Finding My Way: Reflections on My First Year

Wow…it’s May already? When did that happen? Amid all the studying, group meetings, student life events, and business-school-greatness, my first year of the MBA program is over. And it was everything I’d signed up for and more. Here are the three biggest takeaways I got from the last two semesters:

I Found a Focus

Coming into business school, I knew I was excited to be there. What I didn’t know was where exactly I wanted to be when I finished. Perhaps marketing, perhaps entrepreneurship, perhaps both? I knew I’d find happiness no matter which direction I chose, but it turned out that the act of choosing was easier than I’d anticipated. I found my way to a love of digital marketing. By helping local entrepreneurs create their first web presence, interning over winter break in the communications department of a local company, and taking on the role of VP of PR for Whitman Women in Business, I discovered a passion. Now I’m in the middle of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification, on my way to being certified in AdWords and Google Analytics, and a WordPress veteran. What might surprise you is that as much as I learned in classes, it was involvement that paved my path for me.

I Fell in Love with a Community

The Whitman family is super tight-knit. The faculty is always looking out for you, the career center is actively involved in your search and success (they’ll email you for an update if you’ve fallen out of touch!), and the students are all on the same mission. We began as strangers, but we battled together through the year. It’s like in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when Harry says,” There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” Well, finishing the first year of an MBA program is like battling that twelve-foot mountain troll. It was challenging, but it was totally worth it, and we came out of it closer than ever. From going to an SU Men’s Basketball game with the Student Ambassadors to planning and running a charity Pi Day 5K with Whitman Women in Business, this past year was the busiest but the best one I could have asked for.

I Learned Things I Never Knew I Never Knew

Before this year, I had no idea what it meant to build a “model” in Excel. I didn’t know how derivatives markets worked, and I definitely couldn’t compute a confidence interval to answer a market research question. I had an entire Bachelor’s Degree in business management, but there was (and still is) so much more to learn! Looking back, it’s astounding to me how far I’ve come, even though I never realized what was happening while I was in the middle of it. Along with two other students on my team, I gave a local business a 72-page BOOK detailing a recommended digital marketing strategy. What?! I can’t believe what I can do now. And I can’t wait to see how much more I have learned one year from now.

So to those of you just getting ready to enter your first year of the program, here is my advice. Take a look at where you are right now. Write down all the things you want to accomplish in the next 365 days. And then watch as you push yourself even further.