They Say It’s a Good Problem

It wasn’t too long ago–January, sometime, I think–when good ol’ m@ assured me not to worry about not having a summer job offer yet.  Last year, he said, he was waiting until the middle of February.

Then the middle of February happened.

I booked my ticket to Bogota, and when I thought I would be gaining a fun, valuable international travel experience, I lost the thing that was most important to me in the world.  And she was not going to be convinced to change her mind.  Happy freaking Valentine’s Day.

Here I was, strolling the streets of Medellin, and wondering why I ever came to b-school in the first place.  This whole world of opportunity seemed to be lost.  I had no job and no job prospects.  My future plans were tossed out the window and dashed all over the concrete below.  And the economy went from worse to….whatever comes after that.

Suddenly I had the whole world opened up to me, and it didn’t seem like much of a world anyway.  And I didn’t even want it.  For two weeks, I longed for the comfortable life I had before b-school more deeply than I ever had to this point.

Then, during the back half of Spring Break, two job offers rolled in.  And suddenly I’m faced with a choice.  Both great opportunities, both good experiences.  And above all, I’m thankful for the fact that I have a job offer at all for the summer.

Here goes:

  1. IT Management gig at major US auto co. (that is not going bankrupt). Pros:  decent salary, can keep my apartment in MI, can look after my dog this summer, good long-term job prospects, good experience with a major corporation (until this point I only worked in SMB).  Certain I could excel and do good work.  Cons: Experience is similar to past experience.  May not advance my career as much as I’d like.  May be a cop out.
  2. Base of the Pyramid business development opportunity in India. Pros: This is why I said I came to school — social enterprise.  Decent pay, exciting experience, international business experience could really boost my resume.  Can make an impact for thousands of poor/middle class.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  Cons: I’m scared out of my mind.  Language barrier, issues with finding housing, nervous about losing the comforts of American life, need to find caretaker for my dog, may not be able to sublease my apartment.  Overall, I’m just not sure I’m the jet-setter I once thought I was.  But a hard opportunity to pass up.

And even with all these factors, I find that the one weighing heaviest on my mind is whether either of the opportunities may give me a chance at reconciliation with the one mentioned above.  I find myself asking if she would respect me more for choosing one over the other, or if I could use the coice to show her what she wanted to see in me in the first place.  I feel like this is irrational, but I’m ok with it.  The world is not all about business.

So I find myself reminded of what m@ was told last year sometime.  Don’t forget why you came here.  The only question is, has that changed since September?

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One Response to They Say It’s a Good Problem

  1. About the BOP opportunity in India. Maybe I can provide some perspective.

    I am of Indian origin and have lived in America for the last 10 years. If you have not already, I suggest you make a trip to India before you decide. The excitement of changing the world at times blinds one to the challenges of day to day life. The language barrier is not much of a problem in India – everyone speaks English and the people are quite friendly so they’ll help you fit in even if you don’t want to. The things that bother people are ‘transaction costs’ and for a westerner this implies the need for patience. The things that are challenging when conducting any transaction are

    1. Pollution – air (dust, smoke) pollution is quite high and at times unbearable.
    2. Weather – it gets brutal at times. However, given that you’ve traveled quite a bit, it might be okay.
    3. Infrastructure
    4. Inefficiency in task execution – you really need to get your organizational behavior courses ready to implement

    Now, other factors you mention (finding housing) is not so intimidating. Just find some Indian at your school who is from the city you’re heading and you can make a lot of headway.

    Good luck.

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