February, 2012

Working as a TA

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A handful of MBAs typically become Teaching Assistants – most do it primarily for the compensation, but in my case it was a mechanism to gain valuable experience in my post-grad area of study, accounting. Because of the time commitment, TA’ing is generally a 2nd-year MBA activity, but three of my classmates actually did TA as first years (with very little sleep, no doubt!). There are a variety of departments that hire MBAs as TAs – international business, statistics, accounting, marketing, etc. I have colleagues who TA’d for an MBA course they had previously taken, for a Technology MBA course where they had previously earned a top grade in the comparable MBA course, and for a variety of undergraduate courses. To gain a TA position, depending on the class, you must either contact the professor or the department you are interested in TA’ing for. Then, they usually collect resumes and hold interviews to make final selections.

After signing on to intern for an accounting firm, a friend who had TA’d in the undergraduate accounting department his entire first year, asked if I’d be interested in TA’ing as a 2nd year. There were several other activities and leadership positions within the MBA program that I was planning to apply for, and so TA’ing meant that I would have to forego those opportunities. Time is always a huge issue as an MBA student – you have to choose your obligations wisely! So, after much thought, I decided to do it – one – because I love teaching and may have an interest in lecturing in the future, two – post-grad I would work in accounting, so it would be a great way to brush up and acquire new knowledge, and three – TAs are compensated with a full tuition waiver, medical benefits, and a monthly stipend (which covers most of my rent and necessities like food). The worry of accumulating more debt would be over!

Therefore, I approached my ‘job’ with full energy and commitment. I balanced out my schedule so that each quarter I could take 3 full classes + TA, while still meeting all of the Foster graduation requirements. I think of TA’ing as about a class and a half’s worth of work. TA’ing for Financial undergraduate accounting requires: attending lecture (3 hrs a week), teaching section to two classes of 80 students (4 hrs a week), holding office hours (2 hrs a week), and the remaining hours prepping, grading, and answering all those student emails. In total, it’s about a 20 hr/wk commitment. TA’ing for other classes/departments require different amounts of commitment – in many classes you don’t actually have to teach students, so the teaching section component would be eliminated. Again, it all depends on the department, the class, and the professor.

All in all, I love the experience, and wouldn’t trade it for any other activity that could have been. It does take time & work, but TA’ing was the right decision for me experience-wise and money-wise. Having to get in front of 80 students weekly means you have to develop command of the subject matter, establish a presence where you are respected but also approachable, and learn techniques for proper classroom management to engage the students. I find each of these challenges rewarding, particularly in the instances when students tell me how helpful I was in enabling them to understand the material. I am lucky enough for my post-grad career to perfectly align with an accounting TA position that gives me a glimpse of what it would be like to potentially teach full time as a lecturer, while at the same time paying my bills. Depending on one’s objectives and obligations, becoming a TA isn’t for everyone, but it is a position worth considering.

~By Guest Blogger Catherine Chin, Full-Time Class of 2012

Freezin’ for a Reason

Monday, February 13th, 2012

This past Saturday, 22 Foster MBA Student jumped into Lake Union in order to raise money for Special Olympics of Washington. Together, we raised almost $7,500 for this worthy organization. This is a far cry from last year when only a handful of people participated and the money raised was seven times less. Aside from the 22 who actually braved the water, we had several in the “Chicken Coop” and numerous more volunteering in various ways throughout the event.

The Plunging Team

Every year, Special Olympics fundraises money through Polar Plunges. The purpose of these events is for individuals in the community to band together into teams, raise money, and then jump into a cold body of water. For the Foster MBA Team, that cold body of water was Lake Union. And yes, it was cold. Not nearly as cold as someplace like the Maine coast, but still cold enough to shock the breath out of you and make you want to turn around and immediately run out of the water!

The event kicked off at noon with thank yous for the top fundraisers (one individual raised over $7,000!). The Foster Team finished in 3rd place for team fundraising, with Seattle University narrowly taking second place. During these announcements, all people were in the clothing they were planning on jumping in. For one this was a full suit and tie, for one it was merely a speedo, for others it was running tights/shorts and t-shirts. With the wind whipping across Lake Union, one thing was universal: no matter what you wore during the preamble, you were cold!

When the time came, the 22 of us raced down the beach and jumped into the water. Despite the cold and despite the blocks of ice our feet became, we were all smiles! After all, we were “freezin’ for a reason!” I can’t wait to see how many Foster-ites participate next year! Perhaps we’ll even get a Super Plunger or two (Super Plungers jump into the water every half hour for 10 hours).

MBA Vegas Poker Tournament

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

This past MLK weekend, something curious happened in Las Vegas, NV. A sea of purple came pouring in for the annual MBA Poker Tournament and recruiting weekend. Maybe not quite a sea, but we had a great turnout. Andy Passic led an army of full time Fosters, and the Evening program was represented by the 2012, 13, and 14’s, as well as alumni! This was my second year attending and while I was impressed with our turnout last year, my expectations were definitely surpassed.

Its great having such a large group of friends from school attend an event because generally you can always find someone to do something with. We used a group chat app to communicate and figure out where people were and what they wanted to do. There were people playing poker, naturally, hanging out at the sports book and watching football games, shopping, over-indulging at the buffets, clubbing, dining, gambling, and the list goes on. I won’t get into too much detail…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

As far as the poker tournaments, Foster represented quite well. We had a great turn-out with at least 20 people playing and oftentimes, multiple Fosters at the same table. It was nice to sit down at a table among 230 MBAs from across the country and stare at 3 other friendly Foster faces. I may not have quite felt the same as I was brutally eliminated from the tournament by one of our own and my dear friend David Liu, but I got over it. We had a few Fosterites make the payout in the Friday tournament and Ryan Fisher as the last Foster standing came painfully close at Saturday’s Championship.

All in all it was a weekend of camaraderie and fun and I am looking forward to it again next year! I’d post pictures, but as you know, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

~Guest Blogger, Olga Shapiro, Evening Class of 2013