A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about making lists. Writing out what I need to accomplish during the week is a good start but after making the lists, I try to figure out what takes priority. The questions I ask myself each week usually are:

  1. What’s the most important thing that I need to accomplish this week?
  2. Do I have a test this week? If so, how much time do I need during the weekend to study?
  3. How much reading do I have to do for the week in my classes? Will I have extra time during the week to get the material read or do I need to read some of it during the weekend?
  4. Do I have any work-related projects or committee meetings that I will need to work on after hours during the week? Since I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays and Wednesdays are pretty valuable study evenings but sometimes those nights get busy with other things.
  5. Looking ahead, what is going on in my classes in the next two or three weeks that I need to start working on?
  6. Can I plan some free time in my week/weekend?

Granted, no matter how much a person can plan, things do come up. But trying to figure out what my priorities are for the week, I can know that at the very least, I need to do the top two or three things on my lists.

And sometimes, question six wins. A person can only spend so much time studying. I had spent a good bit of Saturday studying for an exam so I took some time on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine and the last of the warm weather for the year. So I spent time with my dad while he harvested crops on our family farm.

Zoom out

There’s no point toning it down – an MBA program is one of the most demanding things you will ever do. What makes the process even more challenging is that you will not always have a clearly defined structure for the things you do. Quite often, you will have to create your own plan of action and explore apparently uncharted territory. What will primarily define the quality of your experience is how you choose to perceive this challenge.

MBAs are often result-oriented in their perspectives. While this is a vital skill in being able to set and achieve clearly defined career goals, it can be counter-productive in a learning environment. A common theme in your first classes will be your professors saying the same thing in different ways – that your grades are not as important as the experience you will have here. Chasing an A grade instead of immersing yourself in the process of a team project, or sparing a few hours a week for recreation, is not the way to go, and both your teachers and seniors will attest to it.

Take off those blinders!

A good way to deal with this is to reassess your priorities. Why are you really here? More than likely, you had a job you were good at and had opportunities to further your career in more ways than one. The very fact that you had pause to consider an MBA suggests that you were doing well enough to seek growth. When you think along those lines, you find that in the bigger picture, you have primarily come here to learn and to develop. To do this, you must be prepared to deal with failure, and bounce back into the game quickly. This is where your 2 years at Fisher come in – this is a sandbox for you to stumble, fumble and fall. You will push your limits here, test new waters and inevitably find your calling.

The only investment you need to make here is hard work. Stress, trepidation, fear and insecurity are burdens you need not bear, simply because they do nothing to protect you from the very outcomes they dread. Instead stay focused on the experience, conscientiously observing yourself and those around you, and allowing yourself the space and time to burgeon.

Sometimes all you really need to do is to zoom out and take it all in.

Kid’s story: New Priorities

Timeline: Tuesday morning

I see: snow

I hear: Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F

I smell: good 🙂

I feel: like I have a lot of time available today

School was canceled today due to the snow storm, but I assume plenty has been or will be posted about it, so I won’t dwell on that. We are on a level 2 storm watch, which means “drive only if strictly necessary”, and which I understand as “be smart and just stay home”.

I haven’t posted of late since my priorities have somewhat shifted for this quarter. During autumn, my top priority was definitely keeping up with the topics that were taught and to have enough free time to do extracurricular stuff outdoors (by outdoors I simply mean elsewhere other than my house; a bar counts as outdoors for me). During winter, those two things have been stuck in the very bottom of the pile, giving way to my internship search and some research of my own. I have eliminated my outdoor activities almost completely given three facts:

  • Most of my outdoor activities take place at night and they imply that I don’t drive, but I really don’t want to spend money on cabs. Also, I’ve been a little bit out of the loop for carpooling or sharing a cab for some reason.
  • I’m getting old, definitely. I used to be able to be outdoors Wednesday evening to Sunday morning nonstop; now I generally feel too tired to actually go outside.
  • The weather is not too welcoming either, and going out implies big jacket, scarf, gloves, sweater, and so on; which become bulky at a bar or club.

So I’ve searched for a summer internship. The main problem is that I’m an international student and it’s legal for companies to discriminate based on employment eligibility. Now, you might know that we don’t need visa sponsorship for an internship, but since companies offer internships hoping to transform them into full-time employment offers, they will simply shut us out without even looking at our curricula vitae. As I said, this is perfectly legal, unlike other forms of discrimination. Naturally, the Office of Career Management can do (and actually does) little more than say “keep your hopes up”.

Of course, you may look for an internship with the government, which I have, but they will not pay the internships. It would seem that an MBA is thought of as something that pays the rent and food and costs nothing in itself, but that’s definitely not my case, so those are not viable options.

Despite all this, there are several promising opportunities, and I must say that dedicating time and effort to it has been at least partially rewarding. As of right now, I have received no offers, but the outlook seems less bleak every day.

In other news, I have an engineering project going on this quarter, which I’m very pleased with despite all the complaints from our faculty adviser about how we have no idea what we’re doing. Also, I start teaching again next Saturday, and I’m really looking forward to it. I will try to go back to my weekly posting routine during Lent, which starts tomorrow.

Below are some pictures of what it looks like outside today. I made them really small so that this thing didn’t cut them off but they’re still getting cut off. Oh, well. Enjoy.

“Did you miss me? Be honest!”  – the Genie.