What a two years it has been! It's a pleasure to be back on the UCLA Anderson blog, sharing my experiences as a bookend to my blogging days from summer 2013. I look forward to staying connecting over the next year as a I track my progress as an Anderson alumni in year one (now officially a #doubleBruin!).
When I accepted my offer from Deloitte Consulting last year, I considered all three start date options. July seemed awfully early, with just over one month’s rest between school and work. September would give me an entire summer off to rest and travel. The other option was quite far away - February.
But when in my life would I ever again be able to take off so many months, with relatively few responsibilities and a supportive partner with a stable career, and know I had a secure, well-paying job at the end? Maybe never. So, I asked to start in February.
Reactions from classmates range from Are you crazy? to What are you going to do with that time? Most alumni think I am genius. That is SUCH a good idea. Or, Why didn’t I do that?
Originally, I chose the latest date to give my fiancé and I more flexibility to have our wedding in the months after graduation. Yet, beyond that, the decision was fairly simple. The opportunity to take a seven month sabbatical was a gift I had to accept. My time in business school was purposefully intense. Perhaps my biggest talent is keeping busy (closely followed by saying “yes” and making to-do lists). I knew that if I gave myself permission to pause after graduation, I would challenge myself even more up to that point. Rather than succumbing to senioritis, I would sprint to the finish line.
My last two quarters at Anderson, I built some of my closest relationships, excelled academically while unnecessarily overloading my class schedule, and made significant impact on the UCLA and Anderson communities through my student leadership positions. I made a difference. I learned more. I liked school more. I was happier because I pushed myself.
I also decided to wait until February because I knew the importance of taking time. Since graduation, I have invested in my physical, mental and emotional health. I have taken the time to process my business school journey and contemplate my goals today and my steps for tomorrow - with friends, family and in my head. In the long-run, my time as an MBA student will be better spent for the opportunity I have to understand what I’ve learned, how I’ve changed and where I hope to go next.
I am often asked how I am filling that time. In addition to joining several nonprofit boards, I have been doing other volunteer work, and am working to start my own small social enterprise. I attended a leadership summit for LGBT leaders in New York. I have caught up with many friends, caught up on a bit of television I skipped over the past two years, re-organized my physical and digital life, and have been giving myself permission to focus on me. My partner and I spent several weeks traveling, with another trip on the horizon. Oh, yes, and it’s finally time to plan that wedding after a two-year engagement.
I have many more plans - some big, some small. Projects, favors, and catch-ups with friends, and a map for self improvement. I am keeping an open mind to opportunities that may arise over the next few months. And I accept already that after seven months, there will still be more that I wanted to do.
Yet, when I begin at Deloitte in February, not only will I have the tools I need to succeed from the two incredible years I spent at UCLA Anderson, I will be ready. Ready to go back to work. Ready for the intensity that management consulting brings. Ready to start the next chapter.
Until then, I am taking my time.