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Jessie Wright

Graduating into the Real World

by Jessie Wright Wednesday, May 17, 2017

With our arms thrown around each other’s shoulders at graduation this weekend, swaying back and forth singing “Varsity,” there was a distinct feeling of our MBA program ending. We assembled into endless combinations for photos, making plans for several rounds of “farewell drinks,” and checked off last-minute bucket list items in beautiful Madison. And while I am feeling wistful and nostalgic about the last two years and all we have been through together, I am also feeling incredibly hopeful and excited. Our time as students in the MBA program has ended, but the friends, colleagues, and new skills I have gained here at the Bolz Center and Wisconsin School of Business will be an active part of my life and career forever.

Graduate Work Experience – The Bolz Center gave me the opportunity to work at Overture Center for the Arts for the past two years in their development department. The mentorship and training I received there have transformed my skills in nonprofit fundraising. I have had the chance to experience the excitement and challenges of working at a multi-million-dollar arts organization with the support of a professional team and incredible mentors. My experience at Overture absolutely equipped me to land my dream job – Manager of Major Gifts at New York City Ballet.

Diverse Professional Network – One of the reasons I chose to go back to school to get an MBA was to lift my head up from the inertia of daily tasks and have the chance to examine challenges and industries from different perspectives. My experience in the Bolz Center has given me the chance to work with classmates from the worlds of finance, real estate, strategic marketing, and operations. I now have close connections to friends and professionals that work all over the world in a wide variety of fields. The arts thrive when people from all backgrounds support and have the chance to participate. My own network has certainly been flung much wider.  

Nonprofit Thought Leadership – What I will miss most about this program is the chance to really puzzle over and discuss some of the arts’ biggest questions with my talented classmates and professors. I have felt empowered to share and advocate for the role of the arts in business while also finding new ways to challenge traditional models and ways of doing things. The Bolz Center has encouraged this discovery through in-depth seminar classes, national applied learning trips, and our impact consulting projects, where we worked with real-world clients thinking strategically about arts programming, creative economic growth, and arts industry development.

It is my last day in Madison – my bags are packed, and the moving truck comes tomorrow morning. I am so grateful that these pieces of Madison, the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, and the Wisconsin School of Business will be accompanying me on this next adventure.