Breathe In, Breathe Out.
Overwhelmed. This is a feeling that many a grad student is familiar with. Overwhelmed with that amount of work to get done, overwhelmed with choosing classes, overwhelmed with figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their life. Some students, particularly some MBA students, are already well established in their careers and are set on where they want to go. They may be pursuing their MBA as a step to reach the next level or maybe just because their company will pay for it. Others, like me, are at an important point in their career, experienced enough to know what they like and what they’re good at, but maybe not so experienced that they know exactly where they want their career to go over the next 10 years. I’ve been asked several times in the past few months what I want to do, where do I want to end up. I used to know for certain what my answer was to that question. I wanted to work in the Marketing department of a professional sports team with the goal of becoming the Director or Vice President of Marketing. My dream job was Vice President of Marketing for the Detroit Red Wings. That job is still incredibly appealing, but as I’ve expanded my skill set and experienced the professional world outside of sports, I have found other paths that are also appealing. I have found that I am good with data and analytics, and turning the insights from data into a story and then a strategy. I have found that I am incredibly passionate about digital media and finding new ways to connect to fans and consumers in a meaningful way. I was never much of a techie, but my fascination with how tech is developing and how it can be used to communicate and make lives easier is ever increasing. While these expansions in interests and skills are great, they also make the decision of what path to follow more complicated. No longer am I 100% sure that sports marketing is where I should end up and where I will thrive. Long term goals could keep me in the agency world or see me switch to the brand or even publishing side of marketing. The possibilities are exciting but at times intimidating. I am a point in my life where a choice of direction could impact the rest of my career. While it is possible to change direction a year or even several years down the road if I feel as though the path is no longer the right fit, it becomes much more complicated as I commit time and energy to developing my expertise in a given area. I chose to switch my concentration in my MBA from Marketing to Information Systems Management because I believed (and still do believe) that the classes in that track are more closely aligned with the digital marketing skills I am most passionate about enhancing and pursuing. I am confident that digital marketing is a field that I can build a happy and successful career in and requires skills that are applicable across the industries I am interested in. My question and choice comes when I decide which area of digital marketing will become my home in the short and the long term. Some of the pressure I feel is self imposed; I worry about making a “wrong decision” and ending up in a situation that is very different from what I was looking for. I worry that I will choose something that I may be qualified for and even good at, but that does not make me happy. Now, I have been in similar spots before and know that all big choices in life come with some risks, whether they be career choices or not. I took the risk to go away for college where I knew no one, I took the risk to move back to Michigan for a job knowing I was leaving a certain comfort and life I had built in St. Louis. There were some bumps in those choices, but I have come out on the other side and know now that those were risks worth taking. I will never know for sure if a path is right until I start down it, and that is a risk I will have to accept. The alternative is to stay where I am which, while comfortable, will eventually become unsatisfactory as I will be leaving my potential unfulfilled.
I cannot say for sure where I will be in 5 years, life throws curveballs at you on a regular basis, I can however choose to make the most of the opportunities I am given and go after the moments that will propel me upwards and onwards.