MBA Mama Spotlight: Brooke Carroll (Georgetown — part 1)

Brooke and her beautiful family

Guest Blog from Brooke Carroll // My husband’s name is Ryan and we got married just before I started business school at Georgetown. Ryan works for the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor in the criminal tax division here in DC. We met when I was visiting an MBA program in Dallas, Texas at a Starbucks (I was studying for the GMAT). We got married a year and a half later — July 2014, just before I started business school at Georgetown.

Coincidentally, we found out that I was pregnant in September of fall term — so right when I started school at Georgetown — and just after we were married — haha! I was due with our son right after finals — May 16th. It was a bit stressful at the end of the year during finals because I could literally go into labor at any moment. Luckily, I finished my first year of b school and had our son, Rhett, about a week after finals!! I delivered at Georgetown University Hospital — which was incredible.

Rhett Lincoln Raybould, “Rhett”, is now 4 months old. He is our first and only child (so far), and we absolutely love him! He is smiling and laughing now, so we do everything we can to make him do so. He is a great sleeper, thank goodness, and an amazing eater — typical boy. He is our greatest accomplishment so far and we can’t wait to add more kiddos to our family!

Rhett

Right Time To Pursue The MBA

I started thinking about an MBA when I was working as a commercial real estate broker at a Fortune 500 company. I was about 25 years old, had been with the company for 3 years and was beginning to lose interest in my job. I felt there was a lot more that I could contribute to the business world in a unique way that utilized my talents and creativity. Specifically, I wanted to start my own company and thought an MBA was the perfect way to do this. I quit my job and began working on the early stages of a medical device startup; I also began studying for the GMAT.

Luckily, I wasn’t in a position where I had to worry about finances, as I had saved enough money to keep myself afloat. For me, this was the perfect time to pursue an MBA — I was single (at the time) and didn’t have any kiddos :) Boy, did that change quickly!

Challenges

Ryan and I weren’t necessarily planning on starting our family so soon — it kind of just happened, if you know what I mean :) So, it caught me off guard that I would have to complete my first year of my MBA while pregnant, and my second year of my MBA with a baby!

In terms of pregnancy, I had some challenges with morning sickness during fall semester, although it was only nausea — no vomiting, thank goodness. I had my prenatal visits and delivery at Georgetown University Hospital, as well, so I never really had any conflicts with classes and being pregnant, and the hospital was located adjacent to the business school.

One difficult moment during pregnancy that I recall was right before a midterm during Spring semester. I spit up a blood clot right before the Analytical Problem Solving midterm and started freaking out. I didn’t want to miss the midterm so I had to make the tough call as to whether I should go take the test or go to the hospital!! My husband called several doctors and nurses and we finally made the decision to take the midterm! I ended up not going to the hospital, but everything ended up being okay. Apparently, spitting up blood during pregnancy is common!

Luckily, I had my son Rhett right after finals, so delivery and maternity time/leave didn’t impact my class schedule. Because Rhett was born the summer before second year, I wasn’t able to do an internship. I was slightly bummed about this, but also know that it happened for a reason.

To be candid, having a baby unexpectedly has changed my outlook on career and has made me realize that I do want flexibility — absolutely. I’m glad I realized that now rather than a year into a job! The reason I started business school was to have my own company and to become an entrepreneur. Having a baby has made this dream even more valid and more desirable. I want and need the flexibility. I know that having my own company will allow me to spend time with my family while also pursuing my dream of having a successful career.

Time Management Tips

In terms of having a baby and going to school, I think having a good nanny that you love and trust is KEY. I am lucky and found someone that I really do like. She not only watches my son, but she also cleans and picks up around our condo. The cleaning part takes a huge load off of my plate. Instead of focusing on laundry or dishes, I can either spend time finishing school work or spend quality time with my son and husband.

Also, giving yourself a few hours of alone time to workout or finish up school work can make a huge difference. For example, my nanny comes not only during class but also stays a few hours extra each day. This allows me to get school work done during the week and/or get a workout in — which keeps me sane. I prioritize my work during the week when the nanny is here and really try to get everything finished by the weekend so that I can spend time with the family. I’m not perfect with this, but do try hard to keep with that schedule.

I also make sure that my husband is getting in some good parenting time during the week :) This means that he takes Rhett during the night to give me some extra time to read for school or to workout. Ryan is incredibly supportive, so I am very lucky. We don’t have family here really, but if we did, I would fully take advantage of it!

Another thing I do is cut out the “BS” work that we have in school. I find that some of the professors haven’t made accessing certain readings or assignments easy this semester or don’t clarify what they want on assignments. To be quite honest, I don’t have the time to search around for the readings or ask several questions about how to do assignments. When this happens, I either don’t do the reading or I do the assignment to the best of my ability and hope for the best! Maybe this is setting a bad precedence, but I feel that professors need to respect the fact that some of the students have families and have children, and can’t afford to spend an extra hour searching for a reading or asking several questions about an assignment. If it was that important, the professor would make sure it is easily accessible to all students.

Another thing that I have started doing is meditation. I am taking an awesome “Meditation and Leadership” class at Georgetown — and I love it. I try to meditate at least 15 minutes morning and night. While it seems this may be adding more things to my to-do list, meditation actually allows me to prioritize what is important! It allows me to think more clearly and slow down my day. My checklist somehow becomes very manageable if I am diligent about meditation. I also notice that my alertness and attention is heightened. This allows me to be present in the moment depending on what I am doing or the task at hand. When I didn’t meditate, I noticed that I would be thinking about my son while I was doing a reading, or when playing with my son, I would be trying to remember what we talked about in class!!! Meditation allows me to be present in each moment and to really focus on the activity in front of me.