The Time is Now: Invest in Yourself!

The headline of an Atlantic article by Melissa Fay Greene recently caught my eye, as it posed the question of ‘how will we remember the COVID-19 pandemic.’ In the introduction, Greene recounts her own tale of how her ‘plague’ year, as she labels it, started. She shared that, for her it began when she had to cancel two plane tickets to Denver for her and her husband’s visit to see their eldest son and his family.

As I finished reading Greene’s expertly-written article on the stories we hold on to, and how they are influenced by others, my mind began to drift to what I remembered most about the past year. I immediately thought about the email I received from my employer, Emory University, on March 11, 2020, that announced to all students, faculty, and staff that effective immediately, the university would extend spring break for students until March 22, and that all residential facilities would close and remain closed for the spring semester.

Emory University's Clairmont Campus

Emory University’s Clairmont Campus

As a residential professional staff member who is responsible for leading Emory’s Clairmont Campus residential and on-call staff, I remember this email vividly. I immediately thought of our move-out process, a process that usually takes our department weeks, if not months, to plan. I thought of the training that my team and I had created and executed back in summer of 2019, and soon began to worry, because there certainly was no training session on ‘what to do during a global pandemic.’ The feeling of dread and concern for the future began to slowly creep in, but soon the emotions of gratitude and excitement soon made their way.

I am a problem-solver at heart, one that enjoys improving processes to be more efficient, effective, purpose-driven, and aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. I was eager to see Emory and higher education as an industry, through such a pivotal moment. I was confident that I had the skills necessary to see my department through what I thought then would have been just a couple of weeks of crisis response.

I find peace in productivity. I love to keep busy and feel most alive when I have various projects on my plate. However, in those first few days of the pandemic, I took a hard look on what I had on my plate and soon realized that I was focusing on doing so much for my job; things for my direct reports, the leaders of my organization, and for the residents that we serve, that I was hardly focusing on investing time in myself. I have the priceless privilege of having a job that I thoroughly enjoy, one that allows me to utilize my strengths day-to-day. But as I reflected, in those first few days of the pandemic I soon realized that I was using my skills, but I was never taking the time to learn new skills or to learn how my skills could be used in different environments and professional contexts. In that moment, I realized that I was continuing to invest time into my work but was not truly investing time into myself.

Fast forward to over a year later, I look back to that day, the day that my ‘plague’ year began, with so much appreciation because it was, in hindsight, the year that I finally decided to invest in myself. Just a month later, I decided to apply for Goizueta Business School’s Evening MBA program. Which mind you, was a program that I had been looking at since 2017! And year after year, I made excuses for not applying. With a full semester and a half now under my belt, and even as I study for my upcoming Accounting final, I am overjoyed that I applied, and of course thrilled that I was admitted.

Evening MBA welcome packet and gift

Evening MBA welcome packet and gift

Within the classroom, I have learned about topics such as Data and Decision Analytics, Marketing, and most recently Managerial Economics and Systems Operations. However, when I look back to my first year as a part-time MBA student at Goizueta Business School, what I am most proud of is not just the business acumen that I have built, but instead is the daily reminder to continue to invest in myself, my growth, and my career advancement. Applying and deciding to be a part of the EvMBA Class of 2023 was the best investment I’ve made to date!

So, with all of this said, if you’re looking for a sign or an extra push to go ahead and apply, well – this blog post is just that! Don’t put it off any longer. Just apply!

“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. It is the true way to improve yourself to be the best version of you and lets you be able to best serve those around you.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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Courtnay Oddman

Courtnay Oddman EvMBA23 is responsible for designing structured learning experiences for on-call residential staff at Emory University. Courtnay has been recognized for her strategic and collaborative leadership. She holds a BA in Communications with a minor in Statistics from GWU and a MEd from Univ. of Maryland. She was recently selected as a 2021 Delta Leadership Coaching Fellow. She is interested in organizational effectiveness and human capital. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, breweries with friends, and her Peloton bike.

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