The true “MBA Experience”

Choosing to go back to school was a hard decision.  Could I afford to take two years out of my early career, and give up a steady salary to make an investment in myself?  Should I do a part-time program close to home so I could keep working, or make the leap to go back full-time and relocate to go to a stronger program?

These were the decisions that I found myself facing a mere 18 months ago.  In the end, after many long conversations with my wife (and myself) I made the decision to put my career on hold, move to Hampton Roads and enroll full-time at the Mason School of Business.  On August 1, 2011 we packed up the U-haul, left Lexington, VA and never looked back.  It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

From the very first day of orientation I knew I had made the right choice.  Looking around Brinkley Commons I saw 125 of my colleagues, all trying to figure out exactly what the next twenty months would hold.  We were asked to take a hard look at ourselves, to determine our strengths and, more importantly, our weaknesses.  We were asked to take chances and to step out of our comfort zones in order to grow as individuals.  We were asked to become the next generation of leaders in our families, communities, businesses and governments.  In short, we were asked to become Revolutionaries.

The true “MBA Experience” is more than just learning analytical skills in the classroom.  It is about stretching what you think you can do.  For me, it has been about learning not to psych myself out before speaking in front of a crowd, but to embrace the opportunity to have control over the room and the confidence to do it.  It is about learning to lead, to trust our instincts and to not be afraid of failure.

The Mason School provides us with an environment where we are encouraged to try new things and to learn from our peers in order to grow not just as businessmen and women, but as individuals.  To have the chance to take a break from the rigors of a career, to take a step back and look critically at ourselves is invaluable.  To challenge ourselves to become better leaders is priceless.

My classmates and I have a lot on our plates over the next 8-9 months as we go through CAMs, the job search and a myriad of clubs and extracurricular activities.  With graduation just over 7 months away we still have a lot to accomplish before returning to the real world.  But, through all of the stresses of first year and now the strain of watching our MGJW Fellow friends heading back into harm’s way, I know that I made the right decision when I chose to join the Mason community.  The lessons that I have learned from our faculty and my classmates have helped me grow in ways I could not have imagined possible.

The confidence that I have gained and the friendships that I have forged will serve me well as I move into the next chapter of my life.  I can truly say that I will be a better person, and a better leader, when I pack up my locker and leave Miller Hall in May.  And for that, I will always be thankful.

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Dan Walker

Daniel R. Walker is an MBA Candidate with the Class of 2013 at the Mason School of Business, which is part of the College of William & Mary.

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