Molecular & Cellular Biology

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MCB and Business: Thoughts from an Undergraduate Alumna

MCB and Business: Thoughts from an Undergraduate Alumna

Monday, June 23, 2014

I originally entered the College of Life Sciences hoping that my degree would one day lead me to medical school. At 18, I had high hopes for working as a neurosurgeon (one of those “Go Big or Go Home” kinda things). And though I loved my degree, while traveling through Argentina the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year as an English teacher, the idea of spending what seemed like the entirety of my twenties in school to finish and have a job where I would be tethered to the USA for the rest of my career had lost its appeal. I caught the traveling bug, and I knew that I would need to find a career where traveling could be a part of it.  I decided to stay as an MCB major for two reasons:

1)   I am a nerd and I don’t care who knows it. Coming back from Argentina I met with someone in the career center to try and figure out what I wanted to do. Now that I had decided Med school was out, should I stay MCB? The Career councilor had me take an aptitude test and a personality test and we discussed my preferences and aspirations at length, but the best question she asked me was, “Do you even like your degree?” and the truth was, no, I didn’t “like” my degree. I freaking LOVED it! I enjoyed my classmates, my lab partners, the coursework, I was even working in the Human Genome lab in my spare time. I thought what I was learning was so cool and so new, I was constantly baffled by the people I met who asked me my major and when they heard my response shook their heads and said something like, “Woah, that sounds intense.” And this brings me to my second reason for staying MCB.

2)   No one ever thought poorly of a science major. Since graduating I have had many jobs, but the height of the economic depression I found myself, like many others, unemployed. It was the worst. Never in my life have I been as stressed, depressed, angry, worried, and self-conscious as that period of time in my life. I waffled between unemployment and under-employment, and what finally got me out of it was my major (and a lot of online applications). In the fall of 2012 I was living in the UK and I was hired after a long bout of unemployment as an administrative assistant. Within the first two weeks of being there a project management position came up to work on an international expansion project. Though I was nervous and self-conscious  from being unemployed so long, I took a leap and applied for the position. Once the manager saw my degree she understood that I was an applicant who understood strategy and analytical thinking , and was up for a challenge. This position had everything I was looking for. I was working on an international project that required travel, doing business with people in foreign countries, and all the analysis I could want. I felt challenged and very confident in my new found role. Unfortunately, working as a consultant, projects must come to an end, but this time there was a very different result. Just before I left I had a performance review that changed my life. I asked my supervisor what, in her mind, prevented me from moving upward. Her response was simple, “you don’t have an MBA. I know you’re competent, I know you can do it, but you don’t have a formal degree in business or a masters, so you can either get 10+ years of experience, or go back.” So I’m going back.

After my project contract finished, my husband and I moved back to the States. We both found jobs in Washington D.C. and since a close friend of mine was already here, we made the move at the end of last summer. The first thing on my list was to find an MBA program and figure out what I needed to do to get there. I was nervous applying for a place in the program due to my lack of business education, but I was surprised to find that after the whole application process was over, MBA programs were extremely excited to find a science major among their applicants. I fell in love with Georgetown from day 1 and I am happy to say that I will officially be attending their MBA program this fall (Go Hoyas!) focusing on International Development through Personnel and/or Product Expansion in Consulting.

I would never had imagined, 9 years ago, when I was trying to decide what to study and what classes to take as a freshman, that I would end up here. And I doubt that if I could do it all over again I would make all the same choices. But there are certain choices I would confidently make again: Becoming a Wildcat (Class of 2009!), and Studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. No regrets.

Written by Elizabeth Skepnek