I didn’t go to school to be a manager.  I went to school to be a designer.  I originally wanted to be an architect, but through a short and annoying process ended up starting my freshman year as an industrial design major.  By the end of that year, I’d had it with that particular program.

Still, I was a designer at heart.  Unfortunately, at such a technically-heavy university, there were limited avenues for liberal-arts-designer-types.  And I’d fallen in love.  With the school, with a group of friends, with the Chorale, and with a certain young man who was a part of all three.  So I stuck around.

At Georgia Tech, what I did has a name.  A derogative name that we recipients have grabbed onto and joked about and adopted as our own to lessen the sting a bit.

I rode the M-Train.

Sure, being a Management* major exempted me from the calculus-based courses (thank goodness), the many science classes (awesome), and the killer programming (double thank goodness).  That’s a good thing, because my brain isn’t wired the way that good scientists’ and developers’ brains are.  But “easier” doesn’t mean “easy,” especially at a school like Tech, and college certainly wasn’t a cakewalk.  I earned my management degree.

Still, I didn’t go to school to be a manager.  I went through the motions, convincing myself that I’d get along just fine in business.  Upon graduation, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  The designer in me was completely unfulfilled…enough to be pretty well squelched.  The artistic outlet that Chorale had provided was suddenly gone.  But I was happy.  The aforementioned young man and I were planning our wedding, and we had the rest of our lives together.  I had the rest of my life to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

While I was figuring that out (or more accurately, while I was still figuring out that I hadn’t yet figured it out), part of our planning took root.  We were expecting a child.  We made plans.  My mom offered daycare for the baby, and I would continue my administrative-assistant-financial-analyst job for the wonderful people I worked with.

Nicolas had other plans.  Having a baby three months early does tend to throw a wrench into whatever intentions might have existed.  We couldn’t afford for me to stay home back then, but Nicolas needed me.  We scrambled, we borrowed, we struggled, we made huge mistakes.  Finally, we pulled ahead.

I didn’t go to school to be a manager, but I am a manager.  I manage our lives.  I’m continually amazed at how experiences in college – in class, in extracurricular activities, in my social life – prepared me for where I am in life.

I took statistics and have a healthy understanding of standard deviation.  I am an advocate for my special needs child and can interpret the data given me, with a bit of help.

I took human resources.  I understand the nuances of open enrollment and various benefits when Jason brings home the paperwork and am well-equipped to make the best decisions for our family.

I sang in the Chorale for four years.  I can help my son sing the notes he’s attempting to replicate as a new trumpet player.

I took economics.  I didn’t understand it a bit, but at least I understand the words the economists use while talking about the current state of the economy and can nod intelligently.

I made friends.  Really, really good friends.  Friends who helped me become the person I am.  Friends I love a lot.

I took finance and accounting.  I make a killer budget spreadsheet.

I took class after class after class requiring written reports.  Before those classes, I thought I couldn’t write.  I thought I was “BS’ing” my way through the papers.  I was told otherwise by my grades and the praise of my professors.  My confidence in my writing was nonexistent before college.  Now, I write.  I know I write well, and I enjoy writing well.

So, no, I didn’t go to school to be a manager, but I don’t regret the path one bit.  There’s still time to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

*A management degree is basically a business degree obtained from a technical school.  (I’ve read other descriptions about their differences, but I truly believe it boils down to that.)  In the business world, this difference has distinct advantages, including an exposure to technology that can be applied well in business and a lot of exposure to engineers, developers, and scientists.  The latter exposure, I believe, contributes to more successful management, especially in a technical setting.  A manager whose friends are “techie” will better know how to communicate and work with folks in those positions.

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