Admissions

On Foster Welcome Weekend: An Incoming Student’s Observations

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I’m buying a grande coffee to get going, I’m driving to Seattle, I’m zoning out to Arcade Fire and chewing up highway, I’m getting off at 45th and taking a left, I’m parking in the garage and walking to Paccar Hall, here we are. This all feels so weird, I’m 30 years old, it’s 4pm on a Friday, I should be at work, what am I doing back on a college campus?? Suddenly everything starts to settle in and make sense: oh, right, it’s April Welcome Weekend at Foster, and in 5 months I’ll be well on my way to endless study sessions where I’ll attempt to learn the basics of impossibly qualitative subjects like Marketing and burying myself in an unholy amount of student debt. Wait…are we sure about this? Oh well, too late now, they already made me a nametag.

Checked into Hotel Deca, changed into a halfway decent getup and now headed over to the meet and greet social. Whoa, this is a lot of new faces; no way I’ll ever remember all these names. “Hi I’m Kris…oh, no I’m from Bellingham…no, but it’s not too far, about an hour and a half drive north on I-5…yeah, it was an easy drive, how about you?  Wait, you came all the way from Beijing/Mumbai/Hyderabad just for this weekend?” This conversation happens a lot, but people are starting to do the stuff that people do when they’re getting hungry, so we move to the dining room for dinner.

Wow, prime rib and an open bar? Is it cool if I just have some saltines and a glass of bubble water and we hack $25 off my tuition this fall? No, I’m kidding. But…seriously, can we do that?

“Tell me about why you chose Foster…” this question happens a lot, and I start to get really good at answering it. In return I ask current students about mentorship opportunities, coursework, life at Foster, all the good stuff. Great answers from current students and alumni, really getting a good vibe from these people, everyone seems very cool, like the type of people I could spend 9 hours locked in a breakout room with. Wait…what?

The group migrates back to the bar at Hotel Deca for a social hour. Wow, there really are a lot of very cool, interesting people here; people who love to travel, people who climb mountains, people who love sports. Relief sweeps over me, or possibly the alcohol. I’ve got my money on both. Everything winds down, some people are going home, some back to the hotel, a few over to Kate’s Pub in Wallingford for a little more social mingling. Certain sacrifices must be made, I join the herd on its way to Kate’s. Darts are thrown, PBR’s are made to disappear (we’re college students, after all), and everyone is laughing. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Head back to the hotel, stop at Dick’s for a deluxe and fries, go to bed you idiot, you have to be up at 8am

Wow, full day today, introductions with Assistant Dean Poston and a seminar about what Foster really represents, burn my tongue chugging some coffee, fascinating mock class about the Eurozone and Greek debt crisis, jam some blueberry muffins in my face, go on a tour of campus in sideways rain, this girl from Capitol Hill forgot her umbrella, share mine with her and get completely soaked, time for the Indian TG, cool let’s do it! Why wouldn’t I eat spicy Indian food on a crowded dance floor surrounded by strangers who I’ll spend the next 2 years with? I can’t think of any reasons, so I double down on the Masala. Nothing can possibly go wrong now!

Okay, at first I was making an effort to be friendly, but these people are seriously really cool. Roger Levesque pours me a beer, alright that’s fairly awesome, go Sounders. TG winds down after some rather intimidating choreographed Indian dance moves – you guys know “The Sprinkler”?? The group heads back to Kate’s for a few more drinks. Probably could have pumped the brakes on that Indian curry. And then it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m the idiot who has to be up at 8am again. Perfect. Go to sleep.

It’s Saturday morning, which means we’re riding those ducks into Lake Union! Climb aboard the great aluminum beast and we plow through the city. Our driver, the venerable Captain Davey Quackett, points out the noteworthy sights with vigor and we blast through the open water like Bishop Sankey through (Insert your team’s defensive line). Okay, tours over, get off the duck, go to Gordon Biersch for lunch and a brewery tour. Alright people, this has been great, really enjoyed meeting everyone, but I seriously have to get some sleep.

Can’t wait for September – go Dawgs!

Preview Weekend

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27 marked the first Preview Weekend of the year.  Foster Preview Weekends provide prospective applicants with a glimpse into the Foster MBA program.  The organized events provided a range of experience and sources of information for prospective students, including a mock class taught by one of Foster’s world-class faculty members, student and alumni panels, a Halloween-themed TG (Thank Goodness it’s Friday) party, a program overview presented by Assistant Dean Dan Poston, a tour of the Paccar Hall facilities, and a discussion of Foster’s career services.  The weekend was also peppered with multiple opportunities for visitors to mix and mingle with each other as well as as current first and second year full-time MBA students.

The next Preview Weekend is scheduled for January 11-12, 2013.

     

     

 

Meet Erin Ernst, Foster MBA Admissions Director

Friday, August 17th, 2012

The Foster community is composed of more than just students (though students are, of course, important!) – program staff, faculty and alumni all play a role in creating Foster’s warm, welcoming, unique and collaborative environment.  This post is first in a series highlighting some of these diverse perspectives to help illustrate the personalities and passions of our community members and the many ways different community members interact with the program. Inside the Foster MBA interviewed Erin Ernst, Foster MBA Admissions Director, to learn about how she contributes to the Foster community.  Her responses are given below.

In your opinion, what makes the Foster MBA program special?

Hands down, the people. When I started working here over 10 years ago, I’ll admit it – I had some preconceived notions about MBAs. I suppose I thought that they were all the same. Boy, was I wrong. Foster MBAs truly support one another. They genuinely want to get to know one another. They aspire to use the skills gained in the MBA to rise to the top as much as they plan to use these same skills to give back and make a difference. They astound me year after year with their incredibly diverse and impressive talents, experiences and goals. They are ambitious, humble, funny, brilliant and passionate. I feel so fortunate to know them all!

What qualities or attributes does the Foster Admissions team look for in candidates?

There are certain qualities that almost any competitive MBA program would look for – strong academic abilities, quality work experience, polished communication skills and leadership potential. Basically, admissions committees want to know whether a candidate can handle the coursework, work effectively on a team, and be successful in their career after the MBA. Foster is no exception. But beyond these basic attributes, at Foster we look for students who are passionate about their goals. People who will roll up their sleeves, dive in and soak this experience up.  We are known for our small program size, and this means that each student has the potential to contribute a great deal to the program. It is very difficult to hide here; this is not the place for someone who just wants to go through the motions and get the degree. We offer a ton of opportunities to network, to develop your leadership skills, to try new things and to put knowledge learned in the classroom to practice out in the real world; we are looking for people who want the MBA to be a truly transformational experience.

Moving on from work, what are some of your hobbies?

 I am a born and raised Seattleite, and I suppose my hobbies reflect that. I enjoy the outdoors as much as I enjoy trying out a new restaurant. I love hiking. A lot. But I love the pizza and beer after the hike just as much. I am almost always listening to music – at home, in the car, at work, on my way to work – and I particularly enjoy discovering new, obscure bands. I have played the piano since I was seven years old and find it to be a great stress reducer. If I could camp every single weekend in the summer and ski every single weekend in the winter, I would. I swim laps a few times a week and I aspire to still be doing this when I’m 85 years old. I am still friends with people that I went to kindergarten with, but I absolutely love meeting new people – I definitely found the right career for that!

Where is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

My career in MBA admissions has allowed me to travel the world more than I ever thought possible. And the more I travel, the more I want to see. I have a hard time calling one location more interesting than another. But one trip that really stands out is a vacation to Guatemala that I took a few years ago. I had never heard Howler Monkeys until I walked into Tikal National Park. Let’s just say that I thought the animal producing this terrifying sound was a lot bigger than a monkey. We also visited Lake Atitlan, and getting there involved a three hour, very bumpy ride in a van, and a very fast, rain soaked ride in a boat to get to our hotel – there are no roads connecting the villages around the lake. That night we ate dinner around a big table with all of the other hotel guests, and watched lightning strike the San Pedro Volcano from our porch. Unforgettable!

If you could go anywhere in the world, on an all-expenses paid vacation, where would you go?

New Zealand. I have a feeling that it is right up my alley!

Time for a Change

Friday, August 10th, 2012

What are your life-time career goals? Jesus, I don’t know…to retire early? I overheard my sister ask my niece what she wanted to be when she grew up and I leaned in closer to hear the answer. Maybe this six year old knows something I don’t. In case you’re wondering the answer was cashier at the grocery store or the trash guy. She didn’t want to touch the trash; she just wanted to drive the truck and operate the arm that picked up the cans. These answers did not inspire anything in me. Although the discount at the grocery store was appealing, I had little interest in wearing an apron. Also, I’m too short to drive a trash truck.

For the last ten years I have developed my expertise in a small and specialized industry, which was dying a slow and painful death. I could see the writing on the wall and needed to reinvent myself, but transitions are difficult. As my old boss was fond of saying, “change just brings problems”. This brilliant, albeit fictional, political campaign slogan was quoted ironically, but that company has since had to lay off more than half its staff.

A career change was in order. I have extensive experience in a very specific field and I didn’t think this was enough to make the career change I wanted. So, I decided to go back to school. This presents a new set of challenges, like “What are your life-time career goals?” Answering this question actually forced me to examine what I wanted as opposed to what was immediately available to me. I wanted more options and felt an MBA could help me with that.

Foster has lots of the qualities I was looking for in a school. Ideologically, the program’s very supportive and collaborative environment was a plus. I didn’t quite realize how prevalent this theme was until I arrived at the welcome weekend. It’s all anyone talks about. Well that and coffee. A good number of the students were also career changers, the class was a little smaller and more diverse, and the location was a draw. The cooperative focus was actually a really strong selling point for a career changer like me. Let’s be honest, I can use all the help I can get.

Ultimately, these little bits of information about the program and the opinions of a bunch of people I don’t know are all I had to go on. Is Foster a good fit for me? I think so, but I haven’t even started yet. My own experience will be shaped greatly by what I put into it, but I just don’t know exactly what that looks like. It may be the best decision I ever made. I’ll let you know in two years. So, right now the only thing I’m certain of is that Foster will be the best MBA experience of my life, or really, the only one. Here’s hoping I’m right and Foster is a good fit.

~Guest blogger Nicki Miyoshi, Full-time Class of 2014

A Time of Transition

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

There are a number of reasons an individual may choose to pursue an MBA.  Here is one account of how an incoming first year student found her perfect fit with Foster, and has begun transitioning to the program.

By Liza Green, Full-time Class of 2014. Upon graduating from University of Virginia, Liza moved to the Rocky Mountains. Her experience there spanned various industries, from restaurants to biotechnology and education. Liza hopes to one day run her own food-related business, and in the meantime is eager to explore marketing and entrepreneurship at Foster.

Applying to boarding schools at the age of thirteen was as rigorous as the processes I would later experience for college and business school. I recall writing numerous essays and completing short answer questions in the style of Mad Libs, albeit a bit more serious. One that I distinctly remember was “What I like most about myself is that I am ____.” My answer: well-rounded. To this day, I would probably answer that question the same way, as I have worked in real estate, education, biotechnology, retail, restaurants, and more. But, I might also give the same response if asked what I like least about myself.

I recently started to feel that I was not only a jack of all trades, but also possibly a master of none. I realized I wanted something different, something more; I wanted an expertise and a committed direction. I had billed myself as an administrative specialist, and while I had contributed significantly to various organizations, I was having difficulty taking my career to the next level. I knew I had a lot to learn, so my natural decision was to return to school.

Having grown up back east, my over-generalized image of MBA students consisted of little more than i-bankers in business suits. I had lived in the mountains for years and had never once donned a suit, so when I visited schools on the east coast, I wasn’t quite sure if I fit in. I wanted to be around people whose experiences were as diverse as mine, whose perspectives were as unique, and whose motivation and goals were as individually-driven and tailored. In my search process, Foster emerged as the only school that truly excited me. What I found is a community that I believe will allow me to excel while pushing me to develop the skills that I need. The energy at Foster seems contagious, and my own excitement about the program is reinforced by every interaction I have with students, staff, and alumni.

When I first committed to Foster, the start of school could not come fast enough. I was ready to quit my job, pack a UHaul, and get to Seattle. Thus far, I have only made the first step in that transition – quitting my job. I am now heeding the advice of current Foster students as I relax and spend time with family and friends. I have recently returned from two months with my family in Virginia and New York. Soon, my boyfriend and I will depart on a two week trip to whitewater raft, hike, camp, and recharge in the mountains of Idaho.

Yet behind all of this leisurely personal time lurks an ever-expanding to-do list. I have been out of school for nine years and I was a History major in college, so my prep list might be a bit more extensive than most: purchase and complete online coursework in Accounting, Finance, and Statistics; do some soul searching to better direct my studies and focus at school; research potential careers and employers; schedule and complete informational interviews with potential networking connections found on LinkedIn. On top of that, I need to ensure my financial aid is in order, rewrite my resume yet again, find a place to live, and possibly transition to the world of smartphone users. The list goes on, and I will do my best to manage it all while making sure to enjoy the calm before the storm.

Inside Admissions: So You’re Thinking about Business School – Now What?

Friday, June 15th, 2012

September 2013 seems like it is a long ways away. Here in Seattle, all we can think about right now are the beautiful summer months ahead of us. Seattle truly is one of the most incredible places in the entire world during the summer months. And boy do we appreciate it here. Quite frankly I’m not even ready to start thinking about September of 2012, much less 2013!

But in the world of MBA Admissions, 2013 will be here before you know it. If you are considering applying to MBA programs next year, right now is a great time to start making application to-do lists, scheduling GMAT test dates and thinking about who might write your recommendation letters.

These steps, and in particular the GMAT, often cause a great deal of anxiety for applicants. However, they’re not even the most important parts of the process. That’s right, I said it! The really important stuff can unfortunately get overlooked when we get too wrapped up in the details. Ideally your MBA application should be a way for you to show us that you’ve put a lot of thought into this. That you have researched the potential paths you might take after business school and how the MBA will help you get there. That you have had experiences that will add value to the program. And that you are prepared for the program’s rigorous curriculum.

Researching your career goals, and why you need an MBA in the first place, shouldn’t start with your “Why I want an MBA” essay (virtually every program has one of those). It should start today. If the idea of doing informational interviews makes you a little uncomfortable, start with a friend or a co-worker. Then meet with one of your friend’s co-workers. You would be surprised how much people enjoy telling their life stories. Pretty soon you’ll be an informational interviewing machine and, more importantly, you’ll know a whole lot more about those career paths that you had always thought sounded kind of interesting. And to get back to the topic of MBA applications, you’ll know the most important thing of all – why you want an MBA and what exactly you want to do with it.

This may all sound fairly obvious, but in my years of working in MBA admissions I have seen too many people get buried in the application process before they have really stepped back to make sure this is what they want to do in the first place. First figure out if you really need an MBA, and then go to work finding the programs that will help you accomplish your unique goals. At this point you’ll be able to put together an application that accurately represents the amount of thought and effort that you have put into this decision. That’s why we have you write those essays and gather those recommendation letters…and, of course, take the GMAT.

And speaking of the GMAT, my advice to you is this: Give yourself ample time to study. Take a class or get a tutor if you’re scoring outside the range of the schools you’re targeting. Retake the test if you don’t get the score that you know you’re capable of. And once you do get that score, you can move on to bigger and better things. Like informational interviews, self-reflection (summer is a great time for that) and, of course, a visit to campus. It is never too early to start connecting with us. We look forward to getting to know you!

~Featured Blogger Erin Ernst, Director, MBA Admissions

Inside Admissions: Welcome Weekend

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Welcome Reception Dinner at the Burke Museum.

I was recently chatting with Dennis, a Foster MBA alum from 2001, as he reminisced about the admitted student event he attended before starting the program. He said, “Back in my day, the admitted student event was nothing but a classroom in good old Balmer Hall, and an ice chest filled with cold beverages. But man, it was awesome!” The admitted student weekends, or Welcome Weekends, as we call them now, have certainly progressed over the past 10 years. For one thing, Balmer Hall no longer exists. We now have beautiful Paccar Hall, which opened in the fall of 2010, and another building scheduled to open this summer. We offer opportunities throughout the weekend for incoming students to interact with the current students, including panels, small group discussions and social events. We host a special session for significant others and reimburse part of their travel costs as well as yours. After all, they are a huge part of this decision! And finally, the food has improved immensely since the Dennis’s time (although I have to admit that we do still use those ice chests).

But I don’t think that was his point. Over 10 years later, those same people who sat next to Dennis in Balmer Hall for the admitted student event are now some of his closest friends and colleagues. Welcome Weekend was awesome for Dennis because he immediately felt that “click” that told him this was the right program for him. This is where he belonged.

Admitted students learn about Seattle neighborhoods.

I can’t stress enough the importance of visiting the schools that you have been admitted to. As an applicant, you spend a great deal of time finding the handful of schools that really have what you’re looking for in terms of course offerings, location, size, experiential opportunities and company connections. But once you have been admitted, you still have a decision to make. Is this where you want to be for the next two years? Are these the types of people you want to know for, let’s be honest, the rest of your life? While there is a ton of information online these days, nothing can replace the firsthand experience of visiting campus and interacting with the MBA community. We offer these events for you, and over the years we have tweaked and improved, and tweaked some more, in order to make them as useful, candid and interactive as possible.

 

If you have been admitted to Foster, or any other program for that matter, attend the admitted student events and ask all (I mean all) of your questions. “Can I get by without a car?” “Can I get home in time to have dinner with my family?” Is Seattle a dog-friendly city, and will I even have time for a dog??” None of these are silly questions. Our current students worried about these same issues when they were preparing for school, and they are your best resource as you embark upon this challenging, thrilling, life-changing experience.

We had a fantastic time at our April event and we can’t wait to get to know more of the Class of 2014 next week at our final Welcome Weekend this year. If you’re thinking about applying next year, the dates for our 2013 Welcome Weekends will be posted by early June. Mark your calendar! (Just in case – it doesn’t hurt to think positively!) We hope to see you there.

~ Featured Blogger Erin Ernst, Director, MBA Admissions

Admitted students mingle with current Foster students on a Duck Tour of Seattle in April, 2012.

 

April Admit Weekend

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Day One. Foster’s April Admit Weekend began with a Welcome Reception, and walking into the midst of it was equal parts nerve-wracking and exciting. I grabbed a drink, took a deep breath, and jumped into the closest group’s conversation. Shortly afterward, Tim announced it was time to sit down for the Celebration Dinner, and the table I chose included two alumni, a staff member, and two of my future classmates. I appreciated the mix of former, current, and upcoming Foster topics and perspectives. Chatting continued at District Lounge- the week’s Pub Club location. A bunch of first-year students were there and doling out all kinds of helpful advice. I left in a great mood, marveling at how quickly I was starting to feel like an official Foster MBA.

Day Two was an abrupt about-face from Day One’s wining and dining. My fellow admits and I got a taste of an intense school day at Foster: seven hours of back-to-back sessions, workshops, and presentations. It was critical information and definitely beneficial, so we were glad to have it. By the day’s end though, the glazed eyes and drooping posture evinced that we had reached max mental capacity. Having a “TG” (short for “Thank Goodness…”) that night couldn’t have been more fitting. TGs are biweekly themed parties/gatherings sponsored by a Foster club or affiliate group. We were lucky enough to attend the Bollywood TG, and the Indian food, music, and dancing were just what we needed to unwind!

The fun and bonding continued on Day Three, which we kicked off with an Underground Tour of Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. The stories about Seattle’s founding and early history were fascinating- even the admitted students in our group who were born and raised in the city learned a ton. We had lunch at a luxe spot overlooking Lake Union’s picturesque pier and made plans to stay connected online or in person. I, for one, cannot wait for this Fall.

~Guest Blogger Annie Koski-Karell, Full-Time Class of 2013

Don’t Miss Admit Weekend

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The third deadline for applications has just passed so the number of students who have been admitted to the program and chosen to be part of the Class of 2012 is growing each month. Hopefully some of you admitted students are reading this right now because I’m going to tell you how to get a sneak peak into the program… how to truly experience Foster before making your final decision… how to meet the actual people who will be sitting across from you in class in 8 short months.

classmatesThe Foster MBA Admissions team hosts two Admit Weekends each Spring and they are truly invaluable experiences, especially if you are not sure if Foster is the best fit for you. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide between Foster and another program. Or maybe you know Foster is the perfect school, but you’re anxious to meet the people who will make up the most important network you’ll ever be part of. Admit Weekend is that opportunity!

After being admitted to Foster I was still on the fence about pursuing an MBA. After attending the Admit Weekend I had my answer. I met current students who answered all of my questions, I met professors and staff who were inquisitive and supportive, and best of all, I began forming friendships with my future classmates immediately. They were interesting and humble and brilliant and I left Admit Weekend knowing firsthand that I was going to enjoy my two years at Foster.

You’ve read all about the Foster culture on the website and heard about it from current students and alumni. I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself at an Admit Weekend.

Top 3 Tips for Your MBA Application

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

As a second year student and a current member of the application screening committee, I’ve had my fair share of experience with the MBA application. Since application deadlines are flying by or quickly approaching I thought it may be helpful to provide a few tips. Hope they help and good luck!

Focus your thoughts and words.
The application is your opportunity to prove that you already have some valuable experiences, you have deeply considered what your career goals are and you know why an MBA will help you reach those goals. Don’t muddy the waters with stories that don’t directly relate to these facets. It’s great that you perfected your beer brewing skills over the past five years, but if it has nothing to do with your career don’t spend half your Goals essay talking about it.

Know the school.
Every MBA program, including Foster, is looking for people who have explored, researched, and decided THIS program is the best match. Know what makes Foster different than Stanford and MIT and explain in your application why you’re seeking a school with those unique characteristics. Go on a class visit, chat with alumni and current students, get to know the course schedule and options. I hate to finish reading an application that someone has surely spent hours working on only to have one word pop into my head – generic.

Choose recommenders thoughtfully.
It is not enough to have recommenders who write a few sentences about what a smart person you are and that you always get your work done on time. The key to really strong recommendations is choosing people who know you very well and can speak to your skills with breadth and depth. Ask them to provide concrete examples and request that they go a little above and beyond just answering the provided questions. If you don’t feel comfortable asking this of your recommenders, maybe you don’t actually know them very well.