Eighteen months ago I started my MBA at the University of Maryland. The Robert H. Smith school has a superb program and I wanted to be part of it. Business and IT fascinated me but I chose IT as my academic focus early. The pursuit of a MBA was to learn how to create value for others. I wanted to learn finance, negotiation, marketing, data analytics, and entrepreneurship. This accelerated program didn't hold back. I had the same professors and course load as my peers in the Full-Time MBA program and within the first few months I wanted to quit. Class subjects were new, many I'd never explored. Especially with my IT background. Constantly I was challenged and forced to stay up late, learning how to deal with business anomalies and the pressure of looming deadlines. This program turned me into the family member that never answered the phone or returned calls. And the friend that didn't return texts for days and turned down outings because of homework. I had no life. I moved to NY midway into the semester (crazy, right?) and still had no life in the busiest city in the world.
So how did I make it? Perseverance and three of my wonderful classmates. Texts of frustration, stress, and support were a constant thing. Support and the willingness to make sacrifices gets you through this program. But with anything in life there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. And that light came April 2 when our cohort graduated.
Seeing everyone again was an indescribable moment. Many of us didn't have a lot of classes together because the program mixes different cohorts together. It's a great networking tactic, especially for a program that is done remotely. We told each other horror stories, what life milestones we achieved and how ready we were for this pain to end! Despite the lectures and long hours, I learned so much. My ability to consume more than IT was astounding and leveraging work experience made some subjects easier to grasp. I was mentally stretched and outside my comfort zone. I expounded my knowledge on collaboration, understanding client needs and creating something from nothing. This program drove home the importance of the balance needed to succeed using quantitative and qualitative data. In IT there's right and wrong. Right code and wrong code. The right solution and the wrong solution. Business is so much more and requires trial and error, teamwork, and creating value. I'm so glad to be a TERP for life and look forward to giving back to my alma mater in so many ways. Thank you to the faculty and staff who also make sacrifices for students like me. It was a journey and I'm glad I chose UMD for the ride.
After our cohort ceremony (the big graduation is in May), I got time to speak with Judy Frels. The Dean of the OMBA program. She gave well wishes and encouraging words. In parting she said, "During the presentations (which we'd done some hours earlier for our last simulation project), I took notes on everyone. And I want you to know that you are a great speaker, so poised. You kept the presentation moving forward and your presence was strong. You're a remarkable presenter." In that moment, she helped solidify the work I'm doing today. I have a remarkable gift and I intend to continue the path I'm on.