By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013. Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies. After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.
Sometimes, very small things can have a sizable impact.
For example, just this past week I had my photo taken, and within a day was given a picture ID to attach to the set of secure-entry badges I wear clipped to my waist at work. It wasn’t a big deal, but I felt a very strong sense of place and belonging when I slipped it onto the loop and snapped it into place. There was my face, smiling back at me! And there I was, sitting in my cubicle, working away at my computer, pulling together my analyses for my upcoming presentation to the company executives. Just another workday at my MBA internship.
But the interruption of the photo-ID gave me a moment to pause, and to reflect on the last photo-ID I had worn for work – in a flash of memory I recalled my last day of work at that job, a position I had held for exactly 4 years, 6 months and 2 weeks – how I had slipped the ID badge from my lanyard and deposited it in the HR mailbox before hustling out of the building to make it to my good-bye party, which had apparently started without me! And in remembering that transition, of course I also had to consider everything that had happened between then and now: my move to Seattle, my decision to apply to business school and the resultant search and application process, my acceptance to, and acceptance of, Foster, and the entire first year of my MBA. Two whole years had flown by since I last wore a photo-ID!
I have to be honest, there were times in the past 2 years that I wondered whether I was making the right decisions: was it really so smart to leave behind a good job and start again in a new city – in the middle of a recession? Was an MBA the right next step for me? Would business school help me learn the skills I needed, or help me find a career that I cared about? Or, would some of the habits I acquired as I learned to navigate student life again – pulling all-nighters and banging on the snooze button in the morning, rolling into class in yoga pants and a sweatshirt because I couldn’t be bothered to wear anything less comfortable during lecture, working all week with my classmates but also hanging out all weekend with the same group, the lines between ‘colleagues’ and friends ever-blurred – somehow detract from my ability to put on my office game-face and rock it like a professional when I had the chance again?
Well, there’s now a badge swinging from my waist that features a smart young women, sharply dressed in a button-down and cardigan, staring confidently back. I still hit the snooze button in the mornings, but I arrive at the office on time and ready to work. I’ve certainly re-discovered the business-attire side of wardrobe (and used my first paycheck to expand it!) and take pride in coming into the office dressed like I mean it. I am on excellent terms with my team and superiors and have maintained a healthy divide between my work life and personal life.
And those other questions, the big picture ones, about my MBA and my career, and the direction of my life? I don’t have final answers, that’s for sure, but I’m starting to figure some things out. I’ve discovered interesting new possibilities for a career in marketing and become somewhat passionate about the ways social media can be leveraged to develop a brand. I’m making connections in the technology sector, and learning how products are developed and released within the SaaS (Software as a Service) space. I may find full-time work in the area I am now, or maybe the electives I take in my second year will send me in a new direction. Everywhere I look I see a lot of possibilities as opposed to dead ends; this is definitely something that my MBA has helped me to achieve.
And in the new realities of my day-to-day life, when I encounter a door that’s locked: hey, look at that! My badge grants me access, and I forge ahead.