Thursday, August 09, 2007

MBA + Baby = Crazy?

Y sent me an NPR article about the challenges that mothers face in the workplace. Same old story. Sort of depressing even though I hope to remain untouched by this. (This one is even more depressing.) Anyhow, inspired me to finally post about why I want to start a full-time MBA program with a small baby. This post is for other women considering an MBA as well as something for me to refer back to once I've started the program.

Why not wait a year?

During my pregnancy I was open to the idea that I might decide to try defer for a year (if accepted), depending on how I felt after the birth. However, I was very determined to try to start the program in 2007 as hoped both because the idea of staying at home with a small baby for a year was somewhat terrifying to me and because I was really eager to get back on the track with my career. Because of the move to Seattle, the pregnancy and the MBA application, I ended up taking a little professional hiatus just as I was on the cusp of promotion and capitalizing on all the grunt work I'd lived with for the past 4 years. The idea of pushing a better job back a year was not especially appealing. I like making money and I like my work and I doubted that would change post-birth. As a student, I will have a far more flexible schedule and will be able to spend more time with my son than if I were working. And I felt that in some ways it would be easier to be in the program while my baby was smaller and had a more basic set of needs. I am very glad that he will be almost 3 months old when classes start - I definitely need this at home time with him in the early months.

Why get an MBA at all?

One of my fears about getting an MBA was that I would be taking on an enormous amount of debt at the same time that I might need to work less and be at home with young children more. This is still a concern and something that I hope to get a better handle on during the program, but I also feel that, as an ambitious woman who also wants to have children, the employment edge I will have with a top MBA will be especially valuable. I can't afford to be middle of the pack if I want to try to blend a great career with a great family life. I will be more able to have my pick of employers, and pick one that allows me to make time for my family. Or, if I go the entrepreneurial route, I feel that the skills and connections I build in school will help me make my ventures more successful. Furthermore, practical cost/benefit analysis aside, I want to model education/career satisfaction for my children - and getting an MBA is part of what I need to be satisfied. Lastly, back to the cost/benefit analysis side, I believe that the financial reward will outweigh the cost, and the money I make will help ensure that my kids are financially secure which is what I need to feel like a good mother.

So how does this work?

This undertaking requires lots of support. My husband will be working from home and my mom is going to provide childcare. If my mom was not willing and able, we would be hiring outside help. I am not planning to be a full-time mom and a full-time student. However, a student's schedule is far more flexible than that of a full (plus) time worker. Chicago's schedule is especially flexible and will allow me to be around my son for much of the day, even if someone else is actually taking primary responsibility for him at that time so I can study. We also made the decision to live very close to campus to minimize the commute. Every minute I spend sitting in traffic, is one precious minute away from my son. I have been able to dedicate an enourmous amount of time and energy to my studies in the past, so it will be interesting to see how it feels to have less time to devote, but I also expect the academics to be less time intensive than undergraduate work. Furthermore, I have a very clear idea of my post-MBA career goals, so I will not need to spend a lot of time recruiting for multiple industries and trying to figure out which way I'd like to go. While my career search will certainly take up quite a bit of time, it will be more streamlined than folks who are changing careers.

Fears and Hopes

It's still a lot to take on. But I sort of like being crazy busy and a little bit stressed. There's a lot I want to do in the world, and I'm too impatient to take it more slowly. However, I do worry that I'm not going to have enough time for my son, especially post-MBA. That I will need to make career sacrifices or family sacrifices that will leave me disappointed by any decision I make. That I won't be able to find time to have any more children. (And I really want more than one.) But I also think that family life is important for both men and women and that it's possible to combine a high-powered career with a high-quality family life. And that we need decision makers who acknowledge this and strive to protect the rights of mothers and fathers in the workplace. And I hope to be part of this.

Hey, someone's got to have babies! And having babies shouldn't exclude all other activities. I need a career outside of the home and I need a family to go home to ... and I think an MBA will help make this all happen. We shall see ...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was an inspirational post. I am also in the same stage where I am considering starting a family vs doing an MBA. Your post does provide encoragement.

HairTwirler said...

You are an inspiration! I continue to wish you luck and will follow your success- if you have time for family, school AND blogging!

DreamingLady said...

This is a very good summary about what we MBA moms are thinking. I have the same thoughts, worries, and fears with you. I have one baby before and I knew the first few months were tough. So good luck to you and keep up your enery.

sirescall said...

Finally some one who wrote some thing close to heart. A lot of the programs say they are family friendly but that is not true for most of the top 20 programs. When they refer to programs for moms returning to work they refer to ex CEO's or Presidents of companies , but where is there programs for regular career minded women who are mid career and having a baby and still want to further her education. Great post and nice to know there is company.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post and congrats on the MBA and baby #2....I am going through the same decision making process right now and I am really glad I found your post....Thanks Again!

Anonymous said...

Will you call me crazy if I tell you that I am working full time and doing an online MBA degree AND I am 7 weeks pregnant at the moment? I do feel that the world is closing in at times on me, due to lack of sleep and overwork, however the thought of my child developing inside of me is greater than any other feeling in the world and is what makes me go through the day.
Has anyone had this kind of experience before?

MaybeMBA said...

Anonymous #3: That sounds like quite a load. I wish you the best. I think for many women, the experience of having children has a major and unpredictable impact on their priorities and goals. The love for your child is quite intense. Take care of yourself and always do what feels right for you in your heart. Happy moms make happy babies. Good luck!

Monika said...

Hey am so glad to find this.This is exactly how i am feeling now. I have been working continuously for past 8 years. Due to constant traveling I decided to take a break from the job. I have been married for 3 years now and wanted to start a family. But I think I just can stay home doing absolutely nothing.. I need need to do something that would keep me happy that it will not affect my career when i get back to the job. Though have not concieved yet I am planning to take a fulltime MBA which is just for 1 year. It will start next year Jan. So you know i have so many confusion since it would be my first pregnancy(if it happens). Can somebody tell me is it wise to take up a fulltime MBA as i am not working along with pregnancy. How does it work? Your suggestions would be highly appreciated..

Anonymous said...

Hi - I might be at the tail of this post as the last comment was a year ago. I'd be curious to know how you feel a year into your MBA. I am on the cusp of making the same decision - I have a son who is 14 months old, and I would like to plan my second child, but I am also applying for full time MBA. Family life is of great importance to me, money are secondary but still important. My major drive to go to business school is to change fields, and gear myself to an enjoyable, meaningful career (currently work in public accounting, and I don't feel that my brain is stimulated enough). Would love to hear what anyone has to say!