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

MBA students consult for Seattle shipyard

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Pacific Fishermen Shipyard and Electric is attempting to branch out from its traditional lines of revenue with new facilities for preparing and painting industrial equipment. To market its new capabilities and hopefully add jobs at the shipyard, Pacific Fishermen has tapped the marketing skills of MBA students through the Field Study Program at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Click on image to play video.

The Field Study Program offers selected consulting projects proposed by businesses and non-profits to MBA candidates as an opportunity for Foster students to get real-world consulting experience while having a positive impact on the economy of the Puget Sound region. This is the first of two videos to document the collaboration between Foster MBAs and Pacific Fishermen Shipyard and Electric. At the end of winter quarter 2011, we’ll check back with the MBA team to see what they have been able to accomplish for this historic Seattle shipyard.

– Reposted from the Foster Unplugged Blog

Foster MBAs head to Kenya for Study Tour

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Twenty five students made up of Foster MBAs as well as other UW grad programs arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on March 14th.  Over the course of two weeks we explored Kenyan business, culture and life.  With the guidance of three knowledgeable and enthusiastic student trip leaders, we visited a variety of companies – from start ups to giants like Winafrique (renewable energy) and KenCall to Unilever, Safaricom, Barclays, Kenya Airways, and many others. We had a chance to meet amazing business leaders with degrees from Stanford Business School and from all other parts of the world.

Kenya Study Tour on the Kenya/Tanzania Border during the safari

Kenya Study Tour on the Kenya/Tanzania Border during the safari

We drove all over Nairobi to see what life was truly like in the developing world.  This included a company and site visit with Jamii Bora, Kenya’s largest microfinance firm.  The leaders of the organizations afterwards took us to Kibera (one of the two largest slums in Kenya) where we got to see microfinance funding at work and lifting people from the streets into sheltered living.  We also saw a school and an orphanage in a village outside of Nairobi which gave us a good perspective on the value that education has in Kenya, considering it has a 70% literacy rate.

In addition to businesses that we visited in Kenya, we also had plenty of cultural

Nairobi Stock Exchange

Nairobi Stock Exchange

experiences.  For example, we visited Karen Blixen’s house (the subject of Out of Africa), saw the Bomas of Kenya (where traditional Kenyan tribal dances including Barack Obama’s were performed), learned and visited an elephant orphanage, fed giraffes at the giraffe center and of course we went on a three day safari.  A part of the group also spent one morning on a hot air balloon ride over the African savanna seeing the sunrise and wild life early in the morning.  Many of us also got to try our hand at bargaining at city markets where we gifts like masks, sculptures, paintings and jewelry.

Overall, this was a once in a lifetime experience.  The feeling from the trip was that most of us could have gone on a safari on our own, but we could not have gotten an inside glimpse into a very hopeful and young economy in the developing world.  This is definitely the best part of business school for me – getting to take advantage of opportunities like this one.

Guest Blogger: Helen Seliverstov, Foster MBA Class of 2011

Foster Goes to Omaha

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A group of 27 Foster MBA students headed to Nebraska last week to spend the day with the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Warren Buffett. It was supposed to be a quick trip consisting of only 24 hours in Omaha, but a mechanically faulty airplane provided us an extra night in the midwestern city and time for one more famous steak which several people took full advantage of.

Our very own guest blogger, Allison Bilas with Mr. Buffett

Our very own guest blogger, Allison Bilas with Mr. Buffett

Mr. Buffett graciously answered questions for two and a half hours ranging from his approach to maintaining an ethical culture at Berkshire Hathaway to explaining how he would invest $10,000 if he was a graduate student with a limited bank account balance. He was completely honest, open and consistently showed his down-to-earth sense of humor. Our favorite quote came during his answer to a question regarding the government’s intervention in the economy:

“You can’t make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.”

No arguments from us on that one.

It was a fabulous trip and completely stress free which we owe entirely to our amazing classmate, Meghann. She was asked by the Dean to be the lead coordinator for the trip and he clearly chose a great woman for the job. She handled all of the frustrating logistics involved in the rebooking of 27 people on a new flight back to Seattle, as well as making sure we had somewhere to sleep for our extra night in Omaha. We thank her profusely. (You can read her take on the trip over at Foster Unplugged.)

Here’s to Foster being invited back to Omaha for a third year in a row in 2011. If we are, I strongly suggest those attending think of a good pose for their few moments with Mr. Buffett. He likes role playing, clearly.

Our fearless leader, Meghann | Mr. Buffett | Yours Truly

Our fearless leader, Meghann | Mr. Buffett | Yours Truly

Don’t Miss Admit Weekend

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The third deadline for applications has just passed so the number of students who have been admitted to the program and chosen to be part of the Class of 2012 is growing each month. Hopefully some of you admitted students are reading this right now because I’m going to tell you how to get a sneak peak into the program… how to truly experience Foster before making your final decision… how to meet the actual people who will be sitting across from you in class in 8 short months.

classmatesThe Foster MBA Admissions team hosts two Admit Weekends each Spring and they are truly invaluable experiences, especially if you are not sure if Foster is the best fit for you. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide between Foster and another program. Or maybe you know Foster is the perfect school, but you’re anxious to meet the people who will make up the most important network you’ll ever be part of. Admit Weekend is that opportunity!

After being admitted to Foster I was still on the fence about pursuing an MBA. After attending the Admit Weekend I had my answer. I met current students who answered all of my questions, I met professors and staff who were inquisitive and supportive, and best of all, I began forming friendships with my future classmates immediately. They were interesting and humble and brilliant and I left Admit Weekend knowing firsthand that I was going to enjoy my two years at Foster.

You’ve read all about the Foster culture on the website and heard about it from current students and alumni. I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself at an Admit Weekend.

Applied Strategies

Friday, January 15th, 2010

After a much needed break over the holidays, I came back to Foster excited for a fresh course load. I learned a lot last quarter, and loved my professors. But I was ready for new topics!

I think most people (myself included) were especially excited for one class in particular – Applied Strategies. In this class, each team is assigned to a consulting project with a local company. The format of the class is fairly open ended… It’s all about delivering results to our clients.

My team’s project is with a company selling medical devices. The scope includes some operations and some marketing. While I’m familiar with marketing and a bit of operations, I know nothing about the medical industry. I’m excited to get out of my comfort zone a bit!

We spent the first couple weeks of class talking about consulting best practices – scope, client communications, and project management skills. The classes included panels of students who did projects last year, and professionals who currently work in consulting.

On Wednesday we finally met our clients in person! My team is fortunate to be working directly with the President of the company. She was very excited to have us, and came to our meeting with a lot of information to share.

Now that we’ve kicked that project off, the real work begins, starting with an on-site visit next week!

Guest Blogger: Allison Bilas, Foster MBA Class of 2011

Foster goes to Omaha

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Warren BuffetThe Foster MBA Program has been invited back to Omaha, Nebraska to have lunch with Warren Buffett for the second year in a row. Not surprisingly, this is a popular opportunity amongst MBA-ers so Administration chooses the lucky 27 students through a lottery system. After trying for a spot last year and being disappointed with the results, I received notice last week that I’m on the list this year! Watch for a follow-up post and photos after the trip in February!

Omaha here we come.