Twenty months ago I took a gamble that would either result in public failure or significant success. I broadcasted both online and in-person an effort to dramatically change my health, to go from obesity to peak fitness. There was a high probability I would be unsuccessful, so I forced accountability upon myself.
At the time, what I truly did not appreciate was how fundamentally transformative that journey would be. My health was the first domino of many to get me to where I am today. Without taking that first step in January 2014, I do not believe I would have had the confidence to embrace change and with it, the necessary uncertainty across so many aspects of my life.
I am naturally risk averse and easily comfortable with a routine. My greatest concern is accepting “good enough” in fear of falling flat on my face. In both my professional and personal life, I had found myself in a holding pattern. I truly enjoyed my team at work, but I knew that I needed to invest in further education to sink my teeth into my career. In my personal life, I struggled to be confident in what makes me happy and embrace the priorities I have, especially if they conflicted with the path of least resistance.
All this is to say that twenty months ago I was at a fork in the road, about to turn twenty-six and not fully confident in who I wanted to be as a professional or as my own individual. Weight loss built momentum for me to own my happiness and stand for the things that are most important to me: personal growth, passion for the work I do and the embrace of family. Had I not taken that chance, my life would have been very different even today. I doubt I would be attending Kellogg or even located in a large metropolis such as Philadelphia or Chicago, and I probably would have never met my JV (“Joint Venture” as Kellogg calls significant others).
Now I must take a similar risk and hold myself accountable. During orientation, the biggest point made was, “don’t graduate with someone else’s dream job.” The timing of traditional internship recruiting, such as consulting, banking or corporate strategy is intentionally much earlier than that of entrepreneurial and start-up related opportunities. I may find myself happy with corporate strategy or strategy consulting as a career post-MBA, but I know if I do not pursue my interests in health care tech and start-ups, I will wonder what-if.
So today I’m making a new promise: I will forgo traditional internship recruiting for the established firms who come on campus in the fall and early winter. I will focus exclusively on what ends up being “just-in-time” opportunities in the start-up space, as well as the classes that facilitate entrepreneurial endeavors. It means I may become anxious in the spring when the vast majority of the class have figured out their summers. It also means I may end up on the West Coast or really anywhere, as I will be passing on the convenience that large firms, especially in consulting, provide for geographic preference.
But that’s okay. I know this because I had to make several big life decisions over the last twenty months that made me vulnerable to failure. I had to get out of my comfort zone and believe in my own instincts. I trusted myself in making hard calls about my future professionally and personally. And I’m thankful to have the support to know that even if I were to fail, I’d be back on my feet as a result of everyone in my corner. So here’s to taking a risk and trusting that I’ll be better for it.