It’s two weeks until the deadline for Chicago Booth to release its Round 2 admissions decisions, but I’m trying not to worry about something that I no longer have any control over. The advice about not increasing the troubles of today by borrowing from the future is particularly fitting for those in a similar position. While I wait, I am glad to have been admitted to one of my target schools and to have the good fortune of having to weigh a decision that I do control.
The decision in front of me – whether or not to attend NYU Stern – is linked to the broader reasons that motivated me to apply to business schools in the first place. In essence, it’s about taking the best option to achieve greater job satisfaction, given my present circumstances. This inquiry is focused more on what I would be doing in my post-MBA (or otherwise) career and for what purpose, rather than on how much I would be paid, since it’s virtually assured that my next job will represent taking a pay cut from my current industry.
Foremost is this vague but strong desire to do work that is more personally fulfilling. That means having more autonomy, personal growth and impact in my job, but also the sense that my time and energy are being used toward a greater purpose, creating value beyond myself. That last piece – doing something that matters – is especially important, and I think my intended career change is a step toward that. I have internal rumblings that building a startup or early-stage company, mine or someone else’s, is in my longer-term future, but not before building some functional and industry expertise in the interim.
On one hand, business school represents two years that I could be gaining hands-on experience as well as six figures of debt that may influence or even limit my post-graduation job choices. But, by providing connections, training and even more generally, targeted opportunities and experiences, business school represents a means of aligning my career with my goals in a way that isn’t readily available to me otherwise. I also know that I am very motivated to make my business school experience worthwhile, and will not assume that the mere imprimatur of attending business school will suffice.
Against that backdrop, I’m leaning more towards attending business school, and am starting to envision and plan in much greater detail what two years at NYU Stern would look like. Unless a better opportunity arises in the next few months (e.g., worthwhile job offer or business idea), I will continue to shift my attention to ensure that my time in business school is worthwhile, rather than waiting for a better option that may not exist. Close one door, open another…