For a long time, the story I told myself was that business school just wasn’t for me. My internal monologue went something like this:
“Come on, you’re a poet, not a quant! What are you thinking? Remember, Excel is scary, and spreadsheets give you hives? You just don’t have the right experience.”
Thankfully, there was another, louder voice in my head that just wouldn’t let the whole business school thing go.
Still, throughout the application process, I questioned my abilities. Whenever anyone asked me where I was applying, I’d say, “Fuqua,” followed quickly by, “but it’s competitive this year, so I probably won’t get in.”
Even when I showed up for my interview, I wondered if the Fuqua Admissions team would somehow, “find me out.” And, realizing that I was a business school imposter, they’d decide that my place was somewhere, just not at Fuqua.
So, I’m sure you can imagine when Shari Hubert, our Associate Dean of Admissions, called me one April morning to welcome me to Team Fuqua. I was at once excited, extremely grateful, and also genuinely shocked.
Fast forward a couple of months, and it didn’t take long for imposter syndrome to creep back in. All of my classmates appeared accomplished, brilliant, well-spoken, and put together, seemingly without any effort.
The conversations and interactions I had both virtually and in-person only seemed to reinforce this perception. Everyone was “fine.” Recruiting was “going well.” Interviews were crushed. Great grades secured. Friendships thrived.
And I began to wonder, was I the only one struggling to keep up?
I quickly learned I wasn’t alone and that a lot of my classmates were struggling too. One such classmate turned friend was Sowmya Alla, who reached out to me one day and quite bluntly said, “I’m really struggling. Recruiting sucks. This is really, really hard.”
From there, Sowmya opened up to me, and I opened up to her. As we opened the door to start talking transparently about what wasn’t going well and not just about what was, we began to feel better and felt less like imposters.
The more we talked, the more we noticed how infrequently we discussed our failures inside and outside the classroom, even though we both felt that often our failures proved to be more valuable than our successes.
We decided to do something about it and decided to create a podcast called, Failing Forward. Failing Forward is dedicated to providing an honest, humorous, and judgment-free space to discuss our failures, to learn from them, connect through them, and move forward together.
So far, we’ve recorded eight plus episodes, have had 1000+ listens, and have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received from not only Team Fuqua but other schools.
Through the podcast, we’ve gotten to know, understand, and grow through our classmates’ experiences, all while covering everything from recruiting and imposter syndrome to the international student experience and identity. We hope that through Failing Forward, we can continue to build an authentic community by daring to be vulnerable and begin to normalize failure sharing so we can all grow together.