TEXT OF STORY
INTRODUCTION: Maliha Mustafa was an analyst at Lehman Brothers. After losing her job, she moved back home to Illinois to write a book and apply for business school.
MALIHA MUSTAFA: The day that I was laid off, I was relieved. I had been expecting it because there were rumors of another layoff. I was prepared. I had already moved everything out the week before. And for me it was just a relief. I received my severance package. I had my large, white envelope, and my colleague and I went out for drinks.
I just, I did not feel ready to go back to a 9 to 5. And so I took, I would say, two weeks or so to really figure out what I wanted my next step to be.
There was this idea that I had, which was to write a book about the universal immigrant experience told through an ex-investment banker, me, and a chef, my father. And it just made sense to maybe do my writing in the Midwest, in Illinois, which is where I’m from.
I moved back into my parents’ home, Mom and Dad’s home, in a small town in central Illinois with a population of 16,000. There is a cornfield in my backyard and it’s definitely different than the Upper Westside Manhattan apartment that I used to live in. But I’m really enjoying it for the time being.
And I’m also studying for the GMAT and I will be applying to business school.
I think that the bankruptcy gave me a chance to pause. I had always wanted to pursue an MBA, and being laid off was almost like honorable discharge. I think it allowed me to think of these other possibilities. To do things that I wouldn’t have allowed myself to do before.
Produced by Amy Scott with help from Rafael Cohen.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.