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