Day in the Life

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.

Does it get easier? Five stories from 2nd Years

Monday, January 16th, 2012

The myth of business school is that life gets easier in your second year. While life may not necessarily get easier, it definitely changes, mostly for the better. Below are 5 stories highlighting life as a second year in the full-time Foster MBA program.

The Full Foster Experience
By Guest Blogger Jenny Brackett, Full-Time Class of 2012. Jenny is an MBA/MHA candidate focused on operations and project management. She currently serves as an intern for the UW Medical Center Planning & Referral Department and as a board fellow for Group Health Foundation. She is also vice president of the Biotech & Healthcare Club. Prior to graduate school, Jenny worked in public relations and marketing for clients including Swedish Medical Center, the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Intel Corporation, among others. She is originally from Whidbey Island and is a double-Husky completing Bachelors of Arts degrees in communication and psychology from University of Washington in 2005.

As a second year full-time MBA student, I have pretty much loaded my schedule with as many activities as possible, and I am enjoying every minute of it. When I look back on my first year, while I was incredibly busy with constant deliverables in each class and part-time work, I still felt as if I could have done more. This year, I’m pushing myself to experience all that the Foster MBA experience has to offer.

Classes are obviously priority one. Since I am also in the MHA program (Master of Health Administration), I am taking 18 credits every quarter. My schedule this winter includes five classes, three of which are at Foster and two are in the School of Public Health. The two buildings are literally as far away on campus as possible so I spend a fair amount of time trekking across campus. Some days it’s cold and tiring when I’m feeling lazy, but the views on campus are amazing, and I’m trying to soak up the scenery as much as possible. It’s also built-in exercise which is an added bonus.

Part of my time is spent in my internship in the UW Medical Center Planning and Referral Development department. I am able to fit about 18 hours each week, but I do have to take a night class to open up enough work hours in the day. This is fine since many electives are offered at night, and second years typically take at least one night class. One quarter I also served as a grader for an evening MBA course. It was possible to juggle this, but I definitely went a little overboard.

Besides this, I fill spare moments with activities for the Biotech & Healthcare Club, Operations Club and Leadership Fellows. I also serve as a Board Fellow for Group Health Foundation, so I attend board and committee meetings every few weeks. And as every Foster MBA does, I make sure to log my C4C volunteer hours. It’s not all work though. I definitely make time for fun at TGs and occasional Pub Club. It’s a great opportunity to unplug and socialize.

In your second year, every day is a little different, and everyone’s schedules are different from one another’s. We are all busy but we’ve each customized how we want to spend our time. For me, the busier, the better. It’s only going to happen once, might as well enjoy it.

Get Out What You Put In
By Guest Blogger Sita Dontharaju, Full-Time Class of 2012. Sita is originally from India, studied metallurgical engineering, worked as a software engineer for 4 years and finally found her passion in business. She is passionate about technology and interested in the tech industry for a career. She looks forward to achieving her goals while giving back to Foster.

Here I am, successfully completed one year and one quarter of my MBA and calling myself a second year student! Sounds like a privilege!

First year was busy, as you can read the posts on this blog, and particularly for me there was a lot of getting accustomed. However, second year has been another life changing experience. Having been acclimatized to Seattle, Foster and having finished most core courses, time had come to make decisions that directly affected my career. The challenges I had were diverse – internship that continued as a part-time job through the quarter, a teaching assistantship, club activities, great courses taught by the best professors and most importantly – hunt for the perfect job!

There was a lot of working smart with lot of planning than simply working hard. I always had a schedule and tried my best to do justice to it. There were definitely times when I was not able to stay on top of all the activities due to the busy schedule and conflicting priorities. And then I learnt, it is not always possible to achieve 100% of the goals but giving your 100% is more important. And that gave me a very positive outlook.

The club activities, the TGs and the campus events were always a welcome break from school work. The part-time job was great in its exposure to real-life problems and challenges and gave further motivation to learn more at school. The great faculty made the case studies an amazing experience. And putting all these together, mixed with the great Foster spirit made the dream job a reality.

And the most valuable assets are the bonds with classmates, the connections with the faculty and career coaches and the interactions with the Foster community. I learnt more from the great people around me than I did ever before, which is also the most unique part of my second year. The challenges and the rewards make the second year of MBA unique. Second year offers more challenges, and demands more conscious, calculated and relentless effort. At the same time rewards you with great camaraderie, precious moments and the will to achieve great heights!

And then I remember, during the orientation the dean said – “You will get from the MBA program as much as you put into it”! It’s so true. And second year is when you put in the most, knowing what you want!

It won’t be long before I miss being a second year!

What Happens when you say “Yes” to Extending your Internship
By Guest Blogger Andrew Roberts, Full-Time Class of 2012. Andrew is a Seattle local with an undergraduate degree in Economics from UW. His background in non-profit organizations and startups, but he finds himself in a lot of finance and strategy courses these days. He is looking to a career in consulting post-grad. When not over-scheduling himself with class and work obligations, he aspires to work-life balance with Crossfit, hiking, photography, and travel.

Who knows what I was thinking… I had survived year one of my MBA in good health and good spirits. I spent my summer dedicated to my work as an intern at Intellectual Ventures. Come fall quarter, by some strange luck and careful bidding, I had managed to squeeze 16 credits of core and electives into just two class days and two nights. When September came around, my efforts at IV had made an impression and they asked if I could stay on. A glance at my calendar showed three days a week completely free of school obligations. “I’d love to – looks like I can manage 20 hours or so…”
Now a taste of what *actually* happened:

Monday – Work Day
In the office by 8:30am, out by 6pm. I hate the commute to the Eastside. I like the free coffee and bagels at IV. Did I forget to eat lunch?
Finance team meeting to review case deliverable from 7pm to 8pm. Might get around to reading for Ethics afterwards…

Tuesday – Class Day
Ethics didn’t have a chance last night, so it’s Starbucks @ 8:30am to caffeinate, eat, and read up for class @ 10:30.
Lunchtime Meet the Firm for Deloitte Consulting, but I’m so sick of Vietnamese sandwiches I’ll have to forage elsewhere for food.
After lunch, it’s Finance with Jennifer Koski. I love the cold calls (no really, I do!). Then, another meeting with the Finance team to prep for next class. I’m so glad we have an accountant on our team…
Duck out of the meeting early at 5pm to catch an overview of the Study Tours this year. Brazil is going to be amazing…
Barely time to grab Coke before I’m off to my night class – Entrepreneurial Strategy with Darius Sankey, who happens to also be a colleague at IV.
9:30pm and I’m finally on my way home on the bus. I read what I can for Direct Marketing the next day, but 13 hours straight has taken it out of me.

Wednesday – Work Day, With Class…
Work from 8:30 onward. Thank God for coffee. I have every intention of leaving by 5pm to make my evening class with Elizabeth Stearns
I get held up by some important conversations and held up even more by terrible traffic. I’m late to class… Again. It’s becoming a running joke – I’ve been threatened with impromptu karaoke in front of the class if I’m late again. I don’t know how the Evening students do it.
Finally homeward bound at 9:30pm.

Thursday – Class Day
Today resembles Tuesday, except it is Alvarez & Marsal instead of Deloitte at lunch. I really like this company and they’ve got offices in California as well… Have to keep that in mind when the recruiter comes a calling.
I still have a Finance meeting in the afternoon, and another with my Entrepreneurial Strategy team after. No night class and I still don’t get off campus until 8:30pm.

Friday – Work Day
What is the lethal dose for caffeine? I feel as though I’m getting close… Work runs late (or maybe I don’t know when to quit), but I’m determined to make it back to campus for the Halloween TG. This year I’ll be going as the beleaguered grad student. Save some beer for me!

Saturday & Sunday – Weekend, sort off…
Finally a break! Wait… Actually, I have no free time during the week, so it’s a Direct Marketing team meeting all afternoon. Both days. These folks have been incredibly understanding of my work commitments – I couldn’t do it without their support.
It’s a pathetic thrill that I actually have time to go to the grocery store and do laundry before it’s time to get things together and prep for the coming week!

Week Summary
Hours on Campus: 30
Hours in Off-Campus Team Meetings: 8
Hours at Work: 26
Cups of Coffee Consumed: Too Many
Number of Meals and Hours of Sleep: Not Enough
Sense of Accomplishment: Off the Charts

FT MBA Second Year = Your Year
By Guest Blogger Saurabh Modh, Full-Time Class of 2012. Saurabh is originally from Ahmedabad (India) and is a second year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. He is focused on Marketing and Finance and is currently exploring opportunities within the technology industry in Seattle and the Bay Area. He is also involved in the MBAA (VP of IT) and holds a leadership role in the Foster Business Technology Club.

The title of this post is representative of what the second year of a Foster full-time MBA student can be. It allows a lot of flexibility with respect to choosing your classes, your projects, your part-time work, clubs, etc. Having said that, it does not mean that it is less hectic than any other quarter of the MBA program. Well of course, except the first quarter. I will describe how a typical day in my second year of MBA goes by. Let me start with Tuesday.

As soon as I get up on Tuesday, I know it is going to be one of the most hectic days of the week. I have a Consumer Marketing and Brand Management class at 10:30am. This class is usually followed by an MBAA meeting or a meet-the-firm event or a club event from 12:30 pm to 1:20 pm. As soon as it is 1:15 pm, I realize I have to go to a new venture intern meeting at 1:30 pm. This meeting is part of a CIE project that I along with three other MBAs are doing with a start-up located in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. After finishing the meeting by around 3:00 pm, I get a good 30 minutes break before I go for my Macroeconomics class at 3:30 pm. Once the Macro class is done, I have another 30 minutes break before I go to my last class of the day – the Business to Business Marketing class from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm. At 9:15 pm, I keep thinking of the queen size bed in my apartment and how I will go sleep on it once I am done with the class. But no, depending on the week, I might have to finish a case before an early morning class on Wednesday. This is how my Tuesday goes. Did I scare you? The good news is that the rest of the week is not as overwhelming. I have only one class on Mondays and Wednesdays. And so, on those days, I usually search for jobs, apply for them, do informational interviews and participate in club activities. Of course Thursday is the most happiest day since the weekend is right around the corner.

So yes, second year schedule can be designed and manufactured as per your requirements. And it is a lot of fun to decide which classes to take, which events to attend and which club activities to participate in. I would say MBA second year gives you a great chance to build your character and personality.

Know When to Say No
By Carly Massey, Full-Time Class of 2012. Carly graduated from Williams College having majored in Psychology & English. She moved from Boston for Foster’s MBA program and has studied general management over the last 5 quarters. She just received and accepted a full-time position in Liberty Mutual’s Corporate Development Program and will be returning to Boston upon graduation.

Second year can tailored however you want. Two small nuggets of wisdom: everything will take more of your time than you think, and know when to say no. I did not understand either of those things, and as a result have found myself scrambling around this second year as I juggle all my responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything I do and wouldn’t give up a single piece of my involvement. But if I had known, I may have used the word “no” more often last year when signing up for everything. A typical day of mine goes like this:

9:00 am – Team meeting to go over a presentation for our 10:30 class. I missed all the team meetings this weekend as I was out of town, but am quickly brought up to speed and ready to lead the presentation.
9:30 am – I am one of the Challenge for Charity auction co-chairs and need to start coordinating the night of volunteer activities since the auction is less than a month away! I meet with my co-chair and the person we delegated this task to in order to explain the process, go through the time line, and assign people duties. We still have so much to do with the auction!
10:30 am – Brand Management class. Each team has done a Visual Identity Exercise with Benaroya Hall. Now, we get to present our ideas to two people from the actual marketing agency with this task. Everyone has great ideas – it’s awesome to see so much creativity!
12:30 pm – The MBA Association hosts a meeting for club presidents and first-year representatives to go over club goals and succession planning. As president of the Women in Business Club, my first-year rep and I must attend. It’s a great meeting and we come up with some really good ways to improve WiB going forward. They also serve food, which is necessary.
1:30 pm – As a Leadership Fellow, one of my tasks is to meet with my first year team members in a one-on-one capacity. I meet one of my team members in a coffee shop and we chat about the internship process, what second year is like, etc. It’s a great conversation – I’m so glad I get to interact with first years this way!
2:30 pm – I haven’t checked my email in several hours so I spend an hour going through my 30 unread emails. I also check the Student Ambassador email inbox to ensure I didn’t forget to schedule a class visit or anything.
3:30 pm – Macroecon class. Today we discuss what the effects of extending or expiring the Bush era tax cuts are. Despite being a class of 100+, the conversation flows well.
5:30 pm – Time to head home! Once home, I check email again, do my reading for class the next day, and check facebook to see if I’ve missed any news.
8:30 pm – Done with school work for the day. I put away my computer, cook dinner, watch a couple episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” and go to bed around 11. I love being as involved as I am in Foster – that’s why I wanted a smaller program. And it’s days like these that I go to bed feeling accomplished and happy! Tomorrow I have less on my plate, so I’ll make sure to go to the gym and go to lunch with friends. Even when I am running around, I can’t forget to take care of myself mentally and physically.

What First Quarter is Really Like: 5 Student Stories

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Coffee is a Must
By Guest Blogger Ryan Loren, Full-Time Class of 2013. Ryan hails from Vancouver, Washington. His background is in finance, and he hopes to pursue international business in southeast Asia post-graduation.

As I’m approaching the end of my first quarter here at Foster, it’s been a whirlwind experience. Challenging, busy, fun, did I mention busy? Here is a glimpse into the life of a 1st year MBA student, in the first quarter.

6:30 a.m. – Roll out of bed. Breakfast, cup of coffee and prep for the today’s finance class.

7:30 a.m. – I live in Ballard, so we’ve got a nice “Ballard Crew” carpool going. It’s my turn to drive, so I pick up three of my other classmates and we’re off. Get to Paccar Hall (a.k.a. my second home) in time to grab another cup of coffee from Orin’s.

8:30 a.m.– Caffeine…check. Professor Gilbert’s high-energy finance class…check. Good start to my day so far. Today we have a capstone case discussion, which covers the entire class to date. Very interesting discussion and debate in today’s class. It’s amazing how much we’ve learned in such a short amount of time. A full two-hour class flies by.

10:30 a.m. – Group meeting. We debrief our case project on what went right and what went wrong. Key learning’s are discussed and then we move on. No time to dwell on your successes and failures because the next project or next assignment is already waiting. We assign project leads and get ready to tackle whatever is thrown at us next. I’m bias, but my group rocks!

12:30 p.m. – I’ve been elected the first year representative for the Global Business Association, so I needed to attend a lunch, “Fall Quarter Club Presidents and First-Year Reps Forum”. We discussed everything from future events, succession planning for second year reps, and budgets. Great to get the MBAA reps and club reps all in one place bouncing ideas off one another. Not to mention a free lunch.

1:30 p.m. – Accounting class, it’s a love-hate relationship. There is no doubt that Professor Kennedy knows her stuff though.

3:30 p.m. – With such a large finance case just finished my group decides to not meet after class. We head our separate ways, but I end up meeting up with a couple other guys for a beverage down on the “ave.”

5:00 p.m. – Get home, grab a quick bite, and then its back to the books. Accounting…marketing…statistics…oh my. Yep, that’s the life I’ve chosen for the next two years and no regrets.

10:00 p.m.– …And I’m worthless. I don’t work well after ten p.m., so I call it a night. Head upstairs to get my nightly fix of ESPN.

11:30 p.m. – Lights out. Ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

Making it Work
By Guest Blogger Mandi Chappell, Full-Time Class of 2013. Mandi is from Austin, TX, and has a new baby and a husband working crazy hours. After graduation, she wants to explore cross sector collaboration, particularly how business can benefit society, non-profits, and government.

Some people think I’m crazy to be going for my MBA right now as I actually just had my first child last May. So while the program is a challenge in itself, I’m attempting to make it work while at the same time being the best momma I can be to my sweet baby girl. Here is an idea of what a typical day looks like for me.

5:00 am – Baby wakes up, she’s hungry. I go downstairs to make a bottle then feed her and try to get her back to sleep for another hour or two. She’s back down 45 minutes later and so am I!

7:45 am – Now we’re both up for good. I get her changed & ready for the day then go down to the kitchen for our morning routine: set her up in her highchair with some toys while I get her bottles ready for daycare and then give her some cereal and another bottle. If I’m not running too late I’ll grab breakfast cereal myself (a rarity!).

8:45 am – Give the baby some toys to play with in her crib while I shower and get myself ready for the day. Ideally we’re out the door to drop her off at daycare by 9:30 am.

10:20 am – Arrive at campus, grab a cup of coffee (unless had time to make a to-go cup at home before leaving) and head to Marketing core class, rushing to not be late so don’t get called out (he makes people bang on the desk ‘til you get seated if you’re late – not to be mean, just fun and makes people make an effort to be on time).

12:30 pm – Attend a Strategy Club sponsored lunch event to hear folks from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Great talk and free lunch (if you’re a member!).

1:30 pm – Meet with my core team (which I lucked out on – LOVE THEM!) to prep for Finance & Statistics cases due early next week and then study for Accounting midterm tomorrow if time permits.

3:30 pm – Head into Statistics core class. Grab coffee during the break so can keep focused – didn’t do so hot on the first midterm so really trying to grasp everything in order to pull my grade back up by doing awesome on the second midterm.

5:20 pm – Done at Paccar for the day, time to rush over to the daycare to pick up the baby – if not there by 6 p.m. they charge by the minute!

6:15 pm – Get home. Depending on when they daycare fed the baby last I might feed her or might let her play for a bit while I do some house cleaning.

7:00 pm – Baby bedtime routine – bath, jammies, story, bottle. Hopefully she’s asleep by 7:45.

7:45 pm – Cook dinner for my husband and I, assuming he’s home from the hospital by then (he’s doing a fellowship so equally as busy as I am).

8:30 pm – Eat dinner with husband, watch an episode of Boardwalk Empire or something else clogging up our DVR. This is our only time together these days.

9:15 pm – Thank the hubby for cleaning up dinner. He goes off to bed after and I start my studying for the day. Typically I’d be trying to learn finance & accounting to be able to complete my homework, but today is unique in that there is an Accounting midterm tomorrow and we just finished Finance midterm so no homework this week. So tonight is CRAM TIME, yay for t-accounts, journal entries, LIFO & FIFO!!!

12:30 am – Finally going to bed. If I don’t know it by this point, I’m not gonna learn it in the next few hours. Better to get some shut eye for a bit as the baby will be up in a few hours and gotta be out of the house by 7:30 am to get to class by 8:20.

Just Another Manic Monday
By Guest Blogger Laura Peirano, Full-Time Class of 2013. Laura grew up in Walnut Creek, CA, and graduated from UCLA in Design | Media Arts and Global Studies. Her professional goals are to be a marketing professional in the food and beverage industry. In her free time, Laura does yoga, cooks, and enjoys most outdoor activities and sports, but she hasn’t had much free time this quarter. Laura is a first-year class rep for her class section.

Monday through Wednesday is one long sprint. Thursday is a combination of relief and exhaustion. Friday isn’t really a break even though there is no class because there are career services events, team meetings, and timed online finance quizzes. By the time Monday rolls around again, you better be prepared to run.

7:00 am – Alarm goes off and I can hear it raining outside. I put on a pot of coffee, make some quick protein pancakes and pack my backpack full with my computer and notebooks for class.

8:15 am – I’m out the door with my Foster traveler mug full of hot black coffee in one hand, and a reusable Trader Joe’s bag filled with boxes of Joe’s Os for the class meeting in the other hand.

8:30-10:20 – Shelly’s marketing class. Today the case up for discussion is the organization and implementation of Cialis, a competitor to Viagra. The conversation is lively as students participate in analyzing Cialis’s challenges using the marketing framework and try not to make inappropriate jokes.

10:30-12:20 – Meeting with my core team the “Spicy Five.” We named ourselves that because we share a common love for spicy food. My team is awesome and I’ll be sad to leave them next quarter.

12:30-1:00 pm – The other section rep Jessica and I lead the Class of 2013 All-Class Meeting to debrief about midterms, plan for finals, and brainstorm a fun activity for the class to do together. We pass around the Joe’s Os to reward those who attended.

1:30-3:20 pm – Statistics class with Erich. He cold calls people in the beginning of the class to review last week’s material and make sure everyone’s paying attention. We are.

3:20- 4:45 pm – Start to work on Statistics homework in the MBA lounge but get distracted talking to friends about their weekend. Back to statistics and then someone challenges me in a game of foosball. I never say no to foosball.

5:00 pm – MBAA Meeting with Evening and Full Time Executive Boards at Big Time Brewery on the Ave. I meet the evening board for the first time and then mostly listen as they all discuss current issues. They tell us, the first year reps, that they’re preparing us for when we have to start leading in Spring. Already?!? I just started school!

7:00 pm – Walk home with my heavy backpack and the leftover Joe’s Os to cook dinner and start on the week’s assignments. Do a little gchatting and procrastinating when my roommate gets home from her team meeting and then head to bed around midnight.

Refreshed… Back To School
By Guest Blogger Richard Ha, Full-Time Class of 2013. Richard worked in the advertising industry as a media director before coming to Foster. After graduation, he plans to focus on the tech/digital marketing industry.
Here what a day looks like for a 1st year student in the Foster MBA program; you’d be hard-pressed to ID a “typical” day for any of us!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

8:30 am — Since I was gone all Thanksgiving weekend, my fridge is in desperate need of food. Take advantage of a later class start time and head over to the grocery store to stock up.

10:00 am – Coffee in hand (what would an MBA student in Seattle be without?), I meet up with my core team to do a quick run-through of a finance case assignment we’ll be discussing in class today. Need to make sure we’re all prepared in case any of us are cold-called!

10:30 am — Turns out nobody on my team is called. Still, the entire class always gets involved in the discussion in Thomas Gilbert’s finance class.

12:30 pm — Attend a lunchtime Samsung Meet The Firms event to learn about internship opportunities next summer.

1:30 pm — Team meeting time! Start working on our next group assignment for accounting and help each other on our statistics homework.

3:30 pm — Accounting class with Jane Kennedy. On the lookout for tips to help on the team assignment.

5:30 pm — Attend a case discussion event with Amazon. The Amazon team presented situations their company faces to us 1st years and we got to think on our feet and put our new MBA knowledge to use to present some solutions.

7:30 pm — Make it back home. Eat dinner while I catch up on some DVRed shows while I also send out some thank you emails. How’s that for multi-tasking?

8:30 pm — Work some more on the accounting team assignment, start my finance homework, and do a bit of reading for marketing.

10:30 pm — Think I’ll call it a night school-wise. Time to unwind and get ready for a morning class tomorrow.

Passion for Learning
By Guest Blogger Pooja Tripathi, Full-Time Class of 2013. Pooja graduated with a software engineering degree from University of Mumbai, and worked as a software lead and developer in a multinational and a start-up IT and Telecom based companies with clients located in UK and US respectively. At Foster MBA, she is extending her previous skills by learning the tools to be an efficient product planner and manager in the high-tech industry.

Yawn!!! Monday morning rays are seeping through the blinds. I take a blanket; cover my face and go to sleep for next few hours. After I wake up at 9:00am, I brew a cup of hot coffee, sit by the window and enjoy the sunshine followed by some “Facebook’ing.” After I’ve replied to everyone, seen all the weirdest videos on everyone’s wall, it’s time for brunch and some TV shows. I realize it’s already 12noon and time for lunch. Well, I read some gossip in “Cosmopolitan”, do some “productive” work, followed by an afternoon nap. My husband wakes me up after coming back from office and we go out for a nice long sunset drive. We cook dinner together, watch some TV shows and it’s the time to go to bed.
Beep Beep….
Beeeeep Beeeeeep….
Beeeeeep Beeeeeep Beeeeeeeeppppppp……
What is that deafening sound????!!!!
I open my eyes and realize that it’s the annoying sound of my alarm clock. A voice from within echoes,
“Come out of your dream Pooja! This is your 1st quarter of the MBA program! This is NOT your lifestyle!”

It’s already 7am on a Monday morning and I have to commute to school to attend 8:30am Marketing lecture. If I am late to class, my classmates will welcome me with a noisy bench banging (a rule set by our professor) and probably the TA sitting in the last row will deduct some points from my class participation grade (I am assuming). So, I jump out of my bed, wear some random un-ironed t-shirt and jeans, stuff my laptop, some apples, “Fiber-one’s” in my bag and run to catch a bus to school. Within 30mins ride to school, I skim through the pre-readings for the class in order to maximize my class participation grade. The 2hrs of class is full of energy and lots of learning about 3C’s, 4P’s, 7M’s. The time flies by quickly.

10:30 am team-meeting, the pre-requisite is to have read the Statistics case due Wednesday, the Finance case due Thursday, and have understood all the concepts taught in class until last weekend. The latter is not a problem as we take Finance quiz every Friday so catching up with subject matter is never an issue. Anyway, my team, GDP aka “Global Diversity Pirates” (is what we named while drafting our team charter), is comprised of some brilliant people with diverse background and ethnicities, a Korean markets financial regulator, a Surface warfare officer, an entrepreneur, an army officer and a software engineer. This diversity assists in contributing varied insights and different approaches to solving team assignments. The team leaders for the projects initiate the case discussions, followed-up by dividing the work into sub-groups and setting up a timeline for finishing our tasks. We are walking on a tight rope with 2 cases due in the next 2-3 days along with our individual homework and readings for Accounting lecture due next day.
Inner Voice: Time Management is crucial in being efficient at everything that you do.

12:30 noon and I’ve to attend “Amazon-Meet the Firm” session, so I read up on some latest news about Amazon, dress up well and rush to the meeting room. I am loaded with some more company information. I leverage my previous knowledge about the company to network with the business professionals.

1:30pm and I’ve to attend the Statistics lecture. I submit my homework in the class and juggle my brain understanding sample means, proportions, t-test, f-test so on and so forth. I use the 5mins coffee break between the lecture to meet and greet my classmates and then back to the lecture.

3:30pm and it’s time for another team meeting until 5:30pm. We plan to finish most of the team assignments during the school hours so that there is no backlog after we go back home. But at times, we do need to spend some extra time reviewing our project memos.
I catch up on a small nap in the bus on my way back and after I reach home at 6:15pm, I sit back, relax for a while and plan the rest of my evening. I have set aside 1 hr of quality time with my husband so this is when we dine together, watch “Castle”, “How I met your mother”, “Modern Family” etc.

At 9:00pm I go back to my study den complete individual assignments for the next day, send a follow-up emails to Amazon professionals whom I met early this afternoon and probably search for any case competitions that I can participate in. You may wonder when in the world, do I’ve time for the case competitions. Well, I love the subjects, I love the professors, I love the dedicated career coaches, and I love the school environment. I want to be immersed in the curriculum, learn as much as I can and party hard every Thursdays and Friday evenings during Pub Clubs and TGIF’s respectively. I believe that if you are passionate about what you are doing, you will definitely enjoy what you do!
Have the passion to learn; Foster MBA has the remaining elements to make you the best business professional!