Life as an MBA

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!

“Yes, it was totally worth it.”

Monday, January 17th, 2011

For the last four months, my family, friends and colleagues have all been asking me the same question: Was it worth it? For my personal situation, this question is asking a lot more than, “was it worth it to start the evening program at Foster business school?”

Four months ago, I decided (well my husband and I decided) to move across the country, change the terms of my employment and join the Foster community. After four years in Washington D.C. working as a advocate on Capitol Hill it was time for a change – and we decided to go all out.

Trust me, I looked at programs on the East Coast. From Dartmouth to Georgetown and everything in between, I scoured the East Coast for programs that might be a good fit. But after meeting the professors, talking with admissions staff and literally grilling current students about the program, everything told me that Foster was the best choice despite the fact that it was on the other side of the country and more than 3,000 miles away from any immediate family member.

And yes, it was totally worth it. There is a laundry list of reasons why Foster is “worth it” but a few that are of great importance to me. First, is the community. The professors, students, and administration all combine to create a supportive, smart and accessible group of people. Second, is the program. The strong core of “business basics” along with the flexibility to create and shape your MBA provide students with the ability to design the ideal MBA experience. Third, the challenge. Foster does an amazing job of challenging its students both inside and outside the classroom. From professors who push you to learn and apply new knowledge to engaging with the Seattle business community and working closely with other students (and yes this was all in the first ten weeks), it is clear that Foster was and will be a great choice.

Guest blogger – Tyler Edgar, Evening MBA 2013

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

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Lovely classmate, Katie Collings, at graduation

Lovely classmate, Katie Collings, at graduation

Twenty months of living and breathing the Foster MBA Program has come to an end. Now all I can do is relish in having a summer off, comfortably knowing that a consulting job is waiting for me at the other end of it. After all of this time I still find myself in awe of how much I loved being part of this program – the tremendous friends I made, the soul crushing volume of work I produced, the mastery of functioning on too little sleep and too many Americanos. There is no doubt that all of these assets, and the many others collected, will be invaluable in the years to come as my post-grad life and career meanders through time.

I have a good friend who is rather cynical of MBA programs and has had a front row seat watching my life over the past two years. Something he often mentions is how much of a “joiner” you have to be as an MBA. You join clubs, boards, committees, social circles, teams. There is easily something to join every night of the week – happy hours, dinner outings, pick up sports games. As an insider I argue that it is less about joining and more about that age old philosophy – “work hard, play hard.” MBA students work a ton, even if they are brilliant rocket scientists (like our classmate Carl). Therefore, when the time comes, they celebrate just as much.

Celebrating the end of our time together at Foster began in early April, ramped up in 20100613_jessica_mba_0027late May and finally culminated at the actual ceremony last weekend as we boisterously cheered one another on while each of us made our way across the stage to receive our diploma.

As much as I look forward to being reacquainted with the concept of a weekend and embarking on a new career, I know that the past two years will always be remembered as some of the very best of my life. Because of that, I can’t help but find myself jealous of those of you who are just beginning the MBA journey. Jump in, hold on and enjoy every moment.

And thanks for reading.

Jessica Didion – MBA, Class of 2010

Run Foster Run

Friday, May 14th, 2010
The Foster team getting ready to head to the starting line

The Foster team getting ready to head to the starting line

It was a sunny cold day at the end of fall quarter in December.  I was overwhelmed classes and felt that I had no time to do anything but school.  I decided that I needed a goal.  A big goal.  I thought about something really hard for me, but something that I could accomplish if I put my mind to it. Something that involved a personal victory as opposed to a standard distribution curve in a class.  So it dawned on me – it was running.  So I threw a shout out to my MBA colleagues – “Does anyone want to train for the half marathon in Vancouver in May with me?”

The response I got was overwhelming.  Two other classmates quickly became co-leaders with me on this effort.  We set up a Facebook group (Run Foster Run) and started putting together weekly runs.  Our first run was the week before finals around Greenlake.  It was 20 degrees outside and slippery. From that Saturday and until first weekend of May, Run Foster Run had 13 organized runs.  We took a picture every week and recorded the number of miles we ran to demonstrate to ourselves and our classmates our progress.  We ran all over Seattle – from classical runs like Greenlake and Lake Union to Burke Gilman trail runs, to Discover Park, Arboretum and many others.  Our turnout was always fabulous – people came rain or shine.  In the process, we got to know significant others, second years, evening students and each other.

To make the team more official, we decided to print up shirts for the big race.  Given that we had a decent group signed up to go to Vancouver, we were also able to get support from the Program Office, the MBAA, and Part II which the club is now a part of, to help pay for the shirts.  It was totally worth it, too.  They were quite visible throughout the whole race with their Husky purple and Foster logos. We wore the shirts proudly and I’m happy to report we all beat our goal times.

As for me, I finished my first ever 13.1 mile race and felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment considering the fact that in December, I could not run 2 continuous miles.

– Helen Seliverstov (Class of 2011)