And there it was: the UT Law school rejection letter. I hadn’t always wanted to go there. In fact, the idea for UT Law was relatively recent. Between college graduation and that point, May 2009, I sat for the LSAT three times. While my scores were above average, they were not blow the doors off great – the kind of scores you needed to get into a law school like UT. I’d been accepted to a number of lower first tier schools, but if I was going to leave my pharmaceutical sales career, I wanted to pursue an equally viable, long-term line of work: oil and gas law. Law was perfect for me – speaking, writing, arguing, reading – I had all these skills. Yes, clearly I was meant to be a lawyer.
For a decade — since I lived in Norway — I wanted to work in the energy industry. UT taught a specialty oil and gas law not found at many law schools. I knew in the center of my being that it was time to move on from my pharmaceutical career. Mid-Size Pharma was a great company, I’d built my territory up from essentially $0.00 to $3 million, taken 33% of the market in my drug class, and I was done.
My conviction about heralding my career change by going back to school was so strong that when I read the rejection letter I actually believed it was a mistake. Suited up in my professionally tailored suit, I drove to the law school and strode in to the Dean of Law’s office. I greeted the administrative assistant. She did her job and deflected me from seeing the Dean personally. I was not deterred.
“I believe there has been a mistake.”
“Yes. You see, I was rejected and I do not believe I should have been. This is what I am supposed to be doing. I just know it. ”
“Why not apply next year?”
“I can’t wait that long. Do you have a wait list?”
“Ok, how about putting me on the waitlist?”
“I can’t do that. The admissions committee determines who gets accepted and who goes on the wait list.”
“Do you always make it through the entire wait list?”
“Well, if you don’t make it all the way through, what’s the harm in putting my name on the bottom of the wait list?”
That one had her stumped. She held up a finger signaling just a minute and went in to see the Dean. She came back a moment later and said very kindly, “I can see this means a lot to you. Here are a list of circumstances for appeal. Are there any that apply to you or your situation?”
My heart sank. I saw no circumstance listed for “slightly lower than acceptable LSAT score compensated by extreme persistence, enthusiasm, and zealous desire to work in the oil and gas industry for the good of the environment.” I thanked her and left.
I went home and called my girlfriend, Sales Guru.
“What is it you actually want to do?!”
“I want to run an oil company.”
“Were you good at math and science in high school?”
“Yes, but that was 15 years ago.” And I was. I made all A’s and B’s in my math and science classes. The exception: for one semester I tried learning geometry by osmosis and slept through every class to test my skill. Author’s note: I cannot learn by osmosis. I have to study.
“So what? So go be a petroleum engineer. You live in Austin, TX. I think there is a school there which has a petroleum engineering department.”
Well, now… there’s an idea.