Early on in the admissions process, one of my colleagues gave me the best possible advice for refining my career goal. She told me that I couldn’t tailor my passions to a specific school or program, because if I did so, they wouldn’t really be my passions. She simply said I already had the answer and just need to look within.
When I completed this introspective exercise, I thought back to 2009 when I was diagnosed with kidney failure. During what was the worst months of my life, my hair was falling out and I developed lesions on my hands and face. My legs filled up with so much leaking protein that I couldn’t fit my feet into my shoes. Getting up every morning became a monumental task. As my condition got worse, I wrote my will and made sure all of my assets went to my family. I’m proud of the fact that, even during the darkest moments, I still understood what was really important.
While being put in this position was horrific in nature, there was one key benefit of being pushed to the brink: the experience made me seriously think about how I wanted to be remembered. Was it going to be as some “hot shot consultant”? A “financial modeling wizard”? I looked back at everything I had done up to that point and realized that, if my life had ended at that very moment, I wouldn’t have been satisfied. I was still lacking a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I won’t deny that my business acumen is my best skillset, and it’s definitely something that I’m proud of. But my end goal needs to be more than just maximizing shareholder wealth.
Being diagnosed with and recovering from kidney failure taught me how precious life is and inspired me to make better use mine. I am going to business school because I want to utilize my consulting and finance background to have a social impact. I plan to eventually work within a social enterprise operating in developing countries. And while business measures like market capitalization and earnings per share are still relevant to me, I know that the legacy I leave behind will be defined by the people I touch and the lives I improve.
This post is adapted from Random Wok, a blog written by Mark Wong from Silicon Valley. You can read all of his posts at Random Wok.
Selected posts by Wong at PoetsandQuants: