It was March 2014 and I received my acceptance into an MBA program, which started in August. Being the person I am, I started my checklist. What do I need to do now? Find a new apartment? Check. Give my notice at work. Check. Awesome, now it's time to travel.
Business school opens up career advancement opportunities, but also affords you some down time. I’ve made it my mission to travel as much as possible in the next few years. Last year I traveled to over 10 countries, spending the majority of my summer in South Africa. While I was there, I learned a few mindsets that have helped me on my journey through business school and into my summer internship with Kalypso.
Attitude and Passion are Powerful and Contagious
Camping in Kruger National Park was terrifying. Our guide was a lanky, rugged ex-soldier from a division in the South African Army that essentially hunted poachers. Listening to his stories by the fire, I was inspired by the passion and devotion he had for the land and the animals. When he was not leading expeditions, he tracked migratory roots and sometimes camped out all night to capture elusive photos of animals.
The joy our guide exuded when he in showed us his home was palpable. This gave me some clarity. I realized that if you lack a positive attitude and don’t have passion for what you do, it can be felt by those around you. This experience serves as a reminder that in my career I need to be aware of the attitude I am portraying to the world - because it can impact those around me in either a positive or negative way.
Appreciate What You Have
If you are reading this, you have a computer and Internet access. That said, I would conservatively estimate that you probably have it better than about four billion people. While in Cape Town, I worked with an NGO that helps educate impoverished children. About 250 families shared a few communal water taps and none of them had electricity. When I arrived, it struck me that the kids would always want to take photos with me. I soon realized this was because looking at digital photos is one of the only times they are able to see what they look like. There are no mirrors there.
I have often reflected on this experience during my first year of business school to keep my problems and setbacks in perspective. Sometimes it’s important to allow myself to feel frustrated or disappointed for a brief moment, but then I harken back to my time in Cape Town and I’m able to move on.
Uncomfortable situations are inevitable; and I’m learning failure is as well. But difficult circumstances become an impediment only when I lose my perspective. True character is displayed during times of joy and times of adversity; I hope to use my experiences abroad to refine my outlook on life and my career with Kalypso. Both now and in the future.