So yeah. School.

You may have been wondering why I haven’t been posting much about school. Perhaps you thought “Boy, he must be having such a great time that he hasn’t posted”! Welp.

(Let’s put a cut here. If you’re in my class it’s up to you to decide whether or not to read on.)

Things haven’t been going so hot. I am left to wonder if I didn’t think this through so well; specifically, I’m reevaluating whether or not those letters after my name are worth the trouble of getting them.

The first problem is the content. In six weeks I have learned nothing new. Accounting and statistics are high-school level. Organizational Behavior is interesting but textbook-bound. IT for Managers and Business-Government Relations are free of any substantial content at all. Future courses’ outlines don’t suggest any improvement anytime soon.

And that makes sense, really: it’s a 12-month “Master’s” program with no specific prerequisites. Can you imagine a 12-month MSc or MA that didn’t require undergraduate work in the field? So every course is ab initio, and since they’re all either six or 12 lectures (one per week) they can’t get far away from that point. I’d rather just read a good book.

The assignments suffer similarly. They can’t be substantiatively difficult because the content is so light, so the difficulty is all artificial: deadlines all at once, everything is teamwork (including 20-page papers on vague subjects), most are “paper plus presentation”. It’s as though the point of the courses is to force us to learn to schedule team meetings and not much more. They’re not challenging; they’re just awkward and inconvenient.

But the main problem is fit. I was so concerned about changing how things were that I didn’t think enough about where I wanted to be. I’m a geek at heart. I don’t really know where this whole business thing came from; I think I was so tied up in finding “success” that I started using someone else’s definition of it. Because where’s an MBA going to get me that I couldn’t get to on my own? Management consulting, senior management in large companies, that sort of thing. Doesn’t really sound like me.

Because the school offers testing, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Myers-Briggs type lately. Surprise surprise, I’m an ENTP. Not that this commits me to anything, but still — a couple of choice quotes:

ENTPs learn least well and may be demotivated when bonding with a team or group, or identifying with a school, organisation or company is valued over independent thinking.

ENTP: Entrepeneurs, lawyers, psychologists, photographers, consultants, sales represenatives, actors, engineers, scientists, inventors, marketers, computer programmers, comedians, computer analysts, credit investigators, journalists, psychiatrists, public relations, designers, writers, artists, musicians, politicians. Very freedom-oriented, they need a career which allows them to act independent and express their creativity and insight.

Not so much creativity in the program. It’s a bit better on insight, but for a program which is case-based, in which the professors act as facilitators for class discussion, it’s not so much.

So the whole point is about the letters. And the letters are a necessity for some fields, but I don’t think those are the fields I’m after. I like hands-on. I like small companies. I like directly making a difference. I get interested in consulting during the recruiting pitches, but then I come home and the only attraction is the prestige, and more and more I don’t think I care about the prestige.

There’s a weird thing in there with my father. (Hi, Dad! Keep reading, it’s OK!) Dad’s a very successful small businessman and recently was elected to Belleville city council and I’m really proud of all he’s done, but there’s some influence there — all in my own head! — that sometimes I have to work hard to resist. It means I have a respect for entrepreneurship and commerce that’s hard to shake, and that even though I am a geek and engineery-type through and through I was trying to turn myself into a bit of a suit. And I don’t think I’m a suit.

So that leaves me wondering what the heck to do about school. I’m seriously considering withdrawing after this block to cut my losses early, and look for a really good, challenging job back on the technical side — maybe with an eye towards certifications later, CISSP maybe — that keeps me interested, pays ok, and maintains a good work-life balance. There’s a little voice in my head that tells me that when I start something I have to finish it, but I don’t really know what it’d be proving, and I don’t think I’d see much of a return on that investment, especially when I calculate in the opportunity cost of lost wages.

I’ve got lots of people to talk to about it — the school offers free career counseling and a psychologist, plus the program director is very approachable, and I think the folks who wrote my letters of recommendation will have some input too. And there were some red flags on the way in that I completely ignored, friends telling me that they didn’t see the fit. I think they were right, and I think I’ll track them down too.

We’ll see what happens. I’m certainly learning a lot about myself, and things between Candice and I are better than ever, and I’m discovering new friendships in the strangest places. Before, nothing felt right and I blamed work; now, everything feels right except “work”. Well, damn.

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