“Career Switcher,” is a scary term when completely flipping careers from English teacher to brand and product management; however, for me it is a word filled with possibility. Switching careers is a chance to recognize your dreams and work to achieve them.
The start of my MBA was filled with anxiety. Would I be good enough? Did I have the skills? Did I have the business acumen? How hard is it to be a career switcher? These questions haunted me until the very first day of orientation. It was on that bright August morning that my second-year mentor gave me the confidence I needed to excel at the Wisconsin School of Business. My mentors gave me this piece of advice: “You have the skills, knowledge, and passion to be here. Just remember that and don’t give up.” This was hard for me to accept, but after completing my first year and a successful internship at Hollister Incorporated, that advice still rings true.
“Will I be good enough?”
Yes, you will. You have had a successful career prior to applying to an MBA program. You’ve also studied and prepared for the GRE or GMAT. You’ve written tons of essays and prepared for your application interview. You are being considered by an MBA program. All of that is proof enough that you belong in an MBA program. Everyone else, just like you had to go through the same process. Be proud of your acceptance in a program.
“Do I have the skills?”
Yes, you do. Being first a scientist in pharmaceutical lab and then a Kindergarten teacher in South Korea, I felt I did not have the skills or an impressive resume prior to starting my MBA. However, while my experiences didn’t scream marketing, they did provide me unique experiences that most of my classmates have never had. I learned the same skills as my classmates, just in a different setting. For example, my experience as a kindergarten teacher showcases my ability to analyze market trends and find solutions to daily problems. As a teacher I constantly had to pivot and change my lesson plans according to my students’ needs. This was accomplished by receiving consumer (my students and their parents) feedback, identifying the insight, and making changes to the classroom to improve the student experience. If you come from non-business background, do not discredit the skills you have acquired. Companies value unique experiences and skill sets. Be proud of those skills, because they will differentiate you.
“Do I have the business acumen?”
If you do not have the acumen, you will learn it. You are getting an MBA to learn and further your education; you are not expected to have all the knowledge the moment you walk into the classroom. Embrace the experience and take every opportunity to learn. Your acumen will grow in ways you never expected.
“How hard is it to be a career switcher?”
It is hard, but you can do it. Let me say that louder for the people in the back, YOU CAN DO IT. Being a graduate student is hard. Getting an MBA is hard, but as my wise mentor stated, “you have the skills, knowledge, and passion.” You will be your hardest critic, especially in your first semester but just remember, you are not the only career switcher and you have unique skillsets, experiences that belong in an MBA program. Dig in on the challenges and celebrate your victories.
So, to all of my future career switchers, stand tall, be proud, and go get ‘em!