General

Inside Admissions: So You’re Thinking about Business School – Now What?

Friday, June 15th, 2012

September 2013 seems like it is a long ways away. Here in Seattle, all we can think about right now are the beautiful summer months ahead of us. Seattle truly is one of the most incredible places in the entire world during the summer months. And boy do we appreciate it here. Quite frankly I’m not even ready to start thinking about September of 2012, much less 2013!

But in the world of MBA Admissions, 2013 will be here before you know it. If you are considering applying to MBA programs next year, right now is a great time to start making application to-do lists, scheduling GMAT test dates and thinking about who might write your recommendation letters.

These steps, and in particular the GMAT, often cause a great deal of anxiety for applicants. However, they’re not even the most important parts of the process. That’s right, I said it! The really important stuff can unfortunately get overlooked when we get too wrapped up in the details. Ideally your MBA application should be a way for you to show us that you’ve put a lot of thought into this. That you have researched the potential paths you might take after business school and how the MBA will help you get there. That you have had experiences that will add value to the program. And that you are prepared for the program’s rigorous curriculum.

Researching your career goals, and why you need an MBA in the first place, shouldn’t start with your “Why I want an MBA” essay (virtually every program has one of those). It should start today. If the idea of doing informational interviews makes you a little uncomfortable, start with a friend or a co-worker. Then meet with one of your friend’s co-workers. You would be surprised how much people enjoy telling their life stories. Pretty soon you’ll be an informational interviewing machine and, more importantly, you’ll know a whole lot more about those career paths that you had always thought sounded kind of interesting. And to get back to the topic of MBA applications, you’ll know the most important thing of all – why you want an MBA and what exactly you want to do with it.

This may all sound fairly obvious, but in my years of working in MBA admissions I have seen too many people get buried in the application process before they have really stepped back to make sure this is what they want to do in the first place. First figure out if you really need an MBA, and then go to work finding the programs that will help you accomplish your unique goals. At this point you’ll be able to put together an application that accurately represents the amount of thought and effort that you have put into this decision. That’s why we have you write those essays and gather those recommendation letters…and, of course, take the GMAT.

And speaking of the GMAT, my advice to you is this: Give yourself ample time to study. Take a class or get a tutor if you’re scoring outside the range of the schools you’re targeting. Retake the test if you don’t get the score that you know you’re capable of. And once you do get that score, you can move on to bigger and better things. Like informational interviews, self-reflection (summer is a great time for that) and, of course, a visit to campus. It is never too early to start connecting with us. We look forward to getting to know you!

~Featured Blogger Erin Ernst, Director, MBA Admissions

Inside Admissions: Welcome Weekend

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Welcome Reception Dinner at the Burke Museum.

I was recently chatting with Dennis, a Foster MBA alum from 2001, as he reminisced about the admitted student event he attended before starting the program. He said, “Back in my day, the admitted student event was nothing but a classroom in good old Balmer Hall, and an ice chest filled with cold beverages. But man, it was awesome!” The admitted student weekends, or Welcome Weekends, as we call them now, have certainly progressed over the past 10 years. For one thing, Balmer Hall no longer exists. We now have beautiful Paccar Hall, which opened in the fall of 2010, and another building scheduled to open this summer. We offer opportunities throughout the weekend for incoming students to interact with the current students, including panels, small group discussions and social events. We host a special session for significant others and reimburse part of their travel costs as well as yours. After all, they are a huge part of this decision! And finally, the food has improved immensely since the Dennis’s time (although I have to admit that we do still use those ice chests).

But I don’t think that was his point. Over 10 years later, those same people who sat next to Dennis in Balmer Hall for the admitted student event are now some of his closest friends and colleagues. Welcome Weekend was awesome for Dennis because he immediately felt that “click” that told him this was the right program for him. This is where he belonged.

Admitted students learn about Seattle neighborhoods.

I can’t stress enough the importance of visiting the schools that you have been admitted to. As an applicant, you spend a great deal of time finding the handful of schools that really have what you’re looking for in terms of course offerings, location, size, experiential opportunities and company connections. But once you have been admitted, you still have a decision to make. Is this where you want to be for the next two years? Are these the types of people you want to know for, let’s be honest, the rest of your life? While there is a ton of information online these days, nothing can replace the firsthand experience of visiting campus and interacting with the MBA community. We offer these events for you, and over the years we have tweaked and improved, and tweaked some more, in order to make them as useful, candid and interactive as possible.

 

If you have been admitted to Foster, or any other program for that matter, attend the admitted student events and ask all (I mean all) of your questions. “Can I get by without a car?” “Can I get home in time to have dinner with my family?” Is Seattle a dog-friendly city, and will I even have time for a dog??” None of these are silly questions. Our current students worried about these same issues when they were preparing for school, and they are your best resource as you embark upon this challenging, thrilling, life-changing experience.

We had a fantastic time at our April event and we can’t wait to get to know more of the Class of 2014 next week at our final Welcome Weekend this year. If you’re thinking about applying next year, the dates for our 2013 Welcome Weekends will be posted by early June. Mark your calendar! (Just in case – it doesn’t hurt to think positively!) We hope to see you there.

~ Featured Blogger Erin Ernst, Director, MBA Admissions

Admitted students mingle with current Foster students on a Duck Tour of Seattle in April, 2012.

 

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.

Working as a TA

Monday, February 13th, 2012

A handful of MBAs typically become Teaching Assistants – most do it primarily for the compensation, but in my case it was a mechanism to gain valuable experience in my post-grad area of study, accounting. Because of the time commitment, TA’ing is generally a 2nd-year MBA activity, but three of my classmates actually did TA as first years (with very little sleep, no doubt!). There are a variety of departments that hire MBAs as TAs – international business, statistics, accounting, marketing, etc. I have colleagues who TA’d for an MBA course they had previously taken, for a Technology MBA course where they had previously earned a top grade in the comparable MBA course, and for a variety of undergraduate courses. To gain a TA position, depending on the class, you must either contact the professor or the department you are interested in TA’ing for. Then, they usually collect resumes and hold interviews to make final selections.

After signing on to intern for an accounting firm, a friend who had TA’d in the undergraduate accounting department his entire first year, asked if I’d be interested in TA’ing as a 2nd year. There were several other activities and leadership positions within the MBA program that I was planning to apply for, and so TA’ing meant that I would have to forego those opportunities. Time is always a huge issue as an MBA student – you have to choose your obligations wisely! So, after much thought, I decided to do it – one – because I love teaching and may have an interest in lecturing in the future, two – post-grad I would work in accounting, so it would be a great way to brush up and acquire new knowledge, and three – TAs are compensated with a full tuition waiver, medical benefits, and a monthly stipend (which covers most of my rent and necessities like food). The worry of accumulating more debt would be over!

Therefore, I approached my ‘job’ with full energy and commitment. I balanced out my schedule so that each quarter I could take 3 full classes + TA, while still meeting all of the Foster graduation requirements. I think of TA’ing as about a class and a half’s worth of work. TA’ing for Financial undergraduate accounting requires: attending lecture (3 hrs a week), teaching section to two classes of 80 students (4 hrs a week), holding office hours (2 hrs a week), and the remaining hours prepping, grading, and answering all those student emails. In total, it’s about a 20 hr/wk commitment. TA’ing for other classes/departments require different amounts of commitment – in many classes you don’t actually have to teach students, so the teaching section component would be eliminated. Again, it all depends on the department, the class, and the professor.

All in all, I love the experience, and wouldn’t trade it for any other activity that could have been. It does take time & work, but TA’ing was the right decision for me experience-wise and money-wise. Having to get in front of 80 students weekly means you have to develop command of the subject matter, establish a presence where you are respected but also approachable, and learn techniques for proper classroom management to engage the students. I find each of these challenges rewarding, particularly in the instances when students tell me how helpful I was in enabling them to understand the material. I am lucky enough for my post-grad career to perfectly align with an accounting TA position that gives me a glimpse of what it would be like to potentially teach full time as a lecturer, while at the same time paying my bills. Depending on one’s objectives and obligations, becoming a TA isn’t for everyone, but it is a position worth considering.

~By Guest Blogger Catherine Chin, Full-Time Class of 2012

The Board Fellows Program

Monday, January 16th, 2012

As actors performed the play Robin Hood at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, I stepped backstage, watching the performers change costumes and prepare to step back out in front of the curtain. This backstage tour was part of my orientation to the Board of Directors. As this year’s Board Fellow for the Seattle Children’s Theatre I’ve had some unique opportunities to see the inner workings of the theatre and gain insights into the world of nonprofit boards.

I applied last spring to be a Board Fellow because of my interest in serving as a nonprofit board member after graduation. During college I studied drama and continue to be interested in the local arts community, so I sought out theatre and arts boards from the list of potential Board Fellows positions. After interviewing with a couple organizations I was happily matched with the Seattle Children’s Theatre.

In addition to attending regular board meetings I am also participating in the Development Committee. This involvement allows me to utilize my marketing background to brainstorm strategies aimed at bringing new patrons to the theatre.

As a Board Fellow, we are supported with a bi-quarterly workshop. The workshop introduces information on the various board structures and common challenges for nonprofit boards. As a part of the program we will use the information presented in the workshops to compile a research paper for our organization based on the organization’s needs and challenge areas we identify.

Overall, I am enjoying my involvement in the Boards Fellows program. I love the Seattle Children’s Theatre and am happy I can contribute my knowledge to help the organization. I am also enjoying the unique opportunity to “preview” what it means to be a nonprofit board member.

~Guest Blogger Sherry Gardella, Full-Time Class of 2012

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

Evening Students Feed Hope

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Evening MBA students set time aside on the Saturday of Halloween weekend to volunteer at Food Lifeline, a local hunger relief organization in Shoreline who’s mission is to end hunger in Western Washington. The students helped Food Lifeline meet it’s commitments to donors by “debranding” bags of frozen sweet potato fries. Students used a packaging label to cover up the manufacturer’s name on the bag, a requirement of the grocer who donated them.

Volunteers had a lot of fun hanging out with each other in a non-stressful environment. And being the dorks that they are, they made multiple jokes about how they could make the process more efficient, decrease the lead-time, and implement other concepts that they are learning this quarter in their Operations Management course.

They not only felt good about helping others in need, but there were also proud that they think they had the shortest processing time out of all the groups that were there that day! The students had a great time!

~ Guest Blogger: Julie Olden, Evening Class 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