“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I know the flight between Washington and Boston well. I can recall the favorite seats of politicians. The sounds of jammed doors, aborted landings, and “engine trouble” echo through my mind.

This flight is special because my partner and I were separated by 250 excruciatingly long miles. Beyond the other passengers, the plane carried our relationship.

I always wanted to work with planes. Planes carry countless people each day, each with a story. Business deals waiting to be closed. New jobs about to get started. Planes empower our stories and make our dreams a reality.

I came to HBS to make my dream to work in aviation come true, and, by November 2020, I landed my dream summer internship. Four months later, I got fired before I even started. COVID-19 left countless unemployed, and my journey seemingly ran out of air in an instant.

Most told me to move on, but I knew it could be now or never. I asked anyone who would listen for time, and I found my way to a cargo airline. My experience led me to write a case on airline finance that is now taught to all first-year MBA students.

A year later, the industry is still struggling due to COVID-19, and, while I am not working in aviation after graduation, I know it will happen one day. Following your dreams can be turbulent; bumps requiring course corrections can come without warning. It requires looking up and taking a leap of faith that things can work out. I plan to live a life where I jump often because one day, I may finally get the chance to fly.

— Ryan Flamerich