Alumni Spotlight – Ian Barton, MBA Candidate at Mendoza College of Business

Polaris Alumni Board Alumni Stories

I Graduated a Year Ago: The Lessons I’ve Learned

It is crazy to think that one year ago I walked across the stage in McKale Center as a graduate of the Eller College of Management. It feels like its been forever and also like it was yesterday. I am now an MBA candidate at the University of Notre Dame, looking to grow my technical skillset before hopefully launching my career in the sports industry. My first year in the MBA program here has taught me a lot about myself and reflecting on this past last year has allowed me to uncover a few lessons I have learned.

  1. You write your own story; no one else.

“Are you sure you want to go into the sports industry?” That is the question that has been asked of me at every stage of my life. My decision to get my MBA straight out of my undergrad has been a similar experience. “Why did you not go work full-time?” “Are you sure you’ll fit in?” These were the questions people asked me going into this year and at the start of the program. For probably one of the first times ever, I allowed those voices to change who I was. For the first half of this year, I acted differently when I interacted with others, and I sheltered myself from the full MBA experience in fear I would not be accepted. I convinced myself that my decision was the wrong one.

It was not until the New Year that the light bulb went off for me that none of these doubts mattered. This degree and career path were right for me at this time of my life. I have found a great support system here with incredible people who I know would have my back in a second. Notre Dame is truly an amazing place. But for a second there, I truly lost myself.

The takeaway here is that doubts like this will always enter your mind when you graduate and embark on your first professional journey. Just remember that the path you have set out for yourself is your own. You are behind the wheel and ultimately make the decision as to what you do next and why. Trust your gut on what that is going to look like; it is normally right.

  1. Do Not Get Caught in the Trap of Comparison

The odds are that your first job or professional experience will be not necessarily be the perfect fit or ideal balance of what you were looking for. However, one of your closet friends is going to hit it big with his or her first job. They will have the nice car, great paycheck, and tons of benefits. Watching this all through a social media platform will make it seem like it will be impossible for it to happen for the rest of us. Do not let that get to you; your time will come.

  1. There is a lot People Do Not Tell You about Life after Graduation

In most cases, you will graduate and go to an area completely different than where most of your friends from college are going. Our 20s are presented as the time of our lives, and they absolutely can be, but just be ready for a major initial life adjustment. Making friends in a completely new city in your first professional experience is not always easy. Take it as a chance to grow and build your own community.

  1. Stay Current

Just because college ended, do not stop in your effort to learn more about the world around you. The people that do the best in this world are lifelong learners that ask the tough questions. Whether its reading a morning article related to the new company/industry you plan to work for, getting involved in the political process in your community or just picking up a new skill in your spare time, trust me it makes a difference. There is zero excuse to not make the most of the information we expose ourselves to everyday in this new digital world.

  1. Take Time for Personal Reflection

You will realize once you graduate undergrad that time tends to go by even quicker than you were in school. It is vital that you take time to reflect on yourself and if you are living the best life that you can live. Ask yourself about what your priorities are. Is there something you want to do, but have not gotten around to it yet? What part of your career needs the most work? We are all young, but now is the time for you to start writing another chapter in your life. Every second matters.