Dear Sierra: your presence is required in New York City the week of July 18th.
I didn’t really know what to expect of the city or my week there – after being in my new job for a month, the “Global MBA Induction” was slated for the Global Headquarters of the company, on glam-sounding Park Avenue. Added incentive: I planned to stay the weekend to visit Darden friends living in the city.
Your schedule will include visits from the Chiefs, a city-wide scavenger hunt, design thinking training, a happy hour, a beer & food pairing workshop/dinner, zythology (the science of beer), personality testing and a group-based innovation challenge.
I worried about not having enough time to work out, about being intimidated by the city itself (did you know cabs can refuse to take you where you want to go? The nerve!) and about the other MBAs from the US, Russia, Argentina and China. Would they be know it alls? Could I hang if they asked us to do math?
I finished the week nursing two gigantic blisters (gained from the 4 hour mad dash/scavenger hunt around the city – worth it, because my team won), infatuated with IDEO and all it stands for and still laughing over the hilarious and oddly spot-on results of my personality test (I’m a “Sunshine Yellow”, for the record, with a “Fiery Red” secondary dimension). Oh yeah – and I won an iPad too! Overall, I’m really surprised and impressed at the level of time and attention we received. Every speaker we had spent more than their allotted hour with us – including all of the Chiefs (CEO, CMO, CFO, etc.). They wanted conversations, welcomed our questions, and gave honest, reflective answers. And every single one layered their high expectations for us into the conversation. This is a no-fooling-around-we-expect-great-things-and-hold-you-accountable company. Kind of a high-investment, high-return model. Read: be brilliant and deliver great things. Ok? Ok. We’re counting on you, you know. Suddenly my last month of constant crises of confidence (OMG, am I good enough? Why did they hire me anyway? What if I totally fail?) seemed way more appropriate.
Something else happened, too. It wasn’t directly related to the work we did or the environment. [Sidenote: being stuck in the same conference room for 5 days trying to resist catering trays is unfairly challenging for someone who is trying to simultaneously embrace low-carb living and manage ADD. “Ooh, croissant! Oooh, cookie! Oooh, roast beef on sourdough! Ooh, another cookie over there!”]
It’s hard to explain. Dichotomy, dissonance, call it what you will: on one hand I am genuinely over-the-moon thrilled about being in my job, working for my company, and doing what I’m doing. I love those days when I realize at 3p that i didn’t even remember to think about eating lunch because the work is so enthralling. On the other hand, I’m a bit resentful. I resent my inability to run my own schedule, the way I can’t seem to shut my brain off about work stuff, the new requirement that I work at a certain level in order make a certain amount of money to service heaps of student loans for a certain amount of time (10+ years). And yes, I knew all of this when I signed up for it. And no, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Darden for the world.
All week I simmered on this (FYI: cookies do NOT make fretting easier – trust me, they just seem to) – knowing I’m the neurotic/workaholic , intense, all-or-nothing type. I’m scared of getting lost in my job, of losing all the possibility and nuance and perspective and color and fullness I found in life through Darden. Can I do a great job at my job without having it be all-consuming? Is it natural to have this type of rocky transition into working after business school? How in the world did I do this before school? Truly, what did I think would happen after school? Is there such thing as a low-pressure, high-paying job with a permissive, un-demanding schedule? Those jobs don’t exist, especially during a debt crisis/deep recession/unemployment spike/economic crisis. I’m damn lucky to have a job, any job, much less one I like. I’m grateful and humbled and glad to be working, period. Is this a princess problem, trying to balance a good job with striving to have a good life, too? Yes indeed. Does it scare me silly? Yes indeed. Am I worried too much? Probably. Does it get easier? I sure hope so….