Thursday, March 12, 2009

Degrees of separation

When I spoke to some pleasant people at the Jones Graduate School of Management today, there was nothing that really slammed me. There wasn't any real effort on their part to convince me that it was in my best interest to get an MBA, although they were confident that the program at Rice is the best around, of course. It was kind of a very sweet "you need us more than we need you." Much more kindly phrased than that, but that was more or less the message at its heart.

I'm not sure that another graduate degree is really a necessary step for me, whether it be an MBA or an MSW. It seems to me that what I want is to develop the skills that will help me create something satisfying, not a credential that will get me somewhere I don't really want to go. I'm not enamored with the corporate world, and I don't see myself becoming enmeshed in that environment just to make money. It wouldn't necessarily allow me any more flexibility of time or geography than what I'm doing now, and it could potentially distract me from what I'm really going for.

So what am I going for exactly? Well, I want to be spending my time and energy on my innermost passions. Those passions include composing music and challenging others to greater, healthier awareness. There are a few other interests that are strong for me, but those are the big two. Of course, along with composing music, I have a strong interest in my music being performed and heard. And there are nearly limitless ways in which I can challenge people to deeper awareness. It boils down to connecting. I want to create music and I want to create connections with people.

So where does another degree fit in with that? For the social work angle, I see the connectivity of that. My greatest concern there is that I am ignoring a significant piece of my self when I push musical creation to a back burner. It's what I find dissatisfying about my current position and the way my time and energy is spent. A business degree might open some doors for me to meld making money and making music, so that survival is not an issue, but in the end I go back to: do I need a degree to do that? It's really the skills I'm after.

What I would really love is to find a business partner who is gifted at thinking entrepreneurially and energized by marketing ideas. I don't gravitate naturally toward these things, and although I can learn them for myself, a partnership with someone who has similar vision would be even more sharpening. I do pretty well at the strategic side and the long-range planning. It's what composition is in large part. But I am not a great self-promoter (yet), and I don't know how to create a viable business plan for some of the creative ideas I have. Yet.

My conclusion on the degree front: No for now. To both the MSW and the MBA possibilities. Entering into another graduate program will not inevitably connect me with my goals. Gaining another degree does not relate directly to my deepest intention. The skills to extend my reach and expand my potential would be helpful, but there are other (less costly) ways to develop those skills that will contribute toward creating what I want. And I could benefit from a partnership with someone who possesses those skills and has a complementary mindset to my own.

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