MBA as a Flashy Handbag
05 Aug '18 — something that isn't talked about often
In my past life, I graduated from a competitive MBA program. One where some students paid $10,000 for consultants to get them in. It’s still tied as the number one business school in the US.
It took me six years to get over the shame.
Maybe it was because I had listened to too many people making fun of MBA’s? Maybe because I was uninspired with my experience there? I’m not sure why I disowned that part out of my life. Only recently have I started to accept that I went to business school and it’s okay.
Before going to business school, I came across many women who also had similar ambitions. There was a sense of incompleteness as a working woman without an MBA. You’re no different than all other women. An MBA allowed others to take you more seriously, it promised more responsibility and confidence.
I didn’t want the opportunities that came with the degree (consulting and finance jobs), I just wanted to keep working but have an MBA. Like carrying a designer bag, I just wanted something flashy.
At the job I had right before entering school, I worked with a young woman who was studying for her GMAT, the test you need to get in. She was dating a guy who went to Stanford Business School. One weekend, she went to visit him in California and got to sit in on a few classes. She took a lot of notes and was so excited to talk about what she learned. She found the school to be perfect for her but it was highly unlikely she’d get in.
At the time, I didn’t tell her or anyone at work that I had submitted my application. We all humored the young woman–she was the future MBA of our group, the go getter.
Then I got into the program and had to let everyone know. I remember explaining to my coworker that I wasn’t trying to hide the situation because I wasn’t sure whether I’d be going. Regardless, she felt embarrassed by the ‘future female business leader’ role she played at work.
‘I’m going to attend next year.’
Right before school started, I met up with other students for drinks. One guy brought his girlfriend. The second after I shook the woman’s hand, she explained “He’s going this year in your class, but I’ll be joining next year.”
Applications weren’t open for next year but there was an urgency to explain. ‘I’m not less worthy! I’m going next year to get my MBA! I’m not a slacker!’
I empathized. If I were in her shoes, I’d feel the same. She was there to network with other MBA’s because she had ambitions to become one.
There are plenty more women who feel incomplete without an MBA. But that incompleteness shouldn’t have been the reason why I got it in the first place.
It happened. Now I know.