If you’re a veteran interested in pursuing a full-time MBA, here’s a great guest post from Joe Dennis (Class of 2016), a former Army Captain and the 2015-2016 President of the Foster Veterans Association, with advice on how to make the transition from service to school. The military veteran community here at Foster is pretty tight, and we were in your shoes 1-2 years ago. I had some reservations about choosing the right school, but I met with other veterans at Foster and I knew that I had to come here. I hope this helps with your transition! – Nelson Tang, USAF 2006-2014
We’re officially second-years!
Flashback to June 2015: We had just finished final exams and final projects for Spring Quarter…which meant that we were done with the first year of our MBA program. We were officially second years! A couple of students from the Class of 2016 were asked to talk about what the first year of our MBA program was like, and if we had any advice for the Class of 2017.
We have a great guest post today! Brennen Ricks (Class of 2015) wrote a 4-part series on his blog, 1personsexperience.blogspot.com, to answer the question: “Was the MBA worth it?” We’re featuring one of his articles here on the Costs vs Benefit of the full time MBA. Read his answers below, and be sure to check out more from Brennen on his blog!
Was an MBA worth it financially? What about all those costs you have to make up?
Tomorrow is the deadline for my very last payment in the MBA program: my graduation robe & hat. It makes me think about the total cost of doing this.
Going back to school was the financially riskiest thing Christine and I have done together so far, because the costs are relatively certain but the reward can be influenced by a lot of things outside of our control… a classic Cost & Benefit, or Risk & Reward story. I want to define what the costs and benefits were for Christine and me, and tell how those costs and benefits played out.
It’s my pleasure to introduce Marcus Dover (Class of 2016), our new Diversity Initiatives Coordinator for 2015-2016! Prior to the MBA, Marcus was in Accounting and Finance, and hopes to go into Marketing or Strategy. He’s also a huge 49ers fan and is active in the Foster Marketing Association, Diversity in Business, and many other clubs!
What led you to pursue an MBA?
I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted to switch gears and do something completely different with my career. I was no longer interested in accounting, but also wasn’t quite sure what type of career I was interested in pursuing. I knew an MBA would allow me to explore new career possibilities while gaining a new skill set that would allow me to successfully make the switch.
It’s my pleasure to introduce the new Social Media Coordinator for the Foster Full Time MBA Program, Roberto Molina! He’s a first-year MBA (Class of 2016) and originally hails from Mexico City. We had a great time on the same study team in Winter Quarter together. Read on for more about Roberto!
Guest post by Mattie Winistorfer, a wonderful 2016 Blue Dot! Mattie’s fiance is a current student here at Foster, and she is a member of the ‘Blue Dots’ – the network of spouses and significant others whose loved ones are in the Foster MBA program. The name comes from the blue dot stickers that were put on their name tags during Admitted Student Welcome Weekends, to indicate that they were the spouse/significant other of an admitted student.
What did you do before the MBA?
Prior to the MBA I was an Air Force Acquisitions Manager (aka Product Manager), but my background is in Mechanical Engineering. I supported cool stuff like satellite launches and advanced weapons research, but after 8 years I was ready for a life of peace, and for an opportunity to recharge. So I chose to get an MBA and devote two years of my life entirely to personal development, and Foster had just jumped up in the rankings. After the MBA, I hope to work in marketing or product management, working with cool people and tackling new challenges!
On April 1st, rising second-year student Stuart Childress will be assuming the role of President of the MBA Association (MBAA) for the 2015-16 school year.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA, especially the full-time program at Foster?
Like many people at Foster or considering Foster, I am a career changer. I spent 5 years working at a non-profit doing program operations. As someone motivated by challenges and opportunities, I reached a point that I was no longer experiencing either of those and wanted to pivot to the for-profit sector. While I felt like I had leadership and project management experience in spades, I was lacking the quantitative skills like finance, statistics and accounting. I was already living in Seattle and wanted to eventually work here. I figured Foster would be a great entry into companies native to or with a Seattle presence. I ultimately chose Foster because it was a great fit for me culturally.
What motivated you to be involved in MBA student leadership?
Leadership has always been an area I’ve pursued. In fact, one of the really appealing aspects of Foster was the variety of available leadership opportunities, even as a first year. There is an inherent opportunity cost when you choose to do the full-time MBA program. I really believe that as students, we have the power to shape our Foster experience and extract the value from it that we want and expect. But, we have to take the initiative as leaders to make it happen.
What goals do you have for the MBAA this next year?
- Streamline communication between various aspects of Foster Program, including Program, Academics, Career Management and Student Clubs.
- Increase collaboration between first and second years
- Continue to improve processes between Career Management and students
What has been your experience with being in the full-time MBA Program?
My experience has been really positive. To be honest, I was intimidated about coming to the MBA program. I didn’t quite know what to expect. But, I got over that fear really quickly. My classmates are smart, interesting, and incredibly helpful. The professors, career management, etc. really want you to get the most out of this program. And, we really do have a lot of fun. Of course, as with anything, there are some improvements I would like to see. As a class, we are already pushing for changes that hopefully will make your experience even better.
What advice would you give someone looking at pursuing an MBA?
My primary advice is, as I mentioned, you give up a lot to pursue an MBA–salary, time, possibly location. Make sure pursuing an MBA actually fits in with you career goals (even if they are not entirely nailed down) and is not just an exit strategy from your current position. I’ll have more advice for you once you’ve decided to attend!
I hadn’t always planned to go to business school. In high school I had always done my best in numbers, calculations, cold logic. Everything else was an abstraction. It made no sense to me that there could be more than one answer, or that responses to questions could run a spectrum of right and wrong. In undergrad I studied aeronautical and astronautical engineering and thrived. We used to say that we were really just glorified math majors and we’d joke to each other that “this isn’t liberal arts; we should all get the same answer.” I had always been most comfortable when there was one – and only one – right answer; when it was black and white, yes or no, true or false. It seemed incomprehensible to me to want it any other way, when there was a world of concrete, verifiable absolutism that just made sense.
Fast forward a few years to a few weeks before making the big move to the West Coast. Up until this time, there were two sides to the world that I knew: there was engineering – that marvelous straight-forward world where, if you got your numbers right and all your decimals and arithmetic signs aligned, it was guaranteed to work – and there was everything else. “Everything else” was a big, grey, fuzzy ether on the other side of the wall that separated my small corner of the world from them. I knew there were business people at my old job – financial analysts and planners, human resource managers, accountants, auditors, market analysts and salespeople – but I never saw them. Nor did I really have any clue what it was that they did, or how they did it, or even how it affected the company.
And yet, with each new person that I spoke to, I became increasingly convinced that an MBA would be the wisest course of action. It would open up more doors than a focused engineering degree. It would open up a plethora of new career paths and options to me. It would diversify my skill set. It would bring clarity to that amorphous, hazy something that I called “the rest of the world.”
Now I was poised to hurl myself over that wall and into that foggy, non-specific void to find out what lay beyond. In addition to the usual anxieties and what-if’s that everyone faces when going through a major life change, I was preoccupied with another set of trepidations. Would I be the only engineer in a class full of business majors? Would I be struggling to grasp concepts while everyone around me enjoyed a leisurely review of fundamentals? How could I survive in an environment where there was no single correct answer to any question? To what had I so blindly committed myself, my savings, and the next two years of my life?
I’ve found from prior experience that it never does well to dwell on anxieties, as they have a way of blowing themselves out of proportion. In the weeks leading up to my relocation and subsequent plunge into the frigid, icy unknown, I embarked on an 8,000-mile solo road trip, half conceived by wanderlust and half escapism. I spent three weeks alone, avoiding civilization, and going places I had no business going to with a rear-wheel drive coupe.
If you’ve ever spent any considerable amount of time in solitude, you know that your mind tends to drift towards subjects you’d rather not think about. Anxieties become amplified; insecurities you thought were safely in the closet come marching back out. More than once I thought (if only fleetingly) of turning around, canceling my enrollment and heading back to the comfort of my known universe.
Three things kept me steadfast in my commitment to attend business school. Firstly, I knew that I needed a change in my life and this was to be it. I get restless and bored if I stay in one place for too long, and five years on the East Coast was my limit. Secondly, I focused on what the workload might be. In undergrad, a 20 hour day was not atypical for me. If that’s what it took to succeed in business school, then I could do it. Thirdly, and most importantly, I knew that if I turned away from a defining personal challenge such as this, it would be a long time before I earned back my own self-respect.
So, now here I am, at the end of my first quarter as an engineer-turned-MBA student. At this stage, I can only say one thing for certain: I made the right choice, and in the words of a certain 16th century English playwright, I had made much ado about nothing.
For one, my apprehensions about sleepless nights have thus far proved baseless. I have finals coming up, but I’ve still managed to find the time to write this saga.
It also turned out I’m not the only engineer in the class, and as I got to know some of my classmates I found that regardless of our backgrounds many of them had the same or similar reservations about coming to school. We all came to this place with different strengths and weaknesses. Whether someone’s background was in engineering or computer science, finance or marketing, music theory or underwater basket-weaving, we were all in the same boat, on a more or less even playing field.
The career management center and professional development team work tirelessly to analyze your skill set, drill down to your fundamental essence and help you discover your transferable skills; the skills needed to succeed in business that you didn’t know you already possessed.
Even with this new-found self-discovery, the classes are still challenging; the workload burdensome at times. But the shared drudgery becomes the commonality that knits the class together. And the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.
The future still remains murky and unclear. I don’t know where I’ll end up when I graduate, in both a career sense and a geographic sense. In a previous life, when I was dependent on the need to have a clearly defined sense of the right and wrong directions to take, that might have given me insomnia. But now I know that I can learn how to pick the right answer within the context of the situation. That erstwhile shapeless and formless “other-world” becomes tangible and I can define my own path without the need for the crutch of absolutism.
~ Guest post by Kevin Cotter, Class of 2015 MBA Candidate
If you are an incoming first year student, we may have already met. I’m looking forward to seeing you again in September! Here are some helpful tips for success as you transition into the program:
Get to know your classmates
This may seem like common sense, but I am going to say it anyway. Now, I know some of you may be married and/or have kids, and this makes it very hard to do this outside of class studies, but get to know your classmates. Some of them are going to be friends for life. They will be great connections as you advance your career. And most of all, they are amazing people. How do I know this? The Foster admissions staff does a pretty good job of selecting great people. The first person I met shares my love for music, particularly hip-hop, and we have been best friends since. This amazed me, and it is only one example of the great people you will come to know. This also includes second years! I was a little timid in getting to know the second year students when school first started. They don’t bite. At least, I didn’t get bit, I didn’t see anybody get bit, and I have no urges coming on to bite people as I get ready to start my second year. Before you know it, we’ll be gone and you’ll be giving this advice to a new set of students, so don’t wait until it’s too late.
Utilize MBA Career Management during Fall Quarter
Winter quarter gets here quick. Internship recruiting starts basically the day winter quarter is here. Don’t wait until that time to get to know MBA Career Management and what they can offer because internship recruiting can be very overwhelming if you don’t feel prepared. I don’t care how busy you think you are, get in there fall quarter. Set time for this. Talk about your goals. Do mock interviews. You will thank me later and I can say I told you so. MBA Career Management is great, but you have to get in there and leverage them. They’ll be expecting you.
Volunteer. Do the C4C Weekend in California. Go to Whistler after fall quarter ends. You don’t have to do them all, but make sure you do some of the extra activities that the school and the students organize. They are great ways to get to know your fellow classmates and they also happen to be a lot of fun. It’s a short two years here; don’t look back and wish you would have done more of the activities, because I guarantee you people will be talking about how fun they are after they’re over.
You Will Survive
I’m not going to elaborate on this too much. You will have multiple times fall quarter where you think you aren’t going to make it. You will. I promise. In addition to your family, friends, and spouses, you have a great support system at Foster. You’ll learn more about this when school starts. Lean on them. They will help you get through it.
These are just a few takeaways from one student who has completed the first year of this great journey. Many others will no doubt have great advice for you. In closing I would just like to say, it’s going to get a little crazy at times, it will feel overwhelming, but make sure you remember to have fun. See you this fall.
~ Dennis Grubbs – Full Time Class of 2014