Day in the Life

Foster Photo Blog: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thursday, November 8th, 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 second-year Full-time MBA student. I have been living in Seattle for nine years, all except for 4 months on Capitol Hill. Before the MBA, I was in biotech and I was also an entrepreneur. The focus of my MBA is Finance and Strategy, and I am involved with the Finance Society, Strategy Club, and Foster Foodies. 

~Photo Blogger Zaher Hulays, Full-time Class of 2013

1.

Coffee, New York Times, and Ethics paper.

It was going to be a long day of tracking election news and homework.

2.

The Eastlake Stairs on Howe Street.

Working out regularly is a great way to keep focus and sanity in the MBA program.

Plus, the Howe St stairs are a great exercise for the Mt. Rainier C4C climb.

3.

Catching the bus from Capitol Hill to the U district.

4.

Seattle Skyline on Election Night from my balcony.

I was trying to do anything to make the time pass quickly.

5.

Election night grilling with friends.

6.

Obama Wins!

7.

The party on Capitol Hill after President Obama won reelection and it became clear that R-74 (gay marriage) passed.

The party went on for a while.

8.

The only way to end the night on Capitol Hill, a trip to Dick’s for some late night burgers and milk shakes.

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!

Being an MBA Means Being Right, Right?

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013.  Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies.  After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.

Like many people, I don’t like being wrong.  And I hate being told that I have done something wrong.  For most of my professional life, being told that I have made an error, inadvertently caused a problem, or chosen the wrong course of action has been almost physically uncomfortable, a small spike of adrenaline that twists in my gut as I experience a sinking feeling of, oh no, oh no, how bad was it and can it be fixed ohnoitwasmyfault!

I can’t say this has made me a perfectionist, but I do think it’s a driving force behind some of my detail-oriented behaviors – checking, checking again; verifying authorization; planning in advance; asking question after question – as well as my penchant for trying to guess what people will need from me before needing to be told.

Of all the things I thought I would learn at business school (marketing, stats, networking, etc.), I actually did not expect to master this.  I mean, sure: I thought that an MBA would give me the tools to avoid making mistakes even more adroitly and give me the confidence that I would make the correct choices, again and again.  So, I didn’t exactly think an MBA would make me ‘perfect’, professionally, but I think that there was definitely, in the back of my mind, the hope that it would bring me closer to some kind of magically business-savvy infallibility.

HA!

Over the course of my first year at business school, I have learned that I cannot hope to be perfect-ish or anywhere near infallible.  This became very clear during my first quarter – not just that I would be wrong, sometimes, missing questions on homework assignments and quizzes and midterms – but also that I could really screw up: handling the financials of a case study on behalf of my team and missing a key step, or forgetting to produce exhibits for a deliverable, or pushing others to accept a marketing strategy and completely missing the 2 key drivers that could make that strategy successful. Given the amount of new information MBA students are expected to digest and apply (“drinking from a fire hose” is an apt cliché) over the course of each 10-week term, especially for those (like me!) with no practical or academic experience in the subject matter, it is simply impossible to be avoid doing something – sometimes many things! – wrong.

The point is not that business school has caused me to make mistakes; the point is that business school has taught me how to make mistakes gracefully and responsibly, and to recover from them nimbly, looking forward.  No more squirmy guilty stomach-aches of how could I have done something wrong?  Because there is simply no time for that.  There is only: what is the scope, how can we fix what needs to be fixed, what do we do next, what can we learn from what happened?

I still care dreadfully about devoting my best efforts to my teams, planning proactively, and trying to get it right the first time.  But I know that if I don’t get it right, it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not worth feeling sick over.  In fact, one month ago I was required to give a presentation on the research project I had been working on for the first 6 weeks of my internship.  As the first MBA intern to be hired by the company, there was no template in place for defining project deliverables or building out presentations and reports – I basically made that up as I went along, to the best of my ability, with some (but not a lot of) oversight.  And now I had to tell everybody what I did and how I did it!  The audience included the team I had been embedded in, the marketing team, senior managers from both sales and development, and, oh yeah: most of the c-suite, too; all in all, over a dozen people, with more calling in remotely.  The presentation was scheduled for 90 minutes.

Of course I was a little nervous – who wouldn’t be?  But I wasn’t really worried about getting something wrong.  I had been told before hand by multiple parties that the executives would likely break into the presentation at many junctures to comment, question, perhaps refute things they disagreed with.  I was told to expect lots of audience participation; to be prepared to have my arguments picked apart – it was par for the course.  Normally this would have been the worst part for me, but oddly, going into the meeting I wasn’t especially nervous about potentially being told I was wrong.  I was confident in the work that I had done, sure, but it wasn’t just that.  I was also comfortable with the knowledge that the presentation – much like the entire internship – was a learning experience, and that I could handle whatever was thrown at me with equanimity.  This frame of mind allowed me to respond thoughtfully and confidently to questions, and to absorb different interpretations eagerly, integrating them into later dialogues.  And let me tell you: there were a LOT of questions, and a lot of discussions.  I’m not going to lie, I was certainly sweatier leaving than I was going in.  But the comments and perspectives of the executives also helped to stretch my thinking and inform my approach to further projects.  In the end, the presentation was a great success.  But it could have turned out differently – and I think that knowing that and being comfortable with it was what allowed me to be decisive in my conclusions and poised in my speech.

So: if you are considering business school or about to enter as a first-year student, let me gently disabuse you of the notion that earning an MBA will allow you to win at business by being right all the time and by always making the best choice, the correct choice.  But it will teach you how to make a wrong  decision and recover, and being confident in your ability to manage good, unexpected or disappointing outcomes will most certainly enable you to assume responsibilities for big decisions.  You won’t be right all the time, but you will definitely be right for whichever job or leadership position you choose to pursue.

All-Access Pass

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013.  Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies.  After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.

Sometimes, very small things can have a sizable impact.

For example, just this past week I had my photo taken, and within a day was given a picture ID to attach to the set of secure-entry badges I wear clipped to my waist at work.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I felt a very strong sense of place and belonging when I slipped it onto the loop and snapped it into place.  There was my face, smiling back at me!  And there I was, sitting in my cubicle, working away at my computer, pulling together my analyses for my upcoming presentation to the company executives.  Just another workday at my MBA internship.

But the interruption of the photo-ID gave me a moment to pause, and to reflect on the last photo-ID I had worn for work – in a flash of memory I recalled my last day of work at that job, a position I had held for exactly 4 years, 6 months and 2 weeks – how I had slipped the ID badge from my lanyard and deposited it in the HR mailbox before hustling out of the building to make it to my good-bye party, which had apparently started without me!  And in remembering that transition, of course I also had to consider everything that had happened between then and now: my move to Seattle, my decision to apply to business school and the resultant search and application process, my acceptance to, and acceptance of, Foster, and the entire first year of my MBA.  Two whole years had flown by since I last wore a photo-ID!

I have to be honest, there were times in the past 2 years that I wondered whether I was making the right decisions: was it really so smart to leave behind a good job and start again in a new city – in the middle of a recession?  Was an MBA the right next step for me?  Would business school help me learn the skills I needed, or help me find a career that I cared about?  Or, would some of the habits I acquired as I learned to navigate student life again – pulling all-nighters and banging on the snooze button in the morning, rolling into class in yoga pants and a sweatshirt because I couldn’t be bothered to wear anything less comfortable during lecture, working all week with my classmates but also hanging out all weekend with the same group, the lines between ‘colleagues’ and friends ever-blurred – somehow detract from my ability to put on my office game-face and rock it like a professional when I had the chance again?

Well, there’s now a badge swinging from my waist that features a smart young women, sharply dressed in a button-down and cardigan, staring confidently back. I still hit the snooze button in the mornings, but I arrive at the office on time and ready to work.   I’ve certainly re-discovered the business-attire side of wardrobe (and used my first paycheck to expand it!) and take pride in coming into the office dressed like I mean it.  I am on excellent terms with my team and superiors and have maintained a healthy divide between my work life and personal life.

And those other questions, the big picture ones, about my MBA and my career, and the direction of my life?  I don’t have final answers, that’s for sure, but I’m starting to figure some things out.  I’ve discovered interesting new possibilities for a career in marketing and become somewhat passionate about the ways social media can be leveraged to develop a brand.  I’m making connections in the technology sector, and learning how products are developed and released within the SaaS (Software as a Service) space.  I may find full-time work in the area I am now, or maybe the electives I take in my second year will send me in a new direction.  Everywhere I look I see a lot of possibilities as opposed to dead ends; this is definitely something that my MBA has helped me to achieve.

And in the new realities of my day-to-day life, when I encounter a door that’s locked: hey, look at that! My badge grants me access, and I forge ahead.

The Time Value of Joy

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Ding!  Anyone going to that launch party for that thing we worked on?  Ding!  No.  Ding!  Maybe.  Ding!  Let’s do 4-6 for our happy hour team catch-up.  Ding!  I’m out of town.  Ding!  RARRRR!!!!!  Ding!  Guess we’ll have to wait for the summer.  Ding!  Don’t forget to print the ticket for that event you signed up for!

The background noise of the Foster MBA is the perpetual ding of the gmail notifier.

Ding!  Tech Club wants you to come to our event!  Ding!  Here’s a third reminder for that launch party.  Ding!  Congratulations to this year’s Leadership Fellows!

I thought I would never figure it out- how to juggle this constant influx of information- the outrageous flow of opportunity, commitment, connections, responsibilities, and tasks of all kinds.  I remember the strange stillness that became of my life after I quit my job, sold all of my belongings in Detroit, and flew to Seattle with only two suitcases to my name and the idea that I would carve a niche for myself in the world with help from the Foster School of Business.  “Niche” is the key word here.  You can’t do everything in the MBA- so how do you choose?

Ding!  We’d like to interview you tomorrow for an internship position.  Ding!  Yes, former president of my club, you are invited to Happy Hour!  Ding!  Friday works for me.  Ding!  I’d also prefer Friday.  Ding!  Yeah Friday!  Ding!  You’ll have to go without me.  Ding!  Great- see everybody there then.

Some things are obvious- clearly you want to pay attention when someone wants to interview you for an awesome internship.  But, what about all this other noise?  The clubs constantly bombarding you with scheduling; the speaker and networking events promoted by the program office; the coaching sessions solicited by the career center; the (sooo many!) contacts you can make with alumni, second years, partners of partners of business partners; cousins of classmates of alumni of classmates; special projects…

Ding!  This project looks harder than I thought.  I need help!  Ding!  When should we close the survey?  Ding!  51 sounds like plenty of people to me.  Ding!  Let’s divide and conquer!  Ding!  Let’s keep it open- more is better!  Ding!  Here’s my valuation: what do you guys think?  Ding!  Something’s not quite right there…  Ding!  Here’s your add-code for that class you want.  Ding!  Should we get together Friday to talk about the next case study?  Ding!  Yes we should!  Ding!  I agree!

Also you have to do your classwork- there is that too.

Ding!  Here’s your graded Accounting exam.  Ding!  What terminal growth rate did you use?  Ding!  What kind of speech am I supposed to give tomorrow?  Ding!  This kind of speech!  Ding!  Ok.  Ding!  We just heard that you were all too busy to apply for the India Consulting Project, so we’ve extended the deadline.

At times, it feels like triage.  There is a constant flow of tasks coming in.  You can’t possibly treat all of them at once, so you have to assess the severity of each.  “This one’s critical!  We need to operate now!”  or “This one’s dead- just delete it,” or, and this one gets messy- “file this one for later.”

Ding!  Time for the Foster Cup Cycling Event!  Are you participating?  Ding!  Join us at the Student Budget Roundtable!  Ding!  We heard there was some concern about the club budgeting process- here’s a giant email full of words that you don’t have time to absorb.  Ding!  Thank you for taking my (four-hundredth) marketing research survey!  Ding!  Whoops- believe it or not, that giant email I sent a minute ago wasn’t done- there’s more!  Here you go!

All of these emails came on May 15.  And this is only a fraction of the noise when you consider that there are also classmates all around you promoting their own club’s events, and text messages and phone calls to boot.  And don’t forget about those pesky professors lecturing at the front of the room!  My calendar for this particular day included a 2-hour Accounting class, a 2-hour Marketing class, a meeting with my therapist (to talk about how overwhelmed I was) and (thankfully!) a birthday party including multiple artisan cupcakes, glasses of champagne, and an adorable newborn baby being all baby-like.

So how did I choose on this particular day how to prioritize?  There is clearly a trade-off between being comfortable and happy now verses being successful and content later.  Many people will often say- resist instant gratification!  Sacrifice!  Persevere!  I say this:

Just as there is a time value of money, there is also a time value of joy.

Joy/(1+r)^t

Don’t forget that what makes you feel happy, accomplished, and at ease in the here-and-now is worth more than the same in the future.  Also, it’s better to figure out who you are now- to connect with people over your interests, and to succeed at what really makes you happy today- than to guess at what will make you happy in the future and scheme and plot to put yourself into position to make that happen.  That being said, the “r” in the above equation will be different for everybody.  Some people will value present benefit over future benefit to a lesser degree than others.  There’s no one right way to approach the MBA.  Do I wish I could have done even more on May 15?  Of course.  But do I regret capping my day with a glass of champagne and a Neapolitan cupcake from Cake Envy?  Absolutely not, because without a doubt, the relationships you build at Foster are the most important takeaways you can get.  I guess what I’m saying is: that cupcake was a serious investment in my future.

~ Guest Blogger Edward Chinevere, Full-time Class of 2013, 2012-2013 Diversity Club President and Leadership Fellow

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.

Rush-Order Internship

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

A number of channels exist to help Foster MBAs find summer internships following their first year of business school, from on-campus recruiting to internal and external job boards, to alumni connections and corporate networking contacts.  Here is one account.

By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013.  Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies.  After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.

A week ago Tuesday I got a call around 2 PM.  I was still in my pajamas, heating up some pea soup for lunch after an early nap on a grey Seattle afternoon.  I had a To Do list, of course: laundry, cleaning, and a growing list of even more internships opportunities that needed my attention by way of resume revisions, tailored cover letters, research, and networking connections to be made.  But also, I had the whole week wide open in front of me, with plenty of time to do that all…after I caught up on some season finales on hulu.com.  Such was the lovely state of my life after finals!  I turned from the stove to answer my cell and was greeted by an enthusiastic recruiter.  Her company would like to interview me!

Well, this was a lovely turn!  I stumbled through the beginning of the conversation because, you see, I did not know this company off the top of my head – and did not recall directly applying for any position with them.  But once I was told she had received my resume from the Foster School of Business, everything clicked into place.  The career center had put me forward as a candidate for a new internship that had suddenly become available.  So I expressed that I would be delighted to interview, and pulled out my calendar book.  We quickly scheduled a series of three (three? Yes, three!) interviews for that Thursday, beginning at 8 AM.

After I got off the phone (and helped myself to some organic Trader Joe’s soup), I sent a quick note to my career counselor, Susan Canfield, and looked up the company on the internet.  As I was perusing their web site, my career counselor responded – congratulations! and also yes, we should meet to prepare – so I turned it around and arranged to come into the career center the very next day.

My meeting with Susan was very busy, but very productive: we talked about the company and the likely project opportunities, and she gave me a laundry list of further research I should do that night to prepare: reading up on the industry, not just the company; scoping out the LinkedIn profiles of my interviewers, looking into similar positions on the Foster job board to get a better sense of the responsibilities and requirements of typical product management work.  Susan also drilled me on my responses to typical interview questions and helped me brush up (and abbreviate) some stories I tried that felt shaky.  Finally, before I left, she identified a Foster MBA alumn already working at the company, and sent a quick introductory note suggesting we talk.  Phew!  I had a lot to do that evening to get ready!

Amazingly, within 5 minutes the alumn had responded with contact information and a time to call that same night – and I realized how truly phenomenal the Foster network can be.  Later that evening, he spared a half an hour to walk me through the industry, the company, and the staff I would be meeting with the following morning.  I was incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with him and gain his perspective and support.

Armed with his insights and notes from my own research, I put myself to bed.  I slept well for maybe the first 4 hours before waking once to use the bathroom, and then every half hour afterwards in a fit of nerves, glancing at the clock to make sure I had not missed my alarm (I never miss my alarm! But still…).  I finally broke the cycle at 5:30 AM when I arose to shower, eat, and suit up.  And then I grabbed my folio, checking to make sure it was stocked with copies of my resume as well as business cards, and hopped into the car hoping to beat rush-hour traffic to Bothell.

By 10 AM I was turned around and heading back home – all my manic prep work had paid off!  Each of my interviews had gone well, I believed, developing into something that felt more like a conversation than a critical back-and-forth.  I was able to speak about the MBA program, my experience with teams; my interests in the industry and the ties between the position and my experience; my goals for the future and how they oh-so-snugly fit with this company, right here – and this position, right now!  Better yet, after all my  research and this series of conversations, I felt genuinely excited at the prospect of working there, with the team that had interviewed me, on the projects that had been discussed.

Later that afternoon – a mere 48 hours after I became aware of the opportunity! – I got another call, this time one I had been told to expect – and I was offered the internship.

I enthusiastically accepted.

Foster on Two Wheels

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I live in a great part of town called Fremont.  It has three things that are important to me.  It’s near the water, it’s near about a dozen great bars, and it’s near the Burke Gillman trail.  I’ve been biking since I was a child.  Before my legs could reach the pedals my old man would sit me on the cross bar and ride us along hopping curbs and “stump jumping.”  Needless to say, biking is and has been an important part of my life.

Seattle is the most bike friendly city in the world.  They literally rip streets up and put in bike lanes.  Cars don’t run you off the road, and most of the time you don’t need it because of wonderful trail routes.  I’ve been riding my bike to school since starting at Foster. It’s about 2.5 miles and my only concern is not getting so hot that I’m a sweaty mess in class.  Waking up on a crisp morning and riding to school has been more effective for me than the liter of coffee I consume regularly.  Getting out of class and bombing down the University hill is the best part of my day.

~ Guest Blogger Charlie Northrop, Full-time Class of 2013

How It All Gets Done

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Ever wonder how Foster MBAs gear up for a new week of classes, manage their career searches, and manage to keep themselves sane?  Here is one account.

By Gwyn Gaubatz, Full-time Class of 2013.  Gwyn graduated from Smith College with a double-major in Computer Science and American Studies.  After teaching two years in rural Mississippi with Teach for America, she spent five years in the educational testing industry before her interest in organizational behavior and development drew her to business school.

It is 9:30 Sunday morning when the homework panic hits.  Over coffee and an English muffin, I start running through the present status of my weekend To Do list. Due to surprisingly gorgeous weather, I only completed one assignment on Saturday, a review and self-evaluation of a speech I gave last week in ‘Finding Your Voice,’ a business communications course…which means that I have a lot to do on Sunday.

I have to:

  • Update my resume and draft and submit cover letters for 2 internships
  • Review the speech of one of my classmates and provide peer feedback
  • Read Bill Gate’s Harvard commencement speech as a sample exhortation to ‘Change the World’
  • Read 2 assigned articles for my Ads & Promotions class
  • Complete an online problem set on MyAccountingLab
  • Complete a case write up for Managerial Accounting
  • Prep for a 5 PM team meeting on our first Operations case of the term
  • Write a personal statement and submit my scholarship application for the coming school year

Oh, and also:

  • Clean my apartment
  • Do two loads of laundry
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Prepare dinner and fix lunches for the beginning of the week
  • Go to bed on time!

My mind spinning, I feel myself getting sucked into an anxiety-driven negative feedback loop.  How will I get everything done?  There are not enough hours in the day!

And then I remember that I have given myself a mantra to get through days like this: I can only do one thing at a time, and it is going to be OK.

OK.

First things first, I run my laundry down to the basement.  Easy. Done.

Next!

In sequence, over the next few hours, I diligently work my way through my chores and most of my homework assignments, and even manage to submit my scholarship application.  Every time my mind tries to distract me with dire warnings – you have so much more to do! Don’t forget you have a meeting tonight!  And there is no food in the fridge! – I remind myself: I can only do one thing at a time.  It is going to be OK.

And so, one step at a time, I work my way through the afternoon, completing my course work.

An hour into my team meeting, my colleague and I are stuck with only two out of three case questions answered.  Reviewing the case and our class notes illuminates nothing, so we agree to break early. He makes plans to follow-up with our professor the next day while I agree to turn our preliminary notes into workable text; we will reconvene with the rest of our team Monday evening.  Sometimes, the best solution to a knotty problem is to know when to take a step back.

I stop by the grocery store to stock up on food for the week and when I get home I decide to take an hour (or two…or three!) off of work to make myself dinner, watch some TV and browse the Internet.  At 10:00 PM it’s back to work to finish off the night with my Managerial Accounting write-up.  But wait – have I forgotten something?

The internships!

I check the Foster MBA Jobs website and confirm that two internships I have flagged as possibilities have applications due tonight.  Do I have time to write both cover letters AND finish my case?  I certainly don’t have time to panic, so I set to work.  After checking in with some friends online and getting both advice and encouragement, I return my attention to the two internships.  One of them, I realize, was flagged in haste; the job description matches neither my background nor my interests.  Well, that’s one less thing to do!  In the next hour I shine up my resume and craft a new cover letter, with notes I saved from the Career Center to serve as reminders of format, content, do’s and don’t’s.  After reading through my materials twice, I submit my application just under the wire.  Phew!

I quickly shift gears back to my Managerial Accounting case and begin to work on my write-up but find myself struggling to make simple connections.  I look at the clock and have to acknowledge that I am pretty much useless this close to midnight; if I keep plugging away it will be nothing but diminishing returns for the rest of the night.

And so I go to bed.

At 7:30 Monday morning, I return to the task at hand.  Over coffee and an English muffin, I work my way through a comparison of a traditional costing system and activity-based costing at a small commercial bank.  In less than an hour I’ve completed the case and posted responses to the course’s page on Blackboard.

The sun is shining yet again as I head out of my apartment towards the bus.  I can tell that this week is off to a great start!  I can only do one thing at a time, and right now I’m going to enjoy blue skies above my head and the blossoming trees that line my route towards town.