All posts by UW Foster School of Business

Foster delivers best bang for the buck

U.S. News & World Report recognized Foster as the highest-ranked MBA program with the best bang for the buck in its recent analysis of graduates’ salaries and average debt. According to the article, Foster graduates “who were employed within three months after graduation in 2014 have an average annual starting salary of $105,680, and those who borrowed had an average debt of $29,720 for business school.” Read the full story.

Foster was also the top-ranked program listed in U.S. News’ top 10 MBA programs where grads can afford their student loans.

Designed for this international internship

Guest post by Joyce Tang, Foster undergraduate student and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

Joyce Tang
Joyce Tang
It’s never too early to start. That’s what I was thinking when I replied to a vague email about a summer internship opportunity abroad. After getting the internship, what ensued was the development of my skills as a professional designer, project manager of programmers, and an expert print shop price haggler. The first role I was able to experience from the comfort of my own room and the last two I did across the Pacific Ocean in China.

The company I interned at was a startup in Shanghai called Sino Society. The business specialized in international real estate marketing to wealthy Chinese home buyers. Real estate was never an industry I expected to be in, but the promise of getting to live and work in China for a summer sounded like an invaluable experience. With that in mind, I said yes to working remotely for seven months on a probationary basis. During this time, I conducted weekly conference calls that led to a greater understanding of the company’s business model, China’s consumer environment, and–to my delight–that I was capable of being a graphic designer.

Since junior high, I had taken up design as a hobby and almost majored in design, but chose to pursue business because I wanted the skills to build my own business. I figured the design projects would come later, but here I was at my first internship getting to do what I loved most. It seemed like no coincidence when I found out in a conference call that I was to start a project using Adobe Indesign during the same week I had taken an introductory course on the program through Odegaard Library’s free workshop resource. This initial assignment led to creating an entire series of business collateral used for sales pitches to our company’s international clients. My design was translated into Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Chinese. Without receiving extensive training, I was able to learn by doing real-work assignments and am now proficiently using the program.

At the end of May, my probationary period ended and the company asked me to come to Shanghai to continue for the summer. Contrary to what many might expect of startups, Sino Society provided my round trip ticket to Shanghai. Working in the heart of the city, I continued my marketing projects, but secretly wanted a hand in the technology side of things. My involvement in the Lavin Entrepreneurship Program built up my experience and fascination with the tech space. I asked my boss if I could take on more projects relating to the technology side of the business, which led me to being a project manager of Chinese programmers. After only one meeting, it became pretty clear there was a language barrier, so I gave myself the goal of learning the Chinese phrases for IT terms. Meanwhile, I was occasionally tasked with the grunt work of making print shop runs with the goal of lowering our cost for bulk print jobs. By the end of the summer, I had perfected things I always thought were my weaknesses: communicating about technical topics in Chinese and haggling with locals. And guess what? I’m still happily doing side design projects with Sino Society in my free time.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business and Lavin Entrepreneurship Program.

Working abroad leads to freedom in the job market

Guest post by Nathan Bright (BA 2014)

Nathan Bright at the University of ManizalesMy name is Nathan Bright and I graduated from the Foster School and the CISB Program in March 2014 with a general business degree and Spanish minor. During my time at UW, I was able to study abroad in Spain and travel around Asia, so I knew when I graduated I wanted to find opportunities to work abroad and travel. I was lucky enough to be offered a position in Spain teaching English as well as a position in Colombia working at a university teaching business. I chose to move to South America because I wanted to experience a new country and continent and was excited about the opportunity to teach business and speak Spanish at work.

My original contract at the University of Manizales was for six months, but my coworkers and bosses were so happy to have me that I was able to extend my contract to a year. One thing I really enjoy about the job is the amount of freedom I have to design my own projects and work with professors to develop programs that are interesting to both the faculty and students. I also have the opportunity to speak English and Spanish while teaching business courses and work with students and professors in class and outside of the University during separately organized events. Working abroad has given me much more freedom in the job market because I would have never had the opportunity to be a professor or design my own projects if I had found a similar entry-level position in the US.

The CISB Program did a great job preparing me for this opportunity. We studied a wide variety of cultural experiences and had a lot of opportunities to work in real-life business contexts, which gave me the skills and knowledge required to live and work in a foreign country.

Because companies in other countries are often excited to have the opportunity to work with foreigners who are passionate and well-educated, there are plenty of ways to enter the job market in a different country. If you wish to contact me about my experiences abroad, email me at natebright01(at)gmail.com.

Syncing to the digital age of marketing

Wired In ConferenceOn January 31, the Foster School of Business welcomed 170 student registrants from 10 universities across the Northwest for Wired In: Syncing to the Digital Age of Marketing, the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Marketing Conference. The event, hosted by Foster Undergraduate Career Services and the UW American Marketing Association, was sponsored by Eddie Bauer for the second year.

Centered on the theme of digital marketing, the day’s presentations included an opening keynote by Eddie Bauer, breakout sessions by Bing, Porch, Delightful Communications, and Drake Cooper, and a closing keynote by 4th Avenue Media. The attendees could choose which of the breakout session options to attend based on their own personal interest level.

In addition to the presentations, students participated in two interactive elements; team activities led by Puget Sound American Marketing Association and a networking event. The team activities were designed to get students talking about relevant marketing topics which included: designing a Google AdWords campaign, creating a sales pitch, responding to a social media blunder, creating a content marketing campaign, and brainstorming for a guerrilla marketing campaign. The networking event featured 16 companies of various sizes and industries, offering attendees opportunity to meet more professionals in the field.

Bright ideas for Seattle City Light

SCL_WinnersSeattle City Light has been trying to shine a light on the issue of how to derive 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. This deadline based on state legislation presents a clear goal, but not a clear solution. The utility is actively debating how to most effectively balance between hydro-power, wind and solar energies while being mindful of the interests of their various stakeholders. The Foster School of Business partnered with City Light to put teams of students to work on innovative solutions to this issue through the strategic management course.

This required capstone course for all graduating seniors features a customized case competition. Instructors and case writer Alex Murray, a Foster PhD student, worked closely with senior leaders at Seattle City Light to understand this strategic question. Using publicly available research, the case was created and then analyzed by nearly 250 students in 46 competing teams.

The teams were charged with providing recommendations as to what Seattle City Light’s strategic position(s) should be regarding solar energy, including whether the utility should actively promote and develop its use or invest in other renewable energy sources; and how to most effectively market and price various solar projects, including a viability analysis of an existing Community Solar program.

The case study focused on short-term and long-term strategies to satisfy key stakeholders, encourage supporters and overcome detractors. As a publicly owned utility, Seattle City Light operates as a non-profit organization that must balance environmental, financial and social considerations in its decisions. The complexities of the case required a great deal of research and a thoughtful approach.

“The most challenging aspect (of the case) was hashing out with my team what view we were going to take,” case competition participant Cara Haas said. “(Many) of our meetings were solely focused on researching and discussing alternatives before we decided on our approach.”

Her team’s solution: a marketing program, Solar|Sea, to build awareness and support amongst the community and important constituents. The YDC Consulting team members Ken Luginbuhl, Ryker Young, Erin Hoffinger, Julia Kuhn, and Cara Haas attribute their success to the synergies they found in their ideas and team dynamics.

Hoffinger found the most valuable takeaways from the case competition experience centered on knowing “how to speak and pitch ideas to members of the executive board… and being able to think on your feet about (responses) with concrete numbers and analysis in order to answer questions.” These skills she and her peers will surely be able to put to good use as they enter the workforce in just a few short months.

The case competition proved to be another win-win for Foster School of Business students and a local organization. “Seattle City Light was pleased to partner with the Foster School of Business to examine one of the most complex and important issues the utility faces in the medium to long-term,” general manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco said. “It’s also an issue that confronts the industry as a whole. We were excited by the fresh ideas and perspectives the students brought to the table.”

Sten Karlholm combines his passions for Swedish and sports

Guest post by Sten Karlholm, Foster senior and Certificate of International Studies in Business student

SwedenSportsInternBlogMy education seems to have taken the scenic tour, as my passion for traveling combined with my studies opened up opportunities and happily postponed my graduation. The journey all began while finishing my third year at UW, which I spent as an exchange student in Uppsala, Sweden as part of the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program (CISB). I had accomplished many of the requirements during this study abroad year, but there was one last challenge I was looking to complete during the summer: the International Business Practicum. It was mid-June and I had been applying and seeking out internships in Sweden for the past two months to no avail. As the long days of the Swedish summer began to come into full effect, there was a sense of anxiousness and uncertainty. I began preparing for the expectation of autumn quarter and flight back to Seattle. I had applied to one job on a whim, with the tag line “Passion for sports.” I had emphasized my passion for the game of basketball and my affinity with golf in my cover letter. After a telephone interview and my first ever sit down interview conducted in Swedish, I was offered a job as part of the opening team for a new Nike Factory Store in Stockholm.

I accepted this opportunity to further my proficiency of the Swedish language and master the fundamentals of Nike in the retail setting. I was dedicated to showing a high level of commitment on the job, tackling the unfamiliar terms of shoe specifics in Swedish while giving the best customer support. Recognition came my way as I took over further responsibilities like closing the store, accounting and submitting daily sales reports.

Nearly a year had gone by and it was time to continue my studies at the Michael G. Foster School of Business. This period away gave me the time to reflect on what I wanted to aim for within a future career, and influenced and ignited my passion for fashion and sports. With this goal in mind, it motivated me to keep looking for opportunities and ultimately led me to where I am today as the product management intern for Club and Balls within Nike Golf at the European Headquarters in Hilversum, The Netherlands.

Keeping up the pursuit of acquiring an international internship paid off as I have now spent seven months learning the ins and outs of Nike and the European marketplace. Every day I am conducting competitor analysis of the club and ball market for various regions and currencies in Europe. I’ve also been an integral part of updating pricing and catalogs for our recently released Covert 2.0 and upcoming RZN golf ball. I was even presented the chance to assist in the set up and lead the tear down at the Nordic Golf Trade show in Sweden due to my language proficiency. Not only was this a phenomenal experience as an intern, but as a result of my abilities I was selected to help out during our go-to-market sales meeting in Spain.

I had finally achieved the goal of receiving an international internship, but the experience is so much more than ticking a box for completion. The lessons learned and experience gained will be invaluable as I continue to pursue a career within international business. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that I’ve received and the support from my peers and colleagues along the way.

San Francisco Trek

San Francisco Trek 2013

Foster Undergraduate Career Services team understands the importance of giving our students opportunities to engage with employers outside of the Seattle area. With that said, we are happy to report that Foster Undergraduate Career Services had the opportunity to take a group of Foster students to San Francisco to visit five companies. This group of Foster students consisted of finance/accounting majors who are interested in working in the bay area after they graduate. Each visit entailed an overview of the company, in-addition to students getting the opportunity to network with company representatives. During this two-day trek we also had a San Francisco alumni networking night, where we had roughly 40 Foster alumni from the San Francisco area meet up to network with each other as well as our current students.

When we asked some of the students who attended this trek what they liked best about it, here is what they had to say:

“I loved the networking night at Thirsty Bear. It was beyond helpful to socialize and talk with all the alumni. They were beyond helpful and interested in answering all of our questions.”

“I met several great companies that are on my target company list. These companies let their partners, managers and seniors share their work experience. That is very helpful to me. I knew more about these companies and got in touch with people there.”

“Going to the companies and learning about what is out there was definitely the most valuable part of the trip for me. In addition to and along with that, getting the chance to connect and meet with professionals in the field, particularly the UW grads, was great.”

The companies that we had the opportunity to visit on that two-day trek were:

How do you know it’s time to go for an MBA?


The accomplished technology professionals who become TMMBA students return to the classroom for different reasons. Anne-Marie Scollay had just been promoted. She wanted to become a better leader and do a better job of making the business case for her proposals to top management. Earning an MBA was a logical next step. Jeremy Hutton wanted to accelerate the process of acquiring business expertise that would otherwise require years of experience. David Lam was inspired to pursue an MBA by a colleague years ago and was just waiting for an opportunity to enroll in the right program. After a recent move to Seattle, he found a great match for his technology background in Foster’s TMMBA Program.

10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference

Intl Bus Comm College FacGuest Post by Ian Priestman, International Business Professor at Linn-Benton Community College, Oregon, who attended the 10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference with a travel grant from the Global Business Center. 

Being an Englishman in America, I get a great kick out of going to conferences in the US, especially to places I wouldn’t get the chance to go to if I’d have stayed in England. There’s something exciting about saying, “I’m going to Washington” or, “the conference is Colorado” or even Michigan. It is these places that us Brits see in the movies or hear about in songs all the time but only ever dream about going to. Instead, the Brits attend conferences in rain soaked Manchester, in dark stone buildings in Leeds or in the concrete jungle of Birmingham. These courses in the UK take place against the backdrop of the perpetual dark cloud that hangs over the country, threatening to rain at any moment. On the other hand, no doubt these English towns are of the same interest to the US anglophile or history chaser as American places are to me.

This speaks to my first point I gleaned from the 10th Biennial International Business for Community Colleges Conference. There is a myriad of motivations and interests that we and more importantly our students have for studying international disciplines. Writing this post inspired me to think about the factors that had led me to the conference. I concluded with this: to make an international class or program, modern, and dynamic, we have to tap into our student’s motivations and interests in all things international and allow our students to develop these interests.

I now realize my reason for living and working in the US and becoming a citizen (and with my accent, me being an American really confuses my students!): It was my love of vacations as a child. Vacations gave me wanderlust, and as a direct result, there I was at the conference in Michigan as an International Business professor. With my love of vacations in mind, I realized that although a student might have no international experience other than a magical spring break vacation in Cancun, there’s plenty of scope to apply international business concepts to the tourist industry in Cancun or even another resort. Another example:  If a student enjoys British TV miniseries such as Downton Abbey or Brit comedies or even our musical output, the British movie or music industry would provide a great structure for the student in which to house international business concepts.

So now I want to spread my wanderlust (or wanderdust as I prefer to call it) to my students. How did the international business conference help me? The presentations on the regions of the world were fascinating as possible research projects and destinations for my students. Then, after hearing about the possibilities, the next piece of the puzzle was already waiting for me.  Waiting in the wings were sessions on raising the profile of international business in community colleges, internationalizing existing curriculums, and the possibilities for study abroad programs.

The conference gave me the tools with which to work in spreading the wanderdust. Great resources were suggested, notably by Tomas Hult and also the ‘Global Edge’. These resources will help me make my case at my community college for emphasizing the importance of international business courses. Finally, it was suggested that I research the availability of funds to attend further conferences thereby sustaining my enthusiasm for international business. Such funds are out there, you know- just like international business experiences and opportunities for our students.