The first person to tell me it was worthwhile for an entrepreneur to get a master’s degree in business administration was the founder of a $50 million education company. I don’t remember why he said it was worth it; I just remember that he said it was. I had no idea just how important that statement would be to me five years later, as I have graduated from my MBA program at The George Washington University (GW) School of Business, and have launched my own company, Pocket Palette, a single-use, full-face makeup kit for the woman on the go.
I always knew entrepreneurship was a long-term goal of mine, but I had different plans for my first job out of graduate school. When I started my MBA program at GW, I intended to become a brand manager. I joined the marketing club, signed up for a marketing consulting project with the Ferrero Group, and landed an internship for an insurance company in its marketing department. I was ready to become a marketing professional. And that was only in my first semester.
I switched gears in January of my second semester when I “pitched” my product to classmates for the first time. This idea started in the bathroom at the business school, when I overheard women getting ready for interviews talking about how much they hated having to carry their makeup to school. I asked them if they would use a makeup kit that they could throw away after they were done. They thought my idea was awesome and they encouraged me to patent and pursue it.
And my entrepreneurship journey began. During my MBA program, I participated in workshops, competitions, and networking events. Through these experiences, I learned how to negotiate, balance an income statement, and write a business plan. I learned about international trade, managerial finance, and operations.
Yes, these are all things I could have learned online for free, but by participating in an MBA on-site program, I did it alongside military officers, teachers, financial analysts, founders, engineers, and others. I learned that classmates in my MBA program were the biggest source of education I could have asked for. They challenged and encouraged me to pursue my business, and with all of their support, I entered GW’s New Venture Competition and placed fourth out of 116 teams. I won $7,500 in cash, and over $15,000 in in-kind prizes, all of which are dedicated to launching Pocket Palette.
I am only a few months out of school, and as of right now, I am thankful I made the decision to get my MBA. If I had to do it over again, knowing now that I would go into business for myself, I am 100 percent sure that I would still do it.
Lynda Peralta received her Master of Business Administration from The George Washington University in 2017 and was a Spring 2017 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics