Carlos Castelán is the managing director of NOMA Consulting Partners. NOMA provides strategic recommendations for retail and whole industry clients utilizing research and analysis for growing entrepreneurs. Castelán shares his educational experience.

(Photo Courtesy of Carlos Castelán)

(Photo Courtesy of Carlos Castelán)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I pursued a degree because I saw it as a) a path to advance my career and, b) a new challenge through which I would learn, both in the classroom and outside of it. As someone who made his college decision based largely on financial resources, I wanted to pursue a master’s program free of financial constraints and where I knew I would be challenged on a daily basis. That process started with taking the GMAT (entrance exam). I spent six months studying flash cards on the bus to [and] from work and then taking practice tests on the weekend to attain a score that would put me in the best position to be admitted to the schools I wanted to attend.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“I would highly recommend that anyone take the time to pursue a master’s degree, particularly full-time, and use that time for professional as well as personal development. My own experience taking two years off of work to earn a master’s degree was a seminal experience. The ability to spend two years, during some of the most formative years of your life, to focus on what you want to do with your life and your career is something that is truly special. I am surprised by how much I grew during those two years, particular as an individual and as a husband. Not only have I taken a large professional jump but, more importantly, I think I am a better person because of the emphasis Harvard Business School placed on self-reflection.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“Focusing my time and energy on opportunities that aligned with my goals was the biggest challenge. While in school, there are so many competing interests for your time, whether they be academic, social, professional or personal. My first year, I would go to speakers or events that I was tangentially interested [in] because I wanted to learn more. However, it just wasn’t sustainable and I realized I needed to be more selective. Identifying my priorities helped me, eventually, find the right balance and make decisions that aligned with my interests. It was a valuable lesson to learn and led to a much more fulfilling second year for me, as well as helping me post-school.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?  

“Aside from the personal and career development, the biggest reward was the friendship with classmates and mentors. I met some terrific people as a result of school and made some great friendships. As someone who is traveling a lot for their job now, it’s great to be able to email [or] text my friends and get together to catch up. I look forward to seeing the great things my classmates do with their lives.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com