The summit is only the halfway point: thoughts on the first year of the MBA

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

mount st helens summit A few short weeks ago, the MBA class of 2016 breathed a collective sigh of relief as the last final was turned in, we had our end of year celebrations, and said our farewells to the graduating class of 2015. The class of 2015 is now transitioning into their post-MBA careers, and the class of 2016 is already starting their summer internships. We are now officially “second-years.”

For anyone looking to embark on their own MBA journey, here are my thoughts on the first year:


What was your favorite elective, and why?

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Here at Foster, we have a variety of elective classes that we can take, but there’s not enough time for them all! However, there are some elective classes that everyone seems to love. Several members of the Full-Time Class of 2015 gave us the inside scoop on their favorites:


First Quarter at Foster

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

18th of December, 2013

Lost around 15 pounds;  Gained a truckload of knowledge; Earned a GPA of 3. Something; Formed hundreds of friendships: All of this in the first 12 weeks of the Foster MBA.

December 18th, 2013: As I entered the program office, I had this weird feeling. It felt like I was standing in the same place finishing my admission formalities just yesterday. The past 12 weeks went by so fast that it’s unbelievable.

I had done research on the Internet to prepare for the upcoming move from corporate to student life. But as we started orientation and attended Jump Start courses (a quick crash course in business fundamentals) I was amazed at how smooth my transition was. Of course, all of my preparation was not a waste of time, but a second year student’s advice was right; the best way to prepare oneself for the program is to relax as much as you can because once you start, you will never (and in my case I don’t want to) stop. All the doubts that I had about myself being able to adapt to a new country and culture were cleared when I saw the amount of support I got from professors and students alike. To quote Albus Dumbledore –“Help will be given to those who ask for it.”

The pure high that I got from learning new things and broadening my perspective kept me going. As I continued my daily reading online, I started the applying new finance and accounting knowledge to interpret business news. All the homework, case studies, and career research was overwhelming at times but what kept me motivated was that I was in love with the constant battle of mind over body.

I had heard that the 3C’s mantra – confidence, competence and connections -help one to succeed in this world. Well, they forgot the most important C – Care. By that I mean the care given by family, friends, and professors to support MBAs in winning this battle of mind over body. I am so grateful to all who helped me make it through the first quarter!

~ Guest post by Vishwa Shanti Vaddi, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

A Day in the Life – Mark Bonicillo

Monday, May 13th, 2013

What is a day in the life of a Foster MBA like? This post chronicles a typical day of an individual Foster student  to give you a glimpse inside the life of an MBA living, learning, and working in Seattle at the Foster School of Business.

What I did Tuesday April 16:

5 am: Wake up, do 100 kettlebell swings and 18 pullups, get dressed. Take bus to school.

7:30 am: Intro to database and SQL class given by a Foster alum who now consults for Microsoft. At this uncivilized time, the classroom was 95% full with about 40 MBA students. One side fact: the alum’s undergraduate major was in theater–there is hope for humanities majors such as me (philosophy).

8:30 am: Another excellent quantitative methods class by Professor Hillier.

10:15 am: “Coffee Break” time. Free coffee, fruit, donuts, bagels, croissants–a very nice spread, with classmates from the 1st and 2nd year full time classes, professors, and faculty. Nice to see my class’s MBAA executive council leadership finally take the reigns. In the words of our class president: Crushing It.

12:00 pm: Informational interview with an account manager from DocuSign–the leading tech company in the e-signature market. Learned more about strategy, sales, management, and leadership in this half hour interview than in a whole quarter of strategy classes.

1:30 pm: Haircut at Capelli’s. It’s pricey, but one of my few vices. Plus, Martina is the best barber in Seattle.

3:00 pm: Another informational interview with DocuSign…this time with a sales developer. Again, very informative and I actually learned something about the internship that I was looking into.

4:00 pm: Read and prepared for the INRIX case for this evening’s technology commercialization class. The case was written last year in Jan 2012 and centered on the question of whether CEO Bryan Mistele should sell the company or keep it.  INRIX is a traffic data provider that is valued at $1 billion if it were to go public.

6:00 pm: INRIX CEO Bryan Mistele speaks in the entrepreneurship class about his decision a year after the case was published. One word: Fascinating.

9:00 pm: Head home, prepare for operations class, and prepare for the Buerk Entrepreneurship Center sponsored “informal chat” with one of my fitness heroes and model entrepreneur–CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman.

~ Guest blog post by Mark Bonicillo – FT Class of 2014.  

Taking a Pause

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Being a 2nd year MBA is amazing. You no longer have 8:30 classes assigned to you, you get to take the classes you want, and you’ve got the confidence of an internship behind you! So fear not, young 1st year Padawans, there’s a bright future if you just stick it out.

What I really appreciate about being a 2nd year is the whole new level of confidence I have in my personal goals. I’m taking a small load (only  13 credits!) this quarter because I want to take some time to really focus on my career search, my classes, and the people in my life. My first year I was still coping from the shock of being back in school after five years in the work world and trying to re-learn how to write memos and reports longer than two paragraphs. I was stressed about doing well academically and on scoring a summer internship early. I didn’t really have as much time to sit back and think about what I wanted to do once I had my MBA. This quarter I’m blocking out time on my calendar to do just that: taking personal assessments and time to reflect on the person I want to be and the type of career that follows from those goals.

I also enjoy having more time for the classes I do want to take. I learned my lesson from Spring Quarter – taking a 2 credit class does not mean half the work, it just means an entire quarter’s work consolidated in half the time! So this quarter I’ve got more time to do all the readings, think about the course content, and actually learn. The key to success is preparation, especially in my Negotiations class. In this course, you’re given the details of a case and have about an hour in class to come to an agreement with your partner on how to carve and share that mythical pie. I highly recommend this class, it will change your world.

Finally, I am prioritizing making time for people. This includes being involved in clubs to a greater capacity than I was last year, and also keeping in touch with friends. Serving on the boards of clubs really helps cement the relationship with fellow Fosterites and enables you to build additional channels of access to companies for networking purposes. Just about the only drawback about 2nd year is that everyone is on a different schedule, so some people I’m lucky if I see only twice a week, which makes coffee breaks that much more important.

~Guest Blogger Bin Ma, Full-time Class of 2013

Welcome to the MBA Experience

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

It’s now nearly two whole weeks into fall quarter!  How are Foster MBA students feeling so far?

First year students are hitting the ground running!

I am exhausted, overwhelmed, excited, and hungry to learn. About what I expected coming into the program, just even more extreme. I am looking forward to getting involved in the clubs and interacting with great people.

~Dennis Grubbs, Full-time Class of 2014

I’m overwhelmed, but in the best way possible. Beyond tackling and mastering the coursework ahead, I am looking forward to getting involved in the Foster community and beginning my exploration of career opportunities ahead.

~Liza Green, Full-time Class of 2014

I keep remembering the words of wisdom from last year’s First Years during my campus visit: “You’ll be drinking from a fire hose from day one!” They weren’t joking. It’s been a great first week and the workload has been everything they promised and more.

~Dan Metz, Full-time Class of 2014

Have a great quarter, everybody!

The Board Fellows Program

Monday, January 16th, 2012

As actors performed the play Robin Hood at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, I stepped backstage, watching the performers change costumes and prepare to step back out in front of the curtain. This backstage tour was part of my orientation to the Board of Directors. As this year’s Board Fellow for the Seattle Children’s Theatre I’ve had some unique opportunities to see the inner workings of the theatre and gain insights into the world of nonprofit boards.

I applied last spring to be a Board Fellow because of my interest in serving as a nonprofit board member after graduation. During college I studied drama and continue to be interested in the local arts community, so I sought out theatre and arts boards from the list of potential Board Fellows positions. After interviewing with a couple organizations I was happily matched with the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

In addition to attending regular board meetings I am also participating in the Development Committee. This involvement allows me to utilize my marketing background to brainstorm strategies aimed at bringing new patrons to the theatre.

As a Board Fellow, we are supported with a bi-quarterly workshop. The workshop introduces information on the various board structures and common challenges for nonprofit boards. As a part of the program we will use the information presented in the workshops to compile a research paper for our organization based on the organization’s needs and challenge areas we identify.

Overall, I am enjoying my involvement in the Boards Fellows program. I love the Seattle Children’s Theatre and am happy I can contribute my knowledge to help the organization. I am also enjoying the unique opportunity to “preview” what it means to be a nonprofit board member.

~Guest Blogger Sherry Gardella, Full-Time Class of 2012

Kicking off the Evening MBA program with ePRIME and eLEAD

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Remember your first day of school? Excitement with a little bit of nervousness? That’s how I felt when I got to Foster where you get an intense first few days filled with new faces, new friends and a whole lot of learning. You meet your new team and talk about all of the readings and homework assignments that you have due even before your first day of class. Your initial thoughts are: Will I like my new team? Will we be able to work together? Will I be able to get through all of this?

You start to relax as ePRIME begins with opening presentations from Dean Jiambalvo who talks about our state-of-the-art building, Assistant Dean Poston who entertains you with the hustle and Associate Dean Turner who makes you laugh. You sit through more presentations and introductions, have lunch with your team, take pictures as a full class and end your day with drinks, appetizers and networking with current students and alumni.

So you survived the first day and now it’s time to meet your new professors for eLEAD, Morela Hernandez and Greg Bigley. You are immediately impressed with their backgrounds and style of teaching. You stay completely engaged throughout class because the discussions are actually interesting. You find that the readings on building teams and leadership development are not that difficult and you actually start enjoying them. You quickly learn how to work with your new teammates and apply your learnings to everyday work life. eLEAD classes make you feel empowered and even more excited to begin your education at Foster. It’s a great way to kick start your MBA experience at Foster!

~Guest Blogger, Rose Tucker, Evening Class of 2014

Leadership Fellows: First Quarter Core, Round 2

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I vaguely remember the first quarter of my MBA career. It went by so quickly, yet seemed to take such a long time. Former Alumni Association President Eddie Pasatiempo put that first quarter in perspective for me, “It’s like spending three minutes…under water.” Starting an MBA program happens only once, and it’s the kind of experience you don’t fully grasp while it is happening. This is part of the reason I was so intrigued by the opportunity to be a Leadership Fellow, a second year student who works with a core group in the first year class as they deal with the complexities and challenges of the first quarter of business school.

Over the course of my first year at the Foster School of Business my fellow second year students proved themselves to be an indispensible part of my learning experience. Though some of them were younger than me, they were full of information about how the program worked, life in Seattle, the dynamics of a team in stressful situations and the dangers that lurked ahead in the first quarter of business school. An important question for the Class of ‘13 is how to tap into the resources of the Class of ‘12. When I first showed up at school, it was my Leadership Fellow that provided the initial window into the class of second years and the Fellows continued to provide great support throughout the school year.
– This year the Leadership Fellows program is different from past years. Previously, the Leadership Fellow was responsible for guiding a team through the quarter and a Leadership Coach was responsible for guiding its individual members through personal development plans. This year the fellows must mentor first year students on their personal development plans and the Leadership Coaches offer the Fellows advice on how to take on that role. This means not only watching team dynamics, but sitting with students individually and helping them not only outline their goals for business school, but also come up with a plan to achieve those goals.

There are two distinct aspects of the Fellows program this year and in both – watching team dynamics and assisting in a personal development plan – the Fellows get an insider’s perspective without actually being inside. It is an opportunity to mentor, to coach, to teach and to learn about what it means to be a leader. Foster is a small community and the Fellows program is an important step in students reaching their goals and becoming great leaders and ambassadors for the Foster brand.

~Guest Blogger, Lee Sherman, Full-Time Class of 2012, and Leadership Fellow

More information about the Leadership Fellow program can be found here

What is Jump Start?

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

JUMP START – as the name suggests, this event was a kick on the d’arrière and a friendly reminder to get moving. In more ways than one, it was a preview of things to follow. Jump start ran from Sep 19 through Sep 23 and covered topics in Statistics, Accounting and Finance with the aim of giving a quick brush up of the basic concepts and an overview of the course content for the Fall quarter. Throughout the build up to the beginning of the session, second years kept driving the point home- come fall hit the ground running; those of us who didn’t take the advice seriously were surely rocked off their feet a bit. The five full days of intense instructions, covering a depth and breadth of the topics, were not for the faint of heart- especially when most of us were returning to school after a gap of five to seven years. Having said that, jump start gave a good perspective on the academic requirements in the course and where one stood with respect to those requirements. It was also a good time to bond with fellow students before the going got busier and tougher. This perhaps is the last time when the entire batch is together before it is split into sections and you see less and less of each other. The Happy Hours, sponsored by various clubs with an open tab (which I missed most of the time), were a good release and also a reminder of work-life balance in the busy schedule that lay ahead.
One has an option to skip either one or all Jump Start sessions by passing a qualifying exam with a 90% score. However, Jump Start delivers beyond academics and even if one can clear all the qualifying exams, it would be a good idea to attend at least couple of session to get in the groove.

Special thanks to Professors Gilbert and Kennedy for bringing order to the chaos and making Jump Start a fruitful experience.

~Guest blogger, Piyush Jain, Full-Time Class of 2013