Day in the Life

18 Pieces of Advice to First-Year MBAs from Two Seattle Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

On Friday September 12th, 106 first year MBA students headed across Lake Washington to the headquarters of Microsoft where they had their Career Management Orientation. Below is a summary of the advice they received from two Seattle-based entrepreneurs, as collected by incoming student Nelson Tang.

Richard Tait and Foster alumnus Chris Howard spoke to new MBA Students at the MBA Career Management orientation.

Richard Tait and Foster alumnus Chris Howard spoke to new MBA Students at the MBA Career Management orientation.

Last Friday, the UW Full Time MBA students went to do a full-on career management day at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA.  We did a ton of activities, including a Q&A panel with recruiters in various industries, a ‘speed career date’ session with alumni and recruiters, and so on.  But the highlight for me was the keynote speech by Chris Howard (founder of Fuel Capital) and Richard Tait (inventor of Cranium, founder of Golazo, and tons of other companies!).  I was floored.

Because memories are fleeting, I’m writing this as a reminder to myself and my fellow MBA students so we don’t forget this advice!

  1. You’re gonna hear “no” over and over again.  Remember: it’s not about how many times you get knocked down – it’s how many times you get back up.
  2. Never blow out someone else’s candle.
  3. What do you want written on your tombstone?  Let those words guide your decisions and chart your path.
  4. Grades don’t matter.  There are 3 legs to the MBA experience, and networking is the most important.  While everyone else is playing fantasy football, you should be having informational interviews.  When you request someone’s time, be super prepared, have a super specific request.
  5. When the door opens and the opportunity arises, hit it with every fiber of your being.
  6. A good mentoring relationship should feel like osmosis…there’s an ebb and flow to the relationship, an exchange that goes both ways.
  7. On informational interviews:  Show up early, and do your research.  Have at least 10 awesome questions ready to go, and follow up with a handwritten note.  Keep them informal.
  8. Make a list of the 10 people you want to meet in the MBA program.  Have a tight filter/criteria for why you want to meet them.
  9. It’s not about grades or the classes you have to take.
  10. Go where the action is.
  11. You will make sacrifices to achieve your dream.
  12. Build a ‘Board of Advisors’ (about five people) for yourself that help you open closed doors and make big decisions.  Each person should have different backgrounds and specialties, but they should have some common values.  Check in with them at least quarterly.
  13. Be present.  Put the phones down.  These moments are the most impactful.  You owe it to yourself and your team to give 100%.
  14. Build a business plan for your life.  Check with your Board of Advisors.  Constantly re-evaluate your goals and values.
  15. Be open to “yes.”  You’re going to have to manage your time and say no to some opportunities to protect your time, but you never know what might happen if you say “yes.”  It might turn into something amazing.
  16. You’re going to be thrown a lot of opportunities.  Take risks, try things you’re uncomfortable with…whether it’s classes, clubs, activities, etc.  What do you have to lose?
  17. If you’re new to the region and don’t have a network – get on LinkedIn!  Networking takes a lot of work and you gotta hustle.  Seattle is a small town – everybody knows everybody.  Connect with all your classmates.
  18. After an informational interview, ask if there are two more people to meet.  See if they can help with the introduction, and include a form letter to make it easy for them.  And finally, for further reading, Richard recommended that we read “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel, one of the founders of Paypal.  The book basically includes notes from teaching the entrepreneurship class at Stanford.

For more from Nelson, check out http://www.nelsontang.com
Image creditwww.boomboombrands.com

A Summer Strategy Internship at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Kate Thorson InternshipAs I near the end of my internship at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and take stock of my experiences this summer and what I’ve learned, I am repeatedly humbled to be part of this remarkable organization. The campus is teeming with the foremost experts in a plethora of fields from around the world. As interns, we’ve been given an incredible opportunity not only to attend the many talks and fireside chats with people like Peter Piot and Bill Nye, but also the chance to sit down with C-level executives from across the organization and ask them about their experiences, leadership approach, and vision for the organization. I’ve taken away many lessons from these chats, and equally important have learned much from the incredible cohort of interns from across the country.

I’ve been thrilled to dive head first into strategy work for one of the global health programs. In reflecting on what skills I’ve most applied from my first year at Foster, I think, at a high level, it’s a structured way of thinking: which I practiced through a combination of strategy and marketing classes, my applied strategy and Service Corps projects, and case interview preparation. There’s a wonderful sense of gratification in knowing that I’ve approached my work this summer differently as a result of my first year in the MBA program, and that I’ll approach my second year differently as a result of my experiences this summer.

I had high expectations for this summer…they’ve been far surpassed.

Guest post by Kate Thorson, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

Reflections on Group Work At Foster

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I’ll admit to approaching my first quarter at Foster with some nervousness. I had heard a lot about the core teams and knew a lot was riding on how well my team functioned. In the first quarter at Foster each student is assigned to a core team of five or six students. This team you are assigned for every class during your first quarter. To understate it somewhat, you spend a lot of time with your team. The idea of being assigned a team of people from different professional backgrounds, with different skill sets, and different goals for their MBA experience made me a little nervous.

Now I am nearly at the end of my first quarter, and am pleased to report back on my experiences with Team 4. I have quickly become friends with each team member and would heartily recommend them for any sort of project. Each member of the team is incredibly hard working, sharp, and genuinely nice. We meet an unusually high amount – every weekday for at least two hours. We’re even meeting up to play tennis this weekend. We don’t do it because we have to. We could meet less and we would still get our work done. However, I think there are several reasons we choose to meet so often. The first is that we genuinely enjoy being around each other. The second is that we are much more productive when we are together than we are individually. My experience working in a core team has truly facilitated my learning and (I believe) the learning of those around me. I also would not have been able to attain nearly as high of levels of productivity on my own as I could when surrounded with such a great team. I can wholeheartedly endorse the core teams as one of the best parts of my MBA experience so far and I know the same will be true of next year’s incoming students!

~ Guest post by Dave Stecher, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate

Making the Most of Your First Year as a Blue Dot

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

For some of us, it may have been a little while since our last “First Day of School.” Beyond that, many of us may have never experienced a First Day where it wasn’t even us going to school! My student had a month to get ready for Foster classes to begin, and it still seemed like the first day came very quickly, and his calendar filled up so fast that I barely knew what hit us.

What exactly is a Blue Dot? We are the spouses and significant others of students in the program (legend has it the name was born from the blue dots that used to adorn our name tags at welcome events). Even though we may not actually be taking classes, the Blue Dots are a big part of the Foster experience for our Students. Whether it’s preparing dinners for them to fuel long nights of studying, or listening to them use a ton of acronyms that never seem to make sense (worst offender is NPV or Net Present Value), being a Blue Dot is an important job to have. Here are a couple tips as your Student and you start your first year as MBA and hMBA (honorary MBA) students:

  • Share a calendar – Club meetings, due dates, happy hours and late night happy hours creep up quickly, so the best thing to do is share visibility into each other’s lives as early as possible!
  • Dress yo’ self – Your student might be getting some new UW gear to show off their Husky pride, so don’t forget to get some yourself (insert shameless plug for the Foster Huddle/official tailgate club here).
  • Reaching out – Whether you’ve been in Seattle for ages or you just moved here, the Blue Dots know what you’re going through (frustrations and joys!) so don’t forget to say hello. Excusing yourself from a Student conversation after 3 aforementioned acronyms is a perfect time to scan the room for a Blue Dot to chat up!
  • Lunch planning – We’ve been trying to eat healthier and cheaper in our house, and the temptation to eat on the Ave is strong. A bento box has been a time/money/lifesaver and it’s super easy to fill with leftovers from the night before (and carrots or almonds in our case). Our favorite is Zojirushi brand.
  • It’s never too late – as a non-native Seattleite, I feel like fall is one of the craziest and busiest times. It can be easy to realize that it’s December and you still haven’t socialized with your Student’s classmates or their Blue Dots as much as you wanted to the first quarter. But don’t worry, you’re always a part of the clan and we’ll welcome you with open arms in January… or May :)

Shameless plug #2 – if you haven’t yet joined the Foster MBA Blue Dot group, please do! We’re at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FosterMBABlueDots/ and we hope to see you soon. Good luck this year!

~ Guest post by Christina Green, 2014 Blue Dot

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!

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.  

Three-Day Weekend!

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Foster MBAs got President’s Day off of classes!  How did they celebrate the long weekend?

Midterming. And shopping for Dubai trip! And maybe a zoo trip with Anna if weather stays nice. ~Mandi Chappell, Full-time Class of 2013

Catching the train to Portland for a girls’ weekend. ~Erika Robertson, Full-time Class of 2014

Let’s see…. I’ve got a midterm, lots of overdue reading, several homeworks, a field study project, and so on. So, I’m going (to pretend) to go out drinking every night and spend the day playing video games. ~Will Aber, Full-time Class of 2013

Visiting parents up in Bellingham, and attempting to have a social life outside of PACCAR Hall. ~Colin Clauset, Full-time Class of 2014

Team projects and more school work. Also organizing a product shop and swap with China. ~Robert Gardner, Full-time Class o 2013

Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition Prepping (aka Business Plan tweeking and powerpointing), Macro Midterming, and Death Spiraling Rehearsaling. ~Matt Jasper, Full-time Class of 2013

Procrastinating on my procrastination. ~David Hill, Full-time Class of 2013

Foster Photo Blog: Tuesday, February 5, 2012

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

What does a day in the life of a Foster MBA look like? The Foster Photo Blogging project follows individual Foster students through their daily routines to give you a glimpse inside the life of an MBA living, learning, and working in Seattle at the Foster School of Business.

David Hill is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. He previously worked as a writer at a financial media startup and as a sports blogger. He is interested in working in brand management upon graduation. He serves on the board of the Foster Sports Business Club and plays guitar for Death Spiral, the Foster rock band.

~Photo Blogger David Hill, Full-time Class of 2013

1.

DH1

Like some of my classmates, I stayed on at the company where I interned this summer to do part-time work during my second year. So on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, I bus over to offices of Concordia Beverage Systems in Bellevue. Concordia makes commercial espresso machines, and the showroom (above) also serves as the company coffee room. I’m partial to the espresso, though the mocha is pretty awesome.

2.

DH2

After finishing up at work, I head back over to school for class. Before that, I stop off in the MBA Lounge at Paccar Hall to heat up last night’s leftovers for lunch. The lounge is a bit of a social hub during the day; you’ll see your peers, eating, hanging out, or trying to sneak in some work. Today I sat next to my friend Gwyn, discussing the finer points of Italian cuisine.

3.

DH3

Tuesday afternoon means macroeconomics with Debra Glassman, the final core class in the full-time MBA program. Today’s class covered the GDP multiplier effect and government stimulus.

4.

DH4

I had a few hours free between my afternoon and evening classes, so I parked in the lounge to write some cover letters and do some more Concordia work. The company is launching a new website at the end of the month, and I reviewed the beta version of the site for bugs and typos while my classmates held court at the foosball table. If you are good at the foos, you can go far at Foster.

5.

DH5

My day ended with an evening class, Entrepreneurial Finance with Emily Cox Pahnke. Tonight we talked about intellectual property and patent trolls. Evening classes are a good way to meet other students outside the full-time MBA program, but sitting through a three-and-a-half hour class session (albeit with breaks) can be a bit of a slog. Tuesdays are long for me, after leaving my house at 7am, I did not get home until 10pm. 

Foster Photo Blog: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

What does a day in the life of a Foster MBA look like? The Foster Photo Blogging project follows individual Foster students through their daily routines to give you a glimpse inside the life of an MBA living, learning, and working in Seattle at the Foster School of Business.

Dennis is a first year student at the Foster School of Business. He previously worked in digital marketing and wholesale mortgage lending before that. He is interested in product management, finance, and consulting upon graduating. He currently is a member of the Marketing Club, Consulting Society, and the Strategy Club.

~Photo Blogger Dennis Grubbs, Full-time Class of 2014

1.

Start of my day; I overslept a little.

2.

Sun is out in Greenlake where I live. That will change!

3.

I never leave home without this.

4.

Parking at school is expensive if you don’t carpool. King County Metro is my limo.

5.

First class of the day is Marketing. Very “interesting” topics we covered today.

6.

In-between classes, took a quick look for a table to hang out at and it looks like they are already all taken.

7.

Found a chair and a table to do some reading. Weather has turned a bit.

8.

15 minutes later.

9.

Reading spot got a little loud so I hit the Business Library. I find I move spots a lot during the day.

10.

One of the group meeting rooms in Paccar Hall. I was the first of my group to get there.

11.

The results of our brainstorm session for a Marketing deliverable.

12.

Quick break so I grabbed a chair to get some more reading in.

13.

Despite the days getting shorter, I managed to leave campus with a little daylight left.

14.

Working into the late night on a Finance case. These are challenging but fun.

Foster Photo Blog: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

What does a day in the life of a Foster MBA look like? The Foster Photo Blogging project follows individual Foster students through their daily routines to give you a glimpse inside the life of an MBA living, learning, and working in Seattle at the Foster School of Business.

I am a first year Full-time MBA student and just moved to Seattle 3 months ago for school.  I spent some time in the Army and then later teaching soldiers computer technology as a consultant. I came back to school to switch careers in my area of passion, sustainability. I’m involved with Net Impact, Women in Business, Consulting, Operations, Diversity in Business and Part ii.

~Photo Blogger Jessica Cameron, Full-time Class of 2014

1.

How I start everyday….

2.

My morning commute.

3.

Entering the sweet, sweet Halls of Paccar where I spend most of my days.

4.

Professional Development Class on Professional Writing.

5.

Net Impact Speaker Series: Jobs in the Nonprofit Sector. Free Pizza!

6.

Have to go pick up my bike at the Hub.

7.

Look at those awesome fenders! Now the water won’t splash up on me as I tear through those puddles.

8.

And I’m working on the John Deere Memo till 2am again.

9.

Oh I should have unpacked from that conference, maybe tomorrow.

10.

And a little light reading before bed…