By Blake Richardson, MBA’22
Like many people setting out on my Kelley MBA journey, I had so many questions about my ‘place’ in the business world. I wasn’t coming from a job at Deloitte or as a mid-level manager at a Fortune 500 company. I had no prior business degrees, had never held a job that involved any meaningful business practices, and hadn’t enrolled in a math course since I’d graduated from high school. Would I be able to handle the coursework? Would employers take me seriously? How would I fit in with my classmates, and did the program really have the tools to help me exit the other side with the skills, confidence, and experience I needed to succeed?
When I arrived on campus last summer, I felt a sense of comfort having previously completed a master’s degree at IU’s wonderful Jacobs School of Music several years back. I knew my way around town and was able to visit some of my old haunts and reconnect with friends from my previous stint. Once I entered the halls of Kelley, I started to get to know my classmates and was immediately impressed by their poise and their wealth of knowledge. Honestly, it was intimidating given the newness for me of the business world, but I was so glad to be amongst a group of people that I could look to for guidance and support during what I knew would be a challenging two years. Having been a professional musician in my prior career, I’d dealt with the typical self-doubt most performers face and had learned well how to mask it and put on an air of confidence. However, what I realized along the way was that whatever uncertainty I was feeling at the time, many of my classmates were dealing with similar issues. Nevertheless, we all jumped head-first into our core curriculum and I started to understand that I’d made one of the best decisions of my life in coming here. Kelley felt like it was designed to help students like me who were looking to make drastic professional changes, and I realized that I was beginning to carve a clear path toward a successful career in business.
The MBA class of 2022 counts among its ranks a former missionary who founded a school in South Africa, a former restaurant manager, several military veterans, and an English teacher who worked in Japan for several years before his MBA. What I can tell you, from a completely opinion-based perspective, is that there is very little direct relationship between how “businessy” your previous life was and your success during and after the MBA program. In the case of each of these classmates I mention, they have been standout members of the class and are people I look to with a great deal of admiration. The common trait among them? Not several years working in a bank, or a corporate job, but rather an incredible work ethic and the self-belief that they can and will achieve their goals during their time at Kelley and in their life beyond.
Sure, it may be easier for a b-school to target people with “traditional” backgrounds—easier to teach accounting to, easier to coach through career development—but what sets Kelley apart is this unique level of diversity that you find among our classes and Kelley’s all-in willingness to fully support each of us. Corporate boardrooms are recognizing the strategic imperative of diversity across their workforce. Having experienced this firsthand at Kelley, I know that our school is stronger thanks to the broad array of my classmates’ backgrounds. No matter where you are in your journey, know that when the time is right for you to pursue your MBA, Kelley is a place that you can come and be your full self. YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!!!