The commencement of the Class of 2016 was bittersweet, with poignant speakers, awards recognizing exceptional students, and a general feeling of community as the graduates embark on a new chapter in their careers and lives. Above all, a common theme throughout the commencement festivities was the concept of servant leadership.
Howard Behar, Former President of Starbucks International, was the commencement speaker. In his speech, he recounted the story of an elderly customer who walked into the same Starbucks store every day and ordered the same coffee drink and muffin. When the customer did not show up one day, a barista on the team went to his residence to check on him and bring him his usual order. The barista was told that he had passed on. The Starbucks team went to the customer’s funeral and set up a table full of his usual order, and on each muffin bag was one of the personalized messages the team would write for the customer every morning. This story illustrates that business is not simply a series of transactions that lead to profitability and beating out one’s competition. It is about building meaningful relationships by serving others wholeheartedly. Mr. Behar models this service mindset, giving back via the Foster MBA Mentor Program and serving on several non-profit boards. He addressed the graduating Class of 2016 saying, “What you have just given yourself is the opportunity to serve others.” By earning an MBA from the University of Washington’s prestigious Foster School of Business, all the learning the students gleaned has effectively become a lifelong obligation to serve others with their honed talents and skills.
Sheena Seibert-Nelson, Evening MBA Class of 2016, gave student remarks on behalf of the graduating class. Building on the service theme, she advised her peers to “remain lifelong learners and give back to the community.” Indeed, the students in the graduating class embodied this attitude throughout their three years at Foster. Dan Poston, Assistant Dean for Masters Programs, commended the Class of 2016 for standing out not just in academics, but also in the extracurricular activities through which they served each other and the community. In what was arguably the best illustration of the Foster MBA brand, he asked students to stand up who had been involved in the Peer Mentor Program, then those who had served on the MBA Association, Challenge for Charity- Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics, the Board Fellows Program, and several other service activities through the Foster School. Dan Poston asked the students to remain standing as he listed the rest of the organizations in which students participated. By the end of the list, nearly every student was standing. It was a proud moment for the students, their families, and the Foster community.
On a lighter note, Dan Poston also shared that the Class of 2016 was exceptional for yet another reason. Previously, the Class of 2012 held a record of 12 babies born during the three-year curriculum of the Foster Evening MBA Program. The Class of 2016 broke that record with 23 babies over the course of their studies at the Foster School, thereby “redefining productivity.” The laughter that ensued was reminiscent of the laughs that students shared during team meetings and study sessions throughout the challenging curriculum at Foster.
It is no secret that Foster Evening MBA graduates are hard-working and ambitious, and they will go on to make the niche they occupy in the world a better place. But beyond that, they understand that the greatest takeaway from the program is the network of genuine friendships they gained. They know they can lean on each other, they celebrate each other’s milestones, serve the community together, and bring others along when they find success. This, service and community, is Foster.
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Anna Nordstrom, Evening MBA Class of 2017, tells us what it’s like juggling all her responsibilities as a Mom in the Evening MBA Program.
I’ve had a few different professions pre-MBA. I was an elementary school teacher for the first part of my professional career, and I also coached high school rowing and kids running. When I left teaching, I started working independently as an organizational consultant/coach, which I still do. Most recently, I worked as the Operations Manager and then Business Manager for a local company, and that led to my interest in getting an MBA.
At this point, I think I’d like to continue consulting in the realm of Organizational Effectiveness, or perhaps Organizational Development, though I am also finding Marketing very interesting. I want to help businesses solve their problems, and I’m still narrowing down what my exact focus might be.
How do you balance it all?
I don’t know that I do! I have a very supportive husband and extended family, and I focus on tackling the most important things on my agenda each day. There are definitely things that I am not doing as well as I’d like, but I try to keep perspective on why I am doing this program and give myself the grace to let extraneous things go. And, after a previously caffeine free life, I finally caved in and started drinking coffee…This year I promised my husband I would try to focus my extracurricular activities to only my highest priorities because there is so much going on at school that I want to be a part of and I have a tendency to try to do it all. I know he’ll hold me to my promise!
Why did you choose Foster? Why did you choose the Evening MBA Program?
I chose Foster because I knew that wherever I went, we would need help from extended family for me to make it through the program, and my family is here in Seattle. I didn’t even look at other schools in Seattle, because UW is by far the best! I chose the Evening program because, as a career changer, I wanted to be able to gain work experience while going to school so that my experience would match up with my degree by the end. What I didn’t know was how perfect the Evening MBA Program would be for my busy home life. The people in the program are all busy, so everyone has a good perspective on how to maintain some semblance of balance.
What resources have been helpful in making the Evening MBA Program manageable?
My team, for sure. Without them, I would have never survived my first year, and this year’s team has been just as fantastic! I talked to my professors and TAs as I had questions or needed help with assignments. The MBA Programs Office team is amazing and great to talk with about the program and what you want to get out of it, and I’ve found alumni to be very welcoming and open to talking to me. I’ve also utilized MBA Career Management a bunch, once for a practice job interview, which I ended up having to do over the phone, while sitting in my car, with my daughter screaming in the background…Sally Templeton (Senior Associate Director, MBA Career Management) didn’t even flinch!
How do you make time for family/friends and hobbies/interests outside of the Program?
It’s hard to make time for many other things, but I definitely prioritize family time. My team was very accommodating when scheduling our meetings so that Diane (another mom) and I usually got one full day of the weekend to spend with our families, and I tried to involve my kids and my family whenever I could so that we all feel like we’re doing it together. I have a standing date with my running partner to ensure I get some exercise each week, and I’ve told other friends, “I’d love to see you, but you have to come to me!” Luckily they do!
Your team won the second year case competition and you recently were recognized for your work on the Health Innovation Challenge. What do you think has contributed to your success in team settings?
Foster does such a great job of setting us up for success in teams – the thought put into our teammates for First Year and Second Year, the assignment of our Peer Mentor, eLEAD at the beginning of our first year, reLEAD that Winter, eLEAD part 3 to start our second year, and our core class on Management and Leadership. I’ve tried to remember what I’ve been taught from all of these experiences when I’m in team settings, particularly to:
Be clear with the team about expectations from the start – With our 2nd year team, we made a goal in our first group phone call that we wanted to win the Case Competition, so we all knew we were working towards that common goal. But we were also clear about the time boundaries we had with our busy lives outside of school, so that helped us to maximize the time we were together. With the HIC, Ellyce ( HIC teammate and 2017 classmate) and I made it clear the ways that we could contribute to the group with our business knowledge, what the other members of the team would need to contribute, and how much time we could devote to the competition.
Recognize individual strengths and contributions – Everyone brings something different to the team, and it’s all valuable. Acknowledging and recognizing what others do well helps elevate the sense of teamwork. I was so inspired by each of my teammates in both competitions!
Don’t take things personally – This means working for the greater good even if it’s not my idea that goes forward, and knowing that feedback someone gives me is not a personal attack, but a way to make me a better manager, teammate or businessperson. Disagreements are just opportunities to figure out what isn’t clear or what isn’t working.
Apply the concepts we’re learning in classes – We are here to learn, but it’s easy to fall back on your old habits when you are under time pressure. In each situation, we thought back to what we were taught and thought about how that related to our task. I can’t stress how important this is!
Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Who are the faculty who teach the Evening MBA core courses? In this Blog Series, these leading scholars share with us what they enjoy about the Evening MBA Program and provide some background on their cutting edge research.
Our first featured faculty member is Professor Mark Westerfield. Students describe Professor Westerfield’s Business Finance course as challenging, but “definitely a positive NPV project.” His dedication to his students is evident from the very first lecture when he shares the outcomes of the course and invites students to provide input on the teaching structure. Professor Westerfield welcomes questions and encourages curiosity, whether it’s in the classroom or during office hours, in teams or individually. He often makes himself available on the weekends before a group case is due for his class, popping into Paccar Hall team rooms to answer questions. Whether he is encouraging students to lead a complex case, giving an interactive lecture on the Financial Crisis, or providing an engaging glimpse into Behavioral Finance, Professor Mark Westerfield is creating futures as a member of Foster’s esteemed faculty.
Teaches: Business Finance (FIN 502)
What do you enjoy the most about teaching Foster Evening MBA students?
I most enjoy the level of professional engagement from my Foster Evening MBA students. Students bring their own knowledge and context with them in to the classroom, and they are willing to fully engage with the class material and the knowledge of their classmates. Even better, the students naturally do this with a professional manner, taking responsibility for exploiting all of the opportunities they have for work the next day or their career in ten years. The result is a potent mixture where everyone (including me) leaves with much more than they entered with.
Why is the MBA core course you teach an important part of the knowledge base for an MBA student?
Valuing assets and decisions is important for all managers. Business Finance teaches the fundamental tools of valuation and decision making: Should we undertake a particular project or investment? What is an asset or opportunity worth? How do we assess risk and return? At the end of the class, students have a structure for thinking about potential projects and investments and the ability to analyze opportunities in a systematic way.
What is the focus of your current research? What are the key issues and questions that interest you?
My current research focuses on contracts and liquidity, particularly in settings like private equity and venture capital funds. If investments cannot be traded and there is no clear price, investors will require a return premium to compensate them for the additional risk and uncertainty; how much do they require, and how much should they require? Contracts and payment schemes provide incentives to fund managers; how do different contract forms generate incentives and how do those forms affect performance?
Is there anything else you’d like students to know about your MBA core course or approach to teaching?
This course uses a combination of lectures and case studies. The lecture is intended to provide students with rigorous analytical tools; the cases are an opportunity to use those tools in practical settings. I believe that `learning’ and `doing’ must be integrated. It is the fact that students must create solutions–rather than simply hearing and repeating what others have done–that provides the crucial link between theory and action. In combination, the lectures and cases are intended to turn students from consumers of information to producers of rigorous analysis.
To learn more about Professor Mark Westerfield and his research: http://www.markwesterfield.com/.
There are many reasons the Foster Evening MBA Program continues to offer the best in business education. The faculty and the students are certainly part of the equation. However, the program would not be the same without the dedication of the MBA Programs Office staff. In the first installment of this new blog series, we learn about Tim Hossain, the Director of Student Affairs for the Evening MBA Program, who brings passion and commitment to everything he does at Foster. Students, faculty, and staff agree, Tim embodies Foster’s unique values that set it apart from other MBA Programs.
Why did you choose Foster as a student?
In 2004, I joined the University of Washington in Admissions and Recruitment for the Foster School of Business. I focused on navigating my role, but felt like I was working harder for limited results. I spoke with Dan Poston (Assistant Dean, Masters Programs) whose insights made me realize that the challenges I was wrestling with were organizational and business-related. I knew that the MBA would allow me to develop the business foundations and negotiation skills that could accelerate my career. I knew Foster’s collaborative and friendly culture was what I was looking for in an MBA Program. After winter quarter in my first year of the Evening MBA Program, I could already see a significant change in my problem-solving and time management skills. I found that Foster’s emphasis on team-driven learning facilitates an exceptional academic experience, one that is focused on the collective success of the group through the growth and development of each of the individuals. Thanks to the structure of the Evening MBA Program, I was able to apply classroom learnings the very next day at work. Today, I continue apply my takeaways from the Evening MBA Program as a professional.
Why did you choose Foster as a professional?
Nine years ago, when I joined Foster, I was drawn to the opportunity to work with smart and talented students, faculty, and staff. It is very rewarding to see the impact of the work the MBA Program does to change the lives of our students. As an alumnus of the Evening MBA Program, I feel a strong responsibility to ensure every student has the chance to take advantage of the opportunities the Foster School of Business offers. I enjoy connecting students and alumni for mentorships, career opportunities, or shared interests. The Foster Evening MBA accelerated my career, expanded my network, and allowed me valuable experiences that I love sharing with students.
What sets Foster Evening MBA students apart?
The community of the Evening MBA Program is unique. Students are not just coming in, taking classes, and leaving. A wide offering of extracurricular and social activities keeps students involved and engaged. For example, we have a standing Wednesday night happy hour where students share laughs and learnings. Our students appreciate the variety of student leadership opportunities and conferences available to them, and they take pride in representing Foster in giving back to the community. Foster has a great reputation- people in Seattle, the U.S., and the world are paying attention. This reputation would not be possible without the commitment of our exemplary students.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
My relationships and interactions with students. I have the privilege of forming amazing connections with these bright individuals. These relationships mean I have a responsibility to be honest with my students. I celebrate their accomplishments with them, but I also give them direct feedback on topics ranging from team dynamics to living up to their individual potential. The trust I build with my students makes them receptive of these tough conversations- they know I have their best interest in mind. I make a point to meet with every single student in our program. In order to serve as an advisor, I need to have context and understand each individual’s story so I can tailor my advice to each student’s needs.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Same as above. Tough conversations with students are often the most challenging, but I have high expectations of them and have a responsibility of ensuring they have the resources they need to be successful. I want to help them reach meaningful milestones in their MBA and career, and sometimes a dose of tough love is necessary.
Looking back on your experience as a Foster MBA student, one
Do: Focus on more than just class- the Evening MBA Program is more than just a set of classes; it’s a series of experiences. Attack what you want to do. The knowledge you gain is more important than the final grade. The MBA will arm you with tools to help achieve your goals. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the opportunities provided to you.
Don’t: Never second-guess why you’re in the program. Our rigorous admissions process makes us confident you can handle this. You belong here. Once you join Foster, you may feel that you are no longer the smartest person in the room, but you can learn a lot from your peers. Everyone has something unique to offer and you were admitted for a reason.
What is Foster’s competitive advantage?
The people. Foster is a diverse group of intelligent, driven people looking for a collaborative environment. The University of Washington also has a great connection to the Seattle business community. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks seek out Foster candidates for projects, internships, and jobs. Seattle’s entrepreneurship community is another competitive advantage that Foster leverages through the Buerk Center.
What do you appreciate the most about your Foster experience, personally and professionally?
The Foster experience has made a major impact in my life. The connections I made while in the program are some of the strongest I have. I don’t go a week without seeing or connecting with someone from my class (granted many weeks it’s my husband). On a regular basis, I connect with individuals starting companies, at the forefront of iconic organizations, and on the verge of disruptive product launches. My MBA classmates are doing amazing things and I get to be a part of that world.
What is one interesting fact most people don’t know about you that you would like to share?
I am first generation American. My parents emigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s where Dad got his PhD. Education was always an important part of my upbringing. My parents instilled that value in me and it changed my career trajectory. Every day, I get to empower people’s lives. While I had a great time in my undergrad, I know I didn’t take school as seriously as I should have. The Foster MBA was an opportunity to redeem myself. It requires a significant amount of time and energy, but you get out of it what you put in. If I can do it, anyone can.
There are times I wish someone had said that to me. There were times I was intimidated by the level of excellence on my team, especially during the challenging second quarter of my first year in the MBA. I did not ask for help when I should have. I hope I can help others in the long run by sharing about the struggles I personally overcame as a student.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Remember when you join the Foster Evening MBA Program that you are joining a community. The Foster MBA is only as strong as the people who are part of it. Each person has a story to tell and value to bring. As you look at your fit for the program, ask yourself, “What will you bring to the program?”
Members of the Foster community enthusiastically share their appreciation for Tim:
“Tim is the quintessential ‘go-to guy’. Co-workers and MBA students alike come to Tim with everything from technical issues to ‘What should I do with my life??’ issues. Tim is always there to lend an ear and offer you straightforward advice without judgment. He’ll give you his undivided attention and he’ll make you feel like your problem is the most important thing in the world at that moment. When Tim became the Director of Student Affairs for the Evening MBA program, he started sitting in the hall just inside the front door of Paccar during the 5:00 hour so that Evening students couldn’t miss him as they entered the building before class. Having graduated from the Evening program himself, Tim knows just how busy our students are, so he literally places himself right in front of the students so that they don’t have to come to him. He can also be seen at virtually every Evening MBA event, from the annual leadership celebration to the Foster Fun Run, supporting and celebrating our students. Tim truly cares about the people around him and about this program – Foster is fortunate to have him!” –Erin Town, MBA Admissions Director
“The thing that I appreciate most about Tim is his willingness to speak frankly about difficult topics. He has an ability to cut to the core of an issue, speak honestly about what matters, and put challenges in perspective. This made a difference for me when I was looking for a job this fall. He counseled me not to panic, but to use the resources available to me at Foster and focus on getting as much out of my business school experience as I could.” –Britt Staniar, Evening MBA Class of 2018
“One thing that makes Tim so helpful to all of us students is that he is a walking rolodex. Whatever your interest, passion, or goal, he can think of someone who you can connect with to discuss and learn from. Tim is a key part of accessing the Foster Alumni Network!” –Janice Javier, Evening MBA Class of 2017
“Tim has a rare combination of enthusiasm and patience that makes him an amazing mentor and advisor to students in the Foster Evening MBA Program. He regularly shows his passion for all the things that make the Foster School of Business great, while helping me to realize the full value of my education. His candor is constantly refreshing and he always goes above and beyond for every student to make his/her experience the best it can be.” –Adam Rubens, Evening MBA Alumni, Class of 2015
“What’s great about Tim is that I feel completely comfortable to go to him with anything — a question, feedback, a complaint that the bathrooms are closed yet again. He’s absolutely approachable and understands what it’s like to balance work, school, and the little bit of a personal life Evening MBA students at Foster try to maintain. He’s not only our fearless leader, he is our friend.” –Sheena Nelson, Evening MBA Class of 2016
“When I first met Tim, I was working on my application to the Full-time MBA Program. Since I am in the U.S. on a work visa, I was concerned about how I could do the program with either a full-time or part-time job. I was focusing on the Full-time MBA option because of its shorter duration, which would have allowed me to join my family in Italy again sooner. Tim spent a considerable amount of time patiently explaining the alternatives. I especially remember his honesty about time commitments and workload. He laid out all the cards on the table so that I could make an informed decision. He guided me towards the best solution for me and the career path I am seeking. Tim actually cares about the students. He helps us get the most out of the program by tailoring his advice to each individual’s unique situation.” –Sara Ortolani, Evening MBA Class of 2018
“Working with Tim is truly one of the best parts of being in the MBA Programs Office. He knows what you are capable of and pushes you to grow. His confidence in me inspires me to do my best and continually improve. I always feel safe knowing that if I was to fail or fall short that he would be there to offer support and constructive criticism without judgement to get me back on track. That is an extraordinary skill of his, or as we call it, his superpower.” –Jenny Forbes, Student Affairs Assistant- MBA Programs Office
To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at email@example.com.
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Our second installment of the Moms in the Evening MBA Blog Series: Libby Waterbury, Evening MBA Class of 2016, talks school, work, family, fun, and how she makes it all happen!
My undergrad and early professional career was in structural engineering of buildings, which I enjoyed, but it never seemed like a complete fit, especially in the wake of the 2008 Recession. When I had twins, I kept doing engineering for the stability (no pun intended). I had worked at different engineering consulting groups around the Puget Sound and decided that what I enjoyed the most was working on teams and solving problems – just not necessarily the way I was doing it as an engineer.
Why did you choose Foster? Why did you choose the Evening MBA Program?
The Foster Evening MBA program was the first on my list since I went to UW as an undergrad and along the way of the application process I just kept getting more and more excited about the program and never looked anywhere else. I knew that I learned more in a classroom environment rather than online and the team setup was great! Even with a family I knew I could do two nights of class per week. My husband was supportive of me going back to school and that made it work. The opportunities for growing my Seattle network and going on a global study tour was really enticing as well.
Two years in and I’m still poking around for what will fit me best in my post-Foster life, but I have no doubt with my classmates and coursework that I will have fun doing it! I’m really interested in helping people – back to that “working on teams and solving problems” I mentioned before, but I’m working on crafting the niche that I will do it in long-term. I love being involved in the Diversity, Women, and Out in Business groups as they really build a community trying to grow in the business world. I’m also excited to be able to attend the Net Impact conference in November – I think that will be a great experience!
How do you balance it all?
Right now, it’s not really about balance for me. It’s about ME!! Okay, that’s only mostly true; usually I give credit to my husband and family. With three kids all in school, I knew it was a good time to show them that Mom isn’t always going to be grumpy when she gets home from work – that it was time to demonstrate a mid-career change for them and to do it for myself. My oldest daughter is in high school and will graduate with me in the spring, so she’s got her own track going; my younger girls just started third grade and love going to Boys & Girls Club in the afternoons when I’m at work and school. The kids are as excited about me being in school as I am, so that helps a lot. I also make sure to have quality time with them and also bring them along to school events when I can. This summer we spent time backpacking, going to Sounders FC games, reading Harry Potter, and playing with Legos. I know it’s a relatively short-term period that I’m doing the school “thing”, so we’re making it work!
Balance for me is making sure my kids have good memories of this time (I’m not worried about me – Foster is FULL of great memories!!!) and that as few important things fall through the cracks as possible. I’m still making their Halloween costumes, attending PTA events, and watching their band concerts. Being organized brings me sanity! I’ve used Cozi for everything – calendar, shopping lists, to do lists; I can see everyone’s activities and stay synced with my husband. Marty and I have also been better about “date nights” since I started the program – whether it’s doing the Huddle tailgate before Husky football games, the C4C auction, or just hanging out, we make sure we keep communicating and stay on the same path.
What resources have been helpful in making the Evening MBA Program manageable?
Two words: Tim Hossain. Seriously. He’s been through the program, he knows what’s going on, and he’s supportive when I come to my senses and take that step back, breathe, and say that I can’t add on one more thing. Tim has a full support crew in the program office and they are all amazing!
The other resource that helped me in this program is my wonderful classmates! Between my teams, Japan Study Tour cohort, and the folks sitting around me in class, the students at Foster are really great and we all know we’re in it together, so we’re all super supportive of each other.
And again, my husband has been my rock through it all!
How do you make time for family/friends and hobbies/interests outside of the Program?
I think one of the reasons that the Foster Evening MBA program is such a good fit for me is that many of my “outside” interests can be found within Paccar Hall or on the UW campus. The Huddles support my love of Husky football, C4C and all of the fundraising during the year feed my spirit of giving and of supporting kids, the Happy Hours force my introverted self to remember how to pretend to be an extrovert, and the classroom conversations are all about my love of learning. Being in Seattle, many classmates across the daytime and evening programs share my interest of hiking, backpacking, karaoke, good food, and this summer I even started practicing yoga! The nights I’m not on campus, I make sure to eat dinner with my family and check in with my kids often.
Time flies so fast, I’ve really been making a priority of the MBA student experience. It’s one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
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If you are considering an MBA, the GMAT is one of the first hurdles in the application process. How should you prepare and set yourself up for success on exam day? Here are some tips from those who have been there.
What is your #1 piece of advice for prospective students regarding GMAT prep?
Emily Sherry, Senior Business Analyst at Starbucks
I would recommend planning on taking at least a couple of practice tests, beginning with one early on in the studying process. I had been stressing out about how little time I would have to do each question, but when I took my first practice test, I actually had more time than I imagined I would. That took the pressure off a little bit and helped me pace better. Taking one early on can also help guide your preparation strategy by showing you which areas and types of questions you need to spend the most time studying. I would also recommend opting to spread the practice tests out, and not save them until immediately before taking the actual exam; it’s easy to get burnt out doing them and you don’t want to feel that way when it comes time to sit for the real thing.
Logan Fouts, Design Engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplanes
The GMAT isn’t hard; it’s just material you probably haven’t reviewed in a long time. Take the time to refresh yourself on the skills needed for the GMAT, which you likely learned in high school.
I studied for about six weeks. I used a guidebook and just worked my way through it. I went with the strategy of doing a lot of practice problems and I believe that helped me.
Mike Mulligan, Account Executive- Advertising at Amazon
My #1 piece of advice for taking the GMAT is DO IT! I’ve found that the single largest barrier to getting an MBA is deciding you’re serious enough to invest time/money in studying and taking the GMAT. I talk to countless peers who are thinking about getting an MBA but never get around to the GMAT. I was fortunate to have access to an online GMAT prep class which, while not critical to success, gave me deadlines to be accountable to studying and practice tests. Really, the accountability to move forward is the most important part whether it is a class, test date, study buddy, or something else. You need to set yourself up for success with a positive and motivating environment. I probably gave myself three months to prepare, study, and practice before I took the GMAT, and that felt like a good amount of time. The most valuable element of studying was taking practice tests in the actual allotted time that they were designed for and going through the areas of opportunity identified in those tests. The GMAT is like a video game and each answer is like a level that you beat or lose, taking you up or down a level. Just like a video game, the more you practice the levels, the more likely you are to get the high score. Have fun and go get the high score!
Sarah Eytinge, Associate Director of MBA Admissions
The best thing you can do to perform well on the GMAT or GRE is to practice. There is a direct correlation between amount of prep time and standardized test scores so make sure you put the time and energy into preparing to take the test. I think understanding the format of the test is one of the first steps all candidates should know – how long does it take, how is it broken down, how many questions in each section. Being comfortable in the exam room can be simply accomplished by knowing what will be coming over the course of the four hour exam – and that, in return, can easily help your score. As for specific study tips:
Figure out when you are going apply and work backwards to schedule your test prep: I always tell candidates that they should figure out to which admissions deadline they plan to apply and then at least take the GMAT one month before that deadline. Since you can only take the GMAT or GRE once every 30 days, planning to take the test at least a month in advance gives you the security in knowing that if you aren’t happy with your first score, you can still take it again before the admissions deadline. Also, if you are happy with your score, then you can spend the last month fine tuning your essays, resume and other application requirements.
Come up with a study plan: Once you decide the deadline to which you will apply and you have a good sense of what is on the test, come up with a study plan: when will you study, what will you study how will you measure your progress. This is where you have to figure out what will keep you motivated the most: some people benefit from signing up for a prep course, where a study schedule will be created for you. Others can work independently through a test prep book. Make sure you take into account personal or work commitments when devising your study plan: if you know that a personal commitment is going to take up a lot of time or will keep you away from studying, accommodate for that.
Think outside the traditional test-prep options: I’ve heard from a lot of students that they’ve found benefit in taking a class in a related subject, like calculus, economics or statistics. While these courses may not directly feed into a study curriculum for a specific standardized test, they do help in becoming more comfortable with quantitative problem solving.
Practice, practice practice: Whatever your study plan may be, make sure that you periodically check in with how you are doing. There are a lot of free resources that you can use to test yourself and many resources will break it down in to the specific types of questions in each section. Thus, if you are having a difficult time with the geometry questions on the Quantitative sections, you know you probably should spend more time reviewing concepts that will help you in that area.
Foster will take your best score – so don’t be afraid to sit for it more than once:The question I get most often regarding the GMAT or GRE is if it looks bad if candidates have to take the GMAT more than once. The answer is an NO! In fact, we respect that you are making efforts to improve your scores: Foster will take your best overall score when evaluating your candidacy and we want you to apply with a score which you feel best reflects your abilities and strengths. If you’ve taken the test multiple times and are still not satisfied with your score, schedule a one-on-one appointment with an Admissions Team member. We are happy to answer your questions and discuss your preparation strategy so you can demonstrate your academic proficiency on the GMAT and throughout the application process.
And Remember: the GMAT or GRE is not an indicator of your self-worth nor does it determine your fate: The Foster Admissions team considers many different factors when we evaluate candidates so your future does not rest on the results of a four hour test. If you have concerns about your score and how it will be evaluated, schedule a one-on-one appointment with an Admissions Team member so you can learn how to accentuate other areas of your application.
Every candidate is different. Whether your GMAT prep plan is six weeks, three months, or longer, make sure to take into consideration your learning style and your schedule, and follow the strategy that works best for you.
For questions regarding GMAT prep and the application process, make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office. Give us a call at 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.
Alf Lee, a member of the Class of 2017, moved from the East Coast to pursue the Foster Evening MBA Program. Born in Marshfield, WI and having grown up in Boxborough, MA, Alf left the familiar behind to start the Foster Evening MBA chapter of his life. Why would one move across the country to pursue a “part-time” MBA Program? He shares his experience with us in the first installment of this new Blog Series.
Why did you choose the Foster Evening MBA Program?
I was lucky enough to get into three great MBA programs: University of Washington, Babson College, and University of Texas at Austin. Ultimately, three factors separated UW from the pack. First, the quality of the faculty and students when I visited really blew me away. Every conversation I had was inspiring. Second, the immediate camaraderie with students that resulted from Evaluation Day. Even though I was competing with these individuals, there was an instant bond of taking this challenge on collectively. Third, the culture of the Pacific Northwest sealed the deal: Good nature, good food (this was actually on my checklist), good people, and- especially- the entrepreneurial spirit here.
What prompted you to move to Seattle from the East Coast to pursue a part-time program?
Well, not shoveling snow for 6 months is pretty appealing! In all seriousness, I had wanted to explore life outside New England for some time and I had reached a stage professionally where I needed to take a big leap and step out of my comfort zone. Seattle has a great economy with prospective work in every industry, so I felt there was an opportunity here to learn in both the classroom and the work force.
What is your assessment of the program so far?
A year in, I can say it’s definitely delivered. As a transplant, there are tons of challenges I wasn’t prepared for (like driving only 60 MPH on the highway), but interestingly, it’s the program that has stabilized me thus far. I come to class each week genuinely excited to learn and interact with everyone. I’m constantly humbled by the talent around me. It’s intimidating and inspiring at the same time.
What is your favorite thing about Seattle?
You mean, aside from seeing my Patriots beat the local team in the Super Bowl? It is definitely the worldly culture. People here are so well-traveled which fosters (pun intended) outside-the-box thinking. This feeds the entrepreneurial mindset and a pervasive understanding that there is always a better, more efficient way to do things. Definitely the biggest strength of the region. The food is a close second.
Any advice for prospective students?
Stay focused. There is an overwhelming amount of stimulation here, and it’s all good! But you’ve go to be selective about where you invest your time and energy. My biggest mistake in Year 1 was going after EVERYTHING. It’s just not possible. This is the time to explore in your career, but remember why you came in the first place – you had a goal so make sure you stick to it…because you can get derailed pretty easily if you don’t stay centered.
Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram to see the program through the eyes of current students.
Foster Evening MBA students spend a considerable amount of time together. Rigorous classes and demanding team projects keep them busy throughout the academic year. Friendships develop organically as students share experiences with each other and bond. Many students remain close friends long after earning their Foster MBA.
Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton, members of the Class of 2017, describe how their friendship began and evolved through the Evening MBA Program. In addition to their academic responsibilities at Foster, they both maintain several professional and extracurricular activities. Meredith is a Research Associate at Theraclone Sciences and an Instructor at Flywheel Sports. Nicholas is the Chief Revenue Officer at WAGmob.
How did you become friends?
Meredith: Nick and I met on Evaluation Day 2014 when we were both vying for the same scone at the breakfast buffet. (Ok, maybe not the same scone.) But I was certainly nervous for Evaluation Day and thought “Hey, this guy looks friendly,” and introduced myself. It turned out that we had several mutual friends and bonded over these small-world connections. I was beyond ecstatic to see Nick again at the Admitted Student Happy Hour. From then on we kept in touch and have become good friends. Midway through the year, I even recruited Nick to join a non-profit board with me! Despite his weird taste in sports (hockey?), he’s one of the best all-around guys you’ll meet.
Nick: On Evaluation Day, we arrived at about the same time. We started a conversation over breakfast and found out we had several mutual friends from different circles, but had never met.
What makes Evening MBA friendships unique?
Meredith:We all share similar crazy schedules and have empathy for one another. We know what everyone is experiencing and are able to push each other, but give grace when needed. And an Evening MBA friend can potentially turn into your best friend and future business partner.
Nick: While they often start like most friendships, it’s interesting how many opportunities Foster friendships have opened up. I’ve met a lot of great people, joined volunteer organizations, tried new group fitness classes, had many helpful informational interviews, and met quite a few classmates for a coffee or a beer to share insights. There is a lot of passion, intelligence, and willingness to explore new ideas in this program and I absolutely love it.
Why do you think Evening MBA students go out of their way to plan social events together, even outside of the academic year?
Meredith: Evening MBA students need a social outlet to get to know the passions of their peers outside of the classroom. And just to have fun without the stress of school!
Nick: We’re a social bunch. We are sharing an experience that will be life-changing. This experience extends well beyond the classroom, and I think that it’s pretty well-understood that the bonds we are building now will be a huge portion of the ROI of this program.
What else would you like to share about your friendship?
Meredith: Nick joined the Friends of the Children Ambassador Board earlier this year which has been a great way to interact in a professional (and fun) setting outside the classroom. We had some board member turnover and Nick seemed like the perfect fit after expressing interest in becoming involved in education within the Seattle community.
Nick: Meredith has energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence like few people I’ve ever met. I sincerely admire how much she cheerfully has on her plate, and the amount of effort she applies to not only doing it, but DOING it! (You should try taking one of her early morning spin classes… no lack of enthusiasm!) We talked about the organization for which she is an Ambassador Board member (Friends of the Children Seattle) on Evaluation Day, and I was inspired. We continued to talk about it, and a few months later I joined her on the board. It’s been a great experience, and it’s been rewarding to contribute to a great organization and grow as a leader.
Meredith and Nick are looking forward to their second year of the Evening MBA Program this fall.
The Evening MBA Association recently hosted a family-friendly BBQ for the Class of 2016. Classmates enjoyed meeting each other’s families in the beautiful sunny weather. The Class of 2016 has had a total of 21 babies since beginning the Evening MBA Program, thirteen of whom were at the BBQ. There is a special camaraderie among these students, many of whom are first-time parents. Foster has seen these bonds last long beyond graduation.
Members of the Class of 2016 reflect on the event:
“Foster’s Evening MBA Program has welcomed parents and non-parents alike, and I couldn’t have felt more welcomed than at the family-friendly BBQ that my class hosted this summer. As a parent of young ones, I don’t get to go to all the social events that I’d like to, and it felt great to go somewhere and see my MBA classmates and know that my children were welcome as well! It was also great to see so many non-parents there supporting us! Thanks guys!”
“It was great to see everyone out at the Baby-Q and all of the amazing kids in our program. With 21 babies born and counting, our class has shown that you can have kids, go to school, and develop your career simultaneously. These choices don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We have so much support from our families and the Foster community that makes the challenge possible.”
“The beauty of the Evening MBA Program is that it promotes ‘whole-life’ learning. For Evening MBA parents, learning does not end at 9:30 PM after class, leaving little time for networking with one another the way we would like. Foster saw this opportunity and brought together the parent community for a mid-summer BBQ. This event served my family. Specifically, it served my wife, who was able to meet fellow candidates, especially fellow professional and MBA moms with their kids. Meeting the other families, who are stretched across several responsibilities and still making the most of the Program, fosters a camaraderie that was definitely felt at the event. I hope that future classes can continue this event.”
The Foster Evening MBA Program offers several summer events to welcome new students and engage them in building a strong community long before classes commence.
Erin Town, Director of MBA Admissions, describes the value of the Admitted Student Events.
The goal of Admitted Student Events is to bring recently admitted students together in a more informal setting. For those who are still deciding whether Foster is the right choice for them, this is a great way to get a feel for who they would be spending the next three years with. In a program as rigorous as Foster, it’s essential that you feel inspired, supported and encouraged by your classmates. And for those who have already decided to join us in the fall, these events offer a great opportunity to begin building lasting relationships with their future classmates. Many students say that they look back on the admitted student events as the start of their Foster MBA journey.
These events have been very popular with the admitted students – we’ve had great turnout this year! Many of the attendees have already accepted their offers of admission, but some like to attend the events first in order to get a better feel for the student body before making a decision. It’s so important that you engage with the program and with the community as much as possible prior to joining a program. For some, these events can be incredibly influential in their decision to join Foster. Also, over the last few years we’ve noticed an increase in student involvement outside of class, and we believe these events have played a role in this, since students begin getting to know each other “beyond the classroom” well before they even set foot in the classroom!
The most common feedback that I hear is, first and foremost, how impressed everyone is with their future classmates. Many of our students are surprised by how incredibly diverse the student population is here at Foster, and these events increase their excitement about joining the program. Also, the admitted students enjoy being able to relax and get to know each other in a casual setting, without the pressure of still being “under review”. (Plus this gives everyone an opportunity reminisce on Evaluation Day!)
The Foster Evening MBA program is very unique in that it is a program designed to fit around a busy work/life schedule, but at the same time it is an incredibly engaging experience, and the students develop close relationships with one another that last well beyond graduation. Similarly, the admissions team seeks to get to know our candidates and students well beyond the application, and these events are just another way for us all to become better acquainted with one another. Your will make lifelong friends in this program – guaranteed! These events are just the beginning of what will be an unforgettable and transformational experience.
Sarah Eytinge, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, shares how these events allows students to build meaningful connections with their classmates.
We began organizing summer events because we discovered that they are a catalyst to get students more excited about the journey they are about to embark on – and get them connected with other admitted students, many of whom they met during Evaluation Day. Admitted students love the chance to start interacting with other admits as soon as they can – after all, these will be their fellow students for the next three years! When September rolls around and ePRIME starts, students quickly shift into school-mode so the summer events also allow for a bit more laid-back environment for people to get to know each other.
The Evening MBA Program hosts social events outside of academics– whether it is events prior to school starting, weekly happy hours, winter formals and end of the year parties or sporting activities. This sets Foster apart from other part-time programs. To my knowledge, no other part-time program promotes a wide range of activities like Foster does. All of these events lend themselves to creating a strong sense of community and, even better, a more solidified network. These are major benefits of business school that the Evening MBA Program is proud to offer its students.
To stay up to date on everything Foster Evening MBA, follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram.