Un-Burning Bridges

Ross is a bubble.

There, I just stated perhaps the most blatantly obvious observation that would cause my fellow 430 graduates to slowly nod their heads and utter a simple “Duh.”

My friend Will came up with a novel idea during a short road trip to Cincinnati the week after graduation: he planned on sitting down and typing out an email to the people closest to him before this grand experiment began, both as a way of catching up with old friends Christmas card-style and to make amends for the lack of communication he had with them since departing for Ann Arbor.  I’m not sure whether or not he fulfilled that promise, but I promptly started on my own letter — and it felt like I was drafting my first letter after escaping from prison. 😉

Here’s a few excerpts: (after the jump)

Dear Friends and Family,

Just under three years ago I made the absolutely nutty decision to make another journey to the ivory tower of academia to pursue my MBA.  I returned to my undergraduate alma mater, Michigan, for what was expected to be a two-year run at a master’s degree.  But I got there, realized I was having WAY too much fun, and decided to tack on a second degree, a Master of Public Policy.

Twenty months and another long-term mountain of debt later, I’m finally done.  And one of the goals I set for myself was to sit down and write a brief blurb about what I’ve learned, what’s next, and somehow make amends for the lack of correspondence I’ve had with many of you all these past few years (for which I apologize).

…Okay, so I paused for a minute after typing out that last paragraph, because I realized that it would be nearly impossible to capture and dispel all I’ve learned.  When I reflect on my goals in pursuing a graduate degree, I wrote the following in my essays:

“…I may be a non-profit business owner by the time I graduate.”
“…I want to create a business that serves as a mediator between global development organizations and potential donors.”
“I’m excited to meet other like-minded students with a passion to become world-changers…”

I can safely say that those goals were not met the way I expected — but that’s actually a good thing, because in the process I realized that my goals may have been a bit off from what I truly desired.  And in the midst of this academic pursuit, I befriended and worked alongside some of the most talented, creative, passionate, and COMpassionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering.  Even as I reflect on my experience, I know that I’ve truly been blessed to have it, and it only makes me all the more excited to see what else is just waiting to be unearthed.

My time in graduate school took me to work on projects onsite in Chicago, Boston, Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Jamaica, and the Philippines — experiences that each harbored their own unique impact on my understanding of how business can be utilized as a powerful tool for change…when applied the right way.

On that note, I made plenty of mistakes along the way.  I’ve learned the art of failing with grace, the ability to stand out even without saying a word (knowing me, you can imagine how hard that is for me to grasp 😉 ), and the inherent need of any business leader to surround himself and herself with people smarter than them.

I’ve seen how my spiritual life has tied into this adventure — even as I quietly stayed away from a church for most of my time here, the occasional conversation crept up regarding it.  I hope to use this summer as a springboard to understand what my place is in a community of faith, and I get the sense it will look slightly, if not substantially, different from how it did before I started graduate school.

…This is getting jumbled, sorry. 🙂  To wrap it up, here’s what’s next: I will be moving to Detroit in September to start work with [firm redacted], a global strategy and management consulting firm focused on a variety of industries.  It essentially is the career path I desired to undertake soon after starting school, and after several years of perseverance, I will be joining the ranks of one of the world’s most reputable consulting firms.  And Detroit is a city that I definitely didn’t expect to call home after school, especially as many of my friends depart to Chicago, New York, or the West Coast.  But I believe it’s a place that needs young professionals like me with a fresh attitude, perhaps some blind enthusiasm, and a desire to make a change.  Here’s to hoping I find a community of people with those same goals, and here’s to hoping we can make a difference.

Again, I know this is the least personable way I could reach out to you all, but I hope this will serve as a bridge between the last time we said farewell in person, and the next time I come to visit you. 🙂  I hope this finds you well, blessed, full of joy and hope — and I look forward to seeing you soon.



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