Why do an MBA? That is the question my peers, former colleagues and friends regularly leveled at me leading up to the start date of the course, here at Cambridge Judge Business School. It’s common to be asked regardless of your industry – but in my case, as a journalist, the question was asked with a frequency that demanded some determination to steer clear of self-doubt (although a heaped spoonful is probably healthy), to save up, sign up, and see it through.
It’s an important question and one that has weighed in my mind for a number of years. Certainly it is uncommon for those from my former industry to venture into the world of business, let alone business school. Yet the more I researched the chance to change my professional path and the more I wanted to pursue the degree, the more I hoped not to disavow my skills acquired to date, but to use them – albeit in a different context.
Seven weeks in and I am truly invested in the experience. The creeping fatigue, restlessness, and general fear of missing out on any and every event, underline most days, but I’m smiling. Like many on the course I’ve made substantial sacrifices to attend, but money, time and effort aside, the experience of learning – scholastically, professionally and peer-to-peer – is keeping me excited about what lies ahead. And with that, one of the main conundrums of the course rears its head; ‘What lies ahead?’ weighs upon the vast majority of the students, perhaps all (even those sponsored by their companies). The global rhetoric of the MBA: a life changing, golden-ticket enabling, frontier-crossing year or two with which to grab life by the horns, reinforces that constant eye on the future. And balancing that responsibility to seek new opportunities with a healthy enjoyment of the present is a challenge we’re all up against.
Enjoying your experience is no small task – and not to be underestimated. There’s lots to fit in, whichever business school you study at. For its part, Cambridge nurtures one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial communities in the world, while sport, music, college life and the attractions of the city mean ‘me’ time can be busier than ‘business’ time. For my part, I will learn and explore as much as this experience has to offer. The opportunity-cost of taking a year out from one’s career differs depending on the individual and the industry, but not for a moment have I dwelled on my own. This train moves fast, and a moment spent in the past is a moment lost, by which I mean, enjoy the now and plan for the next!