What’s it like for a mom with two kids and a management consultant husband to decide to go to business school?
The short answer: it’s not very easy.
I should certainly know. As I complete my first year as a full-time MBA student juggling work, personal life and business school, I now seem to have settled into a new normal.
Pursuing an MBA is a big decision for anyone, let alone a mom. Perhaps, it’s an even bigger decision for a dad, who once a major breadwinner, has to now forgo his salary for a couple of years. As moms, we have different concerns and priorities. If you’re like me, you would have gone through several iterations over several years of “Should I or shouldn’t I?”. A few moms take the plunge and this article is a little survival guide for those bravos.
Survival tip #1: Hire help. Don’t try to be the be-all and end-all for your kids. And stop feeling guilty. As long as your kids are in safe and loving hands, you’re in good shape. In fact your kids will learn to get along with other people and be more independent. By delegating chores, you’ll be a happier person and might find more time with your kids too.
Survival tip #2: Un-mom yourself for a bit. You’re probably one of three moms in your class of 100, so most of your classmates really don’t know what you’re going through. They have different social lives and if you don’t make an effort to connect with them, you’re not going to be remembered. Find every chance to network with your classmates. Swing by happy hours or go out to lunch. Basically have a good time and discover new friendships. Weak ties have to be nurtured – relationships won’t happen overnight.
Survival tip #3: Workout. The biggest thing that you will need to get you through business school is physical and mental stamina. Sleep deprivation is common and so are times when a dozen projects are due at the same time as your exams. Add parental responsibilities to the mix and you’re putting your body through an intense boot camp. Setting aside 30 minutes to rev up your system is totally worth it. It’s not only physically rejuvenating but gives you a period of mental void which really helps avoid burnout.
Survival tip #4: Focus. Keep a time limit on assignments and group meetings. Get to the heart of the matter and get out. Technology is a huge time sink. When you’re in real working mode, switch off all devices and sit down with a pen and paper. Most of our work is brain work – translating to slides and documents is a secondary task.
Survival tip #5: Be strategic with your job search. Job searches take up an enormous amount of time. Work on refining and adding skills to your resume. Nobody ever reads cover letters, so please save yourself some time (this is from personal experience). Moms have very little time – you don’t have to attend every information session or career fair. Most of the time, they don’t matter. Go digital and leverage social media to maximize your time.
For those moms still deciding whether B-school is right for them, I say “go for it”. It’s an excellent investment in yourself with significant intellectual and professional payoffs. Infact, an MBA is not nearly as challenging as motherhood – it’s just the MBA word that is more daunting that the actual experience.
Nivedita Candade is a first year student at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. She’s a mom to a four-and-one-half-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. She hopes to see more moms pursuing their dreams and finding fulfillment in their personal and professional lives.
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