Tag Archives: Experiential Learning

Rita Jabbouri: How to THRIVE in the Evening MBA Program

Incoming students often ask what they should do to prepare for the Evening MBA Program, and how to best navigate the three years of the curriculum while working full-time and balancing other competing priorities. Rita Jabbouri, Class of 2017 alumna, shares her top 10 tips to thrive in the Foster Evening MBA.

Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Rita Jabbouri is in Airplane Product Development Finance at Boeing where she is a trusted business partner to chief engineers, program leaders, and directors. When she’s not dreaming about the future of aerospace, she loves to run, hike, cook healthy meals from scratch, read articles from a variety of sources to satisfy her curiosity on a range of different topics, and do anything that involves making memories with loved ones. Rita spends a considerable amount of time with Foster classmates and alumni who have become close friends.

Here are my top 10 tips for successfully navigating the Foster Evening MBA. A huge thank you to classmates, professors, fellow alumni, and mentors who taught me so much over the course of the program!

10. What to read during the program (besides what’s required). If you read nothing else, make sure to review the Weekly Newsletters that the Program Office sends to all evening students. This will have the latest updates on academics and extracurricular activities and will keep you on top of administrative items such as managing your elective courses. Second, sign up for a journal subscription so you can stay up to date on business news. As a student, you get a discount through the University of Washington for a Wall Street Journal subscription, for example. Professors will often bring in news articles that apply to the course to discuss in class, and they invite students to do the same. It will help reinforce what you learn in the classroom.

Rita with her Case Competition team
Rita with her Case Competition team

9. Take time to slow down. The next three years of your life will be extremely busy. It’s important to take time to rest, to reflect, and to remind yourself why you started this program in the first place. Do whatever keeps your mind sharp and helps you manage stress. For me, it was jogging. Although I couldn’t do it as often as I would like with how crazy my schedule got, I would fit in 20-minute workouts that made a world of difference in my energy level and how alert I was in class and team meetings. Do it for you! You owe it to yourself to get the most of out of this program, and you won’t be able to do that if you don’t take care of yourself first. The basics apply more than ever during these three years- get at least seven hours of sleep per night, drink lots of water, and make sure to eat three meals a day. You would be surprised how easy it is to skip one because of back to back commitments. You will likely develop a new appreciation for Jimmy John’s sandwiches delivered directly to your classroom on those especially busy days.

Hiking with fellow Huskies
Hiking with fellow Huskies

8. Plan on everything taking at least a half hour longer than expected. Building in buffers in the second year of the program was a lifesaver for me. Whether it’s meetings running over, traffic being …well…worse than usual, parking being full, etc., you’ll save yourself a lot of worrying if you budget at least 30-minute buffers in between your various commitments. And if everything goes as planned, you’ll get to your next class, team meeting, informational interview, academic advising session, MBA Association meeting- you name it- early and can review content or grab a coffee and catch up with a classmate prior. Pat yourself on the back! You’re running your day, not the other way around.

Rita presenting to VCs, judges, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in the final round of the UW Business Plan Competition
Rita presenting to VCs, judges, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in the final round of the UW Business Plan Competition

7. Pencil in family and friend dates at least a month in advance. Expect busy weekends and plan accordingly. This might seem a little silly at first, but talk to any current students or alumni and they will most likely agree. It’s tough to schedule only a week in advance- not to mention on the spot- because your calendar will fill up quickly with MBA-related commitments, whether they’re required or you sign up for them. Life doesn’t stop during the MBA- there will be numerous engagements, weddings, newborns, career changes, etc. You will start to notice your friendship and classmate circles overlapping and this community will be your support system throughout the program.

Attempting a mid-air shot with friends at The Color Run!
Attempting a mid-air shot with friends at The Color Run!

6. Take advantage of the experiential learning opportunities. Step outside your comfort zone. There are so many Experiential Learning opportunities available to you throughout your three years at Foster. Whether it’s a field study, independent study, an internship, the Business Plan Competition, case competitions, study tours, Mentor Program, consulting project with a nonprofit, leadership experience via the MBA Association—each of these will add to your education in a way no book or lecture ever can. When you apply what you learn by doing it, that’s when it truly starts to sink in. Not sure where to start? Talk to Jean Gekler and Sally Templeton in MBA Career Management, Connie Bourassa-Shaw and Amy Sallin at the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, or Jennifer Bauermeister at the MBA Strategic Consulting Program. They love working with students and they will connect you to contacts who can help you reach your goals.

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Rita with Business Plan Competition (BPC) partner and classmate Ellyce Shulman. As first-year MBA students, they placed 4th out of 103 teams in the BPC.

5. Be intentional. This applies to your daily routine, as well as the three-year outlook.

Daily Routine: When do you do your best work? For me, it’s in the morning- before emails, work, and before the ubiquitously connected world we live in starts to pull you in different directions. Pick one or two things you want to accomplish and commit to those before you answer any emails. Whether it’s reviewing a tough lecture, getting a heavy reading done, or researching your next career move, plan your toughest work when you are most alert.

Three-year Outlook: Be intentional in goal-setting for each of the three years. How to get started? Meet with Kara Fichthorn, the Evening MBA Director of Student Affairs. I recommend at least once a year, although I can tell you I met with staff a lot more often than that. The staff members at Foster are so helpful and they want to see you succeed. Get to know them, share your goals, and they will help you focus your energy and prioritize your time at Foster to achieve what you set out to accomplish each of the three years.

Snacks- the usual centerpiece at Foster MBA team meetings
Snacks- the usual centerpiece at Foster MBA team meetings

4. Be a “resource hog.” I can’t take credit for this one- Professor Mark Westerfield is known for this phrase, advice he shared with us at eLead. There are so many opportunities, contacts, and resources available at Foster- take advantage of as many as you can. If your team is struggling with a particular topic in a lecture, don’t hesitate to ask your questions in class. The rest of your classmates will benefit from the discussion. If you’re still struggling on a topic after working through it with your team, reach out to your professor to set up some one-on-one time to walk through your questions. Foster professors are so passionate about what they do, and they really are experts in their field- having done the research and the work in the real world that informs their teaching. They are in the business of creating futures: they want to help and are there for you when you need them.

Professor Ed Rice (Business Economics and Finance) never disappoints with his jokes
Never a dull moment with Professor Ed Rice (Business Economics and Finance)

3. Get involved. Go to Wednesday night happy hour, join a club, run for a position with the MBA Association, become a Peer Mentor, volunteer to help with Challenge for Charity, or simply spend time with classmates outside of class. Your experience will be that much more enjoyable if you get involved and make an effort to get to know the talented people around you. The network you build at Foster is priceless both during and after the program. And it goes without saying that authenticity is critical: yes, be yourself. You are supposed to be part of this program- you were selected amongst a pool of talented individuals. Be confident in your strengths and open about what you would like to improve. Your classmates can’t help you if you’re not honest with yourself first and foremost.

Rita with her #OneFoster Scavenger Hunt team!
Rita with her #OneFoster Scavenger Hunt team!

2. Invest in your teams. This is important throughout the program, but especially so in your first year as you’re still getting to know your class. Your teammates will likely become some of your best friends- your strengths and weaknesses will complement each other and you will help each other get through the most challenging parts of the program, together. Ask yourself how you can help your teammates. What do you bring to the table that is different from everyone else? And, more importantly, how will you leave Foster better than you found it?

Rita's first year team at the annual Foster Fun Run. As the MBA Association VP of Community Outreach, Rita led the planning of the Foster Fun Run benefiting Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs.
Rita’s first-year team at the 4th annual Foster Fun Run. As the MBA Association VP of Community Outreach, Rita led the planning of the event, benefiting Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs.

1. Remember your “why.” What was the reason you wanted to get your MBA at Foster? Write it down now. You’ll want to revisit it often to keep yourself grounded and focused. That and your teammates will help you not only survive in the program, but THRIVE in it. Don’t jump into everything because you don’t want to miss out, but don’t sit on the sidelines either your first year to “scope things out.” How do you choose where to invest your time? That brings us back to your why. This will probably evolve over your time at Foster. There won’t be an “aha” moment that will tell you exactly what you should be doing. But the culmination of the coursework, workshops you attend, people you meet, skillsets you develop, and experiences you have will point you in the right direction for you post-MBA.

Rita with her Peer Mentees at the annual Frosters MBA event
Rita with her Peer Mentees at the annual Frosters event

The Foster Evening MBA Program isn’t for the faint of heart. Getting into the program says a lot about who you are. Whether you aspire to change up, move up, or start up, embrace this opportunity! Challenge yourself, invest in your classmates, focus on shared success, and have fun along the way. Before you  know it, you’ll be a master at navigating ambiguous business problems and you’ll have a massive network to tap into. Best of luck and enjoy the program!

Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram & Twitter, and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.

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 mba@uw.edu.

Get to know us!  Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Admissions Team and check out our upcoming Evening MBA Admissions Events.

Foster’s International Opportunities

Lacey Lowber, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Lacey Lowber, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Lacey Lowber is a member and Class Representative of the Evening MBA Class of 2017. She currently works at Starbucks in Category and Marketing Finance, supporting the Espresso and Brewed businesses in US Retail. When not at work or at school, she enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, and spending time with her fiancee, friends and family. In this blog post, she shares with us her international experiences through the Foster Evening MBA Program.

Why did you decide to go on the India Consulting Trip?

When I first learned about the India Consulting Trip during Women at the Top (Foster MBA elective course), it sounded like an opportunity too good to pass up. I also owe it to my friend and classmate Stacy Hanks for encouraging me so strongly to consider the trip! I hadn’t had a chance to do any sort of a field study with a local organization through Foster, and was excited at the prospect of doing consulting work on site for such an incredible organization as SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association). The timing worked out well right before the Christmas holiday and was a very compelling way to earn four credits. I had never previously traveled to India but had always been interested in the culture and people – this trip was the perfect opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn class credit, give back to a worthy organization, and experience a country I’d always wanted to visit.

SEWA Trade Facilitation Center (STFC) team with Master Artisans in Radhanpur, India
SEWA Trade Facilitation Center (STFC) team with Master Artisans in Radhanpur, India

What was your favorite part of the trip? What did you bring back with you?

My favorite part of the trip was undoubtedly the people we met and interacted with, from our fabulous guide, Sanjay Mishra, to the inspiring women who are members and leaders of SEWA. I brought back with me a true sense of appreciation for the opportunities I’ve had as a woman born and raised in the United States. The women of SEWA have faced incredible challenges and succeeded in spite of them – they helped me realize how truly fortunate I’ve been!

Artisan showing Foster MBA students how pieces of mirror are incorporated into hand sewn garments
Artisan showing Foster MBA students how pieces of mirror are incorporated into hand sewn garments

As far as physical items, I brought back a lot of tea, incense, and handmade clothing items purchased from my group’s SEWA client, the SEWA Trade Facilitation Center (STFC). You can see some of these beautiful garments in the group photo of my teammates with some of the master artisans we visited with in Radhanpur village.

Some of the beautiful products made under the Hansiba brand
Some of the colorful products made under the Hansiba brand

How do you think this experience will impact you (personally, professionally, academically) moving forward?

Lacey and her teammate Elizabeth Adams with the CEO of SEWA, Savitabel Patel
Lacey and her teammate Elizabeth Adams with the CEO of SEWA, Savitabel Patel

This experience was certainly once in a lifetime and one that I know will continue to have an impact on me.  Personally and professionally, it’s given me a true appreciation for how challenging it can be to do business in a culture completely foreign to your own. It also reinforced my belief that a positive outlook, an open mind, and a kind, caring heart are some of the most important things you can bring to any situation. Even though many of the folks we interacted with spoke little to no English and we spoke no Hindi, our smiles and caring affect were perfectly understood.

Jess Rush
Jessica Rush, Assistant Director of MBA Global Programs at Foster’s Global Business Center, led the group of students on the India trip

Academically, this experience challenged me to keep learning and to stay curious! When our client clarified for us that their ultimate goal was to fully employ its artisan members, not to maximize profitability, it was a great reminder that our business school paradigms may not apply to every situation.

What did you think of the client, SEWA? How are Foster MBA students making an impact?

SEWA is a first class organization of talented, hardworking and brilliant women. Formally organized as a trade union, SEWA empowers its members to first and foremost be self-sufficient and earn an income, and additionally gives members access to banking services, education, childcare, and a host of other opportunities that would be nearly impossible to come by otherwise.

Lacey and classmate Mary Dennis
Lacey and classmate Mary Dennis
Lacey and her fiancé Tyson Hunter, both members of the Foster Evening MBA Class of 2017, at the Taj Mahal
Lacey and fiancé Tyson Hunter, both members of the Foster Evening MBA Class of 2017, at the Taj Mahal

Foster MBA students are making a lasting impact on this organization by continuing to contribute each year to various SEWA initiatives ranging from sanitation and hygiene to website development to branding strategy. By remaining flexible and working hard on SEWA’s behalf, Foster MBA students are providing valuable insights and work product that the organization would not have sufficient resources to complete otherwise.

 

You also went on last year’s study tour. How did that experience differ from this one? Which one would you recommend?

I went on the study tour in Cuba as a second year evening student, and while the experience was amazing, it was also completely different than the consulting trip in India. The purpose of each trip was quite different – Cuba was more experiential and aimed at education and immersion in Cuban culture and industry, while India was focused on serving our client.

Car
Vintage car and the beautiful sky in Varadero, Cuba

We were fortunate to visit Cuba at a historic time – the country’s borders had just been re-opened to tourism and relations with the United States were somewhat normalized. President Obama was visiting the same time as our group, and though we weren’t able to get a meeting (ha) we did hear overwhelming positivity from many Cuban citizens who dreamed to experience life outside of the island. It was fun to practice speaking Spanish and to leave small gifts for our taxi drivers, maids, and waiters as many items that we take for granted are not widely available.

Team 3 touring the sugar cane mill in the countryside!
Team 3 touring the sugar cane mill in the countryside!

We had the opportunity to visit the Havana Club distillery, hear from the president and directors of the Cuban baseball federation, learn about the architecture and history of Havana, tour a sugar cane mill and even cut some ourselves, visit an art exhibition in Havana, share a hand prepared meal with a Cuban family that we befriended during our trip that invited us to their home, and smoke many a fine cigar. I will never forget sitting in a sports bar in Cienfuegos watching the Tampa Bay Ray’s play the Cuban national team with members of our group as well as some locals.

A home cooked family feast!
A home cooked family feast!
Cuban hospitality
Members of the Evening MBA Class of 2017 experience Cuban hospitality

In summary – I would recommend both study tours! They were both fantastic experiences that I would not have been able to take advantage of if not for Foster.

Streets of Havana
Streets of Havana

Overall, what do you think of the Evening MBA Program’s study abroad opportunities? How do they set Foster apart?

I definitely consider myself an advocate for the Evening MBA’s international opportunities!  I sought out chances to study abroad while completing my undergraduate education and was happy to have the opportunity to continue to do so as a graduate student. Seeing and experiencing other parts of the world truly make you appreciate what you have, and Foster does a great job of organizing meaningful international programs that allow for great exposure and learning.

Beautiful Cuban music
Beautiful Cuban music

Anything else you’d like to share?

Go Dawgs!

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 mba@uw.edu.

Get to know us!  Learn more about our short-term programs abroad through the Global Business Center and check out our upcoming Evening MBA Admissions Events.

Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.

MBA Strategic Consulting Program: Experiential Learning at Foster

Foster offers students numerous opportunities to apply concepts learned in the classroom in the real world. One example is the MBA Strategic Consulting Program, which allows students to analyze challenges facing leading companies and provide them with insightful, innovative recommendations. Just last year, Foster MBA students completed the following projects:

  • Market research and positioning for Nissan in the PNW market.
  • Carbon offset strategies to stabilize emissions with carbon-neutral growth for Alaska Airlines.
  • Customer journey mapping and marketing recommendations for Office 365.
  • Marketing strategies to drive small business refresh of Microsoft/Dell products.
  • Expansion strategy and framework to evaluate new market opportunities for a lunch delivery start-up.
Jennifer Bauermeister, Director of the MBA Strategic Consulting Program
Jennifer Bauermeister, Director of the MBA Strategic Consulting Program

Jennifer Bauermeister leads the MBA Strategic Consulting Program. A Foster graduate herself, she is uniquely positioned to connect students with companies to strategically address business challenges while enriching the MBA academic experience.

What brought you to Foster? What are your responsibilities as the Director of the MBA Strategic Consulting Program?

One reason I came to Foster is I was interested in pursuing an advanced degree myself and thought that it might be easier if I worked on campus. I started at Foster in 2011 working with the Consulting & Business Development Center managing several programs including Board Fellows and undergraduate consulting internships. I started the Foster Executive MBA program in 2013, but while finishing my MBA had the opportunity to transition to work for the Strategic Consulting Program. As the Director of that Program I am responsible for sourcing, managing, and evaluation of consulting projects for MBA students.

 Why did you choose Foster as a professional?

I chose Foster because I felt drawn to working at an educational institution. I stayed at Foster because I truly enjoy working with students and because Foster has continually provided me opportunities to grow in my own career.

What sets Foster Evening MBA students apart?

Foster evening students are some of the hardest working students I meet. They are willing to take on numerous challenges and somehow balance it all.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is when I get to watch students present their final recommendations to companies, and the companies are incredibly impressed with how well our students have performed. It is especially wonderful when our students outperform paid consultants who have worked on the same issue, often for years! (Yes- this does happen.)

Second and third-year Evening MBA students presented a joint marketing strategy for Dell and Microsoft in the spring of 2016
Second and third-year Evening MBA students presented a joint marketing strategy for Dell and Microsoft in the spring of 2016

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Many companies reach out to me looking for students to help them with their businesses. Sometimes MBA students are a great fit for the challenges they face. Other times, the companies are not quite ready for the type of work MBAs can perform. I am always working to find other resources for these companies, whether it is inside or outside the Foster and UW community.

What is Foster’s competitive advantage?

Our students. We attract a diverse, intelligent and thoughtful group of students who are consistently willing to help each other, their school, and the community.

What do you appreciate the most about the Foster community?

The Foster community does a great job of nurturing a collaborative and supportive learning environment.

What is one interesting fact most people don’t know about you that you would like to share?

I am a top level reviewer on Trip Advisor.

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 mba@uw.edu.

Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.