Saturday, May 9, 2009

Finding your way versus making your way

I just finished reading "Ahead of the Curve" by Philip Delves Broughton. Philip did not find what he was looking for at HBS. He learned a lot about business, but got neither a summer internship nor a job offer coming out of school. His internal struggle to find a successful career yet not follow the corporate path drew him in two directions that he could not bridge. I looked him up online and it seems he has gone back (for now) to what he was doing before: conventional journalism.

Phlip and I have several things in common, so learning from his experience is very valuable. For one, we are a similar age entering HBS. For another, we are both leaving a highly successful career that we enjoyed greatly. I can't speak for Philip, but for those wondering why one would leave such a career; careers change and evolve, and although you enjoyed getting to a certain point, it doesn't mean you will enjoy getting to the next.

When I started applying to HBS I thought that business school would be a great way to "find my way." It would be a great forum for a career transition. While the latter is true, taking it for granted is a mistake. Although, HBS can be used to "find your way," its benefits are exponentially leveraged if one instead uses it to "make your way." This may sound like a serious statement from somebody who hasn't even began school yet, but that is my point. The earlier one starts to plan his career, months before school starts, the better off he will be. It's not necessary, but it adds an advantage.

I've long stripped the idea that my two years at school will be used to find my way to a new career. I'm now very proactive in searching and learning about different career opportunities, and I haven't even signed a lease in Cambridge yet.

In the military one starts out as an expert and becomes a generalist as he moves up the ranks. In business, the trend appears to be mostly the opposite. The sooner one can get himself in the right business lane, the further that road will take him.

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