Set the countdown clock, chicos y chicas – Señorita Vino is nine weeks away from getting her MBA. You heard right – nine short weeks.
This historic milestone did not come without a steep price, most notably, 10 extra pounds (hey, there’s more of me to love!), countless nights of insomnia, new student loans to pay off, and neck and shoulder muscles so tense that my time in physical therapy may just result in my physical therapist finally getting that exotic sports car he’s dreamed about (you’re welcome, Dr. G.).
If any of you out there are crazy–uh, I mean, ambitious–enough to think about going to grad school while juggling work, spouse, kids, pets, friends and life in general, here are my top 5 tips for surviving graduate school (or any school, for that matter):
Rule number 1: Don’t quit your wine club membership. Wine got me through the darkest days and nights of my MBA program. I’ve been so maniacally busy over the past three years that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to a store to shop for wine. But those wine club shipments found their way to my doorstep without fail, and I’d get all warm and fuzzy knowing that my fridge and wine closet were well-stocked should things go south in school and life in general.
Rule number 2: When possible, choose wine as a research topic. I’m not joking. In the three years I’ve been in grad school, wine has been the topic of two statistics projects and one year-long global management research project. If you have to write a research paper, heck, why not write about something you love? Last summer, I traveled to Europe for an MBA class to study sustainability in the U.S. wine industry as compared to sustainable practices in the Austrian, Greek, Italian and Spanish wine industries.
Rule number 3: You’re going to piss off some of your friends (and your spouse or partner) because you’re always doing homework or in class or in the library working on a group project. And all of this while holding down a full-time job and dealing with all the other mierda life throws your way. Remember that the people who truly matter will still love you when you finally come up for air. ‘Nuff said.
Rule number 4: If you think you know exactly what you’re going to do once you get that MBA, be prepared to be wrong. So I had this plan to go work for some Big Huge Global Wine Company in communications and marketing once I graduated. Well, my career took a bit of a detour, in a wonderful way. Last month I was offered a position at…wait for it…A Big Huge Global Entertainment Company. Yep, a funny thing happened on the way to working in the wine industry. The skills and concepts I learned in my MBA classes gave me insight on the strategy and vision of one of the companies for which I’ve been consulting. And I liked what I saw. And they liked what I brought to the table. So they offered me a chance to embark upon the career of a lifetime. And I said yes.
Rule number 5: Wine knowledge is a great ice-breaker in academic and business settings, so don’t be ashamed to express your appreciation for the fruit of the vine (just don’t get tanked). My love for wine inspired one of my professors to invite me to give a “Wine 101” presentation to my fellow MBA students before we all traveled to Europe last summer. And just last night, I had the chance to sit next to my soon-to-be-boss’s boss’s boss at a team dinner. Turns out he loves wine. So he asked me to choose a bottle for our end of the table (uh, no pressure at all). I chose a lovely French Viognier, and over the course of the dinner, we all shared stories about how we came to love wine. The boss’s boss’s boss loved the Viognier so much, he snapped a picture of the label and stored it on a wine app. In that moment, all the stress, those three years of writing papers into the wee hours, the weekends I literally cried over regression analysis problems, moved into the realm of distant memories. I savored my last sip of peach-blossomy Viognier and bid them a fond farewell.