Advice to First Years from the Class of 2016

Friday, September 25th, 2015

We’re officially second-years!

Flashback to June 2015: We had just finished final exams and final projects for Spring Quarter…which meant that we were done with the first year of our MBA program. We were officially second years! A couple of students from the Class of 2016 were asked to talk about what the first year of our MBA program was like, and if we had any advice for the Class of 2017.


On Foster Welcome Weekend: An Incoming Student’s Observations

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I’m buying a grande coffee to get going, I’m driving to Seattle, I’m zoning out to Arcade Fire and chewing up highway, I’m getting off at 45th and taking a left, I’m parking in the garage and walking to Paccar Hall, here we are. This all feels so weird, I’m 30 years old, it’s 4pm on a Friday, I should be at work, what am I doing back on a college campus?? Suddenly everything starts to settle in and make sense: oh, right, it’s April Welcome Weekend at Foster, and in 5 months I’ll be well on my way to endless study sessions where I’ll attempt to learn the basics of impossibly qualitative subjects like Marketing and burying myself in an unholy amount of student debt. Wait…are we sure about this? Oh well, too late now, they already made me a nametag.

Checked into Hotel Deca, changed into a halfway decent getup and now headed over to the meet and greet social. Whoa, this is a lot of new faces; no way I’ll ever remember all these names. “Hi I’m Kris…oh, no I’m from Bellingham…no, but it’s not too far, about an hour and a half drive north on I-5…yeah, it was an easy drive, how about you?  Wait, you came all the way from Beijing/Mumbai/Hyderabad just for this weekend?” This conversation happens a lot, but people are starting to do the stuff that people do when they’re getting hungry, so we move to the dining room for dinner.

Wow, prime rib and an open bar? Is it cool if I just have some saltines and a glass of bubble water and we hack $25 off my tuition this fall? No, I’m kidding. But…seriously, can we do that?

“Tell me about why you chose Foster…” this question happens a lot, and I start to get really good at answering it. In return I ask current students about mentorship opportunities, coursework, life at Foster, all the good stuff. Great answers from current students and alumni, really getting a good vibe from these people, everyone seems very cool, like the type of people I could spend 9 hours locked in a breakout room with. Wait…what?

The group migrates back to the bar at Hotel Deca for a social hour. Wow, there really are a lot of very cool, interesting people here; people who love to travel, people who climb mountains, people who love sports. Relief sweeps over me, or possibly the alcohol. I’ve got my money on both. Everything winds down, some people are going home, some back to the hotel, a few over to Kate’s Pub in Wallingford for a little more social mingling. Certain sacrifices must be made, I join the herd on its way to Kate’s. Darts are thrown, PBR’s are made to disappear (we’re college students, after all), and everyone is laughing. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Head back to the hotel, stop at Dick’s for a deluxe and fries, go to bed you idiot, you have to be up at 8am

Wow, full day today, introductions with Assistant Dean Poston and a seminar about what Foster really represents, burn my tongue chugging some coffee, fascinating mock class about the Eurozone and Greek debt crisis, jam some blueberry muffins in my face, go on a tour of campus in sideways rain, this girl from Capitol Hill forgot her umbrella, share mine with her and get completely soaked, time for the Indian TG, cool let’s do it! Why wouldn’t I eat spicy Indian food on a crowded dance floor surrounded by strangers who I’ll spend the next 2 years with? I can’t think of any reasons, so I double down on the Masala. Nothing can possibly go wrong now!

Okay, at first I was making an effort to be friendly, but these people are seriously really cool. Roger Levesque pours me a beer, alright that’s fairly awesome, go Sounders. TG winds down after some rather intimidating choreographed Indian dance moves – you guys know “The Sprinkler”?? The group heads back to Kate’s for a few more drinks. Probably could have pumped the brakes on that Indian curry. And then it’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m the idiot who has to be up at 8am again. Perfect. Go to sleep.

It’s Saturday morning, which means we’re riding those ducks into Lake Union! Climb aboard the great aluminum beast and we plow through the city. Our driver, the venerable Captain Davey Quackett, points out the noteworthy sights with vigor and we blast through the open water like Bishop Sankey through (Insert your team’s defensive line). Okay, tours over, get off the duck, go to Gordon Biersch for lunch and a brewery tour. Alright people, this has been great, really enjoyed meeting everyone, but I seriously have to get some sleep.

Can’t wait for September – go Dawgs!

What a Difference a Year Makes

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

What a difference a year makes. Last year, I completed my last tour as a U.S. Marine, moved from my duty station in Japan back to Seattle, studied for the GMAT, worked tirelessly on my business school applications, and reconnected with old friends and colleagues.

This year, I finished up my volunteer service as a writing and math tutor at 826 Seattle, rekindled my passion for jazz music and swing dance, connected with local veterans and military-friendly companies, and traveled to Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. And now, in less than a month, I will hang up my uniform and don a business suit…and this old Marine will soon become a full-time MBA student at the Foster School of Business.

After my deployment to Iraq, I knew that I did not want to make the military a long-term career. I joined the Marines out of a sense of patriotism and duty, stemming from the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq War. I wanted to serve my country, deploy to Iraq, and, like Cincinnatus, go back home. My military experience helped me discover my personal strengths and professional interests and develop my leadership and management skills. But I knew that I didn’t know enough about business theory and practices. I was hungry and wanted to know more. And I saw business school as a way to satisfy that hunger and make a successful career transition from the military to the business world.

Having spent my entire career overseas in Asia and the Middle East, I look forward to starting business school in my hometown of Seattle. I look forward to meeting and learning as much as I can from my future classmates and professors. I look forward to making lifelong friendships and golden memories. I look forward to the parties and social events. I look forward to building my professional network and making inroads into the local technology industry. But most of all, I look forward to starting a new chapter in my life as a veteran in business school.

Every now and then, I miss the Corps. Sometimes, I wonder how the veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam made the transition back to civilian life after they got back from the war. How did they cope with hanging up their uniform and remaking themselves as part of American society? Last year, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, said, “A Marine is a Marine…there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life.” As I begin the journey of the Foster MBA program, I know that I will have to remake my identity on a personal and professional level, but I also know that I don’t have to forsake my identity as a Marine. And thanks to the wisdom of General Amos, I will stand as a proud veteran at Foster and, in return, hope to make the Corps proud someday.

~Guest Blogger Mark Bonicillo, Full-time Class of 2014

A Time of Transition

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

There are a number of reasons an individual may choose to pursue an MBA.  Here is one account of how an incoming first year student found her perfect fit with Foster, and has begun transitioning to the program.

By Liza Green, Full-time Class of 2014. Upon graduating from University of Virginia, Liza moved to the Rocky Mountains. Her experience there spanned various industries, from restaurants to biotechnology and education. Liza hopes to one day run her own food-related business, and in the meantime is eager to explore marketing and entrepreneurship at Foster.

Applying to boarding schools at the age of thirteen was as rigorous as the processes I would later experience for college and business school. I recall writing numerous essays and completing short answer questions in the style of Mad Libs, albeit a bit more serious. One that I distinctly remember was “What I like most about myself is that I am ____.” My answer: well-rounded. To this day, I would probably answer that question the same way, as I have worked in real estate, education, biotechnology, retail, restaurants, and more. But, I might also give the same response if asked what I like least about myself.

I recently started to feel that I was not only a jack of all trades, but also possibly a master of none. I realized I wanted something different, something more; I wanted an expertise and a committed direction. I had billed myself as an administrative specialist, and while I had contributed significantly to various organizations, I was having difficulty taking my career to the next level. I knew I had a lot to learn, so my natural decision was to return to school.

Having grown up back east, my over-generalized image of MBA students consisted of little more than i-bankers in business suits. I had lived in the mountains for years and had never once donned a suit, so when I visited schools on the east coast, I wasn’t quite sure if I fit in. I wanted to be around people whose experiences were as diverse as mine, whose perspectives were as unique, and whose motivation and goals were as individually-driven and tailored. In my search process, Foster emerged as the only school that truly excited me. What I found is a community that I believe will allow me to excel while pushing me to develop the skills that I need. The energy at Foster seems contagious, and my own excitement about the program is reinforced by every interaction I have with students, staff, and alumni.

When I first committed to Foster, the start of school could not come fast enough. I was ready to quit my job, pack a UHaul, and get to Seattle. Thus far, I have only made the first step in that transition – quitting my job. I am now heeding the advice of current Foster students as I relax and spend time with family and friends. I have recently returned from two months with my family in Virginia and New York. Soon, my boyfriend and I will depart on a two week trip to whitewater raft, hike, camp, and recharge in the mountains of Idaho.

Yet behind all of this leisurely personal time lurks an ever-expanding to-do list. I have been out of school for nine years and I was a History major in college, so my prep list might be a bit more extensive than most: purchase and complete online coursework in Accounting, Finance, and Statistics; do some soul searching to better direct my studies and focus at school; research potential careers and employers; schedule and complete informational interviews with potential networking connections found on LinkedIn. On top of that, I need to ensure my financial aid is in order, rewrite my resume yet again, find a place to live, and possibly transition to the world of smartphone users. The list goes on, and I will do my best to manage it all while making sure to enjoy the calm before the storm.

Inside Admissions: Welcome Weekend

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Welcome Reception Dinner at the Burke Museum.

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

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

Admitted students learn about Seattle neighborhoods.

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


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

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

~ Featured Blogger Erin Ernst, Director, MBA Admissions

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


A Message from the MBAA President: The Airport Test

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Back when I was working in management consulting (wait, was that only a year ago?), when we were hiring someone one of our main criteria was called “The Airport Test.” Eventually if we hired this person someone was bound to be stuck with him or her for an extended period of time at an airport, and it was important to decide if the resulting conversation would be exciting or vapid. Basically we wanted to hire interesting people.

Well I’m delighted to report that after spending a year with my classmates, it is my conclusion that the admissions office has the same test. I am constantly amazed at how many different interests we have. We have runners, climbers, cyclists, hikers, ultimate players (Frisbee, not creepy), movie buffs, poker enthusiasts, volunteers, foodies, gamers, techies, fashionistas, and many more. That’s not even counting our wide variety of business interests, from marketing to finance, start-ups to Fortune 50, non-profit to investment banking.

What makes Foster such a great place to be is that not only do we have so many diverse interests, but we all want to share them with each other. There are so many different small groups that have formed, each with a specific interest, and each excited to share that interest with the rest of the class. Together with the formal MBAA (MBA Association) clubs, these informal social clubs form the real glue of our school by bringing people together.

As the president of the MBAA, my job is to empower and enable students to create both the formal and informal clubs, and to be sure that we are sharing our interests with the community at large. At the risk of sounding a tad conceited, I want the world to realize what I have: that Foster students are pretty darn awesome people, and the world-at-large would be lucky to have us in their companies, on their boards, or just at their parties.

So here is my challenge to next year’s class, which I issued at the admit weekends. Over the summer, think about how you want to be involved outside of the classroom, where you want to contribute. What gets you up in the morning? What is your passion? And most importantly, how will you share that passion with the rest of Foster? When you arrive in the fall, look me up and tell me what you decided. That’s what the MBAA is here to help you do.

~ Guest Blogger Jason Rankin, Full-Time Class of 2012 and MBAA President

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

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.

Evening MBA Orientation

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Foster orientation: the first two days of the rest of your life.  Along with any new experience a flurry of emotions, expectations, hopes and excitement fill the space leading up to the event.  Also the inevitable questions of doubt: Did I make the right choice?  Is this going to help me with my career? And, especially after listening to the second-year panel, what did I just get myself into? But perhaps the most pronounced thought is: “Ok, I’m here, dedicated and enthusiastic about my future but what do I want to do with the rest of my life?!!”

Current Evening Students Panel

Current Evening Students Panel

For the evening students orientation is two days of introductions to peers and resources, the launch of the new year-long Management 510 course which promotes leadership and strategic thinking and of course the single moment I had been waiting for: finding out who will be in my study group.

Rather than a career crash course, Foster kicks off orientation by asking you to look at your individual strengths, attitudes, behaviors and personal attributes through various surveys and questionnaires.  At this climactic point of our lives and while we try to forge a career path aligned with who we are and what we want out of this life, I was inspired, eager and even thankful that Foster recognizes the next three years as a comprehensive journey to conceive our best self.  It is within this journey that Foster will help us to not only learn T table, but to also clarify all those doubts we may have had as we walked in the door.  Orientation sets this tone and when we leave here we will all have a deeper understanding of who we are and what we are suppose to do with our lives.  Thank you Foster, Hello World!

Guest Blogger: Raquel Johnson, Evening Student, Class of 2012

What Happens Early Matters

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

LEAD WeekTen Jump Start sessions, a Pub Club, a fiesta, and one weekend later, I jumped head-first into LEAD (Leadership, Exploration, Association, Direction). It’s more than just orientation. It’s an immersion. From 8 am to 6, 7, or 8 pm each day.  All week, my classmates and I have been sharing “trigger moments” with each other (how we got here, why we chose to pursue an MBA at Foster), discussing our expectations of the program, and getting to know each other real well, real fast.  Already, I’ve managed to test a few boundaries with my sense of humor. For one, I recommended Eneman, a plush enema doll used to promote colorectal screenings at trade shows (and the best tchotchke ever!) as an informal team mascot. Blank stares, then, some smiles.  I figured I’d take a few risks before Finance starts, right?

This LEAD also marks the launch of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, which runs a class, Management 510, concurrent with our core courses throughout the year.  We’ve been learning about team-based leadership, the qualities of strategic thinking, and how both will apply to nearly every field that we will study.  Through all this, it’s been amazing to me how our class is so diverse, yet so similar in many ways. We come from different countries, states, cultures, and educational and professional backgrounds, but we’re all here for the same reasons. For intellectual challenge and career growth. For networking and friendship. For holistic success.

With nametags, place cards, coffee mugs and backpacks in tow, this week has been a flurry of excitement and a touch of anxiety.  Foster has done an excellent job of providing us with schedules, syllabi, panels and presentations on the “nuts and bolts” of the program. But, for a lot of us, we only have a “sense” of what’s coming.  We know we’ll be BUSY during our first quarter, but how that will play out individually and in our teams is still a big unknown.  In business and in life, we’ll often face times of ambiguity, and the next two years stands to transform us all.  The best part? We’re in this together.  Ready, set . . . go!

Guest Blogger: Adrienne Matthews, Foster MBA Class of 2011

Adrienne during LEAD

Adrienne during LEAD