September, 2009

Evening MBA Orientation

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Foster orientation: the first two days of the rest of your life.  Along with any new experience a flurry of emotions, expectations, hopes and excitement fill the space leading up to the event.  Also the inevitable questions of doubt: Did I make the right choice?  Is this going to help me with my career? And, especially after listening to the second-year panel, what did I just get myself into? But perhaps the most pronounced thought is: “Ok, I’m here, dedicated and enthusiastic about my future but what do I want to do with the rest of my life?!!”

Current Evening Students Panel

Current Evening Students Panel

For the evening students orientation is two days of introductions to peers and resources, the launch of the new year-long Management 510 course which promotes leadership and strategic thinking and of course the single moment I had been waiting for: finding out who will be in my study group.

Rather than a career crash course, Foster kicks off orientation by asking you to look at your individual strengths, attitudes, behaviors and personal attributes through various surveys and questionnaires.  At this climactic point of our lives and while we try to forge a career path aligned with who we are and what we want out of this life, I was inspired, eager and even thankful that Foster recognizes the next three years as a comprehensive journey to conceive our best self.  It is within this journey that Foster will help us to not only learn T table, but to also clarify all those doubts we may have had as we walked in the door.  Orientation sets this tone and when we leave here we will all have a deeper understanding of who we are and what we are suppose to do with our lives.  Thank you Foster, Hello World!

Guest Blogger: Raquel Johnson, Evening Student, Class of 2012

What Happens Early Matters

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

LEAD WeekTen Jump Start sessions, a Pub Club, a fiesta, and one weekend later, I jumped head-first into LEAD (Leadership, Exploration, Association, Direction). It’s more than just orientation. It’s an immersion. From 8 am to 6, 7, or 8 pm each day.  All week, my classmates and I have been sharing “trigger moments” with each other (how we got here, why we chose to pursue an MBA at Foster), discussing our expectations of the program, and getting to know each other real well, real fast.  Already, I’ve managed to test a few boundaries with my sense of humor. For one, I recommended Eneman, a plush enema doll used to promote colorectal screenings at trade shows (and the best tchotchke ever!) as an informal team mascot. Blank stares, then, some smiles.  I figured I’d take a few risks before Finance starts, right?

This LEAD also marks the launch of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, which runs a class, Management 510, concurrent with our core courses throughout the year.  We’ve been learning about team-based leadership, the qualities of strategic thinking, and how both will apply to nearly every field that we will study.  Through all this, it’s been amazing to me how our class is so diverse, yet so similar in many ways. We come from different countries, states, cultures, and educational and professional backgrounds, but we’re all here for the same reasons. For intellectual challenge and career growth. For networking and friendship. For holistic success.

With nametags, place cards, coffee mugs and backpacks in tow, this week has been a flurry of excitement and a touch of anxiety.  Foster has done an excellent job of providing us with schedules, syllabi, panels and presentations on the “nuts and bolts” of the program. But, for a lot of us, we only have a “sense” of what’s coming.  We know we’ll be BUSY during our first quarter, but how that will play out individually and in our teams is still a big unknown.  In business and in life, we’ll often face times of ambiguity, and the next two years stands to transform us all.  The best part? We’re in this together.  Ready, set . . . go!

Guest Blogger: Adrienne Matthews, Foster MBA Class of 2011

Adrienne during LEAD

Adrienne during LEAD

“Jeff, does that make sense?”

Monday, September 21st, 2009

For those not familiar with Jump Start, it’s basically a crash course in Accounting, Quant, and Finance designed to bring all incoming MBA students up to speed on concepts we’ll be expected to understand come the start of classes. It’s been a great way to get back into the swing of the school mentality without the pressure of handing in assignments and taking tests (that count, because we did do multiple quizzes and even finished off our accounting course with a ‘final’).

In addition to the academic side of things, Jump Start has also been a great way for me to meet some of my classmates and become close with those proficient in Excel. My own lack of expertise was made public very early on by our Quant professor, Thomas Gilbert, when we were asked, by raise of hands, who had limited experience with Excel. Sitting in the back row, I had no problem saving face and I raised my hand high over my head. I didn’t realize I had just sealed my fate as the barometer for the rest of the week for how well the class was understanding the Excel functions. “Jeff, does that make sense?” “Jeff, are we good?”. Those questions definitely kept me on my toes during my first week of the MBA experience, and also served as the means of meeting a lot of my classmates.

Beyond the classes, it was really good to see the MBA culture take shape during this first week. There seems to be a lot of talk about the collaborative environment and a culture of teamwork fostered in most MBA programs. I got to see this teamwork first-hand as classmates seated around me offered a helping hand throughout the Quant and Finance sections. Some even fell behind as the professor pressed forward, just to make sure I was understanding all of the content. It was nice to see it wasn’t solely lip service, but that our collaborative culture within the Foster family has begun forming just in this first week.

Wrapping up the adventures of the Jump Start experience, it’s worth noting the incredible experience that served as the grand finale. Our beloved Huskies beat the #3 ranked USC Trojans and I rushed the field with my Foster colleagues! So much for my feelings of disappointment for choosing a school with a sub-par football program. Go Dawgs!!

Guest Blogger: E. Jeff Hullinger, Foster MBA Class of 2011

Leadership Fellows

Sunday, September 20th, 2009
The Meg(h)an(n)s: Leadership Fellows

The Meg(h)an(n)s: Leadership Fellows

Teams are a central part of the Foster MBA Program. During the first year nearly every class requires you to complete work with your core team of 5 or 6 students, whether it’s a research paper, a presentation or both. Foster’s Leadership Fellows program matches a 2nd year student with a 1st year team to provide support and guidance. As 2nd year students, by now we’ve all learned a thing or two, from tools for facilitating a brainstorming session to the secret for cheap parking on campus. Yesterday twenty Leadership Fellows spent our Saturday preparing to fill this role, revisiting communication frameworks we learned last year from The Glasers, as well as brainstorming how to best support the 1st year students during their upcoming LEAD Week, beginning tomorrow.

It’s shocking to realize that an entire year has already gone by since we were just plunging in to our first year at Foster. Although our heads are spinning a little from the lightning speed of the past year, we’re all very ready and willing to pass on the knowledge we’ve gained in that time. It’s a perfect example of what makes the atmosphere at Foster so unique in the MBA world.