As a pre-law student in undergrad, I double majored in Economics and Politics. I was obsessed with understanding why the world operated the way that it did. Economic and political theory gave rational explanations and reserved space for the irrational. After working at a personal injury law firm as a part-time paralegal during my junior and senior years, I realized the idea of practicing law was different from the actual practice of law, as emphasis on legal precedent took away from problem-solving. I pivoted into management consulting after college, and though it was a formative experience, I ultimately couldn’t get excited by the types of problems that big banks were retaining consultants to solve. I pivoted again after two years and joined a social impact financing startup that operated at the intersection of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to launch financing products that scaled evidence-based interventions serving high-risk populations. It was a risky career move at the time, but it’s the one I’m most proud of. I was passionate about the work I was doing and the human problems I was solving, but I quickly learned that aligning incentives across all three sectors was nearly impossible and the financial products were too complex to scale across diverse jurisdictions.
The speed and ease of innovation in tech are desperately needed in the public and social sectors and are admired by most who work in these fields. I wanted to pivot again, but this time into product management. I knew getting my MBA at a well-known business school was one pathway to break into product. I was also interested in the coursework, networks, and leadership experiences that business school uniquely offered.As an aside, I recommend attending business school if you have clarity on exactly what you expect from the experience and are realistic on what the experience will offer you. I knew I wanted to break into product and that there existed more cost-efficient, direct, pathways to getting there. I also believed that the ROI on business school was significant if I made the most of my time. So I started on a tech and finance track day 1, landed a product management summer internship after my first year, and accepted the full-time offer to return as part of an MBA product manager rotational program cohort at an established tech firm. A year later, I was laid off due to COVID. Two months later and after aggressively looking for another PM role, I joined another established tech firm that was flourishing due to work from home trends. I seek a tech startup next.Looking back, several paths could have gotten me to where I am. Business school was a great decision for me, but I give more credit to taking real risks and seeking out opportunities that enable me to solve interesting human problems.
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image source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/harvard-business-school-names-new-dean-11602261736