Changing career paths: Q&A with Ricardo Limon Villarreal, MBA 2018

Ricardo LimonWhy Foster?

Everyone at Foster thrives on the success of the students – admissions, career management, faculty…. They will go above and beyond to make your MBA experience the best possible and to help you prepare for whatever career you want to pursue.

The class size was super important to me – a smaller cohort would help me build meaningful relationships with my peers and have a stronger connection with my career advisor. Foster’s class size was ideal for what I wanted.

Location – there are lots of opportunities in Seattle and Foster has built very strong relationships with many of the companies in the area. At the end of the day, most of us go to Business School for the network and to get a job. Seattle seemed (and still seems) ideal.

Student experience

What has been the highlight of your MBA experience so far? What had the most impact?

My applied strategy project with Dolby and my internship at Microsoft have been the highlight of my MBA experience so far. As for impact, my Microsoft project is part of a larger effort that is sponsored by the CFO of the company and that will be used to shape how they do reporting across the company. I came into the internship with no Finance background and during the summer I’ve been involved on a project with huge impact sponsored by the CFO – that’s pretty amazing!

Curriculum

What class has been the most useful or interesting?

Core Finance class during Fall of 1st year has been the most useful and interesting class. I had no background on finance and, honestly, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after Business School. It was a very dynamic, engaging and insightful class – it helped me realize I wanted to get into finance and focus on what I needed to land an internship in Finance.

Describe the classroom environment

The classroom environment is smart, dynamic, diverse and fun. No question is wrong or stupid. Professors push for ongoing discussions and this enhances the experience in the classroom.

What has surprised you about the MBA experience?

I wish I knew how important case interview prep is for recruiting season – at first I thought that was only helpful if pursuing a career in consulting but then realized that every company has their own way of doing case interviews.

Is there a particular faculty member who stands out in your mind?

Thomas Gilbert – he teaches with inspiring passion. He knows what companies want to see in candidates and he prepares you for it. He is conscious about the diversity of backgrounds in the classroom and creates the content appropriately so it is “simple” to understand. He is just a natural for teaching and enjoys the interaction with students.

Careers

What are you planning to pursue post MBA?

I want to get into finance in the tech industry. Foster has a great career management department with experienced advisors from every major industry. During fall quarter, I spent a lot of time with them prepping for interviews and drafting custom cover letters for each of the companies I was applying to. Also, the first 2 quarters’ classes helped me get the basic understanding of Finance required to succeed in the first round of interviews

How has the MBA program equipped you for a career change?

I’m changing industry and job function – The core classes at Foster gave me a founding understanding on every major career path. Also, MBA Career Management helped me build my life and work experiences into a compelling story of why I wanted to change careers (key for cover letters and interviews). Lastly, leveraging the second-year MBA’s experiences helps build your case even stronger. You are never alone, there are A LOT of career switchers.

Work/Life balance

What strategies do you use to balance the demands of the MBA as well as your life outside of the program?

Having my priorities clear and sharing with my team. I think of Business School as a full-time job – 8am to 6pm strict schedule. Ideally, I would get everything done within that schedule but the reality is sometimes it’s just not enough time. The first two quarters are heavy on the academic side but also on the career side – I needed to make sure I dedicated time to my career, So prioritizing and setting time aside for working on my career helped me managed my time better.

What are your favorite things to do outside the MBA?

I really enjoy going to concerts and Seattle has a ton of different venues, so there are concerts happening all the time. I also love going to sports events at Centurylink and Safeco field. I am a big fan of beer so visiting different breweries is also part of my top things to-do list. Lastly, hiking in the area is just amazing!

Seattle

Seattle has the perfect mix of large and small city characteristics. It’s a very hilly city, winters can be tough but summers make it worth it. It’s liberal and welcoming.

I enjoy that there is always something going on in Seattle, from concerts at Chateau St. Michelle to a mariners’ game to an airshow of the blue angels. Doing a little research online is all it takes to discover amazing things that the city and its surroundings have to offer! Also, having Olympic National Park so close for a weekend escape makes it almost impossible not to like the outdoors.