For those that don’t know, I’m currently enrolled full-time in an MBA program. The most attentive readers of Money After Graduation probably saw this coming for ages, but I kept it on the down-low as best I could for a myriad of reasons, but I figured it was time to share the story here!
I decided I wanted to pursue an MBA while I was in Paris, France in May 2011. I had finished my undergraduate degree the year before and was trudging along unhappily in my MSc. facing dismal employment prospects an,d in all honesty, not that interested in science. I had been blogging about personal finance for nearly a year and felt I would be better suited to a career in business.
My options were to begin a second Bachelors degree that would take two years to complete, or go for the Masters degree in business. I decided I would prefer to do the MBA over a second Bachelors degree, for reasons ranging from legitimate (I want a career in management not accounting) to shallow (a Masters degree sounds more impressive than a Bachelors degree).
Most competitive MBA programs require at least 2 years of professional work experience to be admitted, so I knew I’d have to log some work hours before I could apply. I was cool with this because I also wanted to take care of my massive student debt from undergrad, as well as enjoy a break from school.
When I was 1.5 years into my job, the province announced major budget cuts that would affect my employer. I wasn’t at all concerned about being laid off, but I was worried about advancement and growing my career at the institution. I had a great job, but I knew it wouldn’t be great for me forever. Eventually, I would hit a wall in promotions and raises, and I would wind up feeling miserable and stuck as my career stagnated in my early thirties.
I bought a book and studied for the GMAT over the course of 4 weeks. Despite having lost all of the academic self-discipline I acquired in undergrad, I made it through the exam with an excellent score. I had graduated from my bachelors degree with a high GPA so that combined with my GMAT score gave me a lot of options for MBA programs across Canada. I did not consider any MBA programs in the US or abroad because, hello, cost!
After seriously considering Queens, Sauder, and Rotman, I settled on the Haskayne of Business at the University of Calgary for a number of reasons not the least of which are…:
- Affordability. At $20,000 per year, this is one of the cheapest MBA programs in Canada.
- Scholarships. I was wooed by a few schools, but Haskayne offered the most funding proportional to my tuition bill.
- High national and international rankings
- Calgary has the largest concentration of corporate offices in Canada, which translates to excellent post-graduation employment prospects.
- Calgary is the best place to live in Canada
- Close enough to my hometown to easily visit family
- Far away from my hometown to avoid people
- My cousin lives here and is amazing
- Calgary has a grossly disproportionate number of single men to single women
I received my acceptance in May 2013 and gave my notice at work the same day. I stayed in Edmonton until the end of August, before packing up and moving to Calgary to begin school the first week of September.
School is more or less what I expected, and I am more or less what I expected in school. I am grossly resentful of wearing a backpack, I miss collecting a biweekly paycheque, and my academic success depends wholly on the subject matter at hand. There are classes I love and classes I loathe, and I feel an immense amount of stress paying for all of them. Nevertheless, I am learning things, and the more weeks go by, the more certain I become that this was the right choice for me.
What am I going to do with an MBA?
I don’t know.
That answer is terrifying to everyone but me. I don’t know and I don’t really care right now. I’m not worried. I’ve never been worried about my career because I’m just going to do what I’m going to do, and I’m going to have a good time doing it, so there’s really no reason to make a fuss.
At this point, I’m interested in a whole bunch of different things and I’m still working out where my skills, talents, and interests are. I haven’t found what I’m supposed to do yet, but to quote Steve Jobs: “as with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it… So keep looking, don’t settle”.
I’m not striving for a particular title or salary, but I am looking for a role that is challenging and rewarding, with lots of opportunity for growth. My ideal role will be something in leadership that serves a strong, close-knit community, but what exactly that role is and how to get there remains to be seen. With just over 1.5 years to graduation, I’m not feeling any anxiety about my future career yet.
And that’s the story!