As my Peace Corps service is dwindling to a close I am forced to face the question of what to do after Peace Corps. Before I look into the future, I think it is best to first look into the past.
When I graduated from college I had no idea what I wanted to do. The U.S. was in a recession at the time so I jumped on the first job offer I got, to join SPAWAR Systems Center as an electronic engineer in their New Professional rotational program. For my first rotation I worked with underwater low probability of detection signals. Although the work was intellectually stimulating, it involved little human interaction. In fact, there were days were the only person I would interact with at work was my supervisor. For my second rotation I joined the cost estimating division. I enjoyed working there because it connected my interest in both engineering and business. However, I always felt I was not as polished on the business side as I could have been.
So why join the Peace Corps? After studying abroad in Sweden during my senior year of college I’ve always had an itch to live and work abroad. I wanted to live in another culture and learn a new language and the Peace Corps provided me with the best opportunity to do both of these things. Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the Peace Corps so far is my interactions with the people. For example, I am working with an NGO to build partially subsidized household latrines (both the NGO and beneficiary contribute towards the construction of the latrine). This requires me to manage over 20 latrine artisans and 460 latrine beneficiaries to construct the latrines. Through this experience I learned that managing people is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, things to do in the world.
After reflecting on my professional experiences I’ve decided that obtaining an MBA is the best next step for me after the Peace Corps. At SPAWAR I enjoyed working at the intersection of technology and business, but I realized I lacked business acumen that comes with a business education. Then in Ghana I discovered that I enjoy managing people, but it is a skill that requires developing. I’d like to focus on global management at a top MBA program. Not only will I gain fundamental business skills in finance, accounting, and operations that I lack coming from an engineering background, but I will also become a better leader through project work and classroom learning. Furthermore, I want to go to program that will broaden my international experience through a global consulting project, such as MIT Sloan’s G-Lab. I’m confident an MBA will help me develop my business and management skills and provide me with opportunities to continue working internationally.