I need to write my “farewell” email to send out to the large number of IBMers that have helped me during my time with the company; I’ve decided to warm up with a blog post. There has been a lot going on the last couple of weeks as the countdown to Kellogg reaches 0, but I won’t bother with every little minutiae. Instead, I want to focus on something that I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days.

One of the reasons that I’m excited about grad school is that I believe I am now mature enough to fully appreciate and capitalize on my time in school. When I first started my undergrad 9 years ago, I was entranced by the thought of going out, enjoying myself, and making college as memorable as possible (or at least as comparable as possible to the college “party” movies that I had seen). Although I never lost site of the coursework or why I was actually in Austin, it generally took a 2nd seat to having a good time. I busted my butt and was able to graduate with distinction, but I still think I could have structured the experience better to improve my development. But alas, hindsight is 20/20.

After I graduated, I started dutifully working at IBM, and within 5 months, I purchased my first house. That one-two combination was incredibly effective at helping me transition into a more-adult mindset. At work, I was developing my abilities and identifying skills that were either missing or required improvement. I enjoyed watching how my coworkers and I handled different situations, making secret little notes in my mind about behaviors that I liked (and wanted to emulate) or disliked. I gained a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as I progressed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. It was at work that I started thinking about my future, and what I wanted out of life.

The house was a beast of burden outside of work. I probably jumped into home ownership sooner than I should have, but I don’t regret it. Besides the work required to maintain the house, I had to begin tracking my finances more closely. Before then, I was reckless with my spending, believing that I deserved to be after all of those years of student living. Once I started looking at my finances, my interest in investing that started in high school (I doubled my money investing in videogame companies before losing it all by listening to anonymous email tips like a bonehead) and disappeared in college (my money was all invested in ramen and tuna) returned. I spent a lot of time reading up on various business topics, until I realized that I was more interested in business than in engineering at that point.

Going into the MBA, I am extremely grateful for the 5 years separating my undergrad and grad experiences. I realize the significance that the next two years will have on the rest of my life, and I intend to devote myself to it completely. Most blokes are going to be playing at 10, but I’m going to 11