You arrive at Wharton with a vision of who you should be during the experience and what you should do after. But I learned a crucial lesson: to banish “should” from my vocabulary and lean in to who I am.
I applied to the MBA program after two years in health-care consulting and six years teaching in New York City via Teach for America. Being in the classroom gave me such a feeling of purpose, and I wanted to pursue impact investing. Since I come from a nontraditional background, I felt pressure to translate this into traditional sectors such as finance and consulting. I sought internships in these fields, receiving some strong offers but getting a “no thanks” from others. This precipitated a bit of an identity crisis, since I had never experienced failure, anxiety, or indecisiveness like this. But surrounded as I was by Wharton peers with diverse talents and interests, I found that my definition of what business meant—and where I fit into the equation—started to change.
Wharton provided support to explore what I really wanted to do. For example, I received counseling through the Executive Coaching and Feedback Program at the Anne and John McNulty Leadership Program. I also dived deep into classes focused on personal growth, such as Building Careers with Matthew Bidwell and Power and Politics in Organizations with Samir Nurmohamed, as well as industry classes like Private Equity in Emerging Markets with Peter Tropper and Strategic Brand Management with Patti Williams. The School gave me the courage to share my entrepreneurial spirit and passion for connecting with people.
This was a turning point for me. Inspired, I created the #OurWharton podcast, which invites guests to share their stories, from MBAs to staff and even Dean Garrett. The support I received from leaders all over Wharton was incredible. In and out of the classroom, I felt the same purpose I had as a teacher—the purpose that comes from making a difference.
This mind-set shift extended to my career. I landed an exceptional summer internship at Google and accepted an offer to return full-time after graduation. Now, as part of the agency business development team in New York, I feel that my work is authentic to the people-oriented entrepreneur I am, as I build partnerships with advertising and PR holding companies to amplify their messages through Google platforms. I’m interested in revisiting impact investing. But I’ve also started thinking about how people can make an impact in different sectors, from education to finance to tech.
Deciding to do what I wanted, instead of what I thought I was supposed to do, wasn’t easy. But through owning my strengths, I feel fully prepared to help build a better world.
Published as “To Thine Own Self” in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Wharton Magazine.