I have this bad habit of planning extensively before a holiday begins for what I should be doing in the break. It’s bad because I always end up not doing a few on the list and feeling guilty. This holiday was no different. Thankfully though, I could tick off a few things off my list. Reflecting on the past month:
Roaming the City:
For someone who rarely goes out to explore, this was indeed refreshing. Of course, it would not have been as adventurous without the cold draining the energy out of you slowly. We went to watch the NY city skyline from Brooklyn, tasted the best cheesecake from the factory itself, watched a house filled ostentatiously with lights and spent New Year’s running around in the cold near Central Park desperate to watch the fireworks.
As I sat down to read a little in the holidays, I realized immediately how much I missed it. I had written about this on my previous post too. Continuing on the same lines, one day I woke up and just knew that I had to start meditating. This friend of mine with over 10 years of experience was kind enough to sit with me for an hour and explain all about how it changed her life. I did it for a week – and like every good movie that comes to an end, this habit did too. It takes days, or sometimes months, to begin inculcating a skill. However, even as small a trigger as ‘I have to wake up early the next day so let me sleep early’ can completely kill it. Once I read an answer on Quora for this question, ‘What is your human superpower?’. This guy had replied saying he had the ability to change his habits overnight. At that time, I didn’t realize how incredibly lucky he was. Now I do.
A semester in a week:
I took a one-week intensive course named ‘Lean Launchpad’ that simulates a start-up environment and teaches you (practically) the tools needed for an entrepreneur when he/she is starting out. It was taught by Steve Blank, called by many as ‘The God of Silicon Valley’. The experience was nothing short of eye-opening. Not only because of the amount of learning you obtain in a week, but because I truly understood that age was just a number. On my team were two of my classmates, and two Executive MBA students. One of them had over 45 years of professional experience, and the other had over 10. The story of how we 5 ended up together is a series of dominos that, at the time, fell in the wrong places. Thank god it did. I had the best experience ever working with such a team. The first time I met my two E-MBA members, I was completely intimidated because of their extensive experience, and my lack of thereof. Once the meeting got over, I understood that it didn’t matter. As long as I worked hard, and brought something valuable to the table (or at least tried), they would be happy. Fast forward to the end of the week, I was walking away with a bucket of memories, and so much respect for those two that can’t be put in words. For giving us 3, the 20 year olds, the same amount of respect and admiration that one would give someone having decades of experience. Humility is everything. Having the ability to acknowledge that people much younger than you can surpass expectations is critical.
Apart from the team, I learnt a few lessons inside the class. Two most important ones were this – If you do extraordinary things, you attract extraordinary people.
The importance of the role of an advisor/mentor cannot be overstated. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a few people who I could turn to for advice. And since it’s a cycle, I also want to try to be a good mentor to as many as I can.
Back to the hunt:
With the semester comes the obligation to begin looking for internships. It’s been well over a dozen rejections so far in my case. And I recently had an interview which ended with them saying that they were looking only for Bachelors students, after knowing very well that I was not. Strangely enough, I feel absolutely no bitterness after all this. A year ago, I would have taken it too seriously, spent a few days moping and would wallow in self-pity. I’m pleasantly surprised at how things have shaped up. For anyone applying right now, or would be applying in the future – you shouldn’t feel bad when you keep getting rejected. However, if you genuinely feel you learnt nothing from that experience, that’s when you should sit and rethink. There’s this famous quote whose meaning I realize now – “We can’t control what happens to us. But, we can control how we react to it”. Keep replaying this in your head, and stay foolishly optimistic!
My semester began just a few days back, and already I can see the tasks being thrown from all sides. Your first two weeks go away in simply figuring out your schedule – or as they say ‘shopping for classes’. I would advise people to not go by what the seniors did blindly. Rather, ask them questions. ‘What field are you interested in, and how did the class help you?’, but don’t ask them, ‘Was the class useful?’. Once you enter this program, specifically Management Science and Engineering, it is unavoidable that your classmates would all concentrate on one career niche. You would see consultants, data scientists, data analysts, product managers, and the other a-z titles. You can see the trade-off that happens here – you are balancing having the ability to diversify vs confused and not focused on one niche. Whether you see it as half glass empty or full will decide the fate of your enjoyment level in the program!
P.S. Always choose the latter.
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