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Advice: The Best Hand-me-down

April 30, 2014

Our MBA cohort is collecting submissions of advice for the rising class. That request has stuck with me. I’m not sure what I’m ready to pass on yet, but what’s forming in my head looks something like this:

Take your time.

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My family at sunset.

Many of my classmates are nervous. They want a good job. They have risked everything to get to where they are now: a job if they had one, two years of life, buckets of thousands of dollars in debt. Late nights, early mornings, lost promotions, lost time with family and friends. They want to be validated. Was this risk the right decision? 

Many of us went back to school because we weren’t satisfied with our lives. For those of us, the question is: is this degree going to work? Is it going to get me where I need to go?

The fear starts creeping up on students during their first week of school – at Orientation. They realize that they will need to start applying for summer internships. The self-doubt (that never really goes away) surfaces. It is palpable. This past January I sat in a lobby, awaiting my interview. A first-year sat next to me. I could hear her question her every move, her every application, every extra day in waiting to hear back YES, yes your application was good enough, yes your resume, your life! was worth reading, yes I will talk to you. Her voice shook as other students passed by. She did not get that job. Neither did I.

This fear is so strong that it drives students to take the first Yes that they hear. It is a Yes that they have worked hard for, quit work for, toiled long nights for, mortgaged their future for. They only need one yes to secure stability. To continue moving forward.

Some instantly regret the premature yes. The leaden regret in their voices will grab you, slow you down, shake you out, and fill your vision with deep knowledge of your own mortality.

“If only I had known others would be hiring in the spring…” 

“If I had had access to something different I would have taken it in a heartbeat…”

I have taken my first Yes, too. Every single day in that wrong job was painful, until it finally ended, and then the pain of regret and the pain of the loss of the job I wanted – the job that called me back two weeks after our joyous yesing— was worse. 

So take your time.

 

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