I know. It’s only the summer. Year 1 isn’t even here yet.
Call me crazy, but I have already begun investing significant mental energy into contemplating the seemingly endless myriad of professional opportunities that lie ahead. (If it helps, I had sleepless nights worrying about college starting when I was 12…so, maybe this isn’t that bad?).
Professionally, I have dedicated most of the last decade – including many workplaces and two degrees – toward pursuing the path I am happily on now. I have successfully merged my passions for education, social impact and media/entertainment in interesting, intellectually stimulating roles that have allowed me to authentically make a difference. In the long term, I know this intersection, somewhere at the nexus of media/technology/entertainment and social change, is where my path will continue to lead.
However, in the short term, I am about to embark on a crash course in business and management. I am pursuing my MBA to magnify horizons, unlock opportunities and learn, learn, learn. And with that new knowledge in hand, I want to gain practical private sector and corporate strategy experience that I can draw upon in the next phase of my career.
Perhaps it is starting to become clear. I have a conundrum:
Do I dive head-first into the social impact space, leveraging my two years at Anderson to strengthen skills and expand my network in my current field, and learn how to apply lessons from the business world in real-time, re-entering social change work after graduation?
OR, do I zig instead of zag, and use the MBA as an opportunity to embrace the traditional corporate sector post-MBA path? Think management consulting. Most likely management consulting.
There are many, many practical reasons to choose the latter option. An important reason is to build an understanding of the levers of change that exist in the private sector. From the outside, in the philanthropy or nonprofit spaces, I can see the potential – the glut of resources (financial and otherwise) that can be leveraged to make the world better. I want to understand what change means through corporate eyes.
For now, I’ve decided that the answer is not ‘or’ but ‘and.’
On the consulting side, I’ve connected with the Management Consulting Association (MCA), attended an end-of-year MCA send-off and have started networking with top-tier consulting firms to explore future short-term and long-term opportunities.
On the social impact side, I (just!) registered for my first national conference as an MBA student. I will be attending the Net Impact (NI) National Conference in Silicon Valley in October with many of my like-minded Anderson classmates. Meanwhile, I’ve already gotten involved with UCLA’s Net Impact chapter via a collaborative social impact strategy session with Net Impact LA (NILA), and intend to be heavily invested in the UCLA social impact community.
As I embark on this parallel journey with Parker Career Management Center by my side, I plan to engage with both sides of this equation through academics, extracurricular involvement, networking, internships and beyond. And in doing so, I’ll find the right balance for me.
Meanwhile, I have been pleased to find there are others – current students and recent alums – who share my conundrum. Each of them have confronted the challenge in a different way. And they tell me I’m not crazy. I suppose I’ll believe them.
- Devon Dickau, MBA '15