By Manish Jha, MBA’22
In my career, at various points, I always found myself asking the question, “What next?” My quest to answer this question has helped me make decisions outside my comfort zone and the decision to pursue MBA at Kelley was also an outcome of this question. I kept pondering over this question, even after I started business school and this helped me shape my MBA the way I wanted to, a true sandbox experience.
My MBA journey started in 2017 when I took the GMAT, but I sent in my applications only in 2019. Before that, the primordial question was, What Next – continue in my current organization and grow my career there, change jobs for better pay, or forego two years of earnings to invest in myself and pursue MBA? I was never the one to find myself confined in a comfort zone and so I decided to take the risk of letting go of a thriving career and go back to the drawing board to redefine myself and my career.
This did not come without its own set of challenges. For starters, I was going back to school after 8 years and so was not used to being in a classroom. Second, the MBA experience for my class was seriously blighted by COVID, especially as an international student as we were not sure if we would be able to start our MBA in person or not. Third, the time zone difference and challenges it brought in working with core teams, etc. When we started our Me, Inc. remotely and were making the best of our altered reality, albeit unwillingly, the US embassy in India announced their decision to issue student visas. The next 3 weeks were obtaining a visa, moving my entire household to two different cities, a crazy road trip, flying to the US, and appearing for an exam and a quiz literally the same day I arrived in America. All this, coupled with a highly intense “Core” semester, sent me in a whirlwind and I freaked out, thinking what did I sign up for?
Fast forward one year, I have very much survived the program and in many ways, navigated successfully. At the end of my first year, I won two extra scholarships reducing my second-year loan burden by 25% and a Kelley coin for positive contributions to the Kelley community. I kept asking “What Next” and spent my summer at two places I never thought I would be: healthcare and internal strategy. None of this would have been possible without the biggest support structure I found at Kelley: the incredible Hoosiers – classmates who all have been such high achievers in their own aspects, always willing to extend a helping hand, and a really approachable program office, who on several occasions went out of their way to help me succeed
Do I still ask myself, “What next?” In my second year, I am working as an Admission Counselor, 1Kelley student leader, and as VP in the current MBA association as well as looking for a career that will again help me push my boundaries. Does it scare me, maybe? But I am excited to see where my constant quest to find answers to the primordial question leads, and I know I will always have the support of lifelong connections I have made at Kelley.