Accounting and Spreadsheets and Stats, oh my!
In my opinion, there are numbers people and there are words people. Numbers people do Sudoku puzzles in their spare time; they play with the different functions on their calculators; they've memorized the calculation of Pi up to 10 decimal places and they compute 18% of their dinner check divided by the number of heads at the table without missing a step. These are the people that can add, divide and multiply numbers in the 5 second window after a cold call before the silence gets awkward. And the ones who seem like they were born to build a beautiful spreadsheet.Then, there are words people. They look forward to the crossword puzzle in the Sunday Times and get a merriamwebster.com "word of the day", even when there's no formal need to build vocabulary. They wish they had more time to read and have always had a favorite author. A well-turned sentence excites them far more than the Central Limit Theorem or the balance sheet equation, and they've been known to have admitted at least once, "I wish I could have said that as well as she did". I am a words person. And while my love of language came quite in handy when I studied English and taught literature, it's proved a limited asset in my Fall 1 courses (which have been largely quantitative in nature). You see, the Hall of Mirrors doesn't discriminate between words people and numbers people. There, we're all first-years, and whether we came from Finance, Consulting, Marketing or like me--from left field, we're all expected to analyze the same balance sheets, build the same linear regressions and find the same sample means. As a words person, meeting the academic expectations of the first few weeks has been challenging. While others may complete an Accounting assignment in an hour and get all the right answers, I find myself poring over my textbook with a highlighter for much longer than that (often with mixed results). Still though, I know that here, I am not alone. While there have already been a few nights where I've stayed at school longer than I'd like to admit, many of my peers have done the same thing, helping each other along. I can't say that it's been easy...but I can say that it's been a steep learning curve and a productive few weeks. Many of my professors have likened their disciplines to "new languages," an analogy that I naturally find quite interesting. I studied several languages in my life, and while those experiences only roughly compare to this one, I am beginning to see what they mean. Every day, I am stretched outside my comfort zone and asked to do something that I haven't done before. While I'm not learning the plu-perfect or memorizing lists of new vocabulary words, I am beginning to develop new competencies and acquire new frames for looking at the world around me. With each income statement I create and each spreadsheet I model, things get a little easier, a little more correct and a little less foreign. I came to business school to stretch myself intellectually--and every day, SOM makes me do just that. With every class that goes by and every assignment that I complete, I feel myself transforming--not into a numbers person, per se, but into a stronger person--into the kind of business leader that I hope to become. I'll always prefer the beautiful sentence to the beautiful spreadsheet--it's in my nature. In the meantime though, I'll embrace my new relationship with Excel. After all, I'm not one to turn down learning a new language.