Monday, May 21, 2012

Where He Is Now: One Year Later

"Whatever happened to that journalist who pursued an MBA?"
-- Nobody, Ever

Today is Commencement Day for Yale SOM's Class of 2012, which means it's been a year since I earned my MBA. I will now answer the most frequently asked questions I receive from friends, family and former colleagues about the transition from journalism to the MBA to the initial stage of a post-MBA career.

How's the job? I like it more than I expected to. The main thing I've learned about consulting is what a consultant actually does: We work with colleagues and clients through some piece of a problem-solving process. I know that sounds like meaningless BS, but when I finally internalized this fact (around January) it lifted some pressure off my shoulders and altered how I felt about my job and life. And Deloitte is a very good employer. Some of my colleagues are happier than others, and everyone has ups and downs depending on the project, but I think I've been fortunate and had a positive experience so far overall. I wish I could be more specific about the work but, you know, confidentiality.

How's traveling for work? I've had three projects. The first was in Pennsylvania, so I'd take the train there on Monday and return Thursday. I didn't mind that at all. The second was in New Jersey, about an hour away, so generally I drove there and back each day, occasionally staying overnight. And about a month ago I started a new project in Louisiana, my first time flying on a weekly basis. It's exhausting, especially waking up early Monday morning, but I'm enjoying it.

How's living in New York? Fun, but expensive. The food is fantastic, there's lots to do, it's convenient to get around, the climate is often very pleasant, the parks are beautiful, and it's a high-energy atmosphere. I'm also lucky to have a few friends who live here, and other friends often pass through. I may never leave, but if I do, I predict it'll be for financial reasons.

Do you miss journalism? I have fond memories of the eight years I spent at newspapers. I met great people and had a lot of fun. I don't think it's my nature to miss things -- I like to look forward. But I haven't ruled out a return to journalism someday.

How are your classmates? Some love what they do; some hate it. A few have quit; a few have been laid off. Some are doing very cool things; others aren't. I'd know more if we'd had a one-year reunion like other schools.

So are you rich now or what? I earn about 3-4 times what I was making as a journalist in Texas, so I live better and have less anxiety about money. But my tax rate has doubled, my rent has quadrupled, my monthly student loan payments are more than my take-home pay used to be, and I'm putting 10% of my income into a 401(k). So I'm better off, and grateful, but not swimming in disposable cash.

Are you using your MBA in your job? Yes. Some MBAs say they never use what they learned, but I don't feel that way. There are specific math formulas I'll never use, but the two years of courses gave me a comprehensive understanding about how organizations work, and I rely on that understanding every day. If I had been given this job without the MBA, I'd have looked foolish and failed.

So was it worth it? Yes. Based on the past year at least, I'd do again and wouldn't do anything significantly different.

See you in a year!