By Agustina Rosenfeld
HBS Alumni and entrepreneur Agustina Rosenfeld is back with edition two of her ‘How I became an entrepreneur by mistake’, in which gives current students a refreshingly open take on tough choices in life and career.
They say it takes two to tango. As an Argentinean I should know that statement to be true. However, as I pirouetted to the rhythm of applications, admission letters and a pre-MBA internship, somehow I lost my dancing partner. All of a sudden I found myself all alone in the stage of life trying to execute one of the most challenging choreographies I would ever pursue.
After seven years together, one of which we spent as a married couple, my ex and I could no longer find a way to make our relationship work. So we both embarked into our MBA experiences in Boston as separate individuals: I came to HBS, he went to the HBS on the other side of the river.
I guess this only proves how big of an overachiever I can be: I cannot think of a more perilous challenge for an international student than to make the decision to walk away from a dangerously fragile relationship while simultaneously figuring out the “MBA in the US experience”.
On the one hand, HBS was the best place to go through such a life-changing journey. For instance, the HBS experience was so different to anything I had done before that the novelty of being single again after 7 years was somehow diluted by everything else that seemed so new and exotic to me. Additionally, HBS offers such a packed social life that even though I was going to bed alone I was way too tired and excited to feel sad and lonely at night. Besides, HBS is –as CPD would like us to believe- a great opportunity to rebrand ourselves, and to pursue new horizons. I cannot think of a better way of rebranding myself than going from professional married woman to struggling single student.
On the other hand, at times HBS would bring an additional shade of darkness into the nightmare. By now all of you -RCs and ECs- are aware of how demanding and stressful the HBS life can be. On top of struggling to figure out the case method, staying on top on the busy social life (I was SA Events and Products rep for my section) and the many recruiting events, I was trying to figure out myself. Not only was I confused on what my next professional step should be but, more importantly, I was redesigning my identity as a whole.
It’s inevitable that you will go through or witness periods of uncertainty and paradigm shifts at HBS; some will bounce quickly, while others will hear similar stories throughout your HBS years. Some will bounce quickly; some others might take almost two years to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. That was my case and it was hard. When I talked to MBA students and alumni back in early 2012, they all told me how I was about to enjoy the best two years of my life. Well… they were not the worst, but I wouldn’t benchmark everything against them and call them the best! That said, I definitely hope to live a life in which the best two years make the ones that have just gone by fade in comparison.
They were, to be fair, indeed two years of personal growth, of building new friendships, of exploring new horizons –both geographically and emotionally, and not least of all, of making lots of mistakes.
However, I still have not shared with you why I was the “most MBA” student you could have ever met. For this, let me provide some context: in Argentina you must wait for three years of marriage to pass before you can file for divorce. That third wedding anniversary would only coincide with 2014 commencement. So during HBS I was not only an MBA student, but I was literally the in-person version of the famous “MBA” joke: “Married But Available”. Try to top that!
If anything, that bitter coincidence reinforced the importance of not taking myself too seriously all the time. It was Saint Thomas More who wrote “blessed he who knows how to laugh at himself, for he would never spend a day without laughter”. From that perspective, maybe my two years at HBS were then again the best in my life, haha.
Although this chapter seems to be a bit far off the topic of the column –“How I became an entrepreneur by mistake”-, it is not. Do not underestimate how much your personal decisions influence your career path. Take time to factor everything in while exploring recruiting, but do not rush into conclusions until you have an offer. After all you will only be able to make a fully informed decision if you know who you are, who you are with, what projects you have together and how the offer that you have at hand impacts/alters/fuels those plans.
And always remember, these could be the best two years of your life, but if they aren’t, it’s fine ☺