Find Your Oasis

When people told me that I would be busy during my MBA, my general response was, “Yeah, sure.” I mean, how bad could it be? I’ve been working for seven years on community outreach projects at an oil and gas services company in Houston. Many of my projects required me to be at events during evenings and weekends — in addition to my regular office hours. I was used to being stretched thin. Or so I thought…

MBA is a whole different animal. I am not going to lie, it has been a challenge. But then I remember, I am in charge of my own schedule.

It can take a person up to six months to adjust to a new environment. My last uprooting was sixteen years ago when my mother and I moved from Ukraine to Texas (yes, Texas deserves to be listed on the same level as a country). And here I am, in Pittsburgh, my first move as an adult…


The beauty of a business school is the vast opportunities that become available to you as soon as you say “I do!” to your favorite school (at least I can vouch for Tepper). The challenge – finding what truly makes you happy. It is easy to get sucked in to trying to learn everything about everything, but with time (a month or two into school) you start to realize that your time is best spent doing things you enjoy. This is not to say that you should not explore, after all, exploration is how we learn what we like or don’t like.

I found my oasis.

To be honest, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up; there are so many shiny objects – consulting, marketing, operations, product management, sustainability… Entrepreneurship?

I don’t have a business idea. But my curiosity led me into the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and I knew right away that I found my oasis. The center is located at our new Tepper Quad building and is designed to bring students, faculty, and alumni in one room to share ideas and to collaborate. This is what I have been missing.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Tepper cohort, however I couldn’t help, but wonder “What else is out there?”

The Swartz Center is not just for entrepreneurs, it is for all curious at heart and mind. The center holds several CONNECTS seminars throughout the week where anyone from CMU can come and meet other people, pitch their business idea(s), and find partners to work with.

The CONNECTS  seminars also bring speakers who have started their companies (some have succeeded and some have failed) to share their stories and experiences. Throughout this series I have learned about start-up law from David Lehman, a partner at K&L Gates; about agile product development from Sean Ammirati, a partner at Birchmere Ventures; about business model canvas from Dave Mawhinney,  Executive Director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; and latest about digital marketing from Eric Boduch, VP of Marketing at Pendo. I have learned terms like NPS (net promoter score) and SEM (search engine marketing). I have met students from CMU Computer School of Science. And I have learned about awesome business ideas my fellow Tepper classmates are working on.

Eric Boduch, VP of Marketing at Pendo, on “Digital Marketing: It’s All About The Numbers.”

For a full list of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship events, please visit

Iryna Marchenko | MBA 2020
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