October, 2010

Take that, Week One.

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I just survived the first, full week of school. Survived is the key operating term here, since it did resemble a marathon. Or, perhaps a hurricane. Our deans and advisors told us quite explicitly during orientation that we should expect to be assigned far more than we could possibly finish. It seems now they weren’t kidding. Looking back over the past five days, and then further, over the past month, I’m startled to see how much we’ve already done- and we’ve just begun! We have hit the ground running and clearly there’s no looking back.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the Facebook status updates of my classmates. Either they consist of pleas for sympathy because of sleep deprivation or pleas for study camaraderie down at the local coffee shop for ‘study Sunday.’ So, we’re busy. Yes, we’re tired. We’re working hard for long hours and we have come to accept by now the fact that we’re poor students again. This is tough. Going back to work is starting to look a lot more like a vacation.

If it weren’t for an incredible sense of accomplishment and purpose, lesser mortals might be convinced to throw in the towel. Finance Boot Camp at 7 AM? I can do that. Maybe a breakout study session to value a plot of timberland over future decades for Prof. Gilbert’s class? Done. And then strategy with Prof. Hill, who will cold call and cold call until he reaches the limits of your knowledge and preparation, and then cold call once more. I can do that. And then, why don’t we wrap up the ten-hour day with a networking session with local recruiters over dinner? Normally, I would celebrate such a busy day, but I need to crash so I can be up tomorrow morning at 5 to start it all over again.

My classmates are one stellar, diverse group. From derivatives traders to IT consultants to traffic engineers to European vacation designers, this is a motley crew. In a mere day or two, I have met some of the most fascinating and talented people I’ve ever come across. One classmate (thank Jason!) organized our entire quarters’ worth of assignments in a spreadsheet…and then sent it out to everyone. Unbelievable. And the former private equity and investment bankers help me with finance (and I need a lot) and there are a handful of CPAs to teach me the nuances and merits of the indirect method of cash flow statements.

This first week was brutal. But thanks to my colleagues, now fast friends through struggle, I made it. And with them, I know I’ll get to the end of the quarter and beyond. I’ll find a summer internship, sure, and later land a great job, but I’m not so concerned about that right now. All I want is to get to know these amazing people better, learn as much as is humanly possible (which looks like a realistic goal), and push myself to the very limits of what I can do. Foster students have modest goals, you see.

Guest Blogger, Ryan Anthony, Full Time MBA — 2012

8 Tips from an Evening MBA

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As a 3rd year Evening MBA Student here is some advice that I’ve found particularly helpful over the last two years that I recently shared with the Evening MBA Class of 2013. Please take it for what it’s worth…chances are my advice won’t work for everyone, but it may be helpful to think about.

1. Try not to be intimidated by the workload.  I usually go into a class thinking that at the end of quarter, I want to better understand 5 core theories/topics.  Everything else is “filler.”  If you start to fret about your grade and acing everything, you may drive yourself crazy (i.e. trying to drink from a fire hose).

2. Don’t worry (too much) about your test grades.  No one cares about grades anymore…it’s about whether or not you understand the basic principles.  If you don’t, get in touch with the professors to make sure you do.  I have gotten 50% on some exams and felt like I was lost.  After follow-up meetings with the professor I was able to walk away feeling more confident of my knowledge.  The grade didn’t change, but my experience did. And even after a couple sub-60% grades, I ended up with a 3.2 GPA.

3. If you have (or are in the process of having) kids/spouse, you may find that things get “tense” now and then.  One thing I found helpful: I get my wife a card every 2 – 3 weeks during the quarter and thank her for all of her patience and work while we’re going through the MBA program. Basically, a $2.99 investment helps show that you really appreciate what they’re going through for you.  A random night out for dinner could get you even further.

4. If you can’t get dinner before heading to class (and don’t want to eat what they have on campus), I highly recommend getting a Jimmy Johns sub. They’re about $11 (for a sandwich, coke + cookie), and they deliver really fast (to campus).  Their phone # for ordering is 206-548-9500.

5. I try to remind myself that the University of Washington is a business / brand, and that business is never perfect.  You may run into professors who use an approach that you don’t find helpful, or perhaps a professor that’s presenting information that’s more academic than it is “real-world” worthy. Remember that it’s up to us to help shape the future of the program and ultimately make the University of Washington’s MBA brand stronger.  Be critical of your experience in the program, but be positive, be fair, and
be helpful.

6. Look for ways to build on two critical skill-sets: leadership + presentations.  It seems to me (and it may to you, as well) that the corporate world could really benefit from better leaders (utilizing transitional methods) and people who deliver focused, succinct presentations with meaning.

7. Bond with your team as much as you can.  Get personal with them so you can appreciate each other for who you are (strengths, weaknesses, etc.). Also, make sure you take the time to check in with each other during your work to make sure everyone understands what’s going on.  It’s easy to want to finish up projects as fast as possible, but I would argue it’s ultimately not the best approach if someone in your team is left in the dark.

8. Don’t feel like you have to join clubs, etc.  Yeah – I have no doubt that they’re awesome, and they’re a great to expand your horizons.  But at the end of the day, you only have “so much time” to give.  If joining a club means you can’t spend some time relaxing or hanging out with your family, I’d think hard about whether it’s worth the commitment.

Just my two cents. Good luck to everyone!

- Guest Blogger, David W. Griffiths, Evening MBA Class 2011