By Kathleen Aalderink, MBA '21
On my first day of Michigan Ross Evening MBA orientation, I kissed my two-week baby goodbye, dropped my two older children off at school, and squeezed myself into normal pants for the first time in nine months. I was confident that my parents thought I was crazy.
How could I possibly start an MBA, work a full-time job, and take care of three young children, one of which was two weeks old? Their disbelief made me slightly unsure if I could handle what I signed up for — on top of my busy schedule, my husband was also working full time an hour away, and in the last year of his Weekend MBA.
I was also suffering from “imposters syndrome.” Did I really belong at Ross, a top MBA program, filled with the best and brightest? Would I be able to keep up with my engineering classmates? My classmates worked in amazing high-profile jobs and had incredible stories about working with the rich and famous. They had all accomplished so much, and were incredibly intelligent and driven to succeed.
After not only making it through my first year in the program, but thriving, I can tell you that Ross is a community of students, faculty, and administrators that care and push you to succeed. The evening program offers the perfect blend of flexibility while still holding students to the rigorous curriculum and standards that Ross MBAs are known for.
In my cohort alone we’ve celebrated the birth of eight babies, at least five engagements and marriages, and countless job promotions, or transfers. Life happens. There is no perfect time to get an MBA. It is hard, stressful, and exhausting, yet at the same time, I am amazed at how much I have learned and accomplished. I have a network of friends for life. They have challenged me and supported me through every step in the program. We all joke about the “imposters syndrome” feelings we had in the beginning. It is funny to look back on how I felt insecure prior to the program, and how my network of friends never once made me feel like I don’t belong, but instead showed me my value and how I was special.
Ross is more than a business school. It is a community that extends past labels of full-time, part-time, evening, or alumni. We are a team that supports each other and tries to help everyone on their unique path to success.
It is okay if you don’t know where you want to specialize, or what industry you want to end up in. The students, faculty, and alumni will mentor and guide you. The curriculum will shape you and give you the tools you need to succeed. The action-based learning classes, challenges, and projects will help give you a taste of what opportunities are out there. The recruiting and networking opportunities are endless. Every perspective and background is valued, and each path is uniquely tailored to your interests and goals. There will never be a perfect time to start your MBA, but there is a perfect program, with a community of people waiting to push you to succeed.