I think that the question I have heard most as I have begun my MBA program is, "So what prompted you to make this decision?" You know, the decision to transfer from the education world to the corporate world. I always refer back to an epiphany that I had about two and a half years ago. I was working at Carrabba's. This was my third job. I was also teaching high school English, and I was (and still am) an adjunct instructor at a local community college. It was a cold, end-of-the-year month, yet another evening away from my soon-to-be-wife. I clearly remember, at the moment of the epiphany, I was standing in front of the dish pit, scraping the rejected remains of a stranger's meal into a trash can full to the top of similar contents. As I was doing so, two of the dishroom employees were laughing and joking as though these were the greatest moments of their lives. I could not understand what they were saying, and I had wondered if they were talking and laughing about me. (I am at times a little paranoid.) It was at that moment, standing near the bread machine that was so much trouble to clean that I thought to myself, "Something has to change." I knew that it was going to be tough to raise children on two teachers' salaries (my wife is also a teacher). And I knew that I wanted to provide for my wife and children differently. (I had no children at this point, but knew they would be coming in the relatively near future.) My wife and I have never wanted to be rich. We simply wanted to be able to live having only one job apiece (she was also working at Carrabba's and regularly teaching dance outside of her regular school obligations as the varsity drill team coach). We wanted to be able to spend time together, and to spend time with our children. Both of us have been heavily invlolved in school activities since we began teaching, sometimes obligatorily ("now that you are moving to the high school, how would you like to be the yearbook sponsor?"), sometimes voluntarily, and we are out of the house several times a week outside of our normal work hours. (Incidentally, to all who believe that teachers show up for work at 8:00 and leave at 3:00, you are sadly mistaken.)
Business has been an interest of mine in years past. I can remember about 9 years ago talking on the phone to guy who was at one time a close friend of mine about going the business route-namely into marketing. This was at a previous crossroads in my life, following a stint into youth ministry. I wanted to move out of the church in a professional capacity, and I was contemplating education or business. My friend had earned his MBA immediately after completing his undergraduate work, and was pursuing a career in marketing. I was interrogating him about his job and related jobs. Marketing was at that time an immature interest of mine. My friend was less than receptive to my contemplations-a response I get from most businessmen. I don't understand this response. Perhaps they don't like the idea that a person could go into business just as easily as one could go into education? Anyway, I chose the education route. I tell people that it is because of a family heritage in education, and while that is partly true, I'm sure that much of my decision had to do with an intense fear of math.
I began my MBA in the Spring of '05. My first classes were the foundational business law class and the foundational marketing class. I loved my marketing class from day one. I devoured the articles we were to read, and I looked for opportunities to speak in class every week (despite the fact that I truly had no idea what I was talking about). I can remember one evening that I wanted to comment so badly, that I finally blurted out some garbled combination of words and sounds, interrupting my professor in the process. Since that first semester, I have taken what I consider to be the most important class in my MBA program, an elective entitled "Services Marketing." It was in this class that I acquired an interest in an often overlooked aspect of marketing: the service industry. This class totally took me by surprise, and led me into a continuation of study over the topic this summer-a study of branding and the service employee.
I love my program and I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship so far this summer. My goals? Immediate: work at a marketing firm (and whatever other steps I need to take to do so). Long term: chief branding officer or something more entrepreneurial.
Thank you for reading my story.
Next time: a little bit about my independent study.