The world needs you.
Maybe it needs you to become a consultant. That’s still a totally viable career path for you and we’re not trying to convince you that getting an MBA to go do that is a bad idea or that it’s somehow morally wrong to continue working to make that happen.
But, at the same time, the world is ready to change, and change agents are welcome.
What’s being called for right now is systemic change. Things you’ve likely already done, like being a mentor to minority youth, or serving on a diversity committee at school, these things definitely matter. But the issues that need attention run deep. They’re the infrastructure of this country that all of us have inherited. It will take real WORK to change them.
It’s not necessary to go back to school to do that. However, society will need more educated folks who focus on specific issues now and in the near future and long term, too. If you were already planning on going back to school, and the changing world has made you examine your focus, today’s post is to encourage you on that path with perhaps a more expansive view. Business school is incredibly flexible — and lord knows, the world of business needs changing.
A very real truth though is this: If you are to start out as a consultant post-MBA, with the intention of saving up some money and then later on switching into a more noble career where you imagine you’d be able to effect change, we have to wonder why are you delaying the desire for change for 10+ years? Especially when most people get addicted to the cushy lifestyle that the big-ticket consulting salary brings in?
It can be very very difficult to drop all the trappings of success that comes with your six figure income to go do the hard work of changing the world. You’ll likely have a spouse, one or two kids, a dog or a cat, a nice car and a mortgage. You’ll also be significantly older, with different priorities, like saving for college so those kids can have a shot at a nice life of their own, and saving for your retirement which is a more pressing demand when you start feeling first signs of age. Dropping the full benefits? The lavish spending account? The status such a job gives you?
People do it, but the sacrifices then are much much harder to make.
Many of you are in a point of transition today. Maybe you have a little credit card debt, a car payment, maybe you’re still paying off college educational loans. You might already be at a six-figure salary today. But, you’re young, flexible, nimble. You might have just started a family, so you’re aware of the difficulties of a big decision that impacts your finances.
And yet. You see the world on fire. You’re hurting.
Maybe the MBA is totally still the right next step for you — and we’re not trying to guilt-trip you into ditching the idea of consulting! Really we’re not. We’re just saying, the world is in a moment right now.
The steps all of us take RIGHT NOW will determine how we move forward from this.
As a structural problem, it’s not all about getting together on your lunch break and talking with friends about how awful it is that yet another black man
died at the hands of the police was lynched in broad daylight with other cops standing by doing nothing. It’s not the “a few bad apples” crap. It’s the entire system that is fucked up and needs to change.
It’s about power.
It’s about socioeconomic class.
It’s about how we see one another.
It’s about folks wringing their hands and saying, “Dang, that’s awful,” and then going about their day.
Here are a handful of jobs that we wanted to present, to get you thinking about various ways you could contribute to building a new world for us all.
- Center for Policing Equity – a thinktank working on action and policy – Senior Intervention Scientist
- Vera Institute of Justice – Policing Program Director
- United Nation Development Programme – Researcher on Business and Human Rights, Sustaining Peace, and International Trade and Investment (International Consultant)
- City of Albuquerque, New Mexico – Deputy Chief Administrative Officer – many more positions available at Management Partners , a government consulting firm
This is just meant as a sampling, a few positions we discovered without too much effort through some internet searching in June 2020. Getting an MBA could get you set up for a job like that. Or, there are many many other Master’s programs available if you feel you’re not currently equipped for work to bring systemic change. Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Administration programs.
The Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton UPDATE 6/27/20: RENAMED Princeton School of Public and International Affairs because racism. The McCourt School at Georgetown. Goldman at Berkeley. Most any School of Education. There’s public health — obviously needed right now with that other crisis that the world is dealing with. There’s healthcare administration, another system massively in need of overhaul in this country.
Heck, you could run for office right now. Getting directly involved in local politics is absolutely where change can be brought today.
Maybe you’ve gone to some protests. Maybe you wish you could go but there have been reasons you haven’t (that’s ok, too; protesting isn’t required to show that you care).
Maybe you’re someone who feels that “all lives matter” — in which case we hope you’ll be open-minded enough to get further educated on why that’s a harmful response to #BLM. (Billie Eilish can help. )
Maybe all of this makes you want to hunker down, because it triggers your anxiety.
We’re not telling you what to do with your life (except on the open-mindedness part, and the continue-to-seek-education-about-issues-that-make-you-uncomfortable part).
We have inherited these problems. So many white people feel helpless, and get defensive, because they don’t feel that they are the ones who created the injustice that they see, yet they’re being blamed for it. The ones in power are the ones who need to change. We saw some change begin a few years ago with #MeToo. That wasn’t enough, and there’s never been enough change around the problems with race in America.
They are systemic.
If you want to “change the world” or “make a difference” as we see so many BSers say in their MBA applications, maybe you’ll look for meaningful ways to actually make that change happen.
Pro Tip: That doesn’t mean going into product management at Facebook or Google or Amazon.
We’re in a moment.
This moment matters.
History is happening.
What will you do to be a part of it for good?
If you read this and think that your political beliefs and values differ from the positions laid out here… That’s totally ok. We’re not trying to force an agenda, except for one of human rights. Which isn’t actually an agenda. It’s possible to believe in fairness and justice and be on any side of the political spectrum. Here’s a discussion from Stanford about how white people underestimate and discount their privilege which is also called the “denial effect.” And, for anyone who wants understand some of the forces shaping politics today and why seemingly rational people can end up being very irrational especially when we get on social media, this Wait But Why? series might be instructive.