A personal account of #WheresRey

I hated Avengers: Age of Ultron. Anyone who brings it up gets an earful. Joe only just watched it recently, which made some rants in his presence more difficult. As an aside, a coworker of his, knowing that I hated it, suggested it was because Natasha is unable to have children. Omg, that isn’t even why and I’m even more frustrated that it wasn’t clear to someone else. So, to make it clear, here is why Age of Ultron is the worst: they take the one female character that they’ve actually allowed into the franchise (save Elizabeth Olsen, who I love, obvi) and instead of being a badass Black Widow superhero, she gets kidnapped. And needs to be rescued. By a man. Who she has a crush on. SERIOUSLY MARVEL? Think of how much better the movie would have been if the Hulk would have been kidnapped instead. Natasha to the rescue! Because women can save others too. Women need not only be victims, MARVEL. I’ll save the anger of the absence of her from the cover and toys for later.

Going into Star Wars, I felt there was no hope for Disney. I assumed that unless a woman was a princess, she didn’t matter. I honestly didn’t even want to go but I’m a good fiancé and stuff so I did. Enter Rey! Wow, I loved Star Wars The Force Awakens so much. I couldn’t even stay awake for Return of the Jedi, and now I want to see The Force over and over again.

I left absolutely in love with Rey. Holy crap, talk about a fantastic character. She has the mommy/daddy issues that I can relate to, and then is powerful in response. What a great role model. Further, Finn. How many people of color have even been in any Star Wars, and now one stars in it? I love it. Also, he is that great mix of naive and sweet. He wants to be a gentleman and offer Rey a hand, but boy, she’s got it. Ahh, love the chemistry so much.

After the movie, I couldn’t wait to buy my little brother the Rey action figure. She’s clearly the star, and I love to encourage the feminist I know is in him. So guess how many Rey action figures were available at Target on December 20th. Spoiler: the answer is zero. “Were they totally sold out?” you ask? No, my friends, they were not. Finn, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroppers were fully stocked. So I looked to the app! It told me Rey was in stock the next store over. We made the trek. They were not. Turns out, Target didn’t differentiate the SKUs and it read all of the Star Wars Black Series figures as the same. Fail. Well, at least they exist, right?

I then wondered: was the Rey outage a result of supply or demand issues? My gut told me supply, Joe suggested demand. Twitter had the truth. #WheresRey surfaced all of my frustrations and more. Why the fuck isn’t Rey the dominant character within the products for The Force Awakens? Why isn’t she one of the pawns available in Monopoly? Why isn’t she include in the 6 figure sets currently on shelves?

Turns out, Disney’s answer is “spoilers.” What fucking bullshit, excuse my language. How is the existence of Rey a spoiler? How can Finn be included and have this not be a spoiler but Rey’s inclusion would be? And, if the mere existence of Rey would be a spoiler, how does that reflect on Hollywood that we can’t even have a woman be a character without it being a spoiler. Ugh, it seriously doesn’t make sense.

Because this doesn’t make sense, and because I was on my MBA Entertainment Career Trek last week, I asked. Specifically, I asked Disney’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products why Rey didn’t have a more dominant role in their products.

I can’t say that his answer satisfied me, because I am angry and I’m not sure anything could. He basically said it was 50% Hasbro making the decision and 50% them not wanting spoilers. Mmmkay… but then how come Black Widow wasn’t featured on the cover of the DVD? As this lovely fivethirtyeight article points out, this is also the case with Gamora from Guardians. Caroline Framkie also agrees in Vox that this isn’t a “spoiler” problem, but an ongoing sexist theme in toys.

A lot has been written on this topic and I’m not necessarily trying to add anything to the conversation other than my own anger. I care about the messages the entertainment industry sends to women and I want them to change. I want to have my Rey action figures and strong female characters and less sexism too. Some day soon I hope to be able to do more than just talk about it.

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Yay recruiting

Before I get into it, please let me acknowledge what a great privilege it is to be graduating with my MBA from one of the top 5 institutions in the world. In the grand scheme of things, I’m highly employable and don’t need to worry about employment in the long term. I’m extremely fortunate to be where I am.

That being said, business school has been hard work and the perfect job has not been just handed to me at the end of it. Recruiting is a trying process that is emotionally stressful and very deflating. I often leave a rejection feeling “unemployable…” but I do have a tendency to be dramatic.

During the last week in October I had 7 interviews and received rejections from all. The level of competition for these roles is crazy. The first rejection came for a rotational program that I was extremely excited about and thought I was perfect for. I didn’t have quite as many years of experience as they were looking for, but I felt I had a compelling story for why that was okay. I got the rejection letter without the opportunity to interview.

One job that I did interview for was one I was a little less excited about, but sometimes the best opportunities come out of those circumstances. I made it through four interviews before getting the rejection. This situation was more frustrating because even after all those interviews, they were unable to provide specific feedback. I thought the interviews went very well so it is hard to determine what I can do better next time.

I made it to a third interview for probably what I would describe as my favorite job. At some point in the process there must have been a communication error though because halfway through the interview, my interviewer realized I wasn’t graduating until the spring and they needed someone to fill the role immediately. This was frustrating because it was just a timing issue; I’m hopeful a similar role will become available closer to graduation though.

A lot of my current frustration is my own fault too. Many of my peers have offers already in the bag. The entertainment industry is just different though. Hires are made just in time and its probably crazy for me to think I’m close to closing the deal. So, it’s probably just time for me to take a deep breath, enjoy the holidays, and resume the effort in the new year. Easier said than done, but I’m going to try.

That one time I went to Ghana…

So I just got home from an amazing week in Ghana… but before I give you the full play by play, I have to go back to a lazy day at the office this summer. On July 16th, this email came into my inbox:

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tldr: write a 300 word essay to be eligible to win a trip to Ghana.

Thankfully, I was pretty bored at work and therefore used that time to write that essay. Not sure I would have spent the time at home to do it if I were busy… here’s what I wrote:

I have always had a passion for improving the learning conditions of young girls. Prior to starting at MIT Sloan, I was the managing director of a non-profit organization, Girls in Tech Minneapolis. The goal was clear: increase the number of girls pursuing technology professions by increasing their access to education and strong female role models. Even though I am no longer involved in Girls in Tech, this topic continues to be something I feel strongly about and will continue with once I earn my MBA. Girls all over the world should have better, equal access to education. It is this passion that drives my desire to learn more about non-profit education abroad.

The increased popularity of cause marketing has also turned my attention to the 1-for-1 model of non-profits. I first heard of TOMS through Hanson’s Take the Walk tour, and have been interested in the model ever since. How can we encourage more affluent people to give to those who do not have the same? By participating in this once-in-a-lifetime learning experience in Ghana, I hope to learn ways to apply this model to future for-purpose driven initiatives.

Lastly, I know this opportunity will teach me so much. Beyond learning about education and non-profit work, I will see a first-hand account of how to start from scratch. Adam Braun created something that is truly changing lives. Through this inspiration, I know I can do the same.

I also love the impact CommonBond is making and would love the opportunity to connect further! I am also a lot of fun to travel with.

A week later I got a 7am phone call from CommonBond in NYC telling me I had been selected. Cue intense excitement.

[My essay was also published on their blog, which you can see here!]


Last Wednesday, I took a flight from BOS to Amsterdam solo. Once there, I met up with Natalie, a representative from Pencils of Promise (PoP); David, Michaela and Ali from CommonBond; and Jason and Eryn, the other winners. Looking back, it’s kind of funny because I wasn’t once concerned about traveling to Africa with 6 complete strangers.

Completely unrelated, here is a photo of an Amsterdam Airport Donut:

Good donut.
Good donut.

The next seven hours were filled with wine and movies… but nothing really worth mentioning here. We landed late on Thursday and went to bed soon after we checked in. Early thoughts? — Ghana is hot.

Friday morning we left Accra for Ho early. There, we were welcomed by a great group of students who had been in a PoP school since 2013. After a performance of a traditional dance and the recitation of a poem, we were each presented with beautiful pieces made personally for each of us. Within minutes, rain started pouring and the students went back to their classrooms. We then got to see the inside of a PoP classroom and to observe students learning. The great thing about PoP is that in addition to building sturdy structures for children to learn in, they continue to support each and every community through teaching training and onsite support.

IMG_1960In Ghana, the teachers are taught tools to support active classroom engagement. And by active, and I mean active. The kids sing, dance, and move around because that’s a part of their culture. Outside of recess, I don’t remember ever having that in elementary school.

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The junior high school was a different story. Currently, PoP only supports elementary education, due in part to their focus on literacy and obvious financial constraints. The junior high structure was over 20 years old and was in pretty bad shape. The mixture of rain and a “faulty roof” clearly impacted students’ learning experiences. Here, they are moving their desks so their books don’t get wet.

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I left this community with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was so inspired to meet such great children. At one point, a handwashing station tipped over and multiple boys jumped up to help put it back up. The students even show up early to sweep the classrooms – there is so much pride in learning. That isn’t something I’ve seen in the United States – children just ready to jump up and help. On the other hand, the conditions are pretty bad. I can understand not being able to learn when something as common as rain interferes.

Next, we went to a site that showed an example of the “before” environments. Can you imagine going to school here? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”… it gets worse…

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On Saturday, we were honored to attend an inauguration ceremony. After a few speeches and being gifted a goat (literally), we got to see the before and after. Saying it is a stark contrast is an understatement.

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A “classroom” under a tree with just a black board and two benches
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The new PoP built school.

Even more touching was the way the children ran and cheered into the new school once the ribbon was cut. After both getting dance lessons from the kids and teaching them to nae nae, we went back to the hotel to drink some beer and tell some stories.

That night, we really got to know each other. Up until then I wasn’t sure if my style was gelling well, but after a few good stories I had at least a few of them on the dark side.

Sunday… just.. wow. We went to a community near Togo where there must have been over 100 community members on site helping build. With PoP, they provide supplies and skilled labor, but require the community to provide the unskilled labor. It both ensures that the community is committed to bringing in the new school and that it is something they truly want. To see 50 grown men giving up their Sunday to literally make 4000 cement blocks to construct a school… I was just in awe. I think football dominates Sundays in the United States.

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After that we got in a small taste of tourism when we went to a monkey sanctuary. We were told a beautiful story about the history of the land and how monkeys came to be as important as they are. Then we fed them and I nearly lost my shit.

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And all of a sudden, Monday was our last day. We visited a commnity where PoP is piloting e-readers. It was so cool to see a classroom full of students on e-readers in the middle of a village with minimal electricity. They were actually in the middle of a sexual education lesson when we began observing. It felt rather intrusive but also really neat that they are learning about that at a young age.

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I left Ghana with such great respect for both the people in the communities and the impact Pencils of Promise is making. The children and families I met have such a strong desire for education and bettering themselves. They are hardworking and kinder than I see most days. Because of this trip, I know I will be a life long supporter of PoP. Beyond that, I formed great relationships and learned about starting a company from a fantastic CEO. I believe I have an even better appreciation for education and am excited to discover how I can impact the next generation. I have a deep understanding of what some lives and cultures in Ghana look like, and I will continue to reflect on the ways life differs in the United States. I believe this experience has even influenced the way I will raise my own children some day. It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity. I’m pretty much pinching myself right now.


 

Update 10/23/2015: a version of this post was also published on the CommonBond blog.

Friends: a value

At Sloan, we don’t have official classes during January. It is called the Independent Activities Period (IAP) and is time for students to travel, do externships, or participate in a short term class. I’m in a class for this week called: Conflict Management & Assertive Communication. It has actually been really interesting and has prompted a lot of self-reflection.

One activity I did was called “values.” We were given a handout with maybe 50 different values and we each had to self-select the 5 we individually valued most. I selected, in alphabetical order, Fame, Friends, Humor, Self-Acceptance and Wealth. I was a little hesitant to select this specific set because Fame + Wealth seems incompatible with Self-Acceptance. Yet, just because I love me for who I am doesn’t mean I don’t want others to do the same, right?

Next, the trainer asked “How do others know these are your values?” My eyes went straight to “Friends” and I realized: They probably don’t.

I’ve never had a plethora of friends. In fact, for a majority of my life I would say I had none. Growing up, I related better with adults. So, if I can count my adult friends then I am fine, but in all honesty it was difficult to be my true self around them too.

I had what I thought was my first “best friend’ in 6th grade. Then one day we got curious and kissed and she never spoke to me again. In 7th grade I had a close friend who ended up hating me by the end of the year because she thought I was a lesbian and by 8th grade I had a new bff. Then I switched schools because that’s what happens and in high school I got along better with guys. I had one good high school friend but even by senior year we spent less and less time together.

Once I got to Macalester I was like “holy shit, I finally found my people” and had 7 good friends that I would always hang out with. Over the years some of them drifted away (read: we didn’t click and things got awkward). And then there were just Devin, Drew, and Mollie, which would be all I ever needed if they all lived in the same state (or at least not California, Minnesota and North Carolina).

Post-college was hard. It’s also when I started this blog because I realized I needed some way to get what was inside of me out and a deep friendship wasn’t available necessarily. I think I rub people the wrong way. My humor can be hard to read, and I’m not good at making people feel overly welcome if I don’t like them. Maybe I’m too judgy, which I do try to work on.

I’m also an introvert and am very anxious in large group situations, which is what makes business school kind of funny. A recent article in the Huffington Post spelled me out to a T, and also made me feel a lot more comfortable with the fact that I’m not rolling in friends. tldr: I withdraw in large crowds, small talk stresses me while deeper conversations are great, phone conversations are hard and I basically shut down when I’ve had enough of people. I think it was actually secretly written about me.

So, now that I’ve uprooted my entire life to move across the country to go to a school that revolves around networking, how am I doing? I feel extremely alone. I miss people understanding me and I miss having a deep connection. But I also acknowledge that as an adult, best friends don’t just fall from trees and real relationships can take some time. I’ve got one thing going on right now but I don’t want to be overly eager and jinx it.

So even now, as I reflect on my current friendships and how bad I am at keeping up with people across the country, I still see these connections as being ever so important. It was just a lot easier when we lived together and it makes me want to be rich enough so I can buy a huge piece of land and have all my friends live next door. Wisteria Lane doesn’t look too bad right now.

Still alive, I promise.

I didn’t get selected for the Emerging Writer Grant I applied for earlier this year. I’m disappointed for sure, but seeing as it is the only thing that got me to blog in the last two months, maybe it is a blessing in disguise.

I’m in Chicago right now for work. I got in last night. Timing wise it worked out, there was a women MBA panel hosted last night that I was able to attend.

The event was nice. I ran into someone I knew from last years’ Booth program, and I learned a little bit more about NYU Stern, Berkeley Haas, and a handful of others. I was surprised though, by how few people showed up. There was also a lot less mingling than I was expecting and hoping. I like chatting to people and learning more about their interests, where they are at in the process and where they are applying to. I think it also hurt that there was no wine or anything – everyone knows a little open bar loosens people up a bit.

The biggest take away I got? Take risks. Go for it. Don’t settle and it’s okay change. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this advice yet, but trust me, I’m thinking about it.

Thoughts on a plane

There isn’t much better in life than sitting on a plane, in first class that wasn’t paid for, sipping a blue moon in a glass, typing away on a MacBook Air, headed home after a really, really great weekend visiting a business school.

I had such an amazing weekend at Tepper. I met fascinating people, was inspired by the quality of peers I would have, and discovered a school I would have otherwise overlooked.

There are a lot of things that struck me the right way about Tepper. First, they place a great deal of emphasis on leadership qualities. I couldn’t really care less about product management – I want to lead and inspire others. They seem to embrace that. Next, Tepper is a really small school and reminds me a lot of Macalester. Even though each class has less than half that at Macalester, they place a lot of focus on clubs, extra curriculars, and volunteer work. Today, someone emphasized that it doesn’t matter if you have a 4.0 GPA if that’s all you’ve done. They are interested in rounded individuals and well, that’s exactly what I am!

Another thing that stood out to me is that I never felt intimidated. The other participants in the Diversity Weekend were great, but I felt on level with them rather than beneath. I remember over the summer when I felt intimidated by others. I don’t think the caliber of the students has changed though. I think the environment did. By not being at a competitive school where everyone is in it for themselves, I think I would really be able to form strong connections to people that I would one day want to work with. I think I’ve said this before but the benefit I’m really hoping to get out of business school is the network. The classes will be great and there are a lot of other components to business school that are appealing to me, but the people are what make the greatest impact on my day to day, and life to come.

Possibly most importantly, I learned about the Consortium program. This program, that has 17 member universities and over 80 corporate sponsors, gives applicants the ability to use a common application as well as apply for a fellowship. What I’m trying to say here is that if I were to get into one of the business schools within the Consortium, I could feasibly get a full ride tuition scholarship. I shit you not.

I think I’ve suggested my willingness to take out ~200k in loans in order to fund my MBA. I’m open to this not only because I’m crazy, but also because I understand my potential and known it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what I can earn in the future. So, when someone suggests that I wouldn’t have to take out these loans, or at least not the full amount, I’m like, “holy crap, it’s as if I’ve won the lottery.” When I first heard this I was like “omg, instead of paying for business school now I can just get a Maserati” [Holla T-swiz. Love the reference on your latest album!]. To which she responded “or like, 5 Toyotas, then you could give the excess to charity…” I didn’t say what I was thinking, but “hun, you and I are different people.” Don’t get me wrong, I give to nonprofits all the time. Macalester just hit me up the other weekend to increase my monthly donation (finally… I had been telling them for months that I just needed a call and I would increase…). But I also really want a Maserati. Specially, this one:

Anyway, this flight is out of Blue Moon now and I’m a little bummed. However, I gave Maggie shit about it and she took it like a champ, which makes all in the world alright. Then I asked her to marry me. She was recently divorced and can’t technically get married until after December, which I’m a little wary about because I don’t actually know the politics of divorce. However, she did politely decline by saying that her boyfriend Ryan would not approve. I at least gave her all 4 of my business cards though and she said she would send me an email. I hope she does. Less than three.

P.S. I now know why they don’t typically service glass on a plane. The lush in front of me just flung his across the aisle.

Smitten with the Mellon

It’s hard for me to equate this specific experience of doing a business school visit to dating [see Business School = Online Dating]. Before coming here, I barely knew anything about Tepper, and yet, because they offered me a place to stay I flew half way across the country to get to know them. This is something you should never do when dating, or at least, is something I never did.

I only knew a little about Tepper and that was solely what I’d read online. I didn’t have any first hand experiences with them, other than the emails that they send me (which for a while there, were actually annoying and boarderline stalkerish – 4 a day, 7 in a week). Had it been a man, the emails definitely would have been a bright red flag that would have thwarted any visitation consideration.

Yet, here I am, smack dab outside of Pittsburgh with a group of 59 other prospective students. And, truth be told, this weekend couldn’t be going any better had I planned it myself.

Walking in, I was a little weary, but also kind of tired slash not really concerned too much. There wasn’t any nervous anticipation, what I might feel walking up to Stanford. By having no preconceived notions on the school, I put myself in a complete state of indifference. Shit, if things didn’t work out, at least I got to meet some interesting people and experience a weekend in a new place. Nothing to lose, no worries going in.

But, then things starting going really well. The first table I chose was three guys. I can’t imagine myself choosing any other, and I sat right across from a hottie. It was nice because he was a second year, but given when I want to start business school, him and I were similar in the number of years of experience beforehand. He also had a strong mathematical mind, and basically made me feel like the analytical side of Tepper was something that would really resonate with my skill set. Plus, he started a sentence with “well, if you get in…” and I’m like “hold up, I’m not concerned about that” to which he stated that he appreciated my modesty ;)

Turns out, this place is actually quite ripe with start-up companies and an entrepreneurial mindset. There are tons of tech companies in the area, many of which were started by Tepper Alum. Also, the school has a strong technology focus which is something that I am definitely interested in.

Also, it’s tiny. We were at the weekly Beers Social (I shit you not, the school funds a weekly beer social hour, complete with food) when I found a group of guys to chat with. I was standing in the corner like the awkward newb I was, when one came up and said “hey, are you a prospective?” We were getting the initial introduction-y stuff out of the way, when I told them I was from Minnesota. They were like “you gotta meet Chang!” introduced me to him, and it turns out there are 4 current students at Tepper who are from Minnesota. I have now met them all.

So, in short, small school, close community, some folks raved about the partners program and I talked to a few people who had come to Pittsburgh with their partner, which was awesome because they only had nice things to say. Good tech focus, tons of small start-ups in the area… let’s just say, I’m not ruling it out yet.

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Day one of both NaNoWriMo and my memoir class and I’ve already made the tears flow; in public nonetheless. I’m chilling out at Open Book downtown, where my class took place (it’s through the Loft Literary Center). I felt it would be an inspirational place to continue the writing, so I find myself perched at a table. I have to write 1667 words tonight (of an actual book, meaning, this doesn’t even count!) to meet my day 1 requirement for NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November. The goal is to write 50k words by the end). I’m not writing a novel, because I don’t believe in fiction. I’m using it as a structured force to write my memoir. The fact that today was the first day of my class was just a coincidence .. I like the ways things tend to fall together for me.

The tears came from what I was writing. In terms of the book, I’m at the point in my life where I had lice one summer. My mom sent me a care package because I was staying with family at the time and they agreed to keep me so my mom didn’t have to deal with the lice. Except, the care package made me miss her so bad that I made her drive out to see me that exact same day. I still feel guilty about the money she spent on shipping the package when I had her drive out anyway.

The class so far is fantastic though. Usually I get bored by people and don’t like to come back to things like that. However, there are reading assignments and writing that we have to do before the next class, both of which I’m excited about.

Further, the people in the class are perfect. None are intimidating to me, in a good way. I feel comfortable, like I bring my own strengths to the group, similar to how I felt at She’s Geeky. While some people have really awesome stories, experiences and educations, I also feel content in having my story be my own. I’m also intrigued by the stories of others and am looking forward to being inspired by them.

Tomorrow I am flying out to Pittsburgh to visit Tepper Business School.. I’ll let you know all about it ;) Also, I’m writing sober right now. High five for that.

Permission to be me

Tonight I went to a Women Leading in Technology event, which was presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it on my calendar earlier today, and then I was like “what the heck is this event?” I was about to bail, but then I realized I paid $15 to go and felt committed. So I went. And it was awesome.

First was a short networking session. I met some interesting people, saw some people I have worked with, and generally had a good time. The best part by far though, was the panel. They brought together a panel of four strong, intelligent, successful women within the technology industry.

  • Carolyn Parnell, CIO MN.IT Services
  • Jennifer Haushildt, CTO, FindLaw at Thomson Reuters
  • Jean Becker, Senior Executive Partner, Accenture
  • Chris Mahai, Co-owner and Managing Partner, Aveus, LLC

My favorite part was when each woman gave a little bit of their background and how they got to where they are today. It was inspiring to see women from different companies and backgrounds coming together. For example, Carolyn started out as a social worker, and always made sure to work for companies that she shared a common goal or belief with. Jennifer, on the other hand, has been at Thomson Reuters for most of her career (19 years). Jean had a different start too, coming from a small town without phones or electricity, to becoming a nurse, and now is at Accenture. The best takeaway was from her: don’t be afraid to say way you want. Once, in an interview, when the interviewer asked her what she wanted to do, she replied “I want to be an engineer for a while, get my MBA, and then manage people.” The response she got wasn’t laughter, it was belief. Somehow, somewhere, I got ahold of the wacky notion that one shouldn’t announce that their sights are set high. Rather, that it is better to be humble and speak more to that next step rather than further down the line. I’m honest about these things with some people (Joe, my grandma, my diary, etc.), but not with the people that can help me achieve the goals. [From a professional standpoint, I mean. My family is very supportive of me and means the world to me.] But that is going to stop now, because I left tonight with the permission to tell people what I want, who I am going to be, and how I am going to get there. And, just so we are all on the same page, I’ll tell you too.

I’m going to be CTO of a fortune 500 company, whether I start it from the ground up or join one of the many existing successful companies. I’m going to be actively involved in my community, specifically with organizations that promote STEM fields to women and with my alma matter (Macalester + probably Stanford). I know these things won’t happen over night, but I’m a hard worker and I’m in this for the long haul.

Additionally, I’m going to be a published author and I’m going to drive a Maserati because they are awesome. I am a genuine person that tries to help out others any way possible. For example, I love meeting with Macalester students to talk about life post Mac, and I recently paired up a coworker with a recent Mac grad to dog sit while he is on vacation. It is sometimes the little things, but it is also the bigger picture, and I’m always willing to put myself out there for others.

And now it is my turn to pay it forward: tell people what you want, who you are going to be, and how you are going to get there. And don’t forget to appreciate the present.

Business School = Online Dating

Searching for the right business school is online dating. Not “similar to” or “just like,” no, it is. How can I say this with such certainty, you ask? Because I have extensive experience in both arenas, that’s how.

First, spoiler alert here, a new blog mini-series I am working on chronicles my online dating adventures. I’ve titled it “The Chronicles of OKC.” I dated a few handfuls of men before (and well, after too) finding Joe, and I can say it’s a cool thing. You down select through reading different profiles, creating specific criteria “only show me men aged 24-35 that are taller than 5’6″,” and through some light messaging. Only the lucky few are awarded a date.

Compare this to the business school search. You look at tons of business schools online, finally getting a better understanding of what your search criteria is “I want class sizes smaller than 50, the ability to gain international experience, and for it to be a top-tier program.” Now you are left with only a handful of schools, with whom you thoroughly review via profiles, feedback from others, etc. Maybe you even exchange emails with the admissions folk. When you are ready to take that next step, you set up some in person meeting. Campus visit? Local information session? The median doesn’t always matter, but the feelings you get while on this “date” can be very telling about how your personality will fit with the institution.

Let’s take tonight as an example. Kellogg was in town doing an information session of their full-time programs. I’ll admit, I was a little lax in saying “yes” to this proposal, knowing little about the school. However, they are ranked number four according to US News (read: 6’0″, masters holding professional, living in a condo downtown), so I just went with it. Right off the bat, they impressed me with highlighting the MMM program. While I still don’t know what it stands for, I know it is a dual-degree program, resulting in an MBA and a masters in engineering in two years. The engineering degree can be focused on innovation and design and doesn’t require students to have a CS (computer science, folks) undergrad degree. Holy cow, sign me up. It’s like all that I’ve ever wanted to accomplish wrapped up neatly into two easy years!

After diving more deeply into the university though, I found myself comparing everything they said and did to Stanford. “Oh, well Stanford has a better partners program…” What does this mean then? Are Stanford and I meant to be? Maybe, but I need to stop looking lustfully at their profile and sending quirky messages back and fourth – we need to meet on their turf. We met in that group setting a while back, which was great, but I want something more… intimate. Who knows, it might not be a good fit, but I’m not making any friends by going on all these info sessions with Stanford on my mind.

My overall opinion on Kellogg? We would make great friends. A lot of the program sounds great, they value involvement, alumni engagement, designing your own education through many elective options, etc. However, I don’t feel that spark. I’d go visit them on campus or even consider applying (especially to the MMM program!), but my after-the-first-date gut feeling: it will never be more than a friends (maybe with benefits) type of relationship.