The 1st year of my MBA: 10 months & $50K later


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As I fly to San Francisco for the summer I reflect back to this past year. On one hand, it feels as if only a month has gone by since I first sat on my desk next to 300 of my-newly-made friends. On the other hand, after all the emotional, intellectual, and physical ‘trauma’ (I mean this in the nicest of ways), it feels as if half a decade has gone by. It has been a true roller coaster ride; full of ups and downs, where my classmates and I held tight to the handrail, closing our eyes, and praying that if we survived we promise to never curse again (and that I would call my mom more often).  And yet, somehow, one does have the perception of coming out smarter.

Ten months ago, what started as a harmless idea, turned into my everyday reality. The thought of abandoning the 9 to 5 routine to immerse myself in textbooks was no longer platonic. There were those precious moments worth freezing in time. For instance, when I boxed another girl in the ring for charity surrounded by 100+ ‘bloodthirsty’ classmates (low-light or highlight?…hmmm). There were also moments better off tucked away in the past. Like when I dishearteningly stared at my finance midterm as ink bled red down the page. Even then, I discovered things that I didn’t know, I didn’t know and for that, I justified my Return On the-five-digit-soon-to-be-debt Investment. 

Who would have thought that in business school they actually made you study? Many seek fortuitously that A++++. Many see it as a mere means to an end and do the bare minimum for a diploma. I sit in a mid-category: a medium/mean/mode of As & Bs (statistics dejavú). To my defense, picture a younger me arduously investing hours in calculus and physics to become an aerospace engineer. To my eyes, I already paid my ‘studying dues’. And thus, I leave the 100s out 100s and summa cum lades to those who partied through their former education years and seek redemption (you may hate me for a whole 45 sec if this applies to you). In any case, regardless of advanced degrees/job titles accomplished, at times I still felt measured, compared, praised, diminished, by a number on a piece of paper.

In terms of networking, grad school feels like the social olympics: exhilarating and yet exhausting. There are the consultants, the entrepreneurs, the non-profiteers, those that are desperately dying to enter investment banking and those that are desperately trying to leave investment banking. I juggled friendships, classes, club activities, while scouting jobs in between (all in that specific order). Turns out I suffered from FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. As quoted in the Cambridge English Dictionary this is “the worried feeling that you may miss exciting events that other people are going to.” So it is indeed legit, stressful, and only acknowledged by a few.

Finally, why pursue a business degree? After 2 careers checked, 3 decades lived, 3 languages learned, and 3 continents crossed, I thought it was to become an entrepreneur. I intentionally moved from Amsterdam to Washington DC for an education, but somehow and with a splash of luck, I ended up on a plane direction Silicon Valley. I guess this is the real reason why I came back to school: to be unexpectedly presented with an unimaginable myriad of possibilities. Who knows what’ll happen next…