Network Effects: The San Francisco Road Show

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

In November, we followed up on our New York trip with a round 2 visit to San Francisco. This is a shorter trip, with just 1 full day of company visits, but just as valuable as our visit to New York City. Being on the West Coast, we have a lot of alumni connections in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

As you may have read in various articles on tips for anyone who wants to get into investment banking, switch to a new career, or relocate in general, such trips can help you access three of the most important keys to transition: connections, connections, connections.

Through in-person and follow-up interactions over time, our name and personal profile gets circulated in the San Francisco investment banker circle. The alumni connections we make on these trips are also great sources for information interviews, through which we can learn more about the company, industry and city from the inside. Moreover, alumni are often tremendously helpful in polishing a resume for the industry. Finally, they would be the perfect mock interview partner as they are often hiring managers themselves and can give pointers.

The Finance Road Shows got us the first “in”; now it will be up to us to follow through.

~Guest Blogger Kim Chan, Full-Time Class of 2013

We’re #10! We’re #10!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Foster MBA

So proud to be a part of Foster!

Business Week just published their rankings for the top part-time MBA programs in the country and Foster is number 10! This is a jump of 30 spots since the last published rankings in 2009. This ranks Foster above other prestigious business schools such as Chicago – Booth, NYU – Stern, Indiana – Kelley and USC – Marshall!

As a current evening student, the data points that jump out at me the most are the valuations of Teaching Quality, Caliber of Classmates, and Curriculum. Each of these categories was evaluated based on student surveys. Foster achieved an A+ for each of these categories! And, I can’t argue with this at all.

– Our professors are industry experts who not only have a wealth of practical and academic knowledge but also care about their students.
– My classmates are a trusted and diverse set of professionals representing a wide array of companies and industries. They are my cohorts in the classrooms and have become great friends outside.
– The curriculum in varied and challenging. The standards are high and we are driven to excel. This is exactly what I would expect from a top business school.
– The program offers a wide assortment of career services, mentoring programs, networking opportunities, clubs, global study programs and social activities to extend the value of my education beyond the classroom.

Business Week’s rankings only confirmed what I have known since I started in the program; that Foster is one of the top business programs in the country and delivers a world class education to their students. I can’t wait until the 2013 rankings when Foster climbs to Number 1!

Proud to be at Foster!
~Guest Blogger, Mark Ninomiya, Evening Class of 2013

Foster from an International Perspective

Monday, November 21st, 2011

As an international student from India, I did not have number of channels to get firsthand information about Foster school of Business. In my experience, the very first thing international students look at is the ranking of school on different websites. I had the mindset that the better the ranking the better the school. This is true only to certain extent, but once the school is in top 30 or 40, the rank does not matter that much. What matters most is what suits you the best.

When I did my research about Foster School of Business, my only source of information was the official website. But if you take efforts to dig deep in it and read through all available content, you get most of the information you need. The striking feature of Foster is in its different outlook towards the career after MBA. Instead of telling you where you should go, you get help to understand where you WANT to go. Along with the excellence in regular topics like finance, marketing, accounting, Career Services also consider the sports/athletic industry as appealing as finance or investment banking. If you are a person who is into sustainability, Non Profit or cleantech, there are different clubs and supporting events that would help you to get a jump start into that field.

The detailed information on the site about the MBA clubs, activities, and alums helps to understand the school to greater extent. In addition, the student blogs officially published throughout the web help a lot; most often those are international students writing about their experiences in the program. This gives a personal touch and good insight as they were in the same position one/two years back. These resources, though, give only a 40% idea about the school. When you arrive here after admittance you get to know the real value of this school. School is challenging because there is so much to offer, but it’s up to you how much you can take.

~Guest Blogger Sushant Wad, Full-Time Class of 2013

Evening Program Events

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

I can’t believe Spring quarter and my first year in the Evening MBA program are coming to an end. Thinking back on the past year, so much has happened that my head is still spinning:
– Meeting future classmates at Evaluation Day & EPRIME
– 6 rigorous core courses and 5 amazing professors
– Weekend study group sessions with 4 exceptionally talented and smart guys
– Participating in mentoring events at Russell Investments and SeaBear
– Flying off to Peru for the best study tour Foster students have ever seen
– Meeting future Foster hopefuls at campus night events and class visit
– Not to mention all the extracurricular fun like playing on two Foster intramural volleyball teams, happy hours, TG’s and the Fall Ball

Through it all, the one common aspect that made everything enjoyable and the experience invaluable was that I connected with so many different people in the Foster community. Everyone from the professors, faculty & staff, classmates and especially my study group members have made the journey thus far, an incredible one. And, now that I am able to serve as the Evening MBAA VP of Membership, my goal is to help build the MBAA community that will further bring everyone together and add value to everyone’s educational and career goals.

This Summer, the MBAA will be looking to plan events that will strengthen the connections made over the past year. Some events that have already been calendared are:
– The Evening MBA End of Year Celebration & Leadership Recognition on Saturday, June 4th 7PM start at Woodshed Studios in South Lake Union
– 1st Annual Challenge For Charity Walk on Wednesday, June 8th, 6PM start at the Greenlake Community Center
– Death Spiral’s last stand – The MBA Band’s last performance on Thursday, June 8th, 10 pm start at Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater

Additional events that are being planned include:
– Summer BBQ
– Mariners/Sounders Game Night

So, as I look forward to closing out my first year in the program, I am even more excited to find out what lies ahead in the second year. And, these Summer events will be the perfect springboard to dive in!

~Guest Blogger, Mark Ninomiya, Evening Class of 2013 and Evening VP of Membership

A light at the end of the tunnel

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The summer before beginning the Foster MBA program, graduation and the job hunt seemed a long way off.  Though I knew in the back of my mind that pursuing an MBA would change the career opportunities available to me, the return to school in itself seemed like the impactful change I needed, not so much the new job I’d take on afterward.  Just over a year after joining Foster, I’m fortunate to have landed a post-graduate job I’m thrilled about, though the process of getting there was not what I expected.   

Figuring out the right position and right employer begins the moment you set foot on campus.  For my first two quarters, I felt like I kept adding options instead of narrowing my search.  Anytime I spoke to someone who was passionate about their past or future career, I began to add it to the list to explore it as an option for me.   Looking for the ideal post-graduation fit became a process of elimination.  At Foster, you will feel like you have too many options, from clubs to internship choices to social events.  You’ve certainly heard before that you should take advantage of as much as you can handle, and I agree with that.  But pay special attention to how these experiences make you feel.  When you’re working in your core team first quarter, what role do you naturally fall into?  When you try to push yourself outside of that role or take a lead on a project that is not in your traditional skill set, how do you feel – does it excite you, make you want to work harder, or just frustrate you? 

In the end, what made the biggest difference was to try things I wouldn’t normally label as “me.”  Though I had initially focused on product management internships and a few positions with logistics companies, I decided to work with a small marketing strategy consulting firm, Bridge Partners Consulting, as part of a work stream for a beta launch with Microsoft.  I had been adamant that consulting was not a good fit for me; and as a late-adopter, I never thought that technology was right either.  By the time Fall quarter began, I felt as though all the little discussions I had with classmates, team experiences, and mini-projects I had taken gave me the confidence to know that what drove me. 

Reflecting on my summer internship, I realized that the things that made me tick there were the same that had made me tick in my previous work; the people.  I spoke with a number of alums and contacts at a variety of consulting companies, spoke with the mentors I’ve made through the years to discuss the ways they’ve seen me be successful in the past, and made the decision to join Bridge Partners.  Having a job lined up after graduation is of course a weight off of my shoulders.  I’m afforded the chance to continue to strengthen the amazing friendships I’ve made here, and begin to plan a fantastic summer trip.  At the same time, there is a bittersweet edge:  signing the contract has made me come to terms that my stint at Foster is almost over.  It’s a mix of excitement and pre-emptive nostalgia, that I think will make me appreciate the next few months that much more.

Guest blogger – Lacey McCann, FT 2011

How to describe the first quarter of an MBA?

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Let’s see… imagine this: After months of preparing for a bareback horse riding lesson, you finally arrive at the stable to see a shiny new horse staring you square in the eye.  You’re excited for the lesson and only a bit nervous about the size of this behemoth ahead of you.  You swing your leg over this jet black stallion and no sooner do you get your hands on its mane than it bolts off at breakneck speed.  Your fists turn white with intensity as you struggle to stay on board.  With each gallop the pace quickens and before you know it everything around you has blended into an indiscernible blur of colors and amorphous shapes.  The only thing that keeps running through your mind is “don’t let go… Just Don’t. Let. Go.” In one instant you begin to feel like you’re hitting your stride and in the next the horse gives a kick and you begin to feel yourself slip…. Your fingers begin to cramp and you think you may be in for a quick introduction with the ground.

It is in this moment that you take a look around and realize that you’re not the only one on this horse.  You lift your neck a little and see there are just over a hundred others on this crazy beast and each one has the same crazed fear-stricken determination to survive.  Just as the last vestiges of strength are sapped from your body and you feel yourself begin to fall, a group of hands from all sides push and pull you back into position and your strength is renewed.  This same dance plays itself out over and over.  Sometimes you are the one about to fall to the dirt, more often you’re a helping hand to save an unknown fellow rider.  As you begin to forget what it feels like to be in any other situation the horse rears up and with one giant kick you use all your strength to hold on…

The horse slows to a walk and you realize you have come further from the stable where you started than you ever could have imagined.  As you gaze into the faces of your companions, you see that not only have your surrounding changed but yourself as well.  You realize that each step of the horse was a measured step to push you to your limits without ever giving you more than you can handle.  You have created a bond with your fellow riders that can never be broken and know that this is only the beginning.  You give the horse a spur and begin quarter number two…

Okay maybe it’s not really a whole lot like riding a horse bareback (not that I would know, I live in cities) but you get the impression.  It’s fast, it’s crazy, and without a bunch of other people all in the same situation you would never make it out alive. 

The greatest about this program is how much you learn in such a short period of time!  I hear the words coming out of my mouth now and think, “I wouldn’t have understood a fifth of this 4 months ago.”  Working in the “real world” you forget how easy it is to fall into a routine where you are not challenged and just keep on earning that paycheck (and yes, I really miss that part) but at Foster, you can’t sit idle.

There are too many opportunities to spend a moment without direction. Is this for everyone? No way, you must love the intensity.  Could anyone do it forever? Not a chance, there’s a reason that an MBA only lasts 2 years.  Would I go back home if I could do it all over again? Never.

– Guest Blogger: Trent Huntington, FT 2012

Take that, Week One.

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I just survived the first, full week of school. Survived is the key operating term here, since it did resemble a marathon. Or, perhaps a hurricane. Our deans and advisors told us quite explicitly during orientation that we should expect to be assigned far more than we could possibly finish. It seems now they weren’t kidding. Looking back over the past five days, and then further, over the past month, I’m startled to see how much we’ve already done- and we’ve just begun! We have hit the ground running and clearly there’s no looking back.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the Facebook status updates of my classmates. Either they consist of pleas for sympathy because of sleep deprivation or pleas for study camaraderie down at the local coffee shop for ‘study Sunday.’ So, we’re busy. Yes, we’re tired. We’re working hard for long hours and we have come to accept by now the fact that we’re poor students again. This is tough. Going back to work is starting to look a lot more like a vacation.

If it weren’t for an incredible sense of accomplishment and purpose, lesser mortals might be convinced to throw in the towel. Finance Boot Camp at 7 AM? I can do that. Maybe a breakout study session to value a plot of timberland over future decades for Prof. Gilbert’s class? Done. And then strategy with Prof. Hill, who will cold call and cold call until he reaches the limits of your knowledge and preparation, and then cold call once more. I can do that. And then, why don’t we wrap up the ten-hour day with a networking session with local recruiters over dinner? Normally, I would celebrate such a busy day, but I need to crash so I can be up tomorrow morning at 5 to start it all over again.

My classmates are one stellar, diverse group. From derivatives traders to IT consultants to traffic engineers to European vacation designers, this is a motley crew. In a mere day or two, I have met some of the most fascinating and talented people I’ve ever come across. One classmate (thank Jason!) organized our entire quarters’ worth of assignments in a spreadsheet…and then sent it out to everyone. Unbelievable. And the former private equity and investment bankers help me with finance (and I need a lot) and there are a handful of CPAs to teach me the nuances and merits of the indirect method of cash flow statements.

This first week was brutal. But thanks to my colleagues, now fast friends through struggle, I made it. And with them, I know I’ll get to the end of the quarter and beyond. I’ll find a summer internship, sure, and later land a great job, but I’m not so concerned about that right now. All I want is to get to know these amazing people better, learn as much as is humanly possible (which looks like a realistic goal), and push myself to the very limits of what I can do. Foster students have modest goals, you see.

Guest Blogger, Ryan Anthony, Full Time MBA — 2012

8 Tips from an Evening MBA

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As a 3rd year Evening MBA Student here is some advice that I’ve found particularly helpful over the last two years that I recently shared with the Evening MBA Class of 2013. Please take it for what it’s worth…chances are my advice won’t work for everyone, but it may be helpful to think about.

1. Try not to be intimidated by the workload.  I usually go into a class thinking that at the end of quarter, I want to better understand 5 core theories/topics.  Everything else is “filler.”  If you start to fret about your grade and acing everything, you may drive yourself crazy (i.e. trying to drink from a fire hose).

2. Don’t worry (too much) about your test grades.  No one cares about grades anymore…it’s about whether or not you understand the basic principles.  If you don’t, get in touch with the professors to make sure you do.  I have gotten 50% on some exams and felt like I was lost.  After follow-up meetings with the professor I was able to walk away feeling more confident of my knowledge.  The grade didn’t change, but my experience did. And even after a couple sub-60% grades, I ended up with a 3.2 GPA.

3. If you have (or are in the process of having) kids/spouse, you may find that things get “tense” now and then.  One thing I found helpful: I get my wife a card every 2 – 3 weeks during the quarter and thank her for all of her patience and work while we’re going through the MBA program. Basically, a $2.99 investment helps show that you really appreciate what they’re going through for you.  A random night out for dinner could get you even further.

4. If you can’t get dinner before heading to class (and don’t want to eat what they have on campus), I highly recommend getting a Jimmy Johns sub. They’re about $11 (for a sandwich, coke + cookie), and they deliver really fast (to campus).  Their phone # for ordering is 206-548-9500.

5. I try to remind myself that the University of Washington is a business / brand, and that business is never perfect.  You may run into professors who use an approach that you don’t find helpful, or perhaps a professor that’s presenting information that’s more academic than it is “real-world” worthy. Remember that it’s up to us to help shape the future of the program and ultimately make the University of Washington’s MBA brand stronger.  Be critical of your experience in the program, but be positive, be fair, and
be helpful.

6. Look for ways to build on two critical skill-sets: leadership + presentations.  It seems to me (and it may to you, as well) that the corporate world could really benefit from better leaders (utilizing transitional methods) and people who deliver focused, succinct presentations with meaning.

7. Bond with your team as much as you can.  Get personal with them so you can appreciate each other for who you are (strengths, weaknesses, etc.). Also, make sure you take the time to check in with each other during your work to make sure everyone understands what’s going on.  It’s easy to want to finish up projects as fast as possible, but I would argue it’s ultimately not the best approach if someone in your team is left in the dark.

8. Don’t feel like you have to join clubs, etc.  Yeah – I have no doubt that they’re awesome, and they’re a great to expand your horizons.  But at the end of the day, you only have “so much time” to give.  If joining a club means you can’t spend some time relaxing or hanging out with your family, I’d think hard about whether it’s worth the commitment.

Just my two cents. Good luck to everyone!

– Guest Blogger, David W. Griffiths, Evening MBA Class 2011

Advice from an Old Timer …

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I remember this moment exactly one year ago, the first day of orientation fast approaching.  You are no longer working (At least you shouldn’t be. Go out there and travel while you have a chance!).  You don’t really know what to expect.  You are excited to start this journey, but you’re scared because you can’t remember the last time you added 5 and 7 without a Smartphone.  Let me be the first to tell you not to worry.   I got my undergrad degree in biology, and hadn’t taken a business class since econ in high school!  Don’t worry if you know nothing about accounting or finance or what an exponent is; it will all come to you like it did to everyone the years before you.  Now, I’m not saying it is going to be easy, but I am saying it is going to be an amazing experience.  You will study and stress and lose sleep and stress some more, but through all of this you will make amazing friends, learn amazing things, and apply yourself like you never have before.  I don’t know about you, but those are exactly the reasons I wanted to get my MBA.  It is an unbelievable experience for so many reasons.  It will be challenging, frustrating, incredible and transformational.  There is nothing to be afraid of, and everything to look forward to.  Enjoy your summer and get even more excited for the two years that will change your life.

Guest Blogger, Michael Arbuck, MBA FT Class of 2011

“Jeff, does that make sense?”

Monday, September 21st, 2009

For those not familiar with Jump Start, it’s basically a crash course in Accounting, Quant, and Finance designed to bring all incoming MBA students up to speed on concepts we’ll be expected to understand come the start of classes. It’s been a great way to get back into the swing of the school mentality without the pressure of handing in assignments and taking tests (that count, because we did do multiple quizzes and even finished off our accounting course with a ‘final’).

In addition to the academic side of things, Jump Start has also been a great way for me to meet some of my classmates and become close with those proficient in Excel. My own lack of expertise was made public very early on by our Quant professor, Thomas Gilbert, when we were asked, by raise of hands, who had limited experience with Excel. Sitting in the back row, I had no problem saving face and I raised my hand high over my head. I didn’t realize I had just sealed my fate as the barometer for the rest of the week for how well the class was understanding the Excel functions. “Jeff, does that make sense?” “Jeff, are we good?”. Those questions definitely kept me on my toes during my first week of the MBA experience, and also served as the means of meeting a lot of my classmates.

Beyond the classes, it was really good to see the MBA culture take shape during this first week. There seems to be a lot of talk about the collaborative environment and a culture of teamwork fostered in most MBA programs. I got to see this teamwork first-hand as classmates seated around me offered a helping hand throughout the Quant and Finance sections. Some even fell behind as the professor pressed forward, just to make sure I was understanding all of the content. It was nice to see it wasn’t solely lip service, but that our collaborative culture within the Foster family has begun forming just in this first week.

Wrapping up the adventures of the Jump Start experience, it’s worth noting the incredible experience that served as the grand finale. Our beloved Huskies beat the #3 ranked USC Trojans and I rushed the field with my Foster colleagues! So much for my feelings of disappointment for choosing a school with a sub-par football program. Go Dawgs!!

Guest Blogger: E. Jeff Hullinger, Foster MBA Class of 2011