• Jamie Skinner

My Gritty Undergrad

I’m currently reading “Grit” by Angela Duckworth (@angeladuckw) for one my MBA courses and I am in love! I’ve always been an avid reader and genuinely enjoyed school growing up – one reason I’m tackling my MBA – so the psychological backing behind what grit is and how you get it is right up my alley. I think reflecting on my own adventures to find grit portrays what type of entrepreneur I am and the level of dedication I have to my profession and those that I serve.

According to Duckworth, grit is a combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal. Not only that, but she also speaks to how grit can grow. We move from identifying a self-oriented interest (ie: job), to learning self-disciplined practice (ie: career), and finally to a revelation of a larger purpose and meaning (ie: calling). I can recall two particular experiences in my career life where grit was essential to avoiding setbacks or complete and utter failure. I will speak of one today and the second on my next blog.

In the fall of 2006 I transferred from junior college to a University to get my Bachelor’s in Accountancy. Since high school I had always worked a full-time job while attending college part-time. I knew I was not on the usual four-year track to obtaining my Bachelor’s but I had no idea just how far behind I was. At the rate I was going I still had another four years to go. This news was very disheartening but I did not allow myself to feel discouraged for long. I made a bold decision: get a part-time gig and go full-steam with school.

In the fall of 2008 I accepted a position as an entry-level accountant for a property management company. I worked 24 hours a week, being on-site Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and filled my time closing out the monthly books for over 15 different properties and joint ventures.

That same semester I did the unthinkable: I enrolled in 24 units (8 classes) at CSU Sacramento - and not just any 24 units – they were all upper-division (aka HARD) accounting units. This is a double full-time class schedule and was recommended that students not work any hours at this unit level. Well, I wasn’t having any of that. I knew I had it in me to get the work done so I got permission from the school to do so.

My two days off from work I was in class from 7:30am-4pm, back to back with no breaks. I usually got to school an hour early and left as late as 9pm to get in extra study time. Monday and Wednesday I had one class after work, plus an online-based class. I essentially ate, drank and slept school during those months. I admit, it was hell. I struggled to have any kind of social/family life at all, but I managed to survive the semester. I finished with 4 A’s and 4 B’s and I was floored at the accomplishment and relieved it was over. I already knew I had found my passion and I pushed through a treacherous semester so that I could graduate over a year sooner. I can say with certainty that I could never have gotten through it if I hadn’t had the passion and perseverance for my interest in accounting.

I am working on transitioning my interest from just a career to my true calling. Find out how I’m making that happen in my next blog this week, where I discuss using grit to persevere through a business failure in order to get back up and try again.

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