Community and Connections: Q&A with Bernice Yang, MBA 2017

Bernice Yang

Why Foster?

  • Location — I am very interested in the technology industry and I believe technology is the engine to drive economic growth. There are many tech companies located at Seattle, which can give me great exposure to tech industry.
  • Strong alumni network — I was a career changer and was not very familiar with technology industry at the very beginning. I wanted to gain insights from the insiders to understand the business models and strategies of the tech companies.
  • Cohort structure — the class size of full-time MBA at Foster is relatively small compared with some other business schools. It allows students to connect deeply and do not need to compete hard for resources.

Student Experience

What has been the highlight of your Foster MBA experience so far?

I have received tremendous help and support from the faculty, my peers, and alumni. I conducted more than 30 informational interviews with alumni and my classmates. I had more than 50 mock interviews with the coaches at the MBA Career Management office and peer advisors. They helped me a lot to improve myself and be well-prepared for the job search. I am very grateful and realize how important it is to contribute to the Foster community. I would like to give back to the Foster community by helping current/perspective students.

Curriculum

Describe your internship experience.

I interned at Microsoft as a data analyst. My project is to uncover customer insights to help businesses make marketing decisions. The project is very interesting but also challenging. It is an exploratory analysis with a big scope and involves a high degree of ambiguity. As a data analyst, I need to explore the data and layout my focus, find the most valuable information to dip deeper, and transfer data analysis to actionable insights to generate business impact. I was more comfortable with confirmatory analysis with a clear business problem to solve. So I had a tough time trying to explore on my own without a clear direction to go. But I learned a lot from my internship. Not only my analytical skills got enhanced significantly, but also I understood how to take initiative without step by step guidance.

Describe your experience with the team aspect of the MBA program

My peers in the program have diverse background and skillsets. Learning from peers is an important aspect of the school culture here. The MBA program office assigned team members for the core courses and students form teams themselves for most elective courses. So I was in several teams for different courses each quarter and my team members changed every quarter. It provided me with great opportunities to cooperate with different peers, learn from them, and experience different team dynamics. Everyone in the program balances various demands and responsibilities. Fully respecting each other and understanding the interests and concerns of each other is very important to establish a solid foundation for teamwork. Having a team contract at the beginning is very helpful to increase the effectiveness and achieve team goals.

Faculty

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

Frank Hodge — the professor who taught us the core accounting course in my first year — stands out in my mind as being really exceptional. He is logical, patient, and passionate. He not only taught students domain knowledge but also empowered students to achieve their career or even life goals by enhancing their hard and soft skills. He always talked about latest news and how we can use the knowledge learnt to analyze real world cases. I feel like I become a well-trained accounting professional after taking his classes.

Career impact

What are you planning to pursue post MBA?

I will work for the corporate finance function at Microsoft post-graduation. I am a career changer and worked at the financial service industry prior my MBA. Foster helped me changed my career and achieved my short-term career goal. I took many finance courses here and equipped myself with finance knowledge and strong analytical skills. I studied lots of cases about technology companies to help me understand their business strategy better. I worked for Amazon Home Service as a MBA consultant for the applied strategy project and learned how to apply the knowledge I learned in class to solve real business problems. There are lots of networking events at Foster, which gives me great opportunities to conduct informational interviews and learn from industry experts. All the knowledge I learned in class, the experience I gained from projects, the insights I received from networking, helped me get my dream offer.

Work / Life balance

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

Understand yourself deeply, what you want, what you are passionate about, and what is important to you both in the long run and at this moment. There is always trade-off and try to prioritize the most important things.

Social Life

What is the most fun aspect of the program?

  • TG parties on Friday once every month — it is a great opportunity to deeply connect with your peers. Every TG has a theme such as Indian Bollywood TG, Hawaii Luau party, battle of the bands. So it is also a great opportunity to experience different cultures.
  • Challenge for Charity sports weekend at Stanford campus every spring — it is a great opportunity to know MBA students from other business schools on the west coast. With the most funds raised and volunteer hour per student, and a good performance at the sports weekends, Foster won the game and brought the golden briefcase home this year. We are so excited and it also shows how committed Foster is to help our community.

Seattle

What do you enjoy about living in Seattle?

Seattle is a beautiful and lovely city. My favorite part is that you can easily find a park within 10-15 minutes’ drive wherever you live in Seattle.

Final advice

Do what you love and love what you do.