When Liz Tammaro, WG’18, found out she was accepted into Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, she had just given birth to her second child two weeks earlier. With a one-and-a-half-year-old son, a newborn daughter, and a full-time job at Vanguard, she had two options: Go for it or defer admission for a year. She chose to go for it.
“I realized that it wouldn’t necessarily be any easier to juggle everything a year later. I decided it would be better to just pull off the Band-Aid, so I started the program with a toddler and a two-month-old baby while I was still on maternity leave,” she said.
Not only did Liz successfully graduate, but she broadened her network, made lifelong friends for herself and her family, and gained a more strategic and global perspective on business. “It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worthwhile and doable.”
She points to seven strategies that helped her find balance in the program:
1. Build a Support Network
“This was an extended family decision. My husband was supportive, but I also needed my mom, dad, aunt, mother-in-law – everyone – on board to help take care of my kids when I was at school. In addition, I hired a nanny when I went back to work. I also had the support of my boss and team at work.”
2. Talk to Other Moms
“Before I came to Wharton, I asked the staff to put me in touch with other mothers who had been through this program with young children. I needed reassurance that this was possible. The women I talked to were very supportive and gave me advice about being organized and getting help.”
3. Reframe Your Expectations
“Wharton students are smart, ambitious and high achievers. I came into this program wanting to do my best, but I also knew that I needed to be reasonable. It’s impossible to do everything at school, work, and home at peak performance all the time so I reframed my expectations. I learned to be flexible and kind to myself.”
4. Lean on Classmates and Build Relationships
“I learned to lean on my learning team for support when inevitably something came up at work or home. We all helped each other out because things come up for everyone over the two years of the program. I also ended up living down the street from another mom in my class, who became an amazing mentor and friend. We carpooled each week and she provided a great support system.”
5. Talk to the Staff
“The staff are very supportive of students and get to know you as an individual. My class advisor knew I had a newborn and made sure I had a room for pumping and a refrigerator during school weekends. During the first week of school, my husband brought my daughter to me at night, so I didn’t have to pump that whole week. The program also holds events for families and is very welcoming to everyone.”
6. Organize Your Time
“I’m not a morning person or a night owl, so I would designate evenings for school work when my kids went to bed. On school weekends, I would frontload a lot of my studying on Saturday nights when everything was still fresh in my mind.”
7. Battle “Mom Guilt”
“There were times when I felt guilty for not being with my kids. I tried to mentally reframe that feeling to focus on this as an investment in myself and an opportunity to model my values in education and hard work for them. I showed them that if you have the ability and motivation, then nothing can hold you back.”
To read how Liz prepared for the GMAT, click here.
— Meghan Laska
Posted: January 16, 2019