We’ve been conditioned into believing that the harder the target, the more desirable it is. Because what’s life without a bit of fight? And so with that, we begin our strife, to set the highest goals. To break every possible glass ceiling. To be the very best versions of ourselves (and others).
The MBA is often seen as the rite of passage to this self-actualization. Because one degree will fundamentally transform us into everything we hope for ourselves. I too started my journey with this belief. Learning everything I don’t know and finding that dream job. And I don’t know how far I am from reaching these goals, but I definitely have a stronger realization on what paths won’t take me there!
With a specialization in one very specific field, I knew quite a bit of the MBA would be a steep learning curve for me. But I was here for it, cause, the tougher it gets, the harder I should try right? And then came the winter of finance and analytics. And an actual winter with subzero temperatures.
To put it mildly, at first, I really had no idea what was going on. This very much seemed like learning a new language (or two), in a span of one month. Talking to people around me revealed that I wasn’t alone in the boat and many of us were feeling quite out of our depth.
Without delving much into the misery, we largely got by with some really supportive professors and amazing cohort mates who were happy to explain things and clear doubts multiple times over.
But in the midst of all this, as I was finally understanding a few core concepts, another realization struck me. The same block of the term also has marketing as a third subject. With a career built on advertising and marketing, this was not surprisingly a safe haven for me. I knew what the conversations were about, I had things to contribute to class and what more I truly enjoyed this. It was good to see that there was something I was actually good at and not all was lost in the world. I finally experienced how the finance and economics experts felt in all the other lectures!
I couldn’t help but wonder, why was I so easily willing to look over things I instinctively understood? Why did I want to start from a blank slate as opposed to building on what I already had? Had the desire for conquering the most challenging things gotten too far?
I had started with the aspirations of conquering all my weaknesses and making all the possible pivots I could. Now I am learning that career pivots, while ambitious, exciting propositions, also need to be executed strategically. Rather than going all in, there’s also beauty in taking it a step at a time and building towards what you want. In taking the time to leverage your strengths and gradually reduce some of your gaps. And while the MBA perhaps is not the one antidote for all your dreams, it definitely is an indicator of what these supposed strengths and weaknesses are.
Different approaches work for different people, and no one should tell you what you can and can’t do with your career. What I’m realizing is that there are multiple ways to get to your supposed destination, if that still even is your destination! And maybe there’s merit in being just a little kind to ourselves as we head to these ever-evolving destinations.
As recruiting gradually becomes priority, I’m using these learnings to shape the roles I consider, the timelines I work towards and the activities I involve myself with. And when things get too much, there’s always the class to carry you forward and the hope that spring, and summer is not too far away!