After Olin…..

So I've been totally bogged down by midterms the last week and a half, most of which I spent miserably sick with a nasty cold. I had three essays due for my Brandeis class today (comparative politics of North Africa), a paper due for non-linear dynamics and chaos, and a problem set due for transport phenomena. Thankfully everything is done at this point and my midterm crunch has finally wound down. Plus I'm also over my cold! So I was feeling pretty cheerful today which has been super windy, sunny, and all around gorgeous for autumn in Massachusetts. I did a little bit of kite flying, a little bit of work, and a little talking and thinking with Rod, the dean of student life, and Jeff.

Sounds like a great day right? Well yes, and I can't complain, but there were still a few things making me pretty stressed. You ask what exactly these things are? I guess it can all be summed up in the broad "what am I going to do with my life" question to varying degrees of the future. There are a couple issues here none of them absolutely immediate, but that's never stopped me from stressing before so I'll put the nearest to-term one first.

I'm a NOAA Hollings Scholar. While this is a good thing (my dad says that he never really liked Hollings all that much when he was in office but when Hollings' pet project offers his kid $16,000 he can't really complain) it also means that I have one more ball to juggle in terms of finding an internship for next summer. Not a big deal except that none of the reminder e-mails come to my Olin address and instead are buried under hundreds of bulk bureaucratic e-mails in an e-mail account that doesn't have any options for filtering or forwarding (thanks a ton NOAA, I really appreciated that one) it can be hard to keep checking for the e-mails that never seem to come. Well they came. Apparently two weeks ago......and now I'm supposed to have my internship set up in two weeks. Don't get me wrong, I've been working on this off and on for a while but I was expecting a late November or December deadline. Two weeks? yikes! It'll all work out I keep telling myself, and I'm sure it will, but in the meantime I'm still busy with everything else.

That brings us to issue number two which is closely tied with issue three. So I bring you issue twothree.

Before I even came to Olin I knew I was interested in way more than just engineering, aren't we all. However, I knew I wanted an undergraduate engineering degree. The real issue comes up when I consider grad school. I'm pretty darn sure I want an MBA. So issue two right now is dealing with the leg work to prepare for that. Like with the Hollings scholarship, I've recently had my deadlines moved up. Harvard Business School just released a new program, called 2+2, aimed squarely at my demographic, college juniors in non-traditional majors like engineering, science and liberal arts (they were on campus recruiting last night) who want a couple years to explore and learn before starting their degree.....but the deadline is 7/1/2008, about 2-3 months earlier than I was planning on applying. This also means that, though I can apply to HBS outside of it, if I commit to 2+2 I can't really consider other business schools because they won't be near notifying me before I have to make a decision.

This brings us to issue number three. I have a significant interest in the Middle East. Ideally, I'd like to eventually be working in some sort of technology- or engineering-focused (and I mean this in a very broad sense) business in the Middle East after graduation. At just about any other school, such as University of Maryland or Rice which I considered for exactly this reason, I would most likely be dual degreeing in international or Middle East studies. By the time I graduate from Olin I will have completed enough credits in this subject for at least a minor at most other schools (Olin doesn't grant minors), but I really would like to learn more, to the point that I am seriously considering graduate work in the field.

From this you might say "Why not find a program that does both business and Middle East studies?" and I have. In fact it's practically perfect. It's called the Lauder Institute. It's a 24 month dual degree program at UPenn where you receive a Wharton MBA just like any other student, but also pursue a masters in international studies at the same time. The programs are highly integrated which I love. It's a small class size. You get intensive language instruction and graduate fluent in your focus language (Arabic for me). So what's the problem? I don't really like Wharton. I'd much rather go to HBS, but HBS has no comparable program and I can't hear from Lauder before I would have to make a decision on 2+2, HBS's preferred program for college students to apply.

So the questions I'm trying to figure out right now are "What exactly do I want from an MBA program?" "What do I want from my international studies or equivalent degree?" "Can I replicate the Lauder Institute curriculum at HBS even if I'm not in a formal program?" "Are HBS and Wharton really all that different anyway?" "Why am I even interested in these things at all?" and, of course, "Can't I just deal with all of this later???"

and I think the answer to that last one is definitely yes, for now anyway. So I'm going to sign off here and go take a break. The next entry will hopefully be something a little bit more humorous and upbeat, but if you slugged through all of this and have ideas for me feel free to drop a comment down. I can use all the insight I can get ;)

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