Sunday, October 19, 2014

My unexpected path to Harvard Business School

If you will indulge me, this post will be more autobiographical than my previous posts. Life is full of interesting twists and unexpected turns, but I am starting to believe that nothing in life is coincidence. I have better understood this principle recently, as I started my job at Harvard Business School this past week. While I am still trying to figure out my purpose of staying in Boston, this week has made me understand two things: God is very interested in my life, and my previous experiences have truly prepared me for this new career.

I'll start with my job in DC. About a week after I graduated from BYU, I accepted a job as an editorial assistant with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While it was interesting to be on the front end of important scientific scholarship, my job was very routine, and I often yearned for something more. Graduate school in English had always been one of my goals, and I felt strongly to leave DC to pursue graduate work Boston College (hence my blog name "From DC to BC").

Fast forward two years: I graduated from my program and soon realized that in my job search, I could, quite literally, go anywhere. While it was somewhat thrilling to consider my vast options, I also felt more overwhelmed than I had ever been in a long time. I prayed intensely, asking God where he wanted me to be and to please make the right job become obvious to me.

I ended up being a finalist for a position that I was really excited about in DC. It happened to be at the think tank where I had interned several years ago, and I was thrilled about the prospect of going back there. My interviews seemed promising, and I couldn't help but believe that I would get the job--only to feel crestfallen when they picked someone else.

My inspired bishop called me a day or two after to ask me how my job search was going. I told him about my recent disappointment, and he invited me to come to his office to discuss my career goals. We met on Sunday, and he asked me if I had considered a Research Associate role at Harvard Business School. I was surprised at his suggestion, seeing that I have little understanding of business to begin with. I followed his advice, however, and found a position of interest. My bishop soon connected me with his colleague (who happened to be head of Human Resources at Harvard Business School!) and I was invited for an interview several days later.

When I arrived, my interviewer made it clear that while they did not believe I had the right background for the position I had applied for, a better fit for me could open up. She asked me if I wanted to proceed with an hour-long interview and another hour-long writing test. I swallowed some disappointment, but agreed to do so.

Imagine my surprise the following week when I got a voicemail and email from my interviewer. She explained that a job had just opened up, she believed that I was a good fit for the job, and asked if she could tell me more about it! I was shocked and surprised: for the first time, a job had found me, and not the other way around!

Long story short: I met with the HBS professor, liked him immediately, and soon realized that I was largely being courted for the position because of my graduate work and my previous job at the National Academy of Sciences. I soon realized there was no possible way that I would have been considered for this job were it not for the experiences that God had placed in my path.

So, that's my drawn-out tale of my unexpected road to Harvard. And while I am still in shock and humbled to work where I do, I am grateful for an inspired bishop, the support I experienced during my job search, and most of all, for a God who is mindful of giving me opportunities to help me progress in my career and other facets of my life.

I love my job so far at Harvard; there is no way that I could have found a better opportunity, benefits, commute (15-minute bike ride!), and people to work with. I know there was some divine intervention here; I literally could not have landed the opportunity on my own. I am so blessed!

Photo by nsub1

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Blessings of Uncertainty

So far, 2014 has been the year of unprecedented uncertainty and significant life changes. As I deeply crave the satisfaction of having full confidence of what my next step should be, this year has been one of the most difficult, yet strangely enlightening periods of my life thus far. While I have not yet acquired a full vision of where my life is supposed to go, I would like to take the time to share some of the lessons I am learning from dealing with a deeply volatile period.

1. Allow times of uncertainty to provide instruction of how God speaks to you.
For me, it has been the times of spiritual thirst and nourishment, not the times of plenty, that I have come to better terms with how revelation works. When we do not know what job we should accept, what city to move to, whether a romantic relationship is right, or anything else that weighs heavily on our mind, our prayers will likely have more supplication. Our scripture study will be more meaningful. We will be much more attuned to obtaining the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. And in those times, we can acquire a much deeper understanding of how divine revelation works for us.
2. Uncertainty provides a way to be a more powerful agent of our choices
God is molding us to be active agents, not passive people. He has equipped us with the divine gift of reasoning and the Holy Ghost to make decisions for ourselves. We may not have all of the knowledge we need to make a significant choice. But more often than not, we will have enough. It is the uncertain, not the obvious decisions, that we will truly be molded into becoming beings of a more mature, spiritual understanding.

3. Answers to the life decisions we seek will eventually come.
While I do not have the complete answers to all of the life decisions I am seeking, I have a clearer picture of where I am going than I did several months ago. The plan is unfolding--at a more glacial pace than I would like it to be--but it is moving. If the answers I am seeking are of urgent importance, then they will come to me.

4. If we are living our lives the way we should, we won't go down the incorrect path.
Going to church, reading scriptures, and praying daily are more than simply good patterns of living: they are paramount for ensuring the Holy Ghost's active role in our lives. With the Holy Ghost's presence, we can have faith that we will enjoy the blessings of guidance and protection.

5.  Times of precarious uncertainty may be the necessary catalyst for revelation.
Maybe we should rethink adversity as a period where God is preparing us for a significant, revelatory experience. Could Joseph Smith, Moses, Abraham, and many other prophets have been prepared for their divine experiences, without the trials they encountered first?

Photo by Jan Sefti.