An Interview with Brett Hanger and Patrick Murphy, class of 2017
Think getting your MBA sounds tough? Try doing it while welcoming your first child into your life! That’s the incredible experience of Brett Hanger and Patrick Murphy who both became first-time fathers in their first year of business school. They were kind enough to share their thoughts (and beautiful family photos!) for our blog.
1) We can all only imagine how challenging it might be to become a first-time parent while surviving your first year of business school. So how was that?
Brett: It was a lot to learn all at once. Balancing the requirements of classes with learning how to take care of a baby certainly tested my personal time-management and prioritization abilities. Fortunately, I had excellent group-mates who made life a lot easier and my wife was incredibly understanding and supportive. I know I would not have been able to do it, apart from the obvious reasons, without her. The hardest part was wanting to be around for every moment and milestone with my daughter while balancing that with my commitments to the MBA program and my classmates, but that is life.
Patrick: Personally, the first semester of the MBA program was the most challenging for me, and my daughter Morgan was born during the second semester, so I was lucky. I only had to reschedule one test and my teacher was very supportive. You don't really get "paternity leave" during an MBA Program, so you just kind of have to go with it and try your best to keep up with group work, etc. My group-mates were very supportive and I leaned on them a little bit more than I would have liked, but fortunately, my classmates understood my situation and realized that I needed some assistance with my group work.
2) Any advice for new parents-to-be who might be in the same situation?
Patrick: Put your family first and know how to prioritize. My ability to say no to things has helped me greatly over the last year.
Brett: I would suggest making sure you know what your life goals are and evaluating your priorities. For most people there is never a "good" time to have a baby, so if you are certain that you (and your partner) are ready to make the child your top priority then go for it and don't worry too much about how it will affect your performance in the MBA program or your career. You will likely be surprised at what you are capable of handling and you will get support from your classmates, friends, and family. For me, looking back, I can imagine my life without an MBA or perfect grades, but I can't imagine my life without my daughter, she means the world to me, and I think that helps me prioritize appropriately. If you are in the same situation as I was, don't worry too much, you can handle it - and have fun!!
3) Can you share an anecdote of a time when you had a very different MBA experience from that of your classmates because of being a new parent?
Brett: I had the wonderful experience of welcoming my daughter into the world right in the middle of our first-term final exams. While my wife was in labor I was studying, or trying to. It was difficult to overcome the excitement and focus on the material. I did use the opportunity to chart my wife's contractions in excel to exercise my probability and statistics skills and try to predict the time of birth. I thought it was cool, my wife decidedly less so. I ended up with an A in that class though, so maybe it helped. I only missed one exam, which was right when my daughter was born. I was able to reschedule that exam and even with distracted studying I made it through all of my exams.
Patrick: Once we had Morgan the ability to attend evening events dropped dramatically. Babies have to go to bed early, and there is very little that one can do to get around that. Realize that your ability to socialize after 7:00pm diminishes greatly.
4) Additional thoughts?
Patrick: Having a child is a wonderful thing and my wife and I are extremely fortunate that we were able to have a happy and healthy baby. Don't be afraid of traveling also! Our daughter is going to Belize with us for this winter holiday!
Brett: I wouldn't trade the entire experience for the world. Although having your first child during the first year of an MBA program seems like a bad time, it worked out really well for me. I owe a lot to my classmates and to my wife and family for helping me make it through. It is easy to get caught up in the program and everything it has to offer, but try to enjoy every moment you can with your child because those moments go by very fast and every one of them is precious.