Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planning for Grad School


You're probably wondering: Already? 

Already. Last spring it hit me: I have this Fall semester, a semester in Russia, and then just two more semesters next year before I'll be out of the Belmont Bubble and living in the real world.  And I'll have decisions to make -- important decisions.  Where will I work? Where will I live? When and where will I continue my education?

I started researching grad school programs a few years ago, and I even visited the Monterey Institute of International Studies this summer, where apparently I could complete an MBA in International Management in just one year.  But walking around the campus, I wasn't convinced.  I didn't have the feeling -- that unmistakable "I'm supposed to be here" feeling -- that I got the minute I stepped foot onto the Belmont campus. The Monterey campus hasn't much campus to speak of.  It's a couple of buildings on a few different blocks on a hill in downtown Monterey.  Maybe that's how it is in grad school.  Maybe the community feeling goes away and you're just another professional doing important, professional things in very professional, lonely-looking buildings.  But that's not what I want.  I want to work and study and live in places that are conducive to building community, that encourage human interaction, and that have at least a few bustling common areas where you're sure to run into someone interesting. I'm no stranger to silent, individual study, and I seem to get on quite well in solitary confinement - just the books and I.  But lately I've been forced out of my academic shell of a social life, and I'm quite enjoying myself. In fact, I'm realizing that, by relaxing more often, and spending time in leisurely conversation, and participating in very un-scholarly activities, my propensity for academic pursuits has increased.  I return to my books with new energy and enthusiasm.  Instead of reading every word of my textbooks, I skim them and actually get more out of it. I've been allowing myself just 2-3 hours to study for a test instead of the 6, 8, or 10 hours I would have spent before.  And I've somewhat re-prioritized. What's really going to matter in the next few years?  I doubt that an in-depth literary analysis of Margaret Atwood's apocalyptic, speculative fiction will be of great use to me in my future career. No, I won't stress over finishing all 430 pages. Instead I'll spend a few minutes reading a summary, so I can move onto the ten-page marketing plan that's due in a few weeks.  

This seemingly small shift in my mindset has sucked me up like a tornado (did you know that Nashville was officially added to
Tornado Alley in recent years?) and set me back down in a completely different paradigm.  Instead of allowing honors classes to dominate my life, I've decided to put my business classes at the top of the list. It is my major, after all.  And I'm having so much fun!  I discovered Marketing Strategy last week, and realized that I'm a strategy person.  It's what I do, naturally.  I love it.  It could be strategic management, marketing, firm creation and organization, business model optimization (I just made up this last term and then googled it -- it exists!).....I already brainstorm all day about this stuff, but I can't wait to have all of the course knowledge in my head so I can compare the theory with my gut-instinct ideas. 

I definitely want to get a few years of work experience under my belt before heading to grad school, but I'm doing a little pre-planning.  I like to think about my options. When I was a freshman at Belmont I shared an apartment with a senior, and watched her go through the process of taking the GMAT, applying to grad schools, having what I called a "mid-education crisis," and ultimately moving off to seminary after she graduated.  The sudden panic she found herself in, when she realized she was graduating and had to leave Belmont, must have had quite the impact on me, because I started researching grad schools my freshman year and have kept a running document full of links to degrees I might want to pursue.  (I know it's nerdy - just try not to judge me for it.)  I've been so busy recently, I had completely forgotten about it but when I ran across the Word document today I poured over it like a goldmine. 

A rustic abode in Aix-en-Provence
One of my most-dreamed-about picks is the Master of Global Innovation Management, a dual degree programme in which I'd spend the fall semester at North Carolina State U. and the spring semester in Aix-en-Provence (southern France) and receive degrees valid in both America and France in just one year.  


Sounds neat, right? Plus, it's only a matter of time before I buy a house in Aix-en-Provence, so this would give me an opportunity to scope out the real estate. 
Downtown Aix-en-Provence













But since my recent fixation on strategic management I've been looking at degrees in business development. There's a Masters Program in Business Development and Internationalisation at a Swedish university that looks like a good fit. 


Another Swedish university offers a Master in Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Business Development.  If there's one thing I've learned while researching for this thesis, it's that a lot of entrepreneurship research comes out of Sweden. It makes sense that their MBA programs are pretty saturated with innovation and development.
I definitely have time to think about it and explore lots of options. I know all of the programs I've mentioned have been international, but I'm not averse to staying in the States.  Suggestions are welcome, if you think of a program I might like. 

2 comments:

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