I started b-school at 31 years old, and in my 10 years of "real life experience" I have been an actor, an event coordinator, a lawyer, a producer and now, a consultant. Not to mention a student, in both law and business. While each aspect had its moment, the last year has been the "most". The most stressful. The most exciting. The most fulfilling. The most fun.
Facing the flack from friends and family who hinted at my never-ending list of degrees, I had some unique challenges. I tried to assure them (and myself) that 21 years of school was just about enough for me (no, I'm not going to med school next...or getting a PhD....seriously). I might actually (for once) know (for sure) what I want to be when I grow up. When I accepted my offer from Carlson, I finally felt focused and purposeful.
That being said, heading to orientation, I could not calculate an NPV, build a pivot table or explain Porter's five forces. I was just a girl with a "non-tradition path" and a goal, who had no idea what she didn't know. So as I sit here, in the McKinsey office, half-way through my summer, I'm baffled, grateful and proud. The year was a whirlwind - that's an understatement. From orientation and cohorts to case competitions and enterprises, the amount of learning that has happened is nothing short of mind-blowing. I worked harder than I ever have: harder than in law school, studying for the bar, or at work, but I loved every minute of it. "Intense" comes close to describing it. "Rewarding" isn't bad either.
On top of that, I can't believe a year ago, these friends were complete strangers. These friends I would now call my closest friends...ever. I'm sure it sounds trite. But looking back at orientation, I never would have guessed that 15 people would be waking up at my house after an unbelievable night at b-school prom, sharing home-made waffles with my eyes welling up because we would all be separated for the summer. "Intense" comes close to describing it. "Incredible" is accurate.
This year has been defined by accomplishments and community. The "most" of both.
I have heard that, statistically speaking, 33 is the happiest year of a person's life: more people report higher levels of joy at 33 above all other years. I don't know how that could be possible, because the last year has been remarkable. If next year is even better, my heart might explode.
Next year I'm looking forward to an even more focused approach. Having worked in consulting this summer, I have a better idea of what I need to learn to grow professionally. I'm looking forward to practicing my skills in the CCE (Carlson Consulting Enterprise), and hopefully pulling together some case competition wins. I'm also looking forward to another unbelievable year with great friends, building a community with the first years and another fantastic prom night, celebrating all of our achievements. Next year, I'll be 33, and I'm looking forward to challenging myself in the incredible and intensely rewarding space called "school," - it should (finally) be my last year of that.