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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