Monday, May 20, 2013


Many of us leave the workforce to get an MBA for very similar reasons: to accelerate our careers.  The ambition is in and of itself very compelling, but I believe many of us are driven by the complementary goal of obtaining positions that we want, positions that will make us happy worker bees.  

Obviously these goals are inter-related for most of us: because we like to have influence, the accelerations gets us into those positions faster.  I am thrilled that an MBA will propel me to a new phase in my career and will enable me to take on roles that motivate and inspire me. In fact, I'm looking forward to graduate school to remind me why this work inspires me in the first place!

The last month at my job has been incredibly fast-paced. The whiplash quickly replaced the senioritis that plagued me in January after my acceptances.  These days, I don't have any time for slacking.  Through all the toil though, I have been besieged by a new plague: pessimism.  

My blog has been silly and sarcastic, but I'm not sure how often it's exposed my exuberant optimism.  I believe that passion, creativity, and skill can solve any of the world's problems.  If we could gather the most critical, thoughtful, and dedicated people in one room, they could develop new forms of energy, breathe peace into the world, and end poverty. 

I know, right; what a naif!  I love this aspect of myself and since optimism is contagious, I bet others love it, too. 

This is a trait of mine that blossomed as an undergraduate.  I was part of a cohort, a community of 25 students who not only shared a major, but shared common classes, interests, and drive. I graduated believing that we could accomplish anything.  And so many of them have gone on to do amazing things.

Over the past 7 or so years, I had struggled at one impasse after barrier after roadblock after another, but I had found a way through it.  Nonetheless, in recent months, my optimism has degraded, and it has done so at an astonishing pace. 

Partly it's because I keep hitting up against the same problems: intractable issues of poverty and homelessness, institutional racism, and inequitable judicial systems and laws. But these problems are nothing new - so what's changed? Lately, I am finding the people I work with, the supposed partners in our schools, are as much of a roadblock as these systemic problems.  

It's hard to keep the youth at the center of our work when politics and egos interfere.  The school staff have confused accountability with blame, partnerships with possessiveness, and high expectations with test performance. I know these statements aren't that descriptive, but suffice it to say, that it's been a struggle working with schools because they have most of the power and money (which is a whole separate blog post in itself...). 

My hope is that over the next two years, in a collaborative, warm, and passionate environment like I've found at Yale SOM, I will reinvigorate my optimism. 

The time has come to take a break away and be renewed.

(Side note, to help me in my times of education pessimism, I watch this amazing TED video by Sir Ken Robinson. It makes me feel super inspired.  In general, TED videos make me feel smarter, but this one is exceptional by all standards.  Also the animation is pretty dang cool.)

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