginning this MBA process. I’ve developed technical skills, refined who I am as a leader, and gained the credibility to join my family’s business with confidence and excitement. In my final post for The Booth Experience blog, I’d like to share a piece of advice that has been so vital for me: Set goals, not expectations. This northstar has allowed me to make amazing friends, think about who I want to be as a leader, and expand my perspective on the relationships I’ve built. Evaluating my Booth experience on these goals leads me to know this was absolutely a positive experience for me. I can’t thank Booth enough for being the ecosystem that allowed me to explore.