‘GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS SCHOOL BUBBLE SOMETIMES’
After asking 30 other MBAs about their background, experiences, and outlooks, Nwankwo didn’t spare himself. At the end of his book the former president of the Ross Entrepreneur and Venture Club poses some key queries to himself, among them: “If you could give your pre-B-school self advice, what would it be?”
His answer may surprise you. “There are a few things I would tell myself,” Nwankwo writes. “The first, and probably most important thing, would be not to go in the first place. Your classes will do a good job of teaching some of what you need to succeed as a business owner, but you’re not going to learn everything unless you jump in and do it yourself. Going to business school hedges your bets, almost certainly resulting in a reduced commitment in your entrepreneurship goals.
“My second piece of advice,” Nwankwo continues, “is to stay focused. You’ve seen this response from a number of the interviews, right? My friends were not lying. Every day, there’s a different special event, large conference, company happy hour, corporate sponsored lunch, etc. If you’re on a less-traveled path, such as off-campus tech product management, you’re going to start feeling an intense sense of ‘Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)’. Imagine your classmates dressing up in suits every day for months, practicing for interviews, going to corporate sessions, and eventually getting internships and full-time offers, while you’re going to class and waiting for your turn. Some days, it’s hard to manage.
“The last thing I’d say is to get out of the business school bubble sometimes. A full-time business school program allows you to live like nothing else exists except school, classmates, and your eventual job. The students in programs at the other schools on campus are doing amazing things. The town or city surrounding you has a great depth of opportunities where you can test your skills. Don’t restrict yourself to your classmates.”
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT IN THE FIRST PLACE
Of course, the reality of being in debt colors Nwankwo’s views of his MBA experience. “I certainly feel the pressure of having a large amount of debt. I’m not the happiest about it, because if I didn’t go I’d probably be debt-free right now,” he says. “Overall, though, I think my MBA journey will definitely pay for itself.”
Nwankwo says his best piece of advice for those considering business school is not to let FOMO creep in, and to keep their focus on what they really want. It’s not necessary to go to B-school to achieve success in life, he says, but if you decide to go — “If you have it planned out and you’re ready to empty your pockets” — then take the leap without regrets.
“You are going to be disappointed if you come into business school without a focus,” Nwankwo says. “Focus is my No. 1 thing that I want people to take away. I want them to get into school, know what they want, be open to explore different things and see a crop of things that they might want to consider, but at the same time know that this is what they are going for and they are going to go ahead and explore this area — because if you start to let FOMO creep into your life, one thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to end up choosing a job that you probably didn’t want to work in, and that’s when you’re going to get disappointed and you’re going to very quickly leave that job and go somewhere else.”
“Either way,” he writes in concluding his book, “you will never receive the success you’re looking for unless you figure out what you want in the first place.”