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Thea Sokolowski

Degree:

MBA

Location:

United States

Industry:

Social Impact

Year:

2014-15

By Thea Sokolowski

That career thing

It’s sort of like that old toy, where you try to get a little silver ball through the complex maze enclosed in a plastic circle and out the other end safely. Often at first, you lack the perspective to be able to look at the path as a whole, to trace your moves before you start rolling; you get too excited and just jump in. Inevitably, you head down dead ends and are forced to roll back and retrace your steps – sometimes following the same path, and sometimes taking a new turn entirely. As a kid, I used to shake those things when I got frustrated, hoping I could beat the system by jumping over the hard parts instead. Of course, it never quite worked that way.

I’ve been exploring this career thing since I first set foot at Saïd Business School. Well, exploring is a generous word. Picture a game of dodge-ball where you’re the only man standing on your side. For someone like me who was open to pretty much anything, you’re inundated with options. For a while, I rolled down the consulting path. Discovery: not for me. Impact investing? I really hate spreadsheets. On and on and on. Until, after some twists and turns, I started to get a feel for what just might be the perfect space.

I’m not sure what led me to it exactly – likely a combination of introspection, talking to professors or the career centre or people in the outside world, and, mostly, talking to my fellow MBAs. Now that we’ve gotten to know one another, it’s interesting to see how our colleagues view us. We’ve seen each other in every context – at work, in class, at a bar, at a ball, in interview mode, at home and even at the gym. There are in fact very few people in the world (if any) who have seen us in all of those settings, who can view us in totality. Talk about perspective.

After this year, I can say I’ve spent time working with bankers, entrepreneurs and analysts, with engineers, doctors and lawyers. I can almost pin point nuances of difference between them and, because of this, can start to imagine who I’d want to work with in the future. What I think has helped me find direction the most is forcing myself to picture getting out of bed for work everyday in the future. Staying late, and working toward something, with a certain group of people. What is it that I’m doing? What’s motivating me – what’s interesting enough, fulfilling enough; what’s exciting and challenging and will make me want to get out there and see what’s next? Can I really picture myself being happy in that space?

See I realize I’m fortunate enough to be able to make this decision, to be able to have these thoughts. It’s also, however, why I’m here. After this tornado of final papers and entrepreneurship project pitches and finals blows over, I’m looking forward to picking up the pieces and beginning to fit them together, now that I’ve begun to figure out the picture I’m trying to create.

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