I loved college. I loved going to lecture and being inspired by the professors. I loved studying at the library, and I even loved taking naps at the library in between classes. I loved attending professor’s office hours to gain new knowledge and perspective. And most of all, I loved being engaged in a vibrant community of like-minded folks composed of young individuals who were hoping to do something in their own special way. I loved the idea of college so much that I aspired to be a professor. That’s what brought to me to the Philippines in the summer of 2010.
The plan was that after graduation, I would go to the Philippines to take a one-month Tagalog class to “enhance” my knowledge of the language that I supposedly “spoke,” spend a couple of months in Manila – to better understand the culture that I supposedly already “knew”- and then go back to the States to apply for doctorate programs in Comparative Literature with a focus on Philippine Literature and Culture. We all know how that story went. Obviously, it didn’t happen the way that I had planned.
I speak in broken Tagalog. I can barely read Filipino, and I’m not pursuing my doctorate.
In fact, I was admittedly against higher education when I returned to the States. I had trouble finding a job, and the job that I ended up finding had nothing to do with what I learned in school. I had this misconception that a college degree would fully prepare me for life after college. Why couldn’t I understand that a degree in English Literature wouldn’t prepare me for the “real world?”
Beats me. However, this stage of angst and indignation definitely passed.
So here I am: three jobs later and two trips to Manila within the past two years, and it looks like education is creeping into my life again.
I feel like the culture of education is all around me. In the past two months that I’ve been working with Juan Great Leap, I’ve been learning about startups and entrepreneurship in the Philippines on the ground. Business meetings are like professors’ office hours for me. Coffee chats with fellow entrepreneurs give me that intellectual peer interaction, in which we get to bounce off ideas. The academic grades given are based on a pass or fail system:
Pass– the business makes enough money for you to live.
Fail– the business doesn’t.
The key difference in my life now is that I’m not in school. This is real life. Unexpected stuff happens. There’s no formula to success.
Yet, I’m still thinking about getting that MBA. While I’ve learned that no formal education can prepare you for the spontaneity and challenges of business, I still think that completing an MBA program would benefit me because of the following reasons:
- I’m not a genius. Some of the most successful people don’t even finish college let alone pursue an MBA, but I’m not as good as them.
- An MBA provides the training and education from some of the brightest and experienced teachers in the world.
- It provides its students with an incredible network, much needed in today’s globalized society.
- An MBA opens the doors for even more opportunities.
- It gives aspiring business leaders a deeper knowledge of business from a bird’s-eye view.
After listing these reasons, I’m not really sure that an MBA is the way for me to go. I haven’t completely convinced myself.
I’ve been learning on the ground and it’s a very effective way to learn, but the pace of learning and the vast knowledge that I will acquire from an MBA is what I feel is necessary for me to take a business to the next level.
I know that there are many different perspectives on the MBA, and I’d really love to hear people’s insights. I think this is a much needed discussion for juniors like me.
Whatever your position on this topic may be, I say CHEERS to aspirations and life goals!