Note: I originally wrote this on 10/29/2014 for Pacific University’s MBA blog. The blog, it seems, never came to be. Now that I have completed the program, I’ve decided to share that original post here.
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The past 12 months have been full of transitions for me. It started a year ago when my wife asked me for a divorce. It had been some time coming (we’d been separated six months) but that didn’t soften the blow. Now that I think about it, it was Halloween night when she gave me the news, and I’m writing this almost exactly one year later, October 29, sitting at a bar right across the street from where it happened. I suppose this is as good a time as any to reflect, but also to look forward.
The next transition was much more mundane, but nonetheless jarring: I turned 30 in July. When I had graduated Pacific back in 2007, I promised myself that if I was still earning under $30k per year by the time turned 30, I would take drastic measures to promote my professional life. Without getting into details, I’ll just say that when my 30th birthday finally flew by, it was time to fire for effect. (Some clarification: I majored in Media Arts and money really wasn’t an immediate concern of mine at the time. Still, I had the foresight to know that, at some point, I would have to make some of it, and 30 seemed like a good age to start doing that.)
When I took stock of my situation at that moment—getting divorced, entering a new decade—I realized that now, more than ever, was the time to affect positive change in my life. That’s when a friend, a fellow Pacific alum, mentioned that he had heard Pacific was starting an MBA program.
I had never considered myself a candidate for grad school. It simply wasn’t in the cards. I paid my dues: 16 years of school were quite sufficient, thank you very much. But, I also had a promise to keep to myself, and with no relationship, no kids, and flexible employment, I knew I would never have a better shot at going back to school. Perhaps this was the positive change I was looking for. But an MBA degree? Other than running a wedding photography business for a handful of years, I had zero business experience—or interest, really. Nevertheless, I said, what the heck? It can’t hurt. I applied to Pacific’s nascent MBA program, resting completely on my essay because I knew it kicked ass, and called it good. I didn’t apply anywhere else (you probably should; it’s what you’re supposed to do, but I didn’t. Because I’m a rebel.)
The next few months flew by, until on one Friday in October, I found myself at Pacific’s Hillsboro campus for the MBA orientation, surrounded by the other members of my cohort, all of whom were much more qualified to be there than I (undoubtedly). Now, I’m just two days away from taking my first final—for Accounting—and it feels somewhat surreal. I mean, I never wanted to learn accounting. Throughout the class, I kept being reminded of an old Southwest Airlines commercial in which an employee of a fictional company is sitting in a meeting, humorously imitating his boss who is giving a presentation on “making accounts payable exciting again.” When the employee gets caught, the commercial cuts to Southwest’s motto: “Wanna get away?” Ironically, I didn’t want to get away from Accounting class (although, I assure you I still have no plans of becoming an accountant). I actually found great value in it—value that extends far beyond what you probably consider to be the confines of the accounting discipline. Sometimes you a take a class that directly affects the direction of your life; other times, you take a class that merely, but importantly, exercises your mind and allows you to see the world from a different perspective.
So, anyway, yeah, my final is coming up and I should probably be studying for that instead of writing this blog post, but I’m just one of those weirdos who enjoys writing. I don’t have a moral to this story, perhaps because it isn’t finished being told. I still get really depressed at times because of my divorce; I still say I’m 29 by mistake when people ask my age; I still feel loads of stress from working two jobs and being in school; I still think about dropping out (I wouldn’t be the first). But for now, I’m continuing to manage, to hold true what I hope is the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself all those years ago as I walked across that stage and grabbed my diploma. Positive change.
You might be wondering what I plan to do with my MBA, but I’m not someone who enjoys making plans. I roll with the punches; an MBA might help me land a few of my own, and that’s all I’ve got for now.