One of the most interesting – and practical – lessons I’ve learned during my first year at Foster is that business school (and business) is often about making tradeoffs. Do you spend an extra hour studying for operations or meet a networking contact for drinks? Do you go to bed at a reasonable hour (1:00 AM), or stay up to finish editing your term paper? These may be simple questions, but they have larger implications. When faced with a decision, do you know where your priorities are? Or will you waver until you have no other choice but to choose the most convenient option?
One of the biggest decisions I’ve made in this program so far is to study abroad this fall quarter. This year at Foster has been an amazing one. When I came to business school I wanted a truly transformative experience, and that’s exactly what I’ve had so far. My professors, advisors, mentors and peers have all been a part of my journey, so I paused when I first thought of leaving this community for a quarter. However, one of my goals during the program was to gain additional international experience. Following the Foster MBA program, I plan to pursue a management career in consumer marketing/brand strategy. During my informational interviews over the last year, potential employers told me – consistently – that they are looking for globally minded, culturally savvy marketers that can build relevance and trust with consumers. Sure, I thought that I fit this description already (naturally!), but I knew I could do more to really push the boundaries of my experience. In this year alone, I have had a chance to work on cross-cultural teams, attend a Global Business Forum on international development and global health, and participate in a two-week study tour to the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While these experiences have been incredibly enriching, I passionately believed that going abroad would give me an even deeper set of experiences that I could draw from in my next career.
Starting in early September, I’ll be taking classes at Instituto de Empresa (IE) in Madrid, Spain. Earlier in the year, I talked to not one, but four Foster alums who attended IE during their fall quarter, and they all loved it. According to the latest data, 82% of IE’s student body are international students, representing 68 nationalities across five continents – giving me a chance to really expand my global network. Classes are offered in both English and Spanish, and cover an extensive range of topics. I’m tentatively registered for six classes, including services marketing, advanced negotiations, and innovation management. Each class complements the coursework I’ll be taking at Foster. Plus, I’ll have an opportunity to take business classes in Spain during an economic crisis – this should be an interesting context for class discussions, especially with such a diverse group of students.
So what are the tradeoffs? For one, I’ll be doing my internship in St. Louis this summer, which means I’ll be away from Seattle and my new Foster friends for SIX MONTHS. That’s a long time in a two-year program. I’ll also miss Professor Jennifer Koski’s finance class in the fall (she’s won the PACCAR Award twice), as well as our required ethics class that I’ll have to make up in the winter. As an officer in two clubs next year, I’ll have to make extra time to stay in the loop and stay actively involved – especially with a nine hour time difference. I’ll also miss the NSHMBA and NBMBAA conferences, as well as my friend’s late September wedding.
Sounds like a lot? It is. However, I’m going to gain so much by taking part in the exchange program. And because of the tradeoffs I’m making, I’m even more committed to getting the best of what IE has to offer. I can’t wait!
– Adrienne Matthews (Class of 2011)