Back To School
I’m currently in school full-time. And I’m 26. Crazy, right? Just over a month ago, I embarked on this huge life change. I’m about to share with you why I made this decision and what I plan to accomplish.
I left my full-time job at the end of August to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Northeastern is my Alma Mater, a big part of the reason I love Boston so much, and is where I did the most “growing up.” Graduating in 2014 with a degree in economics, I learned so much more than how to plot supply and demand curves or how to solve for the market-clearing price. I learned how to be a leader as the president of my sorority, Delta Zeta. And I learned the importance of giving my valuable time back to the community by volunteering through Alternative Spring Break programs. I learned the power of networking and how to navigate the job search process. But most notably, I learned the importance of soft skills.
My Alma Mater
Northeastern prepared me for the big, bad world out there. In co-op class, I learned what to wear to an interview, how to write and format a resume and generally how to behave in business. You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t interact nicely with others, work collaboratively on a team, calmly address problems as they are thrown at you and graciously accept feedback, you’re not going to get far. Sure, it might seem like these things are all just common sense. But sometimes having those unwritten rules written out and brought to light can make you more aware of just how critical those people skills are to your success.
I’ve never been in another environment that is even remotely comparable to the energy alive at Northeastern. You can feel each student’s motivation, career-driven focus and academic curiosity buzzing each and every day.
Okay, so maybe I am biased, but I love being a part of this energy every day.
So, why am I here? Why am I a full-time student at 26? Well, I always envisioned myself going on to school. I always loved learning, but I couldn’t really see a practical reason for going back upon graduation. I loved my undergraduate years at Northeastern but had a job offer from one of my co-ops. It seemed like the logical next step. I was eager to start making an actual salary and living as an “adult.” Little did I know that I would settle into a routine that just wasn’t quite fulfilling. Sure, I could pay my bills, but I wasn’t feeling a passion about my day-to-day work. I was still learning a lot of valuable skills on the job, but I was still a little fuzzy on my desired career trajectory.
Somewhere along the way I bought a GMAT book and began to study periodically. Still thinking that I might go on to school one day, but not really sure when or why.
After a couple of eye-opening incidents (including some black eyes, explained below), I realized the time is now.
Three and half years and a job change later, I was burning the candle at both ends (as my dad would say…). This whole time, I was running The Lilac Press on the side. The Lilac Press kept me sane and gave me the creative outlet I truly needed. It helped me to discover my passion for photography, refine my eye for fashion and embrace my love for beauty. Mostly, however, I was embarrassed at the lack of effort I was putting into it. I had so many ideas and felt it had so much potential, but I just wasn’t sure how to execute or allocate the time.
Between spending 2-3 hours per day in the car commuting, staying up late to work on TLP and trying to squeeze in time with friends and family, I was exhausted. I was working hard, but not quite sure what I was working for.
One particularly draining week, my eye was twitching from either lack of sleep or stress. I accidentally gave myself a black eye by closing the car door too quickly. I was already mad at myself for leaving my phone in the car and was hurriedly trying to close the door. Smack! I hit myself with the corner of the door right below my eye. You can laugh! I laugh looking back! A few days later, I couldn’t get my laptop out of my bag because it was caught on the cord. I pulled it too hard and it came flying out, hitting me in the eye again. Two self-inflicted black eyes? Yeah, that made me realize my pace was unsustainable.
My dad had been telling me for years to work smarter not harder. I’m well aware we’ve all got to hustle for everything we have in this life, but finally, I was ready to make a change. I registered for the GMAT that day.
Northeastern was the natural choice for me. I had been planning on applying to next year’s class, but the rolling admissions cycle moved faster than expected and things just fell into place. With a scholarship I couldn’t say no to, a curriculum I was dying to dive in to, and a community I knew I would thrive in, it was meant to be. Once I got my acceptance letter, I was ready to jump into this next chapter of my story.
Running The Lilac Press has been a HUGE learning experience. I’ve been doing most everything on my own with lots of trial and error. I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way and failed a thousand different ways so far. Running a business takes a lot more than I originally bargained for. I love The Lilac Press, but I’m ready to elevate my business to the next level. I want to learn how to be a marketer and how to properly account for a small business. For better or for worse, I’m acting as a marketer and an accountant already so might as well learn to do these things right.
It may sound counter-intuitive that I am pursuing an MBA so that I will one day be able to incorporate my creativity into a business career, but to me, it makes total sense. I know that in order to truly embrace my creativity, I need the confidence to know I am running my business properly. First, I need a foundation for which to stand on, and then I can grow. If I’m producing content, I’d like to know that there is some market who wants to consume it.
One thing I’ve already learned from my Management of Information Resources professor that validates this point is that standardization is a building block for innovation. Applying that to my own life means I need a solid business foundation to feel comfortable springing my ideas forward.
Plus, having a graduate degree, specifically an MBA, will equip me with skills and background to set myself up for success.
Now, back to my accounting homework…