Opportunities

Just Call It “Foster-bucks”

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

As soon as I moved to Seattle for the Foster full-time MBA program, I set my sights on Starbucks. I wanted to be open-minded, but Starbucks was the only company that fit my broad internship vision: a large corporation in the food and beverage industry with ethical and environmental values, a well-known brand, located in the Seattle area. Okay, so maybe my focus was incredibly narrow. Nevertheless, during the Fall quarter I made sure to attend every Starbucks event and network with the Foster alumni that work there. I hoped getting to know partners (what Starbucks calls their employees) would help me receive an internship offer. It’s unlikely it actually did, but my ability to speak to my dedication to learning about Starbucks may have. What I did not anticipate was how crucial Foster alumni at Starbucks would become during my internship experience.

Fast forward to day one of my internship and I’m introduced to my “mentor” who is a Foster alum from a few years back. He’s set up at least 20 “immersions,” brief one-on-one chats, with people in my department and with recent Foster grads throughout the company. Each of the alumni gives me advice on potential internship pitfalls, how to best navigate communications at the company and offers to serve as a resource. I find out that Foster alum have an email group when the other Foster interns and myself are added to it. A lunchtime “coffee tasting” is set up for alumni to share their experiences and spare us from their mistakes while also just introducing themselves. A happy hour for Foster alumni and interns is planned and they offer to listen to our presentations and give us feedback before we present. It is amazing how supported I feel.

Moreover I’ve been very impressed by the Foster alumni at Starbucks in how honest and kind they have been, but also by how professional and accomplished they seem. I’ve been in several meetings where a recent Foster alum is leading the discussion and going through the agenda. I’m proud to say I attend Foster and people seem to respond well to it. UW in general has a huge presence at Starbucks so there is a lot of husky pride going around. It’s cool to see that Foster alumni stick together even after they graduate and that they want to give back by reaching out to current students and offering to help, without being asked to.

~ Guest blogger Laura Peirano, Full-time Class of 2013

All-Access Pass

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

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.

Sometimes, very small things can have a sizable impact.

For example, just this past week I had my photo taken, and within a day was given a picture ID to attach to the set of secure-entry badges I wear clipped to my waist at work.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I felt a very strong sense of place and belonging when I slipped it onto the loop and snapped it into place.  There was my face, smiling back at me!  And there I was, sitting in my cubicle, working away at my computer, pulling together my analyses for my upcoming presentation to the company executives.  Just another workday at my MBA internship.

But the interruption of the photo-ID gave me a moment to pause, and to reflect on the last photo-ID I had worn for work – in a flash of memory I recalled my last day of work at that job, a position I had held for exactly 4 years, 6 months and 2 weeks – how I had slipped the ID badge from my lanyard and deposited it in the HR mailbox before hustling out of the building to make it to my good-bye party, which had apparently started without me!  And in remembering that transition, of course I also had to consider everything that had happened between then and now: my move to Seattle, my decision to apply to business school and the resultant search and application process, my acceptance to, and acceptance of, Foster, and the entire first year of my MBA.  Two whole years had flown by since I last wore a photo-ID!

I have to be honest, there were times in the past 2 years that I wondered whether I was making the right decisions: was it really so smart to leave behind a good job and start again in a new city – in the middle of a recession?  Was an MBA the right next step for me?  Would business school help me learn the skills I needed, or help me find a career that I cared about?  Or, would some of the habits I acquired as I learned to navigate student life again – pulling all-nighters and banging on the snooze button in the morning, rolling into class in yoga pants and a sweatshirt because I couldn’t be bothered to wear anything less comfortable during lecture, working all week with my classmates but also hanging out all weekend with the same group, the lines between ‘colleagues’ and friends ever-blurred – somehow detract from my ability to put on my office game-face and rock it like a professional when I had the chance again?

Well, there’s now a badge swinging from my waist that features a smart young women, sharply dressed in a button-down and cardigan, staring confidently back. I still hit the snooze button in the mornings, but I arrive at the office on time and ready to work.   I’ve certainly re-discovered the business-attire side of wardrobe (and used my first paycheck to expand it!) and take pride in coming into the office dressed like I mean it.  I am on excellent terms with my team and superiors and have maintained a healthy divide between my work life and personal life.

And those other questions, the big picture ones, about my MBA and my career, and the direction of my life?  I don’t have final answers, that’s for sure, but I’m starting to figure some things out.  I’ve discovered interesting new possibilities for a career in marketing and become somewhat passionate about the ways social media can be leveraged to develop a brand.  I’m making connections in the technology sector, and learning how products are developed and released within the SaaS (Software as a Service) space.  I may find full-time work in the area I am now, or maybe the electives I take in my second year will send me in a new direction.  Everywhere I look I see a lot of possibilities as opposed to dead ends; this is definitely something that my MBA has helped me to achieve.

And in the new realities of my day-to-day life, when I encounter a door that’s locked: hey, look at that! My badge grants me access, and I forge ahead.

Operations Club Roast: Dillanos Coffee Roasters

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Seattle is known for its coffee; maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s because there is a coffee shop on every corner.  Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure- Seattleites love their coffee and so do MBA students.  As a Foster student, a delicious cup of coffee is never more than an arm’s reach away.

Dillanos Coffee Roasters was voted 2011 Roaster of Year by Roast Magazine and was featured in CNN’s “The Coffee Addiction.”

One Friday in May, the Foster Operations Club visited Dillanos Coffee Roasters. Our visit started out with a tour of the roasting operations; from the bean delivery to the distribution of packages. On the tour we saw machines that could roast up to 400 gallons of coffee beans an hour! We also so where Dillanos makes their flavored coffees. Did you know that coffee is like baking soda in that it absorbs any of the scents around it? Because of the absorbing nature of the coffee beans Dillanos makes the flavored coffee in a separate and sealed off room, away from the roasters.

After the tour we had a coffee tasting with the head roaster at Dillanos, Bjorn. Bjorn filled us on what he looks for when trying coffee samples provided by potential suppliers. Our group got to taste two coffees brewed in different ways to experience how different brewing methods alter the taste of the coffee. My favorite brewing technique is the pour over method although, once brewed, I do not turn down coffee no matter how it’s brewed.

Fueled by caffeine we spent the next hour or so listening to and speaking with Dillanos’ operations executives. We spoke about operating with limited inventory, the implementation of the balanced score card approach, and how cross training employees could lower costs. Between the tour, tasting, and conversation with executives the Operations Club’s appreciation of all things coffee got stronger and richer – just like, well, a nice cup of coffee!

~ Guest Blogger Jennifer Yanni, Full-time Class of 2013, 2012-2013 Operations Club President

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

New Foster Club Supports Veterans

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Military veterans typically constitute a small but unique subset of MBA students at the Foster School of Business. In recent years, however, this number has risen significantly. We expect there to be over 20 veteran students enrolled at Foster spanning the day and evening programs by the start of the 2012-2013 academic year – and this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the Foster MBA Program. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal indicates that veteran enrollment is on the rise at top tier business schools all across the country. As major overseas operations wrap up and militaries begin to drawdown their numbers, service members are increasingly looking towards pursuing an MBA to complement their leadership and combat experience with fundamental business skills that will ultimately help them make the transition into the private sector; a two year business “boot camp,” if you will.

So what does this have to do with my experience as a Foster MBA student? Well, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a military veteran; so naturally I made it a point to seek out schools that had a club or networking group for former military members. When I couldn’t find any information on the Foster website about a veterans club, I made the assumption that it still existed – but perhaps it just wasn’t widely publicized. It wasn’t until after the start of first year pre-term activities (Prime/LEAD/JumpStart) that I realized I was mistaken.

Foster Veterans with Dave Chonowski, Co-founder of MBA Veterans

While there is a sizeable contingent of us here, we don’t have the support structure offered by other top business schools. Many of my prior-service classmates came to the same realization either during the application process, or soon after starting the program. In fact, most of my non-veteran classmates were also surprised to learn that Foster did not have a club for current and former military members. Of course, it wasn’t long before I started hearing the same repeated comment: “Someone should start a veterans club.”

Fast forward nine months.

I’m proud to announce that, as of last week, the Foster School of Business now offers a club specifically geared towards supporting military veterans enrolled at Foster, as well as applicants considering a Foster MBA. The Foster Veterans Association was cofounded by myself and another vet from the Class of 2013, Gene Ahn, with the support of the Assistant Dean, Dan Poston, Foster MBA Admissions Office, MBA Career Services, MBAA leadership, and of course, our classmates, both military and non-military. It’s my personal hope that this club provides veterans with a strong platform for professional, academic, and personal support, not only during their
two or three years here at Foster, but well into their post-MBA careers.

Check out the Foster Veterans Association webpage for more information.

~Guest Blogger Edward Hwang, Full-time Class of 2013, 2012-2013 Foster Veterans Association President

Operations and Opportunities with the Ops Club

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Question: Which one of these things doesn’t belong?

  • Steel Mill
  • Chocolate Company
  • Hospital
  • Fulfillment Center
  • Distillery

Answer: Trick Question – they all belong, at least to the Operations Club.

This is just a sample of the tours and events that the Operations Club has held over my first year at Foster. It was exciting to be a member of a club that purposely went into the community to secure tours and speakers is such a wide variety of industries. The events provided the best opportunity to learn about companies & industries as well as to network with industry leaders. Interestingly enough, some of the people we met on the tours were the same people that interviewed students for internships and full-time jobs. It was an added benefit to not just already know the interviewer but also to have in-depth knowledge of a company.

I made a conscious decision to purposely join clubs and attend events that offered an introduction into a variety of industries. After attending club fairs and informational happy hours I settled on a conservative 3 clubs with one of them being Operations Club. I felt that the club was highly motivated to organize tours and speakers from a multitude of industries to help the members see that 1) operations exist in every industry and 2) help open doors in whatever industry members were interested in. I am extremely happy with my decision to join the Operations Club and I’ve heard a number of my classmates confirm my belief that the Operations Club is the best club at Foster.

~ Guest Blogger Jennifer Yanni, Full-time Class of 2013, 2012-2013 Operations Club President

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

Foster’s Secret Weapon to Invading New York

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Here’s a little known fact: the Michael G. Foster Finance Society has been connecting UW Foster MBA students with investment bankers in New York City though an annual Finance Road Show.

UW is not your typical Finance school; we are not one of the few “core schools” that investment banks pick and choose from. But our school has no less hardworking and determined MBA students who are interested in pursuing a career in Finance.

We demonstrated our desire to go the extra 2,852 miles by going to New York City for 2 solid days of firm visits. We met with various representatives from different departments of several banks and with Husky alumni in New York. It was a tremendous opportunity to make connection on the East Coast, and learn insights about individual company culture and organizational structure, as well as what it would take to make a successful transition from one coast to the other.

The New York Road Show was a very well-organized trip, and I’m looking forward to our San Francisco visit in November. I would recommend those who are seriously looking to go into investment banking or relocation after graduation to take advantage of these opportunities.

Read more about the Finance Society here.

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