When I came to Wharton, I had one mission: Get a marketing internship at a top beauty company.
I wrote about it in my admission essays. I networked with second years that had just returned from the type of firms I wanted to join. I analyzed print ad after print ad. I spent the equivalent of a weekend trip to Miami in a sheath black dress and killer studded jacket, because stuffy banker suits won’t fly on 5th Ave. I added red lipstick to my morning ritual. I even put “Allure Best of Beauty Awards” as a “Personal Interest” on my resume. Ridiculous, I know.
I did all that and I prepared for my beauty interviews to the detriment of my other interviews during Focused Recruitment Period (aka FRP).[That reminds me, I’m going to save future MBA students some anxiety down the road: You will bomb at least one interview during your search for an internship. Absolutely, positively, no-possible-recovery bomb it. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. Learn from it and move on to the next one. You didn’t really want to work for (insert undifferentiated company) anyways. Right?]
I did everything I was supposed to. And I got it. I got my dream job at my dream company.
And then I changed my mind.
Long story short, I realized that I had more to learn. I realized that I knew too much about my dream company and dream industry to waste this gift of 10 weeks. It was too similar to my previous experiences, too familiar, too comfortable. I realized that I was discounting myself by sticking to the original master plan. The plan that said I needed functional experience at this level with this type of firm before I was ready to tackle my long-term dreams. I was being too safe.
If Wharton has done anything, it has taught me that I’m more prepared for the unknown than I let myself believe. That I am as capable as I will allow myself to be. I’ve learned this lesson through my courses, my extracurriculars, my involvement with the Wharton Leadership Program, but most importantly through my peers who inspire me every day. They inspire me with all that they achieve by taking risks.
So where am I going now? I’m joining the type of company that I pictured myself joining at maybe five years from now. So the master plan is still valid. I’m just skipping a few steps. I’ll be in LA with Pressed Juicery, a startup that is taking the world of cold-pressed juices by storm. They have a great team that is equally excited to learn from me as I am to learn from them.
I leave you, my fellow risk-takers, with a quote from an old friend, which will especially be appropriate on that last leg between Vegas and LA as I drive cross-country this May:
“Buy the ticket, take the ride … and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well … maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”
—Hunter S. Thompson
Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Wharton MBA Program’s MBA Diaries blog on April 8, 2014.