The Wave of Business School

November 20, 2012

I took a deep breath and threw myself face first into the Pacific Ocean. The cold hit me hard, and my heart began to race as I counted down the seconds I had to hold my breath- 20, 19, 18. My mind drifted to graduate school applications and I wondered if anyone else at business school would have experienced mass casualty training as a part of the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification- 10, 9, 8. Where are they? My lungs began to scream as my body began to shut down slowly and the next wave hit- 5, 4, 3. I felt two pairs of hands grab me and quickly flip me over—sweet, sweet oxygen, finally! My classmates dragged me out of the water toward safety as my shivers became more intense and I gulped in the cold air around me.

"Resist and you'll be knocked over, but dive into it and you'll swim out the other side."

Fast forward a year and I am sitting on my sister’s couch in Madison, Wisconsin. A lot has changed in the past twelve months. An obvious difference is that I am warm and no longer covered in fake blood, thankfully, but more importantly I have spent the past three and a half months as a resident of New England and a student at Yale. So, why Yale? How did I go from WFR training in the Bay Area to my latest assignment for Customer about price bundling? Short answer: the joint degree program between the School of Management and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Yale is incredibly supportive of joint degree students. There are about 30 joint SOM/FES degrees in the three year program. Some of us start with classes at SOM and others chose to begin across the street in Kroon Hall, but we all end up taking a multitude of classes at both schools and across campus. While my business school classmates head to corporate presentations in the evening, I bike off to veggie dinners (a tradition across graduate schools at Yale) or walk over to FES to hear a conservation thought leader speak. The opportunities are endless and often push me to think outside of my comfort zone.

But I didn't come to Yale to be comfortable.

I came to Yale to be uncomfortable, to push myself, to experience a different environment, and to grow. Last week, I attended a recruiting event hosted by  Women in Management with the Boston Consulting Group after speaking with an SOM alumni working at The Nature Conservancy earlier in the day. In class I am constantly challenged to engage in materials and concepts that are quite foreign to my previous academic training in environmental history and I find myself riding each new wave, embracing the duality of my existence at Yale.

My advice? Dive in. And maybe bring a wetsuit, just in case.

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About the author

Heather West

2014, MBA/FES