Life as an MBA

The summit is only the halfway point: thoughts on the first year of the MBA

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

mount st helens summit A few short weeks ago, the MBA class of 2016 breathed a collective sigh of relief as the last final was turned in, we had our end of year celebrations, and said our farewells to the graduating class of 2015. The class of 2015 is now transitioning into their post-MBA careers, and the class of 2016 is already starting their summer internships. We are now officially “second-years.”

For anyone looking to embark on their own MBA journey, here are my thoughts on the first year:

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Blue Dot Perspective: Mattie

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

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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.

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Blue Dot Perspective: Greg

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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Greg’s boyfriend is a current student here at Foster, and 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 welcome weekends, to indicate that they were the spouse/significant other of an admitted student.

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Foster MBAs do Bollywood

Monday, April 13th, 2015

The monthly TG* usually draws a big crowd but none larger than the annual “Indian TG.” Hosted by current students, this TG is popular because it is always filled with delicious food, fun music and, of course, a Bollywood dance! Check out this year’s student dance, performed during the Indian TG and the Welcome Weekend for admitted students.

* The origin of the “TG” event name has been explained differently over the years, but it is most commonly explained as a shortening of T.G.I.F. (Thank goodness it’s Friday). These events happen monthly throughout the year and each one always has a theme associated with it.

Stuart Childress begins tenure as President of the MBA Association

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Stuart Childress, MBA Class of 2016, is President of the MBAA for 2015-16

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!

Stuart and 1st year classmates at the annual Polar Plunge, benefiting Foster's C4C and the Special Olympics of Washintgton

Stuart and 1st year classmates at the annual Polar Plunge, benefiting Foster’s C4C and the Special Olympics of Washintgton

Stuart, third from left, and her Study Team from Winter Quarter

Stuart, third from left, and her Study Team from Winter Quarter

Stuart and friends, decked out in 80s and 90s gear, are having a blast at the Neon TG.

Stuart and friends, decked out in 80s and 90s gear, are having a blast at the Neon TG.

 

 

My Experiences of a Study Abroad Exchange Program in Japan

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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To be honest, one of the main reasons I chose to apply to the Foster MBA program was for its excellent exchange programs with 16 partner schools in 14 countries around the world, which include Japan. I had always wanted to do an exchange program in Japan.

As I recall my study abroad experience and think about how to fit an extraordinary 4-month experience in one short blog, all my senses are awakened once again as if I’m seeing the beautiful red autumn leaves, eating a plate of fresh sushi and meditating in a quiet temple.

To me, Japan is a land of inspiration. Beauty lies in everything, from the Japanese language to the sophisticated art forms, but this beauty is not obvious on the surface. One must carefully observe and learn about Japan to fully appreciate it. In Osaka (a major city in Japan), people call a potato “o-imo-san,” where only “imo” means potato. “o” is a term which is used to show respect, “san” is a suffix used after a person’s name to show affection. In brief, people from Osaka call a potato something like “Dear Mr. Potato.” The Japanese rock garden is an art form in itself, composed by an arrangement of rocks, trees and sand which create different forms and images. The largest rock garden in Japan, which I’ve seen and really liked, depicts the image of a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds.These are just two among tons of examples showing the uniqueness, creativity and inspiration the Japanese culture carries.

As exchange students in Japan, we got a chance to grasp the creativity of Japan in an MBA elective at Waseda Business school called Creative Thinking and Ethics in Business. Nobody would expect to have such a class in an MBA program where you learn abstract painting, talk about meditation and the different functions of the left and right brain. It was one of my favorite classes at Waseda. In a nutshell, the class taught us how to practice creativity through understanding which side of the brain we use more often, through abstract painting to express feelings and how important creativity is to various fields of life, including business. We also learned about intriguing research on the difference between a native Japanese speaker’s brain and the brain of those with other native languages, which explains why the Japanese love the sounds of insects and their cHaounterparts don’t. This class, to me, provides excellent evidence of the fact that creativity is an integral part of the Japanese way of doing things.

Inspiration came from not only the language, the art, and the classes, but also from the people I met. A young Japanese couple who has two little boys hosted me in Kyoto for several days. Since they have kids they could not travel, even though they both love travelling and learning about new cultures. Instead, they host visitors from around the world who come to Japan to exchange culture and ideas. Spending a wonderful time eating, talking with them and their friends, and playing with the boys made me think about my future family. It would be a great idea to host international guests once I have my own family. I’d love to bring in people from around the world who come visit my country, to share stories and experiences with them.

In a few words, this is how I remember Japan: beautiful natural scenery, mesmerizing old streets and houses, unique and exciting culture, and delicious food. And yes, the slogan of its tourism industry is absolutely correct: Endless discovery. Yet, all these features seem static. Thinking about them will bring me back to some points in time in the past. There is one thing I took from Japan that I know will go with me for a very long time: Inspiration.

Ha Tran
MBA Candidate, Class of 2015

China Study Tour: MBA Students explore business in China

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

In December, a group of MBA students took part in the Global Study Tour to China. Accompanied by staff and faculty, they visited Shanghai and Beijing and visited 12 companies while exploring the cultural and economic landscape of China. Below is a recap written by current student Ryan Osher (MBA ’16).

 

China Study Tour 8Growth. Scale. Partnership.

These were common themes noticed by 8 Foster MBA’s as they traveled across China last December. Their visit included 12 companies and 3 days worth of free time to enjoy all the best Beijing and Shanghai had to offer. Students were eager to dive in to China’s culture and present themselves on behalf of Foster. What they didn’t expect, however, was just how meaningful the company visits would be and the lasting friendships that were made.

The two week trip included visits to Microsoft, Amazon, and Nike, to name a few. Students learned Boeing’s strategy to maintain growth in China, directly from the President of Boeing China. They met with the CFO of Starbucks China to better understand how the world’s largest coffee company was able to successfully enter and thrive in a tea drinking country. In addition, Directors at Apple explained their strategy to navigate around counterfeit products and maintain their growth rate. Students also met with foreign service agents from the United States Embassy to better understand trade relations and diplomatic efforts between the US and China.

The two week trip provided rich experiences and a lifetime of insight. More than anything, the company visits left each traveler with a greater understanding and appreciation for China as the country continues to drive the world’s economic growth. It is incredible that Foster provides students with the opportunity to experience culture and business first-hand as they develop into the global business leaders of the future.China Study Tour 6 China Study Tour 7

First Quarter: In the books

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

First-year student, Lauren Thompson, reflects upon her first quarter as a Foster School student and how she’s found some balance with her other important job: being the proud mother of a 4-year old boy. She chronicles this in her personal blog, LovingMarshall.com, and we’ve reposted it here.

First Quarter: In the books.

Last year, about this time, I attended a workshop on applying for a full-time MBA program. I had to book a babysitter because my husband traveled every other week to the East Coast for his job. As a work-from-home mom that was fairly new to Seattle, I was more anxious about navigating the bus system than going to the workshop itself.

Lauren Thompson.

Lauren Thompson.

This year, I’ve just finished my first quarter as an MBA student. My husband took a job that doesn’t travel so that I could (attempt) to balance parenting and go to school full-time. And my bus driver and I are on a first-“Hi! How are you?”-basis.

Last year, about this time, I packed all of Marshall’s lunches. I made most of our family meals. I proudly baked my homemade bread twice a week.

Now, Daniel is the one who makes sure Marshall’s lunches are packed. He does most of the cooking. (I could not have survived this Fall without him.) I am lucky if I bake anything that qualifies as “homemade” more than once a month.

Lauren Thompson.

Lauren Thompson.

Last year, about this time, I felt “new.” Most of my conversations were with friends in Austin and Alabama. I was equally in awe of Seattle’s beauty and depressed by its “lights out” at 4:30PM policy.

This year I feel connected. Most of my conversations are with people here in Seattle. My chats with my friends in Austin and Alabama are more positive. And I’m more concerned with understanding the Weighted Average Cost of Capital than worrying about the sun setting in the middle of the afternoon.

Lauren Thompson.

Lauren Thompson.

Last year, about this time, I walked Marshall to school every morning and picked him up every afternoon. I worked around his schedule, as I had for 3+ years. It was worth it. This year, I rarely get to take Marshall to school, or pick him up. I usually rush out before he leaves for school with Daniel, and I get home just before dinner. I thought I would feel guilty about this. More than that, I worried that Marshall would feel that I was neglecting him. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Marshall is thriving. He loves that he gets to spend so much time with Daniel. He loves that both he and Mommy are going to school. On nights and weekends, he often sees me studying, and occasionally he gets frustrated when I can’t play with him. More often, though, he curls up beside me and does his own “work.” (Sometimes his chicken scratch makes more sense to me than Accounting.) At the risk of being overly sentimental, my son is proud of me. And I’m proud to show him that women in this country can be mothers and students and career builders and influencers. We don’t have to choose.

Lauren Thompson.

Lauren Thompson.

Last year, I made pancakes every weekend, to the delight of my 100 Instagram followers (and my dad).

That hasn’t changed one bit.

Lauren Thompson, MBA '16, and her son Marshall.

Lauren Thompson, MBA ’16, and her son Marshall.

Summer Internship Experience – Microsoft

Monday, December 1st, 2014

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Working for Microsoft is like a dream come true since it was my goal when I applied to the Foster MBA program.

Over this past summer, I interned with Microsoft as a Partner Channel Marketing Manager Intern in the Worldwide Partner Group, under the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners organization. Being an international student, even though I had similar marketing background in the technology hardware industry, working for Microsoft was still an eye-opening and a learning experience for me.

During the twelve-week internship, everyday was a new challenge since Microsoft is such a big organization and it required multiple stakeholders’ support to get things done. My project was to advocate the benefits of Microsoft’s Cloud solutions, and I worked closely with vendors to create training videos, blogs, and the worldwide partner training guidebook. It was truly rewarding to see my work being posted on the Microsoft Partner Network website which 400,000 plus partners use. Moreover, in order to get support from other stakeholders in rolling out the project, I had to overcome my shyness and proactively set up meetings with various colleagues to gain their buy-in. To my surprise, despite the fact that many colleagues were senior and very busy, they were still willing to spare time to listen to my pitch, and also gave me feedback, which truly demonstrated the teamwork and collaborative spirit at Microsoft.

I was also given a great opportunity to go on a business trip to Washington D.C. in July to attend the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It was an important event for the company as attendees came from over 150 countries and represented many of the most successful, top tier partners. I was thrilled to be there and talked to the partners in person. We also had fun watching the FIFA World Cup Championship game together!

Last but not least, Microsoft also cared a lot for interns. There were many speaker events where we got to meet CEO Satya Nadella, the CMO, the head of HR, and many others to learn more about the company. Let alone the fun intern activities to Leavenworth, Puyallup, Casino night, Lake Washington Cruise and kayaking in Portage Bay. I had a great time meeting other interns and the Microsoft internship experience is truly one of the most unforgettable summers I have ever had! I am excited to be going back to Microsoft for a full time role after completing my Foster MBA.

 

Evelyn Chia-Wei Chiang

Foster MBA, Class of 2015

Our way of giving back to the community and also having fun – C4C Fundraiser and Weekend

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

The University of Washington’s Foster MBA students believe community involvement is an integral part of being a business professional. As a result, each year we participate in the MBA Challenge for Charity (C4C), a non-profit organization that draws on the talents, energy, and resources of MBA students from nine west coast business schools to support our local Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs. The objective is to develop business leaders with a lifelong commitment to community involvement and social responsibility.

What is the C4C Auction?

Every year, Foster C4C hosts an auction that serves as our primary fundraising event. The auction is 100% student planned and coordinated. To date, Foster MBA students have volunteered over 20,000 hours and donated more than $1.4 million to the Special Olympics Washington and the Boys & Girls Club of King County!

The 2014 C4C Auction was the best attended in the event’s history and saw 290 new and old friends alike come together to make the event a huge success. Our Live Auction highlights included an African safari, a getaway to Hood Canal, a private catering experience, and a soccer clinic with the Seattle Sounders, to name a few. Adding to the excitement, for the first time in years, Foster took back the #1 spot in fundraising over the 8 other West coast schools in attendance at C4C Sports Weekend! We want to keep the momentum going, and the planning for the 2015 Auction is already underway. We hope that our incoming students will help us make 2015 even more amazing by continuing to support these wonderful charities. It’s time to bring the golden briefcase back to Foster, where it belongs!

 

 

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The C4C Sports Weekend

Sports weekend is partly for competition, partly for ego, but mostly, it’s for a lot of fun. It’s a break from the busy routines of school and a chance to get to know classmates better, meet students from other programs, and enjoy a nice, sunny weekend in Palo Alto. It’s also a reward for thousands of hours volunteered in the community and over hundred thousand dollars raised for charity throughout the year (not to mention the bumps and bruises preparing for sports!). Seen all around the Stanford campus were UW shirts, hats, blinky party sunglasses, mustaches (both weird and impressive), purple & gold party beads and temporary UW tattoos. Foster’s Student Band – Death Spiral killed it at Battle of the Bands. The weekend proved that we are as intense with our sports as we are with our studies!

What an exciting weekend we had! Over 180 Full Time, Evening and Blue Dots trekked down to Palo Alto this April and Foster definitely represented at C4C Sports Weekend at Stanford. All year long, students from nine MBA programs on the West Coast raise money and donate thousands of volunteer hours to Special Olympics and local charities. Then, every year in mid-April, we trek down to sunny California and compete in sports events and some non-sporting events with the likes of Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley, and USC. Whether it was Basketball, Dodgeball, Ultimate Frisbee, Trivia, the Dance Competition, Tug of War or Battle of the Bands, we participated in almost every event and showed the other schools that UW is there to win. And we did!

Foster placed 2nd in

  • Co-ed Soccer
  • Co-ed Softball
  • Table Tennis
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • The Spelling Bee

Foster placed 3rd in

  • Women’s Basketball
  • The Trivia Bowl

All results can be seen here. Go Dawgs!!

So how did we do?

Between the 2013 and 2014 Sport Weekends, UW raised over $112,000 and donated over 2,600 hours of community service! These two components count for a combined 80% of the total score. Together with the sports during the weekend, UW got a strong 2nd place finish! Awesome job everyone!

Sadly, in the end, the famed “Golden Briefcase” went to USC for another year. Foster placed second overall, just nipping at the heels of USC in the competition for the Golden Briefcase. While we raised the most money per capita of any school, we were just shy on our volunteer hours and not able to restore the Golden Briefcase to its proper home at Foster. But that was 2014, with everyone’s help, we can prevail in 2015!! Here are some stats:

Overall Score

  • Foster —78
  • USC —80

Hours Volunteered Per Capita (40%)

  • Total Hours Volunteered—2,621 hours
  • Total Foster Hour per Capita—11.3 hours
  • Total USC Hours per Capita—12.8 hours

Fundraising Per Capita (40%)

  • Total Amount Raised—$112,068
  • Foster Fundraising Amount per Capita—$485
  • USC Fundraising Amount per Capita—$480

Sports Weekend Performance is weighted 20%

  • Foster Sports Weekend Ranking—5th
  • USC Sports Weekend Ranking—4th

As you can see, Foster and USC are neck-in-neck! Let’s step it up this year and show everyone what Foster is all about at Sports Weekend 2015!

Let’s start volunteering NOW!!

Your efforts begin to count now, 2015! And 2014 hours count until graduation. Begin getting out into community and giving back!

Sign up here: https://depts.washington.edu/mbaclub/mba-clubs/challenge-4-charity/c4cvolunteer/

Log your hours here: https://depts.washington.edu/mbaclub/submit-your-c4c-volunteer-hours/

And even if you’re not in the Seattle area, you can still help! Remember to use our affiliate link for all of your Amazon purchases and any money raised goes straight into the C4C donation bin (with no added cost to you!). Do what I do and bookmark it right on top so you don’t forget!

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