Category Archives: Student Advice

It’s all fun and games…

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

Well maybe not but it certainly has been a lot of fun!

Yes, still, after 13 months, I’m still having a lot of fun. I cannot believe how quickly this has gone by.

The current semester holds entrepreneurship, one of my favorite classes so far. Due to the sensitive nature of our product, I’ll refrain from describing it here but if you’re interested please reach out. I believe we have a truly great business model in a market that’s dying for a innovative products.

We’ll get the opportunity to pitch to to some VCs and get excellent feedback and direction on where to take it next. We’ll also consider entering into the business plan competition to see how far it will go there as well. And we also have a *working* proof-of-concept. We’re very excited!

The thing about this program is that it’s all practice! A place to test your personal boundaries and to go beyond where you’d normally go. It’s a safe environment and a testing ground for growth. This opportunity to test yourself is combined with the prestige of the professors who will teach you some of the most interesting topics on business and management.

I’m really having the time of my life meeting great people, learning and expanding.

The golden rule of time management

Hamed Ahmadi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

Most of us, the TMMBA students, have full time jobs; that is, at least 40 hours a week. Adding the time attending the classes and review sessions, and working on pre-class materials, assignments, projects and exams, we are easily booked up for 60 to 70 hours a week, which is almost 9 hours a day, 7 days a week! It is a lot of work, but I think well worth the time and effort.

When I tell this story, I always hear: “Wow, how do you manage that?”. I believe this is a question we already asked ourselves before signing up for this program, and most likely, we came up with different answers. The truth is there is no single magical solution to this problem that can make everybody happy. However, there is a golden rule: “find your style”.

One of the great advantages of the TMMBA program is that it helps you find your style. Although I just started this program, I’ve already gone through a similar experience. I found my style when I was a full time grad student and a full time employee for almost three years. That pressure made me recognize my two-word golden rule, which is driven by a well-known software development framework. This framework can be adopted by different people and customized for various uses. The words are “be agile”.

Let me elaborate the concept of agility in the context of time management.

If you’d agree with me, planning is the key principle of the time management. However, excessive planning may give the opposite result, and here is why: plans are made under assumptions about future and there are always variables involved in our assumptions that could change anytime (honestly, my degree of certainty about something in the future does not exceed %99!). So, the awesome plan we have in our hands right now may lead us to the wrong summit! In addition, people who put a lot of time and effort in the planning tend to strictly follow their plan and be less flexible about changes, even if necessary.

Now, you might ask how much planning is enough, or how far ahead we should plan, or when we know it is time to make a decision. Well, there is no right or wrong answer; it totally depends on your rule. In my agile world, I take advantage of a two-phase planning. In the first phase, I usually try to understand the overall picture so I roughly know where I am going. That means I have deadlines, important dates and events laid out. Then, I divide the whole period I am planning for into time-boxed iterations and set goals for each iteration, depending on what is going on in that time period. Nevertheless, the detailed plan of each iteration is going to be determined in the second phase, i.e. the beginning of the iteration. The short length of iterations enables me to plan with a high degree of certainty and also gives me the flexibility to try new things and adjust my routine from what I learnt in previous iterations.

In other words, I try to plan and make decisions in “the last responsible moment”! 

Good luck.

GMAT from my perspective….

Wei Huang, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

Hello Everyone!

I’m going to provide some GMAT information.  I’ll also include some of my experiences and favorite resources along the way.

Enjoy!

Test Structure and Overview

http://www.mba.com/mba/thegmat/teststructureandoverview

This link provides all the information about the exams.  Also, all the GMAT prep books include the exam details. 

Registration & Location (Puget Sound):

Website:  www.mba.com – Need to create a login and password.

Cost: $250

Remember to register early to guarantee a spot.  These testing locations also test other exams.

There are 2 sites available in the Puget Sound region:  Renton & North Seattle.

Renton:

1300 SW 7th St # 113

Renton, WA 98057-5225

(425) 277-6690

Seattle:

10700 Meridian Ave N

Suite 407 (between 107th St & Northgate Way)

Seattle, WA 98133

Neighborhood: Haller Lake

(206) 417-9986

For Military personnel:

Department of Defense (DOD) – Never knew what the DOD stand for when I was registering.

  • NTC Pierce College McChord AFB – DoD only, McChord AFB, WA, United States
  • EDU CTR 0001 Fort Lewis – DoD only, Fort Lewis, WA, United States

Day of the Exam info:

  • You are provided multiple yellow laminated sheets with an erasable sharpie-like pen that is used instead of paper and pencil.   So keep that in mind when practicing.

Here’s a good description of the ‘scratch paper':

http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-GMAT-Simulation-Booklet-Marker/dp/0979017580/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1288814463&sr=8-11

  • A key and locker are issued to you to put your personal belongings in.
  • Your finger is scanned so when you return to your testing station, your finger is always scanned.

After sitting down, there are a series of questions about what B-schools you want to apply to.  Unfortunately, you have to answer the questions before moving on to the writing assessment portion.  I always thought the actual exam would be just like the practice exams – start writing away on the first writing assessment and moving on to the other sections.  The 5 or 10 minutes or so it takes to complete the questions, in my opinion, slows the momentum down when taking the exam.  You feel all pumped and ready with all the formulas, idioms memorized and then you have to pause to answer the questions.  Adds an additional nervousness

  • Anytime you return to your computer, the proctor escorts you to your seat and logs you in.
  • End of exam – you have the option to submit or not submit the exam.
  • Exam results are printed on the spot but it’s not the official paper work.

Favorite GMAT website:

www.beatthegmat.com

I believe everything you want to know about the GMAT and the MBA application process is all here.  The forum is amazing.  You can get answers to about any of the questions in the GMAT books.  A lot of the forum moderators are instructors from Kaplan, Princeton Review, Manhattan GMAT (MGMAT) and from other GMAt prep schools.  I remember in a post that one of the MGMAT instructors actually took the GMAT to test the theory of not finishing the exam.  It’s not good to not answer all the questions.  Also, GMAT consulting companies are also on the forums answering questions.

  • Admission essay tips – A lot of advice!
  • BEATTHEGMAT flashcards – great to have so you can memorize those idioms, formulas or tips.
  • Scholarships are also available from Beatthegmat.com
  • Recommended GMAT books that are a must-have.  It’s all in this site and I really recommend future applicants to visit this site.

GMAT Prep classes:

Manhattan GMAT – I love the MGMAT Prep.  My instructor was excellent in explaining solutions.  On difficult questions, he would have 3 ways in solving the questions.  Also, there is online material that you can review.  The online material is a recording of a previous class and the material is the same material you go over in class but with a different instructor.

Also, included in the prep class is a Microsoft Spreadsheets that keeps track of all your MGMAT, and all of the Official GMAT books (aka ETS).  Wrong answers are highlighted in red until you get the answer correct.  I enjoyed correcting my mistakes until I got it right instead of looking at the answer right away.  There are also stats and graphs you can look at to see where you need to improve.  Also, included in the prep class is the yellow laminated sheet, pen and a stop watch.  There is also admission guide that is included, which is a very helpful guide that includes admission tips/advice/samples.

The class cost me a good $2000.

Hope you enjoyed the info and find these tips useful.

Good luck!

Your Schedule and the TMMBA

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

Since I started this program a lot of people have asked me, “How do you manage school, work and everything else you do?” Here’s my take on scheduling during the 18 months of the program.

The first thing I tell them is yes, it’s possible to manage it all and do well at all of it. The second thing I tell them is I use a calendar.

Schedule Your Life:
So a lot of people say “work-life balance”. Now add school into the mix and then make it all work. It’s entirely possible to make it all work and be satisfied and happy without suffering. In fact, it’s entirely possible to not only make it all work but to excel at it all.

This part is more training on scheduling than having specifically to do with the TMMBA program, but for those of you who haven’t had much training with your schedule you’ll find that being thrown head first into school will provide that for you.

Schedule everything. And I mean it. When you get up, when you go to bed, when you have lunch, when you spend time with friends, when you spend time with family. Schedule work meetings, home work, classes and personal days…
All of this scheduling is more of an exercise and less of a necessity. I recommend all of this scheduling for the first two months of your TMMBA so you can get a real sense of how long things actually take.

You might say, “it only take me 25 minutes to get ready in the morning,” when it actually takes 35. “It takes me 10 minutes to get to work,” when it really takes only 5. All of this scheduling will allow you to find out how long things actually take. This alone will give you a good sense of scheduling and how to maximize your time. From me doing this, I know it takes 3 minutes to read an 8×11 page of normal size font. This comes in handy when scheduling time during the lunch hour to read an assigned case.

Find a way to share your calendar with friends and family. This allows you to easily schedule your school time, work time and play time. The people you enjoy spending time with will be able to easily schedule time with you because they will also see when you’re free.

You will become hyper efficient with your time and ability to accomplish tasks.

Keep it in mind:
This is an 18 month program that will end in 18 months. Meaning, your friends and family will be there at the end of the 18 months so keep them in mind during that time and make sure you’re spending time and appreciating them through this process. Schedule time with them or at the very least keep them in the loop on a regular basis. This is the same thing with work. Let people know what support you need and reach out for help when you need it.

Besides, you want people to be at your graduation don’t you!?

It’s Not Too Late. Take the GMAT!

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

I know, you’ve got 6-weeks to the TMMBA application deadline. You might not be sure which way to go. Should you apply to the TMMBA program? There’s that other program you’re also interested so should you apply to that program.

But you can’t apply to either if you haven’t take then GMAT!

It was about this time last year I decided to go for it. The only thing in my way was the GMAT. That test. The test that would define my whole college career. With all of the concerns and 6 weeks before the application deadline, I registered to take the exam.

The thing about the GMAT is that here at TMMBA it’s a part of the whole package. An essential part, but just one part nonetheless. Your application isn’t judged solely on your GMAT score. So don’t sweat it. Study hard and take the exam and then apply. When you talk to Tracy or another TMMBA staffer they’ll tell you the same.

After I registered I hired a tutor. Mostly because I knew I’d need someone standing behind me preparing their swift kick whenever necessary. Although I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my GMAT score, I was satisfied when I was accepted into the TMMBA. I don’t regret the timeline I chose to apply but I wouldn’t recommend the extra stress on anyone.

Do you have a great GMAT story?
Do you have recommendations for prospective students?
Are you a prospective student that wants more advice?

Leave your questions or responses in the comments section below.

Semester 2 wrap-up: Reflecting on the 1st and 2nd Semesters

Chris Rosenquest, TMMBA Student (Class of 2011)

Semester two is officially come to an end and I want to take an opportunity to reflect on the beginning of the school year through the first and second semesters…

Semester 1:
The first semester was extremely challenging and upon reflection, the majority of the challenge came from managing my schedule.  The course work and content, although challenging, I found the majority of the my struggles coming making time to complete the course work, meet with my team, attend class and the review sessions.

At first I attempted to keep my other engagements (BOD work, volunteer work etc…) but in the end found I needed to temporarily give these up in order to focus solely on school.  I don’t regret giving these up as I know the work I’m putting into school will make a lifetime of difference when I take these up in the future.

Semester 2:
Now that I’m in stride, the second semester started and ended very well.  Not only was school now well integrated into daily life but my grades also showed improvement because of it.  Below is what I’ve resolved will be my schedule for the next year.

Monday: Team study night – It’s highly recommended you meet with your team at least once a week.  This is the evening we take to review our workload for the week, work on team cases and discuss topics from class that are more complex
Tuesday: Personal study night
Wednesday: Class night
Thursday: Class review – Very important!  I found that making time to attend these can ensure a above average grade versus an average grade.  The TAs know what they’re talking about and as long as you’re willing to ask questions you’ll solidify your understanding of a tough topic.
Friday: Personal study night
Saturday: alternating class days/team study days
Sunday: NOTHING – Yes, I don’t do school work (or any other kind of work) on  Sundays.  This has worked out very well for me and my family and friends.  For me it’s a well deserved rest from the rest of the week and a recharge going into the upcoming week.  Finding time for myself has been imperative to my experience and success in school and that spills over to the rest of life.

Putting a cap on the capstone

Scott Hannah, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

Sitting here basking in the relief and exciting that comes from having been part of a successful capstone presentation, I’m amazed at how fast these 18 months have been.    So much has been packed in this past year-and-a-half it seems almost a blur.  This truly has been a wonderful adventure, with it’s share of excitement and drama.    When I initially started this program I was somewhat uncertain as to how management of technology would be brought out the course.  What I discovered was that it was less about the technology and more about the contacts and shared experiences with professionals in the fields of technology.  One of the key benefits of this program is the exposure you get to diverse backgrounds and experiences over the 18 months we’re together, and the contacts we make now will benefit us in years to come.

Having just had the course, I can liken my experience to Leading Organizational Change.  There was some resistance along the way, but the TMMBA program has been successful in transforming our organization (the student body) into MBA graduates.  And to paraphrase the leading organizational change course, there are some things I will miss (learning something new, the shared comraderie of classmates, the pampering of the TMMBA staff, and more), there are some things I won’t miss (16-hr exams, late study nights, too much coffee, having no free time), and things that I missed out on (hanging out at the Keg after classes).

As I sit here relieved  and excited to be done, I cannot stress enough how rewarding an experience this has been.  Eighteen months go by quickly, and to sit here and feel what I feel cannot be missed.

Go on, take the leap, and enroll in the TMMBA program.  You won’t regret it!

Bringing it all together

Scott Hannah, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

Papers are written, tests are taken, and now it’s down to one final assignment – the Capstone presentation.  It has been an extremely interesting time working on this project.  Not only was it a chance for us to showcase the skills we’ve developed over the entire program, it was also an opportunity for those of us who have never ventured into the entrepreneurial world to see what it’s like to enter and compete in the marketplace.

This year’s capstone projects were a bit different from those in previous years.  In addition to the projects selected from the University’s portfolio of patents, students had the opportunity to either work with “Entrepreneurs in Residence” on their projects; continue to develop the projects they began in the previous quarter’s Entrepreneurship class; or as in our case, work on a commercialization project from an ongoing venture.

As fascinating and informative as the lecture cases have been, they pale in comparison to actually seeing up close and personal the challenges and struggles a young company goes through.  It takes a certain personality to persevere in this environment, and Sir/Madam I salute you for your effort!  In the short amount of time we had to work on this project, we were only able to outline the barest sketch of a commercialization path and plan for this company, but our efforts were appreciated and I know I’ll be watching with interest to see how this venture plays out over time.

A Case for Mondays

Scott Hannah, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

I may seem a little prejudiced toward the Monday class session, as that was the session I chose for myself when I enrolled, but with applications for Class 2012 rolling in, I thought I would make a case for the oft maligned day of the week.

At our welcoming reception way back in 2008, the alumni speaker bemoaned all the drawbacks to Mondays.  But after our first quarter I soon discovered that there were several benefits to this day of the week which I’ll share with you.

For most people, Mondays are the worst day of the week, and if you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, having class on a Monday just adds to the pain.  For me, having class on a Monday meant that I was more rested following the weekend, that I generally had a full day beforehand to prepare, and the readings were fresh in my mind.  Additionally, following Monday’s class, I had the rest of the week to prepare for the two class sessions on Saturday when they occurred.  From a psychological standpoint, when looking at a Monday class schedule on the calendar, it seemed like there was more time between classes than if I were to attend classes on Wednesday.  The final benefit to Mondays are, if at the last minute you can’t attend class, you can always make it up on Wednesday.  You could never do that if you were in the Wednesday session.

Ultimately, whichever session you choose/are assigned to, I think you will quickly discover the TMMBA program to be a rewarding experience.

Graduation & Reflection

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

A fantastic program coming to a fantastic ending. The TMMBA graduation is going to be held on Monday, June 7th alongside the Executive MBA program. With graduation comes a time of reflection on the program. What do I know now that I wish I knew before enrolling in the program? Top 3 priority order:

  1. Intensity of the program and time demands.We were informed that it would be a considerable time commitment but before actually experiencing it how would you understand. I thought, hey, two nights a week (class, review) would add five hours to my life. I even thought about outside reading and team meetings and said to myself oh that would add potentially five more hours to my week, ok. Then I thought about that every other Saturday the entire day was occupied, another 4hrs avg per week. So, okay that’s on average 14hrs additional work per work. Even if it was that low on some weeks, that’s a lot of time!!
  2. It’s about the People. The most important aspect of the program is the class mates and more specifically your 4 to 6 person team. This aspect of the program is a make or break. I am fortunate to have had a stellar team comprised of a diverse background from Liberal Arts, Business and Engineering. The diversity of perspectives is key. We also had complementary skills of which creative and analytical stand out. The faculty overall is extremely solid but there are  few professors that missed the mark and I know the administration is receptive to our feedback.
  3. Value.  While I have a high financial burden of paying for the program I do so considering the time, dollar investment against both qualitative and salary returns. What I know now is that I can knock on more doors and most of them will open. For example, my goal is to work on product marketing so as I approach leaders in the space I am confident that I can not only hold a conversation with them but also I can add value to their organizations. I’ll take a line from Dr. Lee Hartwell, the Nobel Laureate at Fred Hutchinson, who once related a story about his graduate work at MIT – “I asked a distinguished professor, why do you like to spend so much time with me, afterall you know so much and I am still learning so much. The professor replied, ‘Well I have the answers, but you son, have all the questions!’.  As a fresh MBA graduate I am a strong asset to any organization because  I have a lot of insightful questions and a high curiosity. The TMMBA program not only prepares you with the set of frameworks to make tough business decisions but also instills the inquisitiveness and curiosity to ask the critical questions of yourself as a leader and of your strategy as a business be it operational (supply chain), financial (accounting), organizational (management), or marketing.