One Incredible Journey: My Six-Year MBA Sacrifice

‘Dedication and resilience led me to this moment.’

Most people aim and plan for an MBA roughly two years in advance, sometimes just a year. I planned mine for six. For several reasons, I had to do everything over and over for six years.

To me, that is resilience.

Losing, again and again, made me value success that much more.

While I was happy with the way my career was progressing in my respective software developer roles, I always itched for the decision-making component in my day-to-day life.

Having a Plan and Sticking to it

From the very first month at my job after my undergraduate degree, I began saving for graduate school. That was my motto. It took incredible commitment to save up Indian Rupees to match the worth of the American Dollar ($1 = approximately INR 70), but it is just not my personality to give up in the face of mammoth-like tasks.

When my friends partied, I saved. When my friends traveled, I saved. When my friends got married and progressed on in their lives, I saved.

Sometimes, I lived in such treacherous conditions that I had to make do without basic necessities. Living in 115 Fahrenheit-degree weather without AC? I’ve done that.

Eating the worst foods to simply survive? I’ve done that.

Was it easy to use social media with people constantly sharing their new toys or successful lives? Not at all. Watching everybody progress while you appear to be in a rut will slowly kill you. So, I quit social media.

“After six years of humbling experiences, I learned the value of everything.”

Tarun Chinniah and his fellow 2021 Full-Time MBA graduates
Tarun Chinniah (left) and his fellow 2021 Full-Time MBA graduates.

This made me value even the smallest of things, and it made me a very emotional person. Sometimes people don't get that.

I ended up saving as much as I could, sacrificing six years of my life living a saintly life, and took an even bigger education loan to support me through my MBA. I went all-in and hoped that things would go well.

When people asked me why I was dead serious all the time, I just smiled. When you lay all your chips down in one basket, it is pretty hard to not stay focused. You only have one direction you can go at that point.

So whenever I delivered a piece of work, I wanted people to recognize the quality of my delivery. I would, and still go, beyond what was/is expected to blow that person away.

Did I take it too far? Yes. Did it matter? Also, yes.

I don't expect sympathy of any sort. That’s not my goal. I feel incredibly proud of what I have achieved and what I have learned thus far. Also, I strive to keep learning for the rest of my life.

When I was handed my MBA diploma, I could not control my tears anymore because I have invested eight years of my life for this moment.

Living a life where you cannot express your true emotions can be really frustrating. It can get even more frustrating when those nearest and dearest to you don't understand. I have been leading such a life for most of my last decade for this moment.

Very few people understood me for who I am. Even fewer people stood by me when I was at the rock bottom of my life. For those that did, our bond is that much stronger now. I could not have gone through my MBA education without my parents or my brothers Jordan, Kumar, and Stephen. Thank you for guiding me through this journey.

Every student goes through a journey. This is my story. What's yours?