By Serra Crawford, Eller MBA ’17
What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s a question I think no one can truly answer.
Those who choose a career field start working to check all of the right resume-building boxes to land their dream job. Degree? Check. Volunteer experience? Check. Server job to pay the bills? Check.
Sometimes, though, an opportunity presents itself, causing you to rethink your carefully constructed career path.
Even early on, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. Growing up, I learned French and met people from West Africa, instilling a personal passion to impact care on a global scale. I earned my undergraduate degree in international studies and global health, and also fulfilled my pre-medical requirements. After graduation, I worked in Togo and Equatorial Guinea with various organizations to improve clinical operations, devise educational training programs, and establish clinical supply networks.
I learned what it takes to work in resource-poor areas, navigating cultural barriers and political conflicts of interest. Most interestingly, I got to see medicine at its roots. Away from the tangled web of payer and provider networks and value-based service models, I got to see healthcare as one provider, one patient, and one treatment. The problems faced by these professionals are not unique to the developing world, and I realized I needed to expand my skills to make a more substantial and sustainable impact.
I decided to pursue my MBA with a concentration in healthcare management at the Eller College of Management. My initial goal was to transfer my newly acquired business foundation, including project and resource management skills, back to the global health world.
However, as I took classes, attended networking events, and pushed myself at case competitions, I discovered a never-ending labyrinth of doors to new opportunities. I went to every professional development event I could attend, and was constantly on the phone speaking to professionals in every niche of the healthcare world. Suddenly, there were so many possible paths in front of me – which was both exhilarating and terrifying.
Without the education and professional growth opportunities I had at Eller, I would not be who I am now. Having a safe space to explore and fail gave me the freedom to reconstruct my original life plan into something I am now even more excited about.
If I can give one piece of advice to those who go through the program behind me, it would be to talk to everyone, take advantage of every opportunity, and don’t be afraid to rethink.
I chose an incredibly exciting position in healthcare IT, and I cannot wait to start after graduation this month.
My dream is still to positively impact the quality and accessibility of healthcare in the developing world, but I now realize there are so many paths left to explore before I finally say, “I am what I want to be when I grow up.”
Top photo of Serra Crawford by Eller College of Management.