[Guest Blog] 5 ways being an MBA spouse has changed my life for the better

For me, writing is therapeutic, so I’ve shared a lot about my experience as the wife of an MBA student through blogs like MBA Chic. Most of the time, I write about how it’s changed my life — and not always for the better.

There are a lot of unique challenges that come with joining your significant other on a path from student to working professional to student again, and it has always been my intention to offer an honest, realistic viewpoint of what others can expect when they embark on a similar journey.

It’s important to note, however, that with this great sacrifice comes great rewards, and there are notable ways in which my life has changed for the better since my husband started hitting the books again. Here are a few of them:

Meeting people from around the globe. The network you’re exposed to as a business school student and a significant other is quite phenomenal. You get to meet and learn about people who come from every type of background imaginable, and it gives you a healthy appreciation for the challenges — and triumphs — students experienced to get where they are today.

As someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel a lot, I love hearing stories about an over-the-top wedding ceremony in Japan, the incredible number of people that live and work in India, or the unimaginable bravery and resilience that a former Army Ranger exhibited in the midst of a life-and-death situation. They share their highest highs and their lowest lows, and their openness and candor really inspires you.

Getting the chance to live in an exciting city. Depending on where your significant other chooses to go to school, it can be a great opportunity to live in a brand new city with destination spots to explore and delicious food to sample. I was fortunate in that we ended up in New York City, which is, arguably, one of the most exciting cities in the world. We’re a short Subway ride away from the center of the universe — aka Times Square — and from other landmarks like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

While two years may seem like a long time, it really does fly by, so I encourage everyone to make the most of their time in a new city. Try all of the locals’ favorite cuisine, and discover some hole-in-the-wall places on your own. Walk when you can, because you never know when you might stumble upon a tiny gem — like an entire store devoted to the movie “The Big Lebowski,” for example. I try to remind myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s important to take advantage of what it has to offer.

Fringe benefits because you’re a packaged deal. This one’s simple: If you’re an MBA spouse, most schools want to try to make the transition as easy as possible for you, so that you can help maintain a happy home. Perks like access to the university gym, library and career services might not sound like much, but if you’re new to the city and simply looking to put yourself out there, these types of things present the perfect opportunity. Want to take some classes? Go right ahead — many schools offer discounted or free course offerings for MBA better halves. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

Opportunities to travel to unexpected places. “Wait. B-school students travel? Aren’t they supposed to be studying?” While excellence in the classroom is a top priority for most students, so is fraternizing with their peers in the real world as well. My husband just completed his first semester, and already we’ve been to the U.S. military academy, West Point, where we toured its beautiful campus, tailgated with fellow visitors and attended an Army-Navy football game. Would I have taken it upon myself to make the trek up there? Probably not. Was it a worthwhile experience? Absolutely.

There are frequent weekend trips that significant others are encouraged to attend with their students, so if it’s feasible to do so, I say go for it.

Sharing a life-changing experience. (Insert cliché, uplifting power ballad here.) In all seriousness, for as much as the b-school experience is about your significant other taking his or her career to the next level, at the end of the day, it’s one milestone in the life that you’re building together. Yes, I’ve been stressed out. Yes, there have been days where I’ve wondered why I signed up for this. But I did sign up for better or worse, so even when I don’t want to, I try to see the glass half-full. I think if you do, you’ll be open to the possibility that you just might glean some value out of this journey, too.

Fellow better halves: What have you enjoyed most about the business school experience?

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Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading family nurse practitioner programs. She is passionate about photography, community building, and University of Michigan football. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.

[Guest Blog] Priorities change when you combine an MBA, marriage

My husband is not someone who makes a decision lightly.

We used to joke that we had a common-law marriage because we were together more than 8 years before he proposed. He’ll go back to a shoe store three times before committing to one pair of slip-ons, and I refuse to play Scrabble with him because he takes an outlandish amount of time to commit to his next word.

Choosing a business school was no different. He studied tirelessly for the GMAT to secure a score that would make him a great candidate in an extremely competitive landscape. He chatted with friends pursuing the same career path, spent hours on admissions forums, checked the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and visited campuses with top MBA programs like the University of Chicago (Booth) and Columbia University. Poets & Quants became his homepage.

When he began classes this fall at one of his dream schools, reality started to set in. As a newly married couple, we would not be charting the same course that so many of our peers were at this stage in their lives. It became increasingly clear that our priorities were shifting, and it would be at least two years before we started tackling the “normal” next steps.

The following are a few areas in which we’ve hit the pause button in favor of my husband advancing his career:

Starting a family. When you’re together as long as we were before getting married, you start to get the “so when are you guys going to tie the knot?” question. A lot. Then, just when you think you’ve quieted the peanut gallery, you’re faced with the inevitable baby question. While many of our friends are taking this next step, business school has put the brakes on it for us. While it is an exciting time in our lives, it is also a stressful one, and I think adding the extra pressure of a newborn would simply be too much. Not to mention the lack of space in our tiny, one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side, and the fact that we’re currently depending on one income.

It is important to note, however, that I do know of at least a handful of people who are making the MBA/parents thing work, so it can be done — it just isn’t something we’re willing to commit to at this time.

Buying a house. When you’re living in a place like New York City, buying real estate is not for the faint of heart. Not only is it extremely competitive with high turnover rates, but also you’re paying for a piece of one of the most desirable cities in the world — and it’ll cost you. While friends around the country are securing beautiful starter homes, house hunting is not even on our radar at this point in time. Again, with so many unknowns, it doesn’t make sense to be tied down with a mortgage. What if he doesn’t land a job after graduation? What if we decide to move again in a few years? Renting works just fine for us.

Furthering my education. While it’s tough for me to imagine being back in the classroom after a handful of years as a working professional, I’ve pondered it from time to time and would strongly consider pursuing a master’s degree in a field like marketing. However, the thought of both of us taking on more debt and being full-time students simultaneously doesn’t sound all that appealing. That’s not to say it will never happen, but it’s simply not a viable option right now. Perhaps at the end of his two-year journey, I can revisit this idea, or simply take a few classes in the meantime.

I’d love to hear from some fellow “better halves.” What are some sacrifices you’ve had to make that, perhaps, your other married friends haven’t? How have you been able to cope?

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Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online masters in nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading nurse midwife programs. She is passionate about photography, community building, and University of Michigan football. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.

Happy 2012: Thanks

Happy New Year!

I hope you enjoyed a great holiday season with loved ones, and that your 2012 has gotten off to a fantastic start.

Looking back, I have to say: 2011 was great. I started writing for MBAchic and had the chance to meet many people who either find themselves, plan to be, or once were in my shoes as an MBA student. It’s been great to connect and share with each other over the past few months, and I’ve learned so much. Through social media channels (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook), I also found a completely new world, full of bloggers, thought leaders and contributors who discuss technology, women in business, management and more. I’ve had the chance to interview and work with some awesome people, and cannot wait to share more of these interviews and features in 2012.

Some of you offered your thoughts and experiences through a guest blog. Some came by to comment on an article. Some shared MBAchic through tweets, reblogs and Facebook likes. Some are reading MBAchic for the first time, right now. I hope you are enjoying, and I want to say: thank you. Thanks for making 2011 great.

If you are an MBA student: best of luck in your job and internship searches, and I hope you are enjoying some time off before the spring term. If you are applying to business school: good luck! I hope you wind up where you truly belong, and that you have a great experience. If you’ve done all of this before, I hope you will consider sharing some of your experiences with us here.

Thanks again, everyone. Here’s to a great year!

[Guest Blog] Keep It MBAchic: What to Wear to your Holiday Office Party

It’s that time of year. Holiday e-cards, secret santa gifts, and holiday office parties! These parties are a time to wind down with your colleagues, take a small break from work and celebrate end of the year holidays. For some it can also be a time to break away from the boring business casual and to show your co-workers that you CAN clean up nice!  So MBA ladies, what should you be wearing to the holiday work party?

In choosing the perfect outfit for this occasion, there are a few things to consider:
1) The type of office environment – Do you work in a more corporate and conservative office? Is it more business casual? Or can you pull off more laid-back and casual looks?
2) Venue and type of party – Is the party at a swanky space with the entire office invited? Or are you just celebrating with co-workers at a local bar?

Depending on your work environment and the type of party, you have some flexibility in choosing an outfit that will have your colleagues remembering what you wore well into the new year.

Since holiday work parties vary for many of us, I’ve come up with some stylish options for a few different party scenarios – formal vs. casual and at a few different price ranges.

A Very Formal Corporate Affair

My office every year has a really big, fancy holiday-bash which calls for more formal wear. I chose to cover up a bit by opting for a longer hemline but I like to spice things up with a bright, bold color or with some sparkly fabric.

DVF Clarice Dress
Diane von Furstenberg Clarice Dress

($980 at DvF.com)
Warehouse Halter Maxi Dress
Warehouse Halter Maxi Dress
($155 at asos.com)
Alice + Olivia Lurex Dotted Cocktail Dress
Alice + Olivia Lurex Dotted Cocktail Dress
($385 at MyTheresa.com)
Robert Rodriguez Black Label Avril DressRobert Rodriguez Black Label Avril Dress
($125 at RenttheRunway.com)


A Fun B-School Party

You current MBA ladies can opt for a dress that is a bit more fun and flirty, but still professional. Since you can be a bit more daring, I’d even try something chic and unconventional like a well-structured jumpsuit.

 

Reiss Eyelet V-Neck Dress
Reiss Eyelet V-Neck Dress

($137)
Fringed Metallic Dress
Fringed Metallic Dress
($30 at forever21.com)
Asymmetric Jumpsuit
Asymmetric Jumpsuit
($90 at zara.com)
Pleat Bust Jumpsuit
Pleat Bust Jumpsuit
($91 at asos.com)

Getting to know your colleagues (or classmates) in various social settings is part of the job so I’d recommend dress styles that suit your tastes and show off your style and individuality. Don’t forget to complete the package by adding accessories and a polished makeup look. Happy holiday partying!

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Ivie Ero of My So-Called Corporate Life is a recent MBA working in management consulting. She blogs about her personal corporate style and workwear inspiration.

[Guest Blog] To Find Yourself Truly Thankful…

Armed with my first “free” afternoon to reflect and a tummy that will never look at turkey or stuffing the same way again, I find myself truly thankful for resilience.

This past August marked my return to Darden Graduate School of Business as a SY student. On my third weekend back in Charlottesville, three friends and I drove the winding road to a local vineyard to revel in a weekly polo match. Twenty minutes into the drive, I had my first seizure. In the ambulance en route to the hospital, boom, another seizure. After numerous MRIs, the neurologists explained that I had a cavernous angioma, a group of abnormal blood vessels the size of a plum, growing inside the left frontal lobe of my brain. To make a long story short, I had two options: remain at risk for seizures for the rest of my life or undergo a craniotomy. I chose the craniotomy.

Thanks to a friend, a nearest and dearest friend, I was fortunate to find myself in the hands of a world-class neurosurgeon at Duke. A few short weeks later, I emerged from the hospital with a 14-inch scar across my head and a 6-week road to physical recovery.

After the seemingly never ending weeks of bed rest, I returned to the hospital for a follow-up MRI which showed a happy, clean brain. My neurosurgeon gave me those words that I had been itching to hear, “Go. Build back your strength. Be young. Return to your life.”

Returning to Darden (a mere 4 weeks ago) with the understanding that I was no longer on track to graduate with classmates, I decided to take a walk on the bright side. I had a new opportunity to bounce back with vigor and start recruiting from scratch with the FYs in an industry never previously considered. Yes, recruiting is intense. Yes, the end seems so far out of reach. But now, armed with a strength I never knew possible and the knowledge that I am truly a survivor, I find that working towards this new goal fills my life with a fresh purpose and intensity with which to succeed.

As an extra bonus, I now find enjoyment in cover letters. Each letter is an opportunity to showcase my personal strength and talent, in hopes that a future employer will see beyond my words into a world and career path that I *will* conquer. Each of us is unique. Let your unique-flag fly and put yourself out there. Make those networking calls. Find pleasure in your day to day activities (as grinding as they may currently seem). Create your own future – a future of which you are truly desirous.

Resume drops are upon us, but even in the midst of the stresses, enjoy your holiday season and reflect upon all that for which we are thankful.

Tina Glickman is a graduate student at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, pursuing her Master’s of Business Administration and a career in Private Banking. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at: tinaglickman@gmail.com.

[Guest Blog] How to Juggle Work and School

Two years ago, I made the decision to get my MBA while continuing to work a full time job. Although the past two years have been a whirlwind, I am very happy I made the choice to continue my education. I have found that although I currently have a job I love, I am now performing even better and also finding new opportunities that better match my interests and skills. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to keep my income and not have to worry about finding a job when I graduate.

Before starting grad school I tried to mentally prepare myself for this juggling act. But, the truth is I really had no idea what to expect. Here is what I wish someone would have told me before I made the leap:

1. Learn to Say No. You do not have to attend every networking event. Just go to as many as possible.

2. You will have to work extra hard to maintain your social life and previous friendships. But, the important friendships are worth it to maintain even if you only have an hour of free time every week.

3. Your management will take notice of how hard you are working and the knowledge that you are bringing to your job. I was promoted in my current company after only a year in school.

4. Technology makes the juggling act easier. Having access to my school email on my phone while I work allows me to stay connected with my group and make changes to projects at the last minute. With all of my classmates juggling so many responsibilities, it is almost impossible to get us all together in one location. Fortunately, Skype allows us to hold group meetings virtually. Also, don’t worry if you have to travel frequently for your job. Professors are very understanding of work travel and my school even videotapes classes for us so we can watch them online when we return.

5. Schedule time out for a break because the to-do list will never end. Don’t be afraid to take a day off from work or skip a class if you have to. It is impossible to get an A+ at both work and school, just do the best you can. Schedule a vacation, a day with no work or even a night to just enjoy a movie with your family.

6. Grad school consists of way too many group projects. I have learned that other people juggle their responsibilities differently than I do. I try to get work done as early as possible but others in my group wait until an hour before a paper is due to finish. I have learned to respect others juggling habits which has allowed me to be a better manager.

Continue reading

“Sorry, I can’t… I have to study.”

How many times do you have to skip out on fun with friends or family gatherings because your MBA homework and studying is out of control?

I turn down invites and disappoint friends and family members more times than I would like, but as I move further along in my MBA coursework, I realize that the academic work does not have to completely control my schedule. It’s more about being smart about how I study and plan for each semester. The point is: you can be strategic in your approach and enjoy your grad school years (and come on, MBAs love strategy):

Manage your courseload.

When course registration time rolls around, you should be thinking about how next semester is going to play out, and how you can make it easier for yourself. I understand that sometimes you don’t have an option to choose what is next in the course sequence, but take advantage of any freedom you have in this department. Think about what kind of courses you can take, and what kind of semester you will have. If you know investment analysis is going to be tough, why not balance that out with marketing or business ethics? Do what makes sense for you. When midterms come around, you [hopefully] won’t be freaking out about what you have on your plate, because you took time to balance out your courseload.

Check that syllabus.

Once you start, check your syllabus. In some programs, I’ve heard of professors working with each other to ensure students do not have multiple exams in one day – how amazing is that? For everyone else: once you get access, take that course calendar and start mapping out your deliverables and exam dates. Taking fifteen minutes to jot down key dates for school will help you figure out what weeks will be hectic, and when you might be able to plan a weekend trip. A lot of the “coursework” posts on MBAchic recommend doing some planning in the beginning, but it does help: in one semester, I had four weddings happening over three consecutive weekends (yes, that means two weddings in one weekend)…. it. was. ridiculous. In order to pass my classes, I had to plan ahead.

Continue reading

MBA Checkpoint: Are you on track?

We’re about halfway through the semester, and that means midterms, projects and typical MBA fun. As if business school was not busy enough? Between all the company information sessions, networking mixers, club meetings, parties and career panels, I have to find time to study? Clearly, I am kidding, but the fall seems to be a jam-packed, super busy season for everyone.

Like many of you, I’ve been busy — and I realized how easy it is to get caught up in the rush and let time pass you by. Keep rocking this semester (as per usual), but make sure you take a minute to reflect on what’s going on: call it a checkpoint.

This is a great time to take inventory because it has only been half a semester; you have a chance to make some changes. I needed to manage my time better and thought about why I am in b-school in the first place. I thought about the goals I set for myself and realized that I had to do some re-prioritizing. I had to make a pretty tough decision to leave a student organization on campus because I realized it was no longer tied to my goals. I was very involved with this group but when I looked at everything I had going on, it was overwhelming and I knew it was time to bow out (I literally wrote out a list of everything on a sheet of paper: the list was ridiculous). Continue reading

[Guest Blog] 10 Questions to Ask Yourself: How To Choose The Right Grad School Program for You and Your Career

When I began my pursuit of grad school, I did all of the right stuff you’re supposed to do to get into an MBA program. I filled out admissions cards at MBA fairs, talked to admissions reps and alumni grads about their B-school experiences, and toured business schools across the country. I stocked my bookshelf with purple Kaplan guides to study for GMATs, and read books like Richard Montauk’s How to Get Into Top MBA Programs and Robert Miller’s Business School Confidential.

Then I started to question myself. Was an MBA what I really wanted, or was it what others expected of me? Why did I REALLY want the degree?

The truth is, something in my gut kept holding me back. I had networked with and met so many accomplished and amazing MBA graduates and visited beautiful campuses. But I couldn’t relate to their ambitions such as making a lot of money, and didn’t see myself working for top investment banks or climbing the ranks at management consulting firms.

Getting an MBA was the next logical step in my career. It was supposed to teach me about more areas of business, open new doors in the corporate world, and give me better career opportunities.

But for some inexplicable reason, it just didn’t feel right.

Be Honest with Yourself

When I put my MBA pursuit on hold and really thought about what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about, I realized that it actually had nothing to do with getting an MBA. Continue reading

Keep it MBAchic: What to Wear to the Interview (Marketing, Advertising, PR)

Welcome to the second installment of Keep It MBAchic! Hope you found the first Keep It MBAchic article helpful – this article is about what you can wear to an interview in marketing, advertising or PR (check out the first piece for some general tips on interview wear).

As you search for your dream job or summer internship, it is important to think about your personal brand, and how you are communicating this to potential employers. For a marketing/PR interview, Joe Zee of ELLE Magazine (@mrjoezeesuggested a chic blouse, pencil skirt, and a fitted jacket (thanks again to Joe Zee!).

In these settings, you can be a little less conservative in the styling of your look. You’re an MBA lady. If you’ve made it past a phone interview, or your resume has qualified you for a first visit, they know you are smart, you work hard and you are a professional. Make sure what you’re wearing does not throw anyone off – your packaging should be consistent with your brand.

Using Joe Zee’s advice, I put together a possible look for this kind of interview:

Keep It MBAchic | 11092011 by mbachic featuring low heels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This navy pencil skirt is classic, the bright top adds some interest and the white blazer keeps it crisp. The accessories are a little expensive (this DVF Harper bag is fantastic, but carries a steep price tag), so the key is to work with what you have. This look is achievable at any price point!

Polyvore is a great tool for planning different looks and collections (so far I’m loving it). I am still poking around the site and finding more great things, but I am having even more fun browsing some other collections. For example, I love this look: Continue reading