9:40 PM

On Monday, July 24, I completed grad school.  The last two years have been so incredibly hard and so incredibly rewarding. I knew I was going to be traveling this semester, so I chose to do my classes online this semester.  Online classes take a different type of discipline than in-person classes, so it took a minute to adjust. In my travels the last few weeks I've completed quizzes, lectures, and projects. I had two finals I had to complete this week so I took one on Sunday and one on Monday.  When I finished my last final on Monday, I burst into tears. I couldn't believe it was over.

When I started grad school, I knew I wanted a career in business, but I didn't really fully understand what that meant.  In the last two years I've taken classes on leadership, teams, accounting, marketing, finance, and communication.  I developed a personal financial plan that will prepare Eric and I for retirement. I gave speeches in front of several students regarding many topics. I've learned how to work with teams. I've learned how to be vulnerable and fail in business. Most importantly, I've learned how much I love business.

The last two years were really hard.  I was promoted to a manager in the Implementation Department at Dealertrack right before beginning the program, so I was adjusting to new responsibilities and being back in school.  I had a lot of responsibilities that took a lot of time, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays I had to leave work by 4:40 in order to make it to my 6:00 classes on-time. I had to learn how to prioritize and work faster.  Being back in school was a huge adjustment. I was on-campus twice a week until 10:00 and then I had a lot of homework and studying to complete on the weekends.  I also had to make sure I did a good job at work and made time for family and friends.  There were a lot of demands on my time, and it was really stressful.  After the first few weeks, I adjusted to the "new normal."  Eric took a more active role around our house - he would meal plan and meal prep on the weekends while I was doing homework. He also made sure that the laundry was done and that our house was clean.  He was a saint.

A year into grad school, we decided to buy a house.  Wow.  So stressful.  As I was completing my third semester of school, I had several projects that took me to campus nearly every night that week and when I would get home late at night I would pack and clean our apartment to get ready to move.  at the halfway mark of grad school, we moved out of our apartment where we had lived for 5 years.  My parents opened their home to us and helped me get through some of the most stressful weeks of my life, the beginning of my 4th semester. My mom made meals and helped keep Eric and I sane when I definitely wasn't feeling sane. During my 4th semester, I took 3 classes/week for the first 5 weeks of the semester. This meant I was on campus Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for 5 weeks, so I had to have all my homework complete by Sunday. And there was a lot of homework.  Those 5 weeks were some of the hardest of my life, but miraculously I made it through.

I can't believe how fast the last 2 years have gone. It was so hard, but so worth it. At the beginning of the program, the MBA directors put us on teams for our first semester. After the semester those teams broke up and new teams formed, however, my team stayed together for the entire 2 years.  I couldn't have made it through the last two years without Mandy, Jared, Jess, and Luke. They were my people. All of us worked and went to school full-time and had many demands on our time.  There were times that individuals couldn't contribute as much as we wanted, but our group came through for us every time.  After we walked for graduation in May, Luke wrote on Linkedin that you have to accept that others will carry the weight at time. However, if you didn't carry the weight last time, it's your turn this time. Our group lived this mantra. There were many times that they carried my weight and I was always anxious to return the favor.  I think this is a  valuable lesson that translates nicely into the business world.  Not only did we made a great team, but we became life-long friends along the way.

I had a lot of support from my co-workers. They understood when I had to leave work early a few days a week to get to school. They recognized my efforts and allowed me to take time off when I needed it.  I couldn't have made it through school without the support of my coworkers and leaders.  And the MBA paid off in a big way - I received a promotion last March.  I've seen immediate ROI on my MBA.

Finally, I would not have completed the MBA without the support of my parents, siblings, and rock-star husband. All of them offered words of encouragement when I needed it the most. When I start to think about their support, it literally makes me tear up. My parents made meals and talked about classes with me. There were many times when I would get back from school late while we were living at their home and I would tell them all about what I learned. It was always exciting to talk about school and they were always ready to listen.

Eric was my rock for the last two years. He carried me through the MBA program. He always supported me when I needed to do homework, even when it wasn't convenient. He gave me plenty of time and space and kept our lives running. I told him today that I felt like I was getting my life back now that I finished school, and I didn't realize until later that I still had my life - Eric just kept it turning for me.

Cheers to the future!

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