Three Lessons from My First Year at Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

Dress / Heels / Jacket / Necklace / Earrings / Phone Case / PopSocket

Welcome! I have wanted to start an inspirational career and lifestyle blog for the longest time. We all have highs and lows, aspirations, dreams and insecurities. Whether it’s a job well done, an outfit that makes you feel great or a few days to disconnect – sometimes a little bit of encouragement or inspiration can let us fly. With one semester at Columbia Business School left, I figured now would be the ideal time to start. If we haven’t met before, please swing by my about me page, for a quick introduction.

I’m getting pretty personal in my first post. I receive a lot of questions about business school – especially the business school application process which I will create a separate post on – so I wanted to share why I applied and three lessons from my first year.


My journey to Columbia Business School was not easy and would not have been possible without the unfailing support of my husband, family, friends and a few incredible managers whom I have had the privilege of working with. Nugget of wisdom- If you are lucky enough to work with a manager you admire and who supports you, spend the extra time to get to know them!

When deciding whether to apply to business school, I always tell my friends that it’s important to think about your long-term goals, the steps you need to take to get you there and know your values. For many, a MBA is not necessary. For me, a business school education was an important stepping stone to diversify my skill set and advance my career.

When I decided to apply to business school, I had three years of work experience. I was in a sales & marketing role in e-commerce. I enjoyed the role. My team was great, and I had two incredible managers, but I also knew it was not my life’s calling. I focused my undergraduate education at Cornell on Government/History. I had a strong analytical skill set but lacked a formal business education. With job creation and the economy at the forefront of the many issues our country faces, I believed an MBA was a way for me to arm myself with the skills needed to contribute meaningfully to society. I met with as many friends in MBA programs as I could to hear about their experiences. After much research, I realized a MBA was the right next step for me. Let’s be honest though. Business school is extremely expensive. I was very intimidated by the cost. I knew I would have to take out significant student debt to fund the entire program and living expenses, but I was ready to make the investment in myself.


This notion is crucial and means so much to me. Despite the fact we are living in the 21st century, women are still severely underrepresented among U.S. business and political leaders. Currently a mere 20% of the members of Congress are women and women hold about 5% of CEO jobs in the S&P 500 companies. Women are more powerful when we build each other up and work together. Before business school, I was very lucky to have two incredible female mentors who supported my work and helped me believe I was capable of anything. On the other hand, I have also worked in a role where the few women on the floor barley spoke to each other and the most senior women in my department would not give the junior women a second of their time. I never understood this. A small effort can go a long way and what a difference a strong female mentor in your life can make. Ladies, I challenge you to take another woman under your wing. Make a commitment to mentor her and give her the confidence and feedback she needs to grow. There is a feeling that is virtually inexplicable when you see someone you have been mentoring thrive.


There are many layers to failure but there is one common thread. Failing is not fun. It can be tormenting, it can cause sleepless nights, self-doubt and it can kill your confidence. I am a perfectionist by nature and I tend to be my toughest critic. In life, I have faced my fair share of setbacks and I have certainly had moments where I’ve wanted to curl up in a ball under my desk. Business school taught me how to reassess failure and view it as an opportunity. Some of the most successful people failed continuously and ultimately reach success because they never gave up. Failure and facing adversity is an integral part of progress. The beauty of failure is that it gives you an even greater appreciation when you succeed. It presents an opportunity for you to take a step back, dig deep, evaluate what happened and come up with a game plan for your next step. This part is hard. Oftentimes, we don’t like to think about what went wrong or talk about it. I have found it is how you handle a setback, how you evaluate the situation and the game plan you make that defines your legacy.


At Columbia Business School, we are fortunate to have many of the world’s top business leaders come speak on campus. Last year, CBS Alumnus Warren Buffett spoke to students. When asked what types of businesses he would start if he were to create a new business today, Buffett noted, “I advise student to look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job.” In almost every speech I have attended, the guest speaker has voiced a similar notion. Whether you’re pursuing your passion full time or as a hobby, pursue it fearlessly. You don’t want to look back one day and wonder what if? It’s okay if you haven’t found your passion yet. Look to solve problems you are interested in. Raise your hand, roll up your sleeves and ask what else can I contribute to or be involved in? Your passion will find you!

3 Replies to “Three Lessons from My First Year at Columbia Business School”

  1. I’m so happy for you! Love the becoming fearless!! Have you listened to the Becoming Fearless podcast? I highly recommend it!

    Effortlessly Sophisticated

  2. This dress is so flattering on you Annabelle. I have been following your Instagram for a while & I was so excited to see you started a website! Congratulations! I find it hard to find a good interview / work dress. I’m sure you are very busy but I would love to see a post on your favorite work or interview outfits.

  3. I came across your website from your Instagram page. I really appreciate this post. Thank you for sharing. You are such a boss lady and inspiration! I’m applying to business school next year. Columbia GSB is one of my top choices. I’m really nervous about telling my manager that I want to apply. How did you navigate this process? Any tips for MBA application?

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