Part II: Doing
Babies and b-school can mix. I had a great experience as an MBA mom, but it required some trials and re-calibration to make it work. I know mamas who initially left their babies behind at the advice of others; a mentality that B-school isn’t for babies. Others find they have competing requirements for their role as mother and student. So, how can we make it work?
Own it. There will be more mamas when we share our stories. I was not afraid to share that I was a mother. I volunteered to help case prep for management consulting, and I would bring my infant along. Every time (except one embarrassing day…), she slept right through any meetings or prep I brought her to. Of course, there were judgment calls: While I brought her to team dinners and peer meetings, I wasn’t bringing her to exams, client meetings, or everyday class.
You can’t do everything, but you can pick and choose priorities. One of my picks was Venture Fellows at Wharton—I took a backpacking trip to Patagonia, pumping through the ten days without my 3-month old. I don’t think she knew I was gone!
While motherhood can be frustrating, the extra eyes on you can be even more nerve-wracking. Keep yourself straight, and collaborate with other moms in the area to find solutions. This may mean taking part of your weekend to organize for the week. Will you encounter hectic mornings of spilled milk and tantrums? Of course, but planning for contingencies can mitigate the tardiness. Let them know women can do it with babies—just like you would at work!
Find efficiencies that work for you.
I lived within walking distance to campus, and found a daycare a block and a half away from Huntsman. I would leave 30 minutes earlier than pre-baby to do drop-off and get myself ready for class. I chose to spread my classes throughout the day so I had time to walk over to nurse and pump. Since I frontloaded my classes while I was pregnant, I had a lighter semester to end. I opted for two long days of day care, and then in-home care the rest of the time.
Professors are busy, but I had no problem getting a few minutes of time both during pregnancy and after giving birth to explain why I needed to leave class to use the restroom (agh, pregnancy), arrange for an alternate exam while I was in the hospital, or even find classmates who could work within the constraints of kiddo bedtimes.
Even though it won’t be easy, the personal and professional rewards of mixing motherhood and an MBA are well worth it. The skills you will develop as a mom going through an MBA program — research, problem solving, relationship building, prioritization, negotiations, time management – are critical in the business world and will be valued by any employer. Other MBA moms have found unique ways to make motherhood and an MBA work together, and I am sure you will, too. Happy Mother’s Day!