In my second year of undergrad at Tulane University, I started thinking about life after graduation. I had always loved the intersection of science and business and was pursuing a dual degree in both Chemical Engineering and Management. I decided to take some time to research ways I could further both my interests and stumbled across HBS’s MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences program, which seemed like a perfect fit for me. As I researched HBS some more, I discovered the 2+2 program and was determined to apply to guarantee myself admission to a future HBS MBA class. Following a two to four year deferral, I could also apply to the MS portion of the dual degree program. After a few months of essay prep, test-taking, and an interview, I received the admissions portal update that changed my life: I had been accepted into the 2+2 program!

Upon graduation from Tulane, I accepted a job as an Associate Scientist at Unilever’s Personal Care R&D site in Trumbull, Connecticut. There, I did computational chemistry research and machine learning modeling to find new active ingredients for skincare products. I quickly found out, however, that my in-person start date of July 15th, 2020 would be indefinitely delayed due to COVID. While I was upset about not being able to start my career in an in-person workplace setting with all the easy connections and water cooler conversations that would come along with it, I decided to take advantage of the unique situation I was in.

Not only did I have the opportunity to work remotely indefinitely, but I also had the assurance that I was already accepted into HBS. This gave me the freedom to grow more deeply as a person and seek out experiences that would permanently change the way I viewed life. While pursuing excellence in the work I did for Unilever, for the first time in my life I felt the freedom to put my own personal development ahead of my academic and career aspirations. What did I eventually decide to do? I became a digital nomad. I took the opportunity to travel to 24 countries over the course of my deferral to see the world, learn about new cultures, and discover more about myself and what I valued in life.

By early 2022 I realized that, while my job at Unilever was incredibly interesting and intellectually stimulating, I saw a career for myself more on the business side of the industry. I had always envisioned a career at the intersection of science and business, but this vision no longer excited me quite as much as before. What really excited me now? The prospect of a career in the airline industry. This might seem like an odd pivot but travelling to 24 countries in two years meant a lot of flying on planes. While I have always been an airline/airplane geek, I had never considered the possibility of actually working in the industry I was so excited and passionate about. The 2+2 program gave me the ability to prioritize what I felt was important in my life and led to me falling in love with the idea of a career in the airline industry. Once I arrived at HBS in August, I very quickly plugged into the Career and Alumni resources on campus to network my way to a dream internship role for this summer at Virgin Australia in Brisbane, Australia.

The 2+2 program gave me the freedom to explore the world, myself, and the career that I wanted. Without the flexibility it provided me, my life would be very different today. My one piece of advice for prospective 2+2 applicants is simple: apply! You never know what surprises life holds and a deferred offer from HBS could be the thing that provides you with the freedom to change your life.