Sitting in a seat of suits, I listened to a panel of MBA admission committee members answer questions in a hotel conference room on a warm fall day in Atlanta, Georgia. The room was brimming with over 150 people, many of whom, like me, arrived directly after leaving the office. With each question about test scores, work experience, educational history, and other suggestions, I gained important knowledge.
And at the same time, with each question I imagined how my application would compare to the other 150 suits in the room. Was my work experience that compelling? What if I had graduated from a higher ranked college? Why couldn’t I perform better on quantitative sections of standardized tests? When I returned to work the next day these doubts faded away as I managed my daily responsibilities.
One year passed. As I reflected on my professional growth and researched long-term career path options, it was evident that successfully pursuing an MBA had the potential to improve my ability to find meaningful work and increase my lifetime earning potential. I decided I wanted to go for the MBA.
Most importantly, with Forté’s help, I’ve gained the confidence to speak in a voice that is my own.
Yet I still carried the heavy weight of self-doubt. Even so, on a warm fall day reminiscent of one year prior, I walked into the Forté Foundation career event. I learned about MBALaunch, a comprehensive, well-planned and supportive ten month program for women like me. The program would provide structure, accountability and support. I enrolled.
Today, as the last days of summer fade and MBALaunch comes to an end after nearly ten months, I am not the same professional woman who felt like she was sitting in a sea of suits. With Forté I’ve practiced presentation skills with a professional executive coach, learned about how to overcome imposter syndrome, gained strategies for the toughest sections of the GMAT, and met with a peer group in my home city to share camaraderie and review our application essays.
Through MBALaunch, I discovered that “that” voice wasn’t meant to be someone else’s — it was in fact my own.
Most importantly, with Forté’s help, I’ve gained the confidence to speak in a voice that is my own. I no longer feel like I have to pick a linear career path in a few select industries to be a success. Nor do I perceive MBA admissions as a competition for an extremely specific type of individual.
Freed from the weight of my self-doubt, I can see now that an MBA will not only help me find meaningful work; it will also be the foundation of how I become the creator of meaningful work. I can see that the MBA will not only open the door to greater lifetime earnings; it will also serve as the basis for how I establish equitable compensation throughout my career.
I can also see, that without a voice, there can never be a movement. Through MBALaunch, I discovered that “that” voice wasn’t meant to be someone else’s — it was in fact my own. The very experiences and abilities I wanted to squash and minimize because they highlighted my differences from others are the very source of meaning and strength that will serve me as an MBA applicant and a business leader of significance.
Eleanor is a fall 2017 MBA applicant, currently residing in Tel Aviv, Israel where she works in business strategy and technology. Applications for MBALaunch are open until October 30, 2016.