Reality Bites But Dreams Don’t

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on April 16, 2009

With the economy in turmoil, many MBA graduates are finding the job search tough going. To give readers some insight into the strategies they’re pursuing and the difficulties they face, BusinessWeek has recruited four out-of-work MBAs to write about their experiences for a new feature called “The Hunt” that will appear periodically on the Getting In blog. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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By Michael Janger
When I was nine years old, I dreamed of being a baseball player for the New York Yankees. I pictured myself wearing pinstripes, with No. 17 on my back – Mickey Rivers’ number – standing at home plate in front of a World Series crowd at the old Yankee Stadium. I belted a Joaquin Andujar fastball into the bleachers gap behind center field, and immortalized myself in Sports Illustrated with a major double-page spread of my historic home run. Then, when I was feeling pretty good about myself, I woke up. Reality bit.

Although I am no longer a Yankee fan and do not follow baseball today, I fondly remember the innocence and passion I felt as a kid working toward his “dream” – playing on school baseball teams, going to batting practice, and tossing balls with friends. Today, my dream job is to run a small business of my own or lead marketing or product development for a small company. This dream is far less glamorous than being a Yankee star, but no less satisfying. With the economy contracting, making my job search more challenging, reality is biting again this time.

I have been in finance for many years and have the experience and tools I need to run my own business. Having worked in corporate America, it takes mental effort to transition from an experienced “company man” to a self-starting entrepreneur, which some of my business school peers and some friends have already achieved. And, with little formal experience in marketing and product development, I have a challenging transition ahead of me if I want to lead a business in either of these areas.

Yet, I have never lost sight of one thing: I want to be my own boss. I enjoy interacting with customers and clients, sharing business insights with my colleagues, and creating ideas and developing solutions. As one of the steps toward achieving this goal, I am seeking a role in marketing or product development where there is a need for an experienced professional with quantitative skills and finance experience. It would be an excellent transition point and a great way for me to build experience on top of the years I spent in finance. I am also working hard to build up my exposure to these areas through part-time contract/consulting work.

I will do what I can to achieve my dream in spite of the head currents I am working against in today’s job search and my own limited experience in marketing and product development. I would accept the reality of realizing my dream a little later than I expect, rather than modify my idea of the dream job to suit current conditions. There is nothing like the inspiration and passion one feels when working toward a dream. The only way I can change my dream is when I know I will not do well in this dream job – which is how I ditched the idea of playing ball for the Yankees. I realized I just wasn’t a good ballplayer after I tossed too many errant throws, one of which decked a poor kid on the head and sent him to the hospital with a serious concussion. (He went on to become a successful Internet entrepreneur.)

Mark Twain once said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If I am forced to change my dream because I am not being dealt a good hand in today’s times, I will always wonder what life would have been like if I didn’t change. It is a very unsettling thought. For that reason, I would prefer to fail at my dream job before I would even consider changing my dream. Reality will always bite, but as long as I have my dream as a guidepost, reality is easier to deal with.

Reader Comments

Michael Langhout

April 16, 2009 4:33 PM

Michael
Don't ever let anyone persuade you to do something other than what you are passionate about. Follow your dreams! If you know what your are passionate about, and understand your special skills that nobody else has but you, and you can find a need in the world that utilizes your passion and skills, then you have found the perfect job.
Michael Langhout

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