Monday, May 20, 2013

Where He Is Now: Two Years Later

Today is Commencement Day for Yale SOM's Class of 2013, which means it's been two years since I graduated from my MBA program, and one since my last post. To use consultant lingo, I'll "frame the discussion" by going through the same questions and categories I created last year.

The past year has been fruitful, professionally and personally, although the past month has been stressful because work load has been at a peak, and I moved into a new apartment today. A New York City move is quite a logistical puzzle, involving elevator reservations on both ends, legal discarding of mattresses and box springs in plastic bags, apartment inspections, scheduled key returns ... and of course the packing, which, despite advances in technology, is still impossible to do remotely. But the recent pressures of the move aside, all is well.

How's the job? Good. A little over a year ago, I got on a project in the newspaper industry that was highly aligned with my background and interests, and fortunately I've been on that project ever since. This also helped me form closer relationships with colleagues, making the job more enjoyable and allowing me to feel more comfortable being myself. In addition to client work, the firm activities I've undertaken have been fun, e.g., developing the on-boarding curriculum for interns and new hires, and planning quarterly events for my service line in the Northeast. I generally feel more competent than I did a year ago, so I have more confidence.

How's traveling for work? There are perks to traveling that I really enjoy and appreciate. I've gotten to do what's called "alternative travel" several times. This is when, instead of returning to the city in which you live, you re-purpose that airfare to travel elsewhere, or bring someone to where you are. I've used this perk to do all kinds of cool things -- visit my hometown for the first time in over three years, visit my parents twice in Florida, take an incredible trip with my best friend to our childhood summer camp, bring three friends to New Orleans (where I was staffed for a few months), and, just last weekend, fly my brother in to visit my niece. Next week, I'm flying my boyfriend in so that we can drive to a nearby wedding I'm officiating. All the while, I'm racking up hotel and airline points, and all my meals are comped Monday-Thursday, which is great for my bank account if not my weight.

All this said, I feel, and feel I display, the effects of fatigue. Consultants are at the service of clients, which means their lives are not fully their own. Vacations are hard to schedule, especially long ones, and when a project is particularly intense (or "high-burn," to use consulting lingo), even a single day off can feel like a selfish indulgence and a burden to your teammates. This, of course, is part of the reason consultants are well-compensated. But something as simple as going away with friends for a four-day weekend is harder to orchestrate than it used to be.

I'm a loud and proud cheerleader about consulting as a next step after business school for people with non-business backgrounds, like me. I can't imagine having learned more in a shorter amount of time. But I'm not sure this is how I want to be living in 10 years, even though I realize there's a clear and appealing career path ahead of me in consulting if I want to go down it. I think most consultants feel this way.

How's living in New York? My move today takes me off Manhattan and into Forest Hills, which will be quieter and far less expensive, two attributes I welcome. I did not love Hell's Kitchen as a neighborhood, because it is charmless and I felt misplaced in it. My apartment was great, but not worth the rent considering I spend half my time in hotels out of town.

Do you miss journalism? Not particularly. And to the extent I miss it, what I miss no longer seems to exist.

How are your classmates? On the move. Four just relocated to the West, that I know of. I'm becoming less plugged in to the broader class beyond my core friends, but from time to time, I hear stories of classmates loving, losing or leaving their jobs -- or still struggling to find one. The five people in my class who joined Deloitte are all still there and seemingly content.

So are you rich now or what? I earn enough that money is not a daily concern, but I'm hoping this move to Queens will help me accumulate more cash. Had I paid my current rent over the past two years instead of what I shelled out for that studio in Manhattan, I would have $40,000 to show for it -- basically a newspaper journalist's salary. This is as hilarious as it is depressing.

Are you using your MBA in your job? Still yes, in the sense that I feel I understand organizational functions and dynamics, strategy and general business terminology and principles. While packing for my move, I unearthed some old problem sets, papers and exams, and I have no idea what I was talking about. And yet I'm keeping them anyway, to prove to myself that there was a time when I knew some tricky and complicated things involving lots of Greek letters.

So was it worth it? Sure. Despite the trappings of student-loan debt, the benefits outweigh the consequences.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! I hope you are resting up from the move and that you enjoy where you are better.

    Take care of yourself on all the travels! Hopefully, the flying in of friends and relatives helps to ease some of the stresses of travel!