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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dedication, Perseverance, and Happiness

My dream job has changed multiple times. I wanted to be a doctor for the longest time — until I took honors chemistry in high school and found that molecules don't really make sense to me.

Then I thought about going to law school — until I took a practice LSAT. To be fair, I took it with no preparation (I had actually just graduated from high school). I was just really bored. My score was far from a perfect 180. The reason I wanted to go to law school was because I wanted to be a prominent policymaker, and a prestigious law degree is definitely beneficial for that sort of career path. After experiencing my college's extreme liberal culture, I "escaped" politics and became interested in finance.

Investment banking was my next big dream. I wanted to work at Goldman Sachs, until I did an externship at an investment bank. While I learned a lot in a short amount of time, I didn't feel like it was a good fit for me.

Then, at last, I fell in love with a job that I think is for me: management consulting.

I love how my creative juices are free to flow, I can work on the coolest projects, and learn so much constantly. In the past school year, I have had amazing opportunities to work with actual consultants on real life projects, and I had such a great experience. I was working 11 hours a day sometimes, but it didn't even feel like it because I was learning so many things and the projects were so interesting.

I know that the probability of my working for a prestigious consulting firm is not very high, given the competitive application process, but a part of me still tells me to go for it. Am I stupid? Or is this perseverance?

Yesterday, my friend was telling me about how a guy he met while interviewing for medical school. The guy applied to medical school five times, and he was finally accepted. He had already been out of college for eight years.


It's common for people to apply to medical school twice, but five times?! I can't even imagine what that guy's friends and family had been telling him. I'm sure some people told him to give up and get a job in a different field. But that guy persevered. He really believed that he could get in eventually.

When should one call quits and when should one persevere? Unfortunately, that's something we'll never know.

It scares me that I'm pursuing a job in a field where the acceptance rates are equivalent to the percentage of fat in my milk. But I have enjoyed the experiences that I've had so far in consultancy so much that I think it's worth pursuing.

Of course, I should have a back-up plan for when my dream doesn't work out.

This morning, I read an article that McKinsey posted about their new incoming hire, Alyssa Callister, a recent MBA grad from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. She attended Utah State University for her undergrad, where she studied Business Marketing.

Even though her academic background is not as prestigious as the majority of people who work at McKinsey or Goldman Sachs, she still got there.

When she started working at Goldman, she knew she did not have a strong background in finance. So what did she do? She ordered finance textbooks, studied all night for many nights, and soon enough, she became one of the top performing members of her team. In business school, she wanted to work on her public speaking skills, so she competed in case competitions, gave presentations in class, and gave speeches at club events.

She has so much leadership, and even though she wasn't very confident about some of her skill sets, such as public speaking, she threw herself out there, and, more importantly, she learned from that.

After reading about her, I completely understood why McKinsey hired her. It's not about what school she attended for her undergraduate or business school, or what she scored on the GRE. It's this hard working and disciplined character of hers that will make her succeed no matter what she decides to do.

I find her very admirable.

When I clicked the aforementioned article, I thought, "Yay, this article is just going to make me feel like a failure because she's so accomplished." But instead, this article gave me a huge boost of optimism. It really shows that hard work pays off. No matter what your background is, perseverance pays off. She has given me hope not just for my career but for anything.

My perseverance and dedication will take me someplace where I will be happy and proud of myself.

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