A lot happens in four years. When I last wrote, I'd returned home to New Jersey after working in California for 2+ years. I was in the midst of an in-between job that entailed gift-wrapping goods from a small local overpriced boutique (and you can head over to Head2Desk if you really want to know how thrilling that role was).
In October, I was hired by a company in St. Louis, Missouri to be a specialized on-site consultant at a company in Connecticut. I did two weeks of "training" in St. Louis (where I found that I adored this "Gateway to the West" and the people were just about the friendliest you could hope for, and the food was fantastic). I moved to Connecticut and consulted for 10 months before the host company decided I was a good fit and I was hired there as a full time employee.
St. Louis: Home of the friendliest people, the best barbecue, and the worst sushi
On the scale of soft-skills acceptance, I'm probably somewhere in the middle. I accept things like the MBTI and discussions about gently coaxing your staff to do what you want like a 10-week-old puppy with general understanding and a few grains of salt. I 'get' it, but I also think people should challenge these "tools" and "scientific schema" because accepting blindly isn't really how science works and it's not how I like to approach the world anyway.
So, this test. A lot of the new-agey stuff about how you are thinking about your work and your role and, ok, yes, yourself. This was a real opportunity to truly consider what what made me happy and was I 'working toward' that happy goal? If not, why not? What was I doing, not working toward being happy?
So there I was, in the middle of this mandated self-reflection having a little bit of an identity crisis. What do I love to do? Lots of things. I have a hobby-problem. Too many of them. But I like baking. And I like feeding people. And I like making other people happy. And it's hard to be unhappy when you're being fed. I've always kind of thought about opening a bakery or a tea shop. Well, why the heck not?!
But here's the thing. I don't have any experience running a business. I don't know about supply chain, or really managing people. I don't know about negotiating contracts or doing the books. I don't know about tax law. Man, there's a whole wealth of things I don't know, and Wikipedia can only get me so far.
The answer to life, the universe, and everything you wanted to know about 30% of life on earth.
For the other 70% you'll need to conduct your own research.
My mother had been talking about me going back to school for years. Well, for Biology, but still. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I thought I was already doing ok, and frankly, getting more (and more expensive) education wasn't high on my list of things to do to achieve success in science... it just doesn't pay off at this point in American society. But Business School is probably exactly what I need if I'm going to start . . . well, a business.
And so I began the harrowing process of applying to schools. A lot of them. Cornell, UNC, UofWashington, UofArizona, Penn State, Georgia Tech, UofIllinois. And school visits. God, that was exhausting. And interviews, and resume writing, and talking with a smile and a twinkle in my eye, like I know they want me to. As a pretty hardcore introvert, this process was daunting and terrifying and so unlike anything I wanted to do. I wanted the knowledge, but not the process. But that's not how the world works.
I'll probably relate a little bit more about the admissions process some other time. A lot goes into it and I'm already teetering on the edge of long-winded here. But the end result, is that some schools received my resume and did not immediately assume I was a know-nothing poser or incapable of completing the work. And some schools even offered me excellent encouragement to attend their particular institution. And that is how I wound up at Penn State.
Hope you like mountain lions. They're obsessed with them here.
You're going to be seeing a lot more of this guy.
And I moved into an apartment that I currently don't share with anyone (though that might change), and I get treated to beautiful views like this at sunset.
The aftermath of a sudden thunderstorm lights up Happy Valley.
Taken from my back porch.
What remains now is the rest of the journey. I've got 2 years of Business School ahead of me, and 6 years of real-world experience behind me. I'll be giving a little bit of first-hand account of women-in-the-workplace discussions and more importantly, personal anecdotes of my experiences. Not just business-related but life experiences too. Let's take a meander together, shall we?