Come as you are

I have a mentor in my life that I very much look up to. She was my first manager after college, and even though we only worked together for a short time, we have remained in contact. It can be hard to describe what makes certain people just click, but with her, its her ease. She is so approachable and you know that she has your (well, my) best interest in mind. I can say or ask anything, and that’s always okay.

She is also extremely driven. I see a lot of me in her, in that even though she has a very successful career, she still pursues interests academically. She is working on getting her Ph.D while working full time, raising two children, and being involved in local organizations. I think she also has really good taste in cars.

Anyway, this mentorship relationship works because while I am so impressed with who she is, she see’s so much in me. This evening, she and I were wrapping up a board meeting and she nearly got teary eyed talking about how excited she is for my future. When I sometimes forget it myself, it is really nice and reassuring to know that other people believe in me too.

One lesson that really sticks out from her though, is that her philosophy is “come as you are.” Whether you are working on her team or with her on a board, she doesn’t want to shape anyone into being something they are not. When she first tapped me to be on this nonprofit advisory board I was all like “umm… okay… but, I don’t know anything about nonprofit boards and I don’t know anyone who can give a lot of money and I’m not really sure what I will bring to the table…” but she didn’t care. She knew that I had a lot to offer and even though it wasn’t in the form of money or to people with money, it was valuable to the organization.

Further, I get a sense that it is okay to be me. I came into this board not knowing what I would do, and even though it has taken a few months, I’m finally beginning to see my role. I love networking and meeting with people and collaborating any way possible. So, yes, I have a lot of random connections throughout the cities and yes, I will leverage them to help everyone out. And yes, I will just come as I am.

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.

Volunteerism

Today was my first actual day of the Reading Corps program. I fricken loved it. It may be my most favorite volunteer activity ever and let me tell you why.

  1. I was back at my elementary school where I first learned how to spell “bitch.” I was lying in the nurses office, feeling ill, when I saw it written on the wall. I had never known how to spell it until that moment, when I just knew that’s what it was.
  2. I was “reviewed” by a “master reader” who wrote “perfect” on my scorecard. Brings me back to the good ole days, when I would get grades and stuff.
  3. I got to hang out with a bad ass little girl who was actually kind of cute. Having kids would not end my life if it happened in like, 10 years.

Other random note? A former fling of mine got married this last weekend, and I still continue to be weirded out by that happening (he’s not the first).

Connections

I worry about the connections I am making. I’ve realized over the last few years that I have a tendency to procrastinate my involvement. For example, I’ve been living in Minneapolis for over a year now, and I’m just recently finding the communities that I really connect with. The same thing can be found when you look into any slice of my life.

This is what made changing schools so often so hard. Before high school, I never went to a school for more than two years. The first year was made attempting to make friends, and well, sadly, the next year was spent losing them. The first time I really broke out of this bubble was in high school when I began my involvement with the student yearbook and volunteered at various places around town. By senior year, I real felt like I hit my groove. I was earning all A’s, compared to the C’s and B’s I got in 9th grade. I excel when I have the opportunities to lead, help others, and learn. Why can’t I find these opportunities right away? Same thing happened in college – not too much that I am proud of from my first year, but by second year and beyond I really made my mark on campus. And that, my friends, is the true value in any experience. Looking back and knowing that I brought students together for the Winter Ball, and that I sat on student government for two years, really makes me proud of my time at Macalester.

Now, I’m falling into my niche in Minneapolis. Work is going well, I’m enjoying the projects I am working on. I’m getting more involved though Girls in Tech and other local tech orgs; I’m volunteering with programs that really make me feel like I’m giving back (the Reading Corps, and Meals for Minds). I’m getting out there and going to blogging conferences and being less nervous about leaving the house and being who I want to be, and who I am.

So, what happens when I decide to uproot myself and go to Stanford? Did it take me a while to fall into a groove here due to the nature of my rotational program at work? Was it having so many new experiences with my friends and family being distant? Am I in a better position for change now that I have Joe by my side? What if I don’t have Joe by my side when I go to Stanford? Obviously I’ll be so busy I’ll barely notice (luff you!) but will I still face the same set back of a year in order to get myself acquainted with the people and community?

What if a year from now my comfort dissuades me from even applying? Will I find myself so entwined that I no longer entertain the idea of leaving? No, I sure as hell hope not. But, I also am dreading the day I no longer believe I can change the world. When this day will face me, no one can say.

Busy bee

I’ve been totally overloading my schedule lately to keep me busy and entertained. It is totally working and I like it a lot. I don’t like when I get sedentary because then I also get emo. I talked to Drew this past weekend, but only on gchat. It was still super lovely though. Joe is always a great listener, but Drew has been through most of it so he comes from a different perspective. He starts at Stanford soon and I’m über excited for him.

Also! Last night I had dinner with an old friend from college. I hadn’t seen her in way too long so it was really nice to catch up. I forget how nice it is to be surrounded by people that get me. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad…

I’m applying for a couple different things here and there. One I’ve talked about before and that is the Girls in Tech PR position. My meeting about that is tomorrow! I’m also looking into being the volunteer lead for the food program at the school I used to go to. I thought that I’d blogged about it after one of the times, but I guess I didn’t. Anyway, I’ve volunteered with them a few times through work and it is always a great/sad experience to be back where I went to elementary school and see how I have/it has changed. Being the lead coordinator would be a great experience to both connect to the community more and make a bigger impact. Lastly, I’m thinking about applying to a fellowship type of thing. I heard about it through work, and it is really a mentorship program but I would be paired up with someone awesome in business and then would go to programs now through April. I need to read more about it though before I make a decision. It is with League of Women Voters and I don’t know enough about them as an org. Normally this is something I’d ask my Grandma about, but she’s in Ireland or London or something awesome like that. I’ll have to Google it.

My super awesome weekend

So over a month ago, Joe and I made reservations to go camping this past weekend. Our plan was to bike there and practice biking/camping for when we do the MS150 in a few weeks. Well, thanks to the lovely Minnesota weather (and Joe’s weak knees), we decided to drive. We just barely got our tent up Friday night when the rain started, and spent the rest of the evening watching HIMYM on his cell phone in the tent.

Saturday morning, the weather was still crap and a half. So, we decided to cheat a little and went back to his place until it stopped raining. We watched some more HIMYM and I took a nap from the crappy night of sleep I got the night before. After looking at the weather forecast, we decided to give up on staying there again Saturday night, which ended up being the best idea we’ve ever had because at around 2am that night the sirens were going off. Phew!

We turned Saturday into a totally awesome day though. After some fun shopping at Crate and Barrel (we are getting excited for our big move this weekend!!) we went to see the Avengers. Awesome fricken movie. The not awesome part? That half the audience was kids under 7. Four seats down from Joe was a little boy who hummed through the whole thing. Directly behind us?- a kid that wouldn’t stop playing with his damn transformers car that his parents let him bring for some unknown reason. Since when did it become okay to bring your kid with toys to a movie to forgo the babysitter costs?

On Sunday I volunteer the two of us (aka, voluntold Joe), for the Living Green Expo. We manned a booth for Second Harvest Heartland (a great organization that collects food from grocers and other sources where it would normally go unused and then distributes it to food shelves across Minnesota). I had a good time because I was wearing my Macalester sweatshirt and people stopped to talk to me about that. I also snuck away for a few minutes to get a massage from the free massage booth across from us. Joe thought this was wrong, I thought it was using my volunteer time wisely.