Why I Decided To Go Back To School And Get My MBA
First off – let me say… I am not the first person in my family to go to grad school so before I tell you all my path and story, I need to say a quick shout out to my sister because Kell… you obviously inspired me to follow in your footsteps! My sister graduated from NYU in 2015 with an MBA focusing on Marketing and Finance. So, thank you for being a boss babe and blazing the trail…without you doing this first, I have no idea if I would have ever had the confidence to move across the country and start another degree.
In undergrad at USC, I majored in Communications and minored in Marketing (both of which I loved!) because I always knew I was more of the creative type. I wasn’t really numbers focused and I was always drawn to courses that I could use my creativity in. I had an incredible undergraduate experience filled with classes that I loved and material I was really passionate about.
As time went on and I got closer to the end of my undergraduate experience, I began to realize that as I was about to enter the work force, that I really was beginning to wish that I had at least focused somewhat more on core business courses and really understanding key business practices. I knew upon graduation that I was going to move back to Las Vegas and work for our family business and I was intimidated going into that work environment not having a full business background. I also knew upon graduating from USC that I was going to be starting WilsonGabrielle with my sister and I knew that I eventually wanted to start a fashion line with my sister.
With all of this in mind, I decided that it was extremely important for me to go back to school, to take core business classes, to focus on specializations that I was passionate about, and to really prepare myself for the career path that I began to understand I wanted in life. Maybe some people figure out exactly what they want to do in undergraduate… but I also know a lot of people don’t. For me, I knew somewhat of what I wanted… I wanted to work for the family business, but I also wanted to create WilsonGabrielle and be creative and be in the fashion world because I am beyond passionate about that, as well.
When picking which Programs I would apply to, I was extremely selective. I knew that if I was going to go back to school again that I wanted to ensure that I was in a place that I would truly love. I didn’t want to just apply to schools just to get in, I wanted to make sure I was going back to a program that made sense for me. I applied to two schools, USC (the comfortable route!) and NYU (the exact opposite of comfortable!).
As time got closer to me deciding where I wanted to go and what was next for me, I decided that I was at a point in my life where I needed to push myself, I needed to spread my wings, experience new places, people and things, and I needed to go after a life-long dream of spending some time living in New York City. I also was extremely interested in the fact that NYU offered a specialization in Luxury Marketing because I felt like that was the perfect fit for me.
So, here’s the reality of an MBA program and I will give you the good and the bad and everything I have learned thus far.
First, I decided to go to an MBA program at a relatively young age. I applied to get my Masters at 23, started my MBA at 24 and will graduate at 25 years old. The pro to this is that I only took a year off of school and it was pretty easy to fall back into the routine of going to school again. The con was that I had a hard time at first finding my place within the program. A lot of people are a couple years older and in very different stages of life than I am currently. But I will say, I got super lucky in meeting a friend the first day of our orientation and we have stuck together through the entire program! I am beyond lucky to have her (lots of love for you Nicole).
The next thing I will say is that … your first semester is hard. Do not underestimate it. They throw a lot of core classes your way (accounting, stats, micro economics, strategy, finance, etc.), but I swear that it only makes you more hard-working and more determined to succeed. After your first semester, things do get a little lighter! You get to pick your electives and specializations and you get to focus on courses that really excite you!
For instance, I took a course last semester called Innovation and Design and I got to rethink how art museums work and how my team and I could disrupt the art museum industry. I also have taken Luxury Marketing courses learning about Hermes and Chanel and taken Management courses that have given me the courage to speak up, stand tall, and be confident in so many different settings. Not only are the courses amazing, but the professors are real world professionals. Professionals that teach you everything they have learned in their work experience and I cannot emphasize how important this is. Although your MBA will have rough patches and some days will seem impossible, the benefits outweigh any con you could ever think of.
I am officially in my last semester of my MBA and although some days were harder than others… I can say I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I have had by coming to this program. I am excited to finish up my final courses and I am even more excited to leave with so much knowledge gained that I otherwise don’t know if I ever would have had. Your MBA will challenge you, it will stress you out, but it will also better you, it will push you, it will make you a better leader and business person and it will make you feel prepared to embark on any career path you decide to take. So, if you’re truly passionate about a certain topic or furthering your education… all I can say is go for it!
Here are 3 tips for anyone that is entering an MBA program that I have for sure learned during my time here:
Group work will happen – day in and day out. Learn from the individuals in your group. Be willing to be collaborative and flexible with your schedule. Play on your strengths and learn from your weaknesses.
Study. Study. Study. Do not fall behind – especially in your first semester. Take time every day to catch up and refresh the material. You decided to go get another degree for a reason… so don’t slack off! Take advantage of it.
Do not be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, or contribute to classroom conversations. You are in the program for a reason, make sure you get the most out of your time and experience in the classroom.
I’ll leave you with this – one of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me is that your education is the one thing that no one can ever take from you!