Find an Old Bear

There’s an old story about a young bear who wants to venture out into the woods, but unlike his friends, he seeks counsel from an old bear first.  Have you applied this lesson to your MBA journey and your career?

It often doesn’t make sense to young people to listen to old people.  Especially in today’s technology-driven society, older people are becoming increasingly irrelevant, according to the millennial generation.  What’s missing from this approach, however is the fact that foundational lessons in life have actually changed very little, and finding someone who has traveled through the woods before can be extremely insightful when it pertains to these core guidelines.

Another deterrent in seeking wise counsel is the time an energy it takes. 

Again, millennials have the cards stacked against them, since the entire world has been forcing on them bite-sized messaging and immediate gratification since jump street.  It’s really not their fault, and the frenetic digital pace of social media and easy access to information is a legitimate distraction. The good news is, if you take the time to find someone older than you, they are usually highly interested in helping---even if they may not be as savvy with electronic communication.  It's also far more insightful.

The truth is, there’s no substitute for mentoring from someone who actually knows you. 

You can’t get real counsel from a YouTube video or self-help book, but finding the right person to provide you insight and guidance that will really make an impact on your life choices takes some effort.  As you begin your MBA journey, you should think about bringing someone into your circle who has trodden the path already, someone who knows you personally and who cares about your success.  I have found that friends of your parents can be a treasure trove of mentorships.  People in your parents’ networks are usually just far enough ahead of you to know how the world works and are generally vested in your family’s best interests.  Take the time to meet with them in person and be prepared to open up and be honest about not only your dreams, but also your concerns.

While it’s always a good approach to seek professional advice on your actual application, an Old Bear can be a good person to listen to your story and career plans and give you an idea of how it might sound to the people who will ultimately consider you for employment after your MBA. 

Perhaps the most valuable contribution an Old Bear can make to your journey is to introduce you to other Old Bears.  The best part about networking with experienced people is that they know a lot of people.  Expanding your network through older professionals is a great way to build out a truly diverse group of supporters who provide the added bonus of maturity and perspective that otherwise is difficult to find when all your Linked-In contacts are at roughly the same career level as you are.

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