Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Farewell.

When I was an MBA applicant, blogs had a huge impact on my decision to pursue the degree. In particular, those of female applicants. I consider myself an atypical MBA in several respects and thought it might be worth telling my story. And as my family life evolved, I thought it would be beneficial for folks to get the student parent perspective which is largely absent from MBA blog-land. And frankly, I think that attracting more skeptics and student parents would be a good thing for business schools ... and the world.

But it has come to my attention that my posts are distressing to some and upon further reflection I have decided to stop blogging about my experience. I don't know how to blog any differently than I have been and I don't have the time and energy to worry about the appropriateness of each post. My goal was not to persuade or un-persuade anyone from an MBA or from attending Booth, but simply to give a frank portrayal of an experience that is too often painted as an easy golden ticket. And I think the sort of folk that choose Booth are likely to appreciate that most of all. I have considered quitting blogging many times over the past 3 years anyway. Now is a good a time as any.

But before I go I want to set a some things straight.
  1. I have a deep affection for Booth and think it's absolutely one of the best MBA programs around. It was the only program I applied to and the only program I wanted to attend. I have blogged about the silliness of the GSB stereotypes, that my biggest regret was waiting so long to apply, my love for my fellow students, a Booth MBA is worthwhile no matter what the economy is doing, career services is stellar (and here), GND is the best policy, despite the challenges there is payoff in the end, my appreciation for the school's attempts at addressing student parent concerns, why my reasons to MBA > reasons not after the first year, and why I like living in Hyde Park.
  2. My complaints center around the academic experience and the student parent experience. I may be the only Booth student blogging about this, but I am not alone in this opinion. And I imagine any reasonable candidate would realize that these two issues alone do not rule out all of the positive things found in point #1.
  3. The remainder of my posts have centered around the ups and downs of my MBA experience that have little to do with the institution. That is, crappy economy, tough IM recruiting, self-doubts about career path, frustration with corporatese, are not an indictment of Booth but simply musings on the world around me. Dear readers, I hope you all get that.
  4. Although I blog anonymously I don't say anything on this blog that I haven't or wouldn't say to the administration, fellow students, friends, family, etc. Trust me, there is a lot I do not put in here. But I did not fully appreciate how negatively my posts would come off. And that is unfortunate.
The Academic Experience - class supply, professor quality, and bidding can be quite frustrating. I understand that these are big issues and that the school is probably doing the best that it can and I have said explicitly that these facts would not have changed my decision about Booth. But I think it's something incoming students should be aware of and to plan around.

The Student Parent Experience - I am not complaining that being a student parent is hard but that the school has the capacity to make it easier and seems unwilling to do so with any sense of expediency. And that only so much of the fixing should be up to students. I have worked tirelessly since the summer of 2007 to create support and resources for student moms and moms-to-be and my post last Friday comes after email after email after meeting after meeting with CWiB co-chairs from 2008 and from 2009, with student advisors, with admissions, with career services, with various deans, with UCWBG and CWiBAN, and the Partners group and the law and medical schools and NAWMBA and Forte. After organizing events and attending UoC feedback sessions and conducting a survey of nearly 300 female MBAs and combing the GMAC data and writing a 21 page paper and collecting stories from alumnae and trying to market a Google group and begging CWiB for 50 bucks for a thank you gift for a speaker and moderating a panel on work-life balance comprised of 2 ibankers with no apparent lives to speak of and making myself available to prospectives and incoming students and putting my family story in the viewbook and putting together a website and waiting 5 weeks for Interactive Media to respond to a request to update our internal website.

I get it that Booth has a lot of things to deal with and that this might not be top of the list but my frustrations arise out of the challenges of trying to enact change, not simply a lack of perfection on the institution's part. And last Friday, after reading Bertrand's study and reading a Chibus article in which a former lead facil complains about students who have the audacity to bring their kids to LPF and struggling to find any co-chairs for MaB which meant all this effort was at risk of being for naught, I just broke down. I couldn't pretend any more that all was well and progress was being made. I was out of energy and out of fresh ideas. And angry.
  • On Becker: my beef comes after a conversation with him after a presentation last spring on the returns to women's education.
  • On CWiB: absolutely no beef with the co-chairs. The 2009ers have done a fantastic job of reviving a neglected group. I have high hopes for the 2010ers. However, I believe CWiB would be more effective if the school took on a more active role rather than expecting 6 students to do everything. (The website for a key group should not be left out of date for years, for example.) Membership should be free and universal to all female students, subcommittees should be formed to handle various initiatives and events, leadership should be voted in not appointed for greater accountability and members, not co-chairs, should decide which initiatives they feel are worth pursuing. And yes, I've already shared these opinions with CWiB and others long ago.
  • LOE, recruiting, lactation room, internships: all true stories. Improving the lactation room is on my to do list but given how challenging it was to get the thing set up in the first place and how busy I've been, I've just not gotten back to it.
I get that institutions are imperfect. I get that making change is hard. I get that one should try to effect transformation before complaining. And I expect that any person of reasonable intelligence reads this blog with a grain of salt. I represent just one woman in a sea of women with a myriad of stories to share. I would love to hear more of them. And never thought my opinions would be that controversial.

This was my story and I've shared it. As graduation draws near I am excited to embark on the next phase of my life and have no qualms about choosing to MBA in the original question.

Just wanted to clarify.
Best to all in their MBA journeys or otherwise.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the rest of your time at Booth, your pregnancy, and whatever you may want to do afterwards!

Your blog is easily the best I have read over the past year and the only one I check often for updates I'll miss it!

Josh said...

Apparently certain leadership at Booth believes that the way to handle criticism is to attack the messenger.

As a reader of this blog for some time now... I find it very disappointing that this viewpoint will be going away. There are MANY places to find glowing, male-centric reviews of the Booth experience. What you've done on this blog is offer another view of the MBA adventure... in honest and straightforward language. And, as you mentioned above, a majority of your posts have been very generous to the Booth image!

Frankly, the idea that *anyone*, let alone actual administration at Booth, should feel it is their place to criticize or reprimand you based on the content of this blog... well, it is just mind-boggling. They are perfectly free to write their own alternative viewpoints, or participate in active discussion via comments on your blog. They could link to your post and offer a countering view. They can even start their own blog and call you an idiot. All of these are acceptable actions. But to act as though you have "betrayed" the school, or that you should censor your thoughts in some way... that is just despicable, and it reflects a fundamental naivete about the nature of debate and discourse on the internet.

Chicago Booth is a remarkable school. I have had an amazing time here. However, I will also graduate this Spring with serious misgivings about certain aspects of the MBA and Booth experience. Not all of what the school offers is genius... and the other top MBA programs share many of the same failings, as far as I can tell. You have talked a lot on this blog about the challenges that women face in MBA-land... and these should be very real concerns for any MBA program. Not everyone may agree on the solutions to gender-bias, work-life balance, and family issues in the business world... but the last thing we need is to stifle honest debate on these topics.

I am ashamed of my peers and the Booth leadership for their response to this simple blog of your day-to-day thoughts. I expected better, and if Booth really wants to change its image... it will need to do better.

Anyway, perhaps it is time for a new post-Booth blog? You should keep writing, if you enjoy it. I've enjoyed following your thoughts!

A Booth friend and colleague... looking forward to graduation.

a fan said...

It's quite sad to know that you have decided to stop blogging.

I found your posts to be useful and thanks for sharing the same.

I wish you could continue blogging about the journey which is about to begin.

Best of luck for your family and future.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck in everything. I will dearly miss your blog as I start my own MBA journey through the Booth Evening Program and work to find my own marriage/ family/ career balance. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

cora said...

I have enjoyed reading your posts. As a mom getting my MBA, yours was the only (interesting) blog I could find out there that directly resonated with me.

I wish you the best of luck!

Palo Alto for a While said...

Yours was an excellent, articulate, original blog. It will be missed.

paragon2pieces said...

I've long found this to be one of the best, most honest MBA blogs out there and the most valuable for female students to read. Thank you for the contributions you have made and for discussing openly what it has been like to be a student parent and a pregnant MBA student.

Best wishes with the arrival of baby #2.

You will be missed!

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog since the very beginning - yours is easily the best, most transparent, honest, reflective, and interesting out there. I will miss your thoughts/comments and wish you the best of luck post-Booth.

Btw, I am a prospective Booth applicant in the coming year or two.

Eric said...

Thanks so much for keeping this amazing blog. I'm going to be sad to see you leave, but you've left an incredible record of your experiences which should help so many people in the future.

Good luck!

Eric
Founder, Beat The GMAT
http://www.beatthegmat.com

Matt said...

Awesome blog! Thanks so much for all the time you put into it. It really helped me, and I'm sure others.

Best of luck with family, life and career.

MechaniGal said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog and will be sad to see you go. I have recommended your blog to a number of my girl-friends, many of whom are not mothers. As a student myself, I have come to appreciate just how hard it is to go through this with kid(s) to raise.
I wish you luck for the future and good health for you, Baby Y and Baby#2.

Oren said...

I can relate to the reasons that made you quit, but I must say, it's a shame. Life is not all roses, and so is an MBA. It's a shame that the administrations are afraid of transparency and works so rigorously at painting that rosy picture.

Samantha said...

I've loved your honest, refreshing blog and never found it overly negative. So you posted a few times when you were annoyed/mad. Who cares? It seems like you had valid points and like you said, they are only the thoughts of one student at one moment in time.

Good luck after school. Stop in and leave a comment to let us know what you're up to -- have fun with baby #2.

Manx said...

I do hope you pick up blogging and writing again. Your writings are clear and inspiring. So rare.

Take care of yourself and your little one(s).

Deadhedge said...

Your voice will be missed and it's always a shame to hear a fellow Pacific Northwest MBAer is hanging up the keyboard.

Are you sure that you don't want to rage back and keep blogspot blazing? Causing angst in venerable institutions is one of the surest signs of a successful blog.

It was great cyber-meeting you and I hope that we hear your voice again. Just like there's no such thing as "I used to be a Deadhead", I'd like to think that there is no such thing as "I used to blog". Best of luck with your post-MBA adventures.

Anonymous said...

Your is such a wonderful blog. It will be missed. We dont know yet Baby y's sibling is girl or boy. Why not exclude Booth from your blogging and continue blogging?

Till date, I cant understand the schools which ask applicants again and again in the essays how she/he dealt with criticism or failure seem to have zero clue about how to handle criticism laid out against them. Such an irony it is.

m@ said...

Truly a loss to the blogging community. It's been a real pleasure working, virtually, alongside you. Continue to press on, and I look forward to hearing more about your post-MBA journey.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about your MBA experiences for so long. I am currently a first-year student at Booth, and I will admit to reading some of the MBA blogs when I was trying to decide which school I wanted to attend. One of many things that attracted me to Booth is that the student body contains someone as reflective and articulate as yourself. I don't have any children yet, but I enjoy very much reading about the challenges and rewards of the MBA experience from your perspective, and it is the only MBA blog I've continued to read since entering Booth. Like you I am enjoying my MBA experience very much, but as with any institution, there are elements that can be improved. Thank you for sharing, and best of luck in the future!

HairTwirler said...

I see you made your decision. I'm still deciding whether to press on or not. I'll miss your blog!

Anonymous said...

What mattered was that you tried your best...

Hope we get to find out where you are blogging next so we can start reading from day one :-)

Best wishes for baby #2 and all that lies ahead !

Gaurav Sharma said...

Best of Luck to you dear.

Jessica is Merry said...

As a newly matriculating MBA and woman, your blog gave me more and better insight than any other. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to come by some frank insights about MBA program, and for me, a newly admitted student to Chicago Booth, your blog was invaluable source of information. I would like to say thank you for sharing your expirience with us.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you're stopping. You are a fantastic writer and have provided an honest perspective. Can you start a new blog once you graduate and tell us how to find you? We've followed your story for so long, and we'd like to know how you're doing.

Jenna said...

This farewell is a travesty. I can honestly say this is one of the brightest spots on the net. Please take up some other subject and continue this blog!!

The.Grey.One said...

I could not put it any better than all those above me. We want you back MaybeMBA.
Wishing you, baby Y, and baby #2, the best of health and happiness. Do keep us posted on the happenings. Take Care.

Metal said...

It hurts me to see you say Goodbye. I strongly believe that your blog was one of the most candid and unpretentious MBA Student blog which reflected life and studies as they are at B school with no affectations. Is there any possibility that you may continue blogging? If yes and it better be yes! please let me know. Adios Amigos.

missionmba said...

Hey!! Your has been one of the best (and the most honest) MBA-blogs around.. We have already seen a number of blogs, which though reflect all the good things about their B-schools, but don't bring up anything that can be improved upon.

Would urge you to come back to the blog and keep posting whenever your busy schedule and family life gives u time.

Good luck!!

DreamingLady said...

Congratulations on second baby. As of mother of two boys, a MBA to be, I totally agreed with your original thoughts about your MBA experience. Since I am at Yale, not Chicago, I experienced slightly different experience than you. Maybe because Yale has a small community, and more flexible system. I felt much satisfied to my MBA compared with your experience. However, I can sense your feeling. Thank you for sharing your experience and your contribution on the web.
Best luck to you and your post-MBA life

The.Grey.One said...

Congrats on Clearadmit BoB 2008-2009 win. We want you back !!!

MaybeMBA said...

Funny - I just decided last night to resume blogging. So much for my dramatic departure! Will post something later tonight.

Anonymous said...

Heyyyyy..... maybemba is back.

bizwiz said...

I am a little late with my comment... especially since you already changed your mind again - glad that you decided to resume blogging. Your view at things if refreshingly different amongst the other bloggers.

That only leaves one thing - Congratulations on Clearadmit's BoB 2008-2009 win!

Mandy said...

dearest maybemba,
thanks for the insightful post. i am an occasional reader of your blog and respect it very much.
but your decision to retire (or not, can't be sure because you did chime in within the comments field) is a tragedy of statistics. i hate to think that you assume the number of people who read your blog is limited to those who comment on it. i assure you it is not. thousands upon thousands may read it, but if they don't comment it's not as though they don't matter. just because a few have issue does not mean that they are a significant or even important segment of the population reading this blog.
i have wanted to address this for a long time; this faulty sense of an audience. it's like advertising. tons and tons of people see it but the few who react do not reflect the opinions of all.
keep blogging. keep sharing. don't stop because you think someone's opinion is more weighty than it actually should be.
i have great respect for you for pursuing the mba as a parent. wow. i can hardly feed my cat on time.
and best of luck to you in the future. the business world will surely benefit from your presence!

Jenna said...

WOOOHOOOO she's coming back!!

I'm very excited to have you back in my web life

Jaesoreal said...

We need your raw and uncut commentary! Feed the people!!