We’ve seen some interesting videos come out from different top business schools with an ever increasing frequency and Duke in particular seems to be releasing a lot of them. Here’s one from last summer that is short and sweet (always appreciated!) with an important message about 2/3 of the way through. For context, at the beginning she’s talking about tri-sector partnerships (government, non-profit, business) – that’s not the reason we’re posting but it helps to know what this video is about:
The reason we’re posting though is for all of you newly-admitted future MBA students, to hear her advice about taking risk.
Business school is indeed a special opportunity. You get to put life on hold and go do this other almost self-indulgent thing for two years. You get to explore new disciplines, or go deeper into the ones you already know and love. You get to meet all sorts of people, and travel to exotic places. There are sanctioned drinking events every single week! What’s not to like?
Of course, all of this starts in the year(s) before you even set foot on campus, with the work and the introspection involved with pulling together a good set of essays and figuring out how to present yourself in the all-important MBA application. That’s the beginning of this opportunity for self-reflection and discovery, where you get to identify and/or reconfirm your values, and chart a course to build a life that resonates with those. (This piece from NY Times columnist David Brooks may be useful as a reminder , in case you lost sight of that goal along the way.) Frequently, BSers become very inspired when they dream up what life they might like to have (sometimes a little over enthusiastic, in fact, and we have to walk them back to reality when we offer feedback on some too-aggressive or perhaps otherwise unrealistic goals in their essays – but that’s a topic for another day).
Despite that awesome enthusiasm, though, and the thrill of being surrounded by a bunch of other super smart whippersnappers in the MBA community, all of whom want to go out and change the world – or at least, change their own lives – what happens so often is that people end up taking the safe route.
This video from the Duke prof hints at that.
For those of you celebrating your success of getting in: You may want to take a moment to capture your real goals. Sitting here now, bright-eyed and smiling, with the world laid out in front of you, what do you really want from the experience?
Perhaps what you wrote in your essays is the full-honest truth. (We sorta hope that it was!!) But regardless of how much you were being sincere, versus wanting to impress your adcom reader, when you crafted your 500-word essays a few months back… Why not take stock today of where you’re at?
You’re facing this limitless sunshine world of opportunity. What will you do with it?
Your life is going to be very, very different in a few short years. How exactly do you want the rest of the story to play out?
Make some decisions now. You can always change them as you learn more and discover additional truths. But what do you want to do with this opportunity? How do you want it to end up? Make a date with yourself in six months, and a year, to check in with these plans and intentions. When you get caught up in the whirlwind of bschool, it’s intoxicating, yes – but it’s also too easy to get distracted by everyone else’s agendas and priorities.
Make sure you know what you want out of it, and stay true to yourself as you modify and adjust those goals and dreams in the months and years ahead.