Saturday, February 12, 2011

The MBA Project: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Been awful quiet around here for the last few weeks, eh?  Where am I at and what am I up to?

How are things?

Well, first thing's first: the Battle With the GMAT, Round II.  The good news is that I brought that quantitative score up.  The bad news is that my verbal score took a swan dive off of a cliff.  The "meh" news is that my analytical writing score held nice and steady at a 5.5/6.0.  And, overall, my score was lower than my first attempt.  Yes, my verbal slid that far.  I have no real explanation other than that I did not bury my head in books or on practice tests for that month in between, and I was also quite judicious with the, "If I don't know the answer within a minute, ef it, I'm moving on" method.  It clearly worked for me when it came to the quant because I finished with at least 30 seconds to spare and without having to take a W.A.G. at the last 10 questions.  In verbal perhaps I was a bit too liberal with the aforementioned policy because I think I had 2 minutes left there.

Oh, and did I mention that the night before I re-took the exam, I stayed awake ruminating until well after midnight?  And this time I had an 8am test slot, so there you go.

I'll tell you what I was ruminating about, though.  It wasn't about the test.  It was about my newly budding decision to...stay put.

That's right, staying here.  In the U.S.  In San Diego.

So I had that freakout that I wrote about, right?  Over the weekend, I experienced a series of "come to Jesus" meetings with myself, researched, prayed, and allowed the idea to take plant and bloom.  The more I accepted the idea of staying in San Diego to continue working and going to school part time, the better I felt.  That cold, clammy grip of, "Will I be good enough to get into St. Gallen/ERASMUS Rotterdam/Vlerick Leuven, etc.?  Will I be lucky enough to find money to go?  Will I be able to sell my car, figure out what to do with Miss Amelia, rid myself of most of my possessions, get my visa in order, etc." faded away and I realized that as badly as you may want something, sometimes you have to remember what the point of the entire exercise is and how to get it without practically killing yourself in the process. I am (in)famous for taking the hard way out.  My moving to California in the first place wasn't easy or convenient, and while I don't regret doing it one single bit, I don't want to put myself in that position again.  I had no job and only knew one person in the entire city.  The first couple of years were pretty rough on me, I'm not going to lie.  It took a long time for me to find a fulfilling job, I had to build my friend base from scratch, and flying back East to visit family was (and sometimes still is) a big financial burden.  I was often quite lonely and felt adrift, and a few times I seriously considered moving back to Pennsylvania.

While I do still very much cherish the dream of spending time living and working in Europe, it is in my best interest right now to stay put, earn my stripes, and find another way to get there.  My boss is a prime example.  Her passion was International Business and she went to USD and worked through her MBA.  After she was done, she eventually took a position where she was sent to Paris, France to head up supply chain for a major American company.  She didn't know French or have connections there that I know of.  She was working for the company and was simply the best person for the job, so she and her husband went and lived there for two years.  I haven't asked, but I'm sure the company paid for moving expenses and assisted with finding housing and paid for her language lessons.  Same type of result, but much better circumstances than trying to do it on her own.

By staying here, I get to keep my great job, my car, my cat, my friends, my life.  My European dream life was threatening to eclipse my real one, but when I came out of that haze, I realized that the life I have is very much worth sticking around and continuing.

So what exactly is the plan now?

When I looked into the University of San Diego's business school, I learned that it is actually well recognized for its focus on sustainability, which is a topic near and dear to my heart.  They offer a few specialization tracks on top of that, one of which is International Business.  Their evening MBA program, as it turns out, can be done in the same amount of time as the full time program, depending on the pace you go, of course.  With the International Business track, there are multiple opportunities to study abroad, even for the evening students.  There are practicums and short term trips ranging anywhere from one to three weeks in several places around the world.

I attended an information session on campus last Monday and the more I learned about it, the more convinced I am that this is a good way for me to go.  After all, my boss is an alumni who's quite active in the community, and one of my co-workers is just wrapping up her MBA in their evening program this year and she's had nothing but great things to say about it.  So this is where I want to go.  My company does offer tuition reimbursement for up to a certain amount.  It won't come close to covering everything, but every little bit counts when we're talking about going into more educational debt!  I'm also going to go for as many scholarships as I can find.  Given that minority women are underrepresented in business schools and that I am a triple threat (Black, Latina, and a woman), there has to be some way to make that happen, right?

I've been in touch with the admissions director at USD who gave the information session and she's going to arrange for me to be able to attend a class soon.  I refuse to re-take the GMAT again, as my first score was well within the 80% range for the school.  I may have to explicitly address the imbalance between my quant & verbal scores, but I think I can pull it off.  The admissions process for the evening program is on a rolling basis, although they recommend having it in by April 1 to be considered for loans and scholarships.  So I'm going to take the next several weeks to get that in order, and then there's nothing but to wait and plan.  I do have a backup, which is the University of California, San Diego.  But it's a distant second. Europe?

Oh, yes, there will be a Europe trip!  Are you kidding?! I haven't gone completely bonkers.  I've been planning to go back this year since 2009.  My parents decided that they are going in late September by hook or by crook, so my pal Tina and I are on our own.  Because of timing, our options are either late June into July or in December.  We'd prefer to do the summer vacation.  We may start in Rome and work our way up to Cologne or Frankfurt, or go in reverse.  That's still up in the air, but it's definitely going to happen this year come hell or high water!

And there you have it.  That's the update, and surely there will still be more adventures to come as I journey to advanced degree status.  Until then, I'm just enjoying my life in the here and now.  Cheers!