I have friends who laughed when I said that I planned to go to business school. Literally laughed. “You?!” they said, knowing my background in government. They assumed (as I probably did, too) that law school was my most likely next step. But I did not head in that direction after graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in government. With every year that passed in the “real world,” I found myself more interested in other career paths.
I was beginning to study for the LSAT as a senior at UVA when my then girlfriend (now wife) recommended positions with several consulting firms as a way to explore both the public and private sectors. I had just finished an internship with the State Department, where I was increasingly concerned that heading into the public sector, although always an interest for me, should not be my immediate next step. I had no idea what exactly “consulting” meant, but I ended up with a few interviews. When an offer came through, my undergrad adviser strongly encouraged that I accept it, which I did.
It’s funny to recollect exactly how that first year in consulting proceeded. I learned far more about Excel than I ever wanted. I’m fairly embarrassed to admit how much I knew about airline and hotel loyalty programs. But I also eventually realized that I really enjoyed doing what I had by then learned consultants did – help clients solve problems with a fresh, external perspective.
Amidst this realization, I started to explore the resumes of my colleagues. Almost everyone had gone back to school for an MBA. I was lucky to have a mentor at the firm who encouraged my next step: a formal business education to complement my “on‑the‑job” business training.
While exploring and ultimately deciding on an MBA, I had three priorities:
- Global focus. Several consulting projects had taken me outside the United States, and I was passionate (and still am) about the way the world is changing. I hoped for a business education where I would have the chance to work with people from around the world. Fuqua’s high percentage of international students and global expansion initiative were very attractive to me.
- Great environment for partners. My wife and I debated going to school together, but she had a start-up opportunity and decided to continue to pursue it. We wanted an environment where she would be actively welcomed and considered a part of the community. The Fuqua Partners program was honestly a defining aspect of our decision making process.
- The elusive “fit.” I visited a lot of programs because I felt that “fit” was difficult to decipher without speaking with current and former students. For me, fit was critical. I wanted a place where I could develop relationships that would be successful both in a personal and a professional sense. At Fuqua, I found a place where students take their work very seriously, but do not take themselves too seriously. And that was very appealing to me.
So here I am, just a few months from graduation. My wife is actually now a first-year Daytime MBA student, so we are happy to be staying in Durham for another year. I am excited to join this blog and share a few posts during this period before the “real world” calls once more.