I’ve been welcomed back to college. And it’s tough (which was expected).
An early morning alarm clock buzz before 8 a.m. classes replaced sleeping in, a benefit of working late shifts for many years. Tests—and the associated cramming—come in bunches every month or so. Most of my free time involves some sort of MBA thought. Years working and the challenges of a career make one forget all that comes with college.
That’s not to say that the two-plus months at Georgia Tech’s College of Management haven’t been a good experience or that they haven’t had their difficulties.
I’m surrounded daily by incredibly smart classmates: engineers, PhDs, scientists, computer programmers, finance professionals, and more. And I’m just an ex-sports reporter. Our class discussions run deep and are thought-provoking, with past experiences mixing with new ideas. Just about everyone has something to share, as both my classmates and professors allow for open discussions. As I expected, the discussions are colloquial and considerate; no one is out to prove how right he or she is—or how wrong everyone else is. It’s not a competition. We’re all here to learn, to grow, and eventually to get a job.
Every day, I learn something. Some days, it’s from the faculty. (Some are more engaging). Other days, it’s from a class discussion. And I have learned some things about myself. Accounting, a miserable experience as an undergrad and therefore one class I dreaded taking, has been anything but that. The class is taught by Charles Mulford, one of Georgia Tech’s top business school professors. He makes the material easy to understand and apply. Coming in, I was going to be one-and-done, taking accounting courses. I am now considering taking an accounting elective or two next year.
A typical day includes two classes (accounting and organizational behavior on Mondays and Wednesdays; analytical tools/stat and finance on Tuesdays and Thursdays), several hours working at my graduate assistanceship, and assorted homework and studying. Mix in the constant group work and case studies (which never seem to end) and an internship search and my free time has all but disappeared.
A Birth of Creativity
I soon discovered that something else is missing.
I have never thought of myself as overly creative. I can’t draw or paint, play a musical instrument, or sing. Writing (along with some design work) was never something I considered a creative outlet. It was just what I did. For several years it was a job. Now I realize I was wrong: My writing was my chance to be creative. Putting words together—telling someone’s story—was how I expressed myself. Increasingly, as the semester has progressed, I have missed this. Core MBA classes just don’t provide much of an opportunity.
As I slowly figure out areas I want to consider pursuing for an internship and job, I’ve learned how important a creative component is for me. Media, communications, online, and marketing jobs would provide a chance to be creative, particularly through writing and designing. So, too, would analytics, research, and strategy positions—helping an organization to learn, solve, and then explain.
As my routine—something that took quite some time to figure out—has set in, I have found more time to run. Running is my necessary, mind-clearing escape and it’s a popular sport among my classmates. The Georgia Tech campus has a three-mile loop and I aim to run it twice a week. Over the past month, I’ve done pretty well and I’m slowly working myself into shape. Soon it will be time to extend my runs, giving me a chance to explore some other areas of the main Tech campus, across the interstate from the management building.
It took a little while, but I’ve settled in here at Tech. The idea of getting an MBA is no longer a daunting notion, although some days are much tougher than others. As I am almost a quarter of the way through the program, it’s now a reality.