Something worth working for

Of course, I was running late. I laugh about it now because that time in my life is over, and I’m early for almost everything now. But this was a long time ago. This was Tuesday, 23 October, 2012, and I caught my train on time, but I still managed to come stampeding into the Bayle building just minutes before my campus visit appointment. I was panting and trying to tuck in my disheveled shirttail while a staff member helped me stuff my luggage into a supply closet. It must have been a sight to see. I took a deep breath, someone called my name, and I guess that was the moment my MBA journey began.

The Decision

It was late 2011 when I found RSM via online rankings, and I asked my parents if moving to Europe for an MBA was the craziest idea I ever had. “Not quite the craziest,” my dad had said. When I went to the Netherlands for personal travel a year later, I set up the campus visit. I attended a class and had lunch at Maria’s Cantina – two things I would do many more times in the future. I met the friendly and helpful staff in the admissions office, and I learned more about the things that set RSM’s program apart, including its diverse cohort and emphasis on sustainability. When I came home, I knew RSM was the place for me.

The Mission

The following years were spent slowly turning my dream into reality. I registered right away at the local community college to try out some business classes. I’d never taken economics, accounting, marketing, or anything like that before. I ended up taking 17 classes over the next four years, which may have been overkill, but I was desperate to succeed in business school. At the same time, I moved ahead steadily in my career. Eventually, I dug into a stack of prep guides and got ready for the GMAT, too.

I was so focused on my preparations that it almost came as a surprise when it was time to apply. Soon, the application was filled out, references delivered, GMAT taken, transcripts sent. Then the interview. Then the wait. I was standing at my bathroom sink getting ready for work when the phone rang with a +31 country code. A kind voice on the other end told me my dream had come true. I was shaking, and my earrings rattled against the phone screen. I couldn’t catch my breath. I’ll never forget that morning.

The Beginning

Pretty soon, I was packing my bags and saying goodbye to my family in Nebraska. On a cold January day, I stepped onto campus as an MBA candidate for the first time. I met approximately 100 of my closest new friends. I got my RSM sweatshirt and my much-anticipated “I WILL” photo. I hopped on a bike and glided through streets, through days, through weeks. Almost eight months later, it still feels like something out of a dream. And I guess that’s because it is. This journey is far from over, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Something worth working for

Ashley Kresl

My drive to become a better leader took me from Nebraska to Rotterdam. Now it's time to hang on and enjoy the ride.

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