TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Seven

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

My final post already. I’ve enjoyed blogging for the TMMBA this week. I hope my profile has been helpful to anyone considering the program. Despite the fast tempo, when you face down unfamiliar classes and turn in work that you’re proud of, you feel energized.

Team photo courtesy Pritam Das

Team photo courtesy Pritam Das

So for my week in review:

Monday: Persuasive presentation and a Macroeconomics session.

Tuesday: Review of presentation video and scheduled coaching call, Skype team meeting.

Wednesday: MCDM class session, read read read and spend quality time with my daughters before momentum carries the week away from us.

Thursday: *Birthday*

Friday: Prepare for Saturday class. I also expected to watch my nephew for the day, but my husband tricked me to keep me from making other plans — my sister actually agreed to watch our girls. We took our dogs for a walk at the local arboretum, had lunch, then went to ride go-karts as a late birthday surprise.

Saturday: Macrothon

Sunday: Polish case write-up, collapse.

Just kidding, who has time to collapse? It all starts again tomorrow.

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 11th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Six

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Just a short post today: We had our Macropalooza, two four-hour macroeconomics session at Paccar Hall. A group of PhD candidates brought in a lottery-themed study for our participation, which was a lot of fun. I drove straight home at four for a family gathering and found out that my sister is expecting a baby boy, her second. After that, our team kept an updated e-mail chain going to put the final touches on our Marketing Management team write-up, which we will submit tomorrow. Just another relaxing weekend…

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 10th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Five

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Early tomorrow, our cohort will meet on the Seattle campus for two straight sessions of Macroeconomics — Monday section was calling it “Macropalooza” and Wednesday came up with “Macropalypse.” Classes on the UW campus are fun (no joke, even though it’s class on a sunny Saturday) because the entire cohort, Monday and Wednesday sections, combine to take classes together. The Eastside Executive Center is our usual location, but Paccar Hall offers a great change of pace. The building is impressive, and we eat lunch on the terrace.

Image courtesy Foster School of Business

Image courtesy Foster School of Business

Today I finished all of my reading for the weekend to preempt a busy schedule coming up next week. The TMMBA requires a good amount of reading. Let me reassure you, though: most of the articles, case studies, and texts are written in an engaging style to hold our attention. The reading becomes more of a hobby than an obligation.

My books after two finished quarters.

My books after two finished quarters.

After classes on campus, the cohort usually meets on University Avenue for a drink, but unfortunately I will have to miss tomorrow’s gathering. My sister’s family and friends will get together to find out the gender of her baby on the way, by spraying each other with silly string that’s secretly blue or pink. It’s amazing how much can fit in a day.

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 9th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Four

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Today is my birthday.

Image courtesy Crafty Candles

Image courtesy Crafty Candles

After publishing this post, I will log off for the rest of the day. Front-loading TMMBA coursework ahead of special occasions has been surprisingly straightforward. Every now and then, a critical assignment or study session might conflict with personal time, but the pacing of the program doesn’t allow it to happen often. I haven’t missed a family birthday, wedding, or holiday yet. My sisters have picked up the habit of checking my Saturday class schedule before planning something major. Everyone supports educational goals, going out of their way to make the adaptation painless for me. It’s a side of them I love to see.

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 8th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink


Sara Jones, Associate Director and 2012 alumna

Are you wondering if you’ll get enough return on your MBA investment to make the sacrifice worth it?  ROI can be measured in many ways—new career options, the value of the network, a sense of security, compensation and more.

So, what is the TMMBA ROI?

Last month we surveyed alumni who graduated from the program two years ago. The responses are still coming in, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the data so far:

  • 24 months after graduation, most respondents so far have said they made a career change
    • 38% changed functional disciplines
    • 48% moved up vertically
    • 5% started their own company
  • 100% are more confident in their business skills and abilities
  • 90% have increased their strategic business responsibilities
  • 67% have greater budget responsibility
  • Almost all respondents have seen an increase in salary, with an average increase over 20%

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for complete results of the alumni ROI survey. 

In the meantime, I encourage you to talk directly with our alums or attend tomorrow’s panel discussion on the TMMBA ROI.  The panel is made up of three alums and one student who will share more about their return on investment from the TMMBA Program.

The TMMBA ROI: a candid conversation with TMMBA alumni  & students

Thursday, August 8
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Eastside Executive Center, Kirkland

Ameya Bhatawdekar, Founder of Nuubuu
Kevin Croy, Partner at 9Mile Labs
Jeremy Hutton, Associate at Point B Consulting
Padmaja Vrudhula, Strategist at VMWare

Posted by Sara Jones - August 7th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Three

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Yesterday evening, my learning team and I had a Skype session to go over an upcoming group case write-up. We often prefer meeting in person for major team projects, especially while figuring out our first plan of attack; but Skype, Google hangouts, Facebook, and e-mail make our priorities much more flexible and manageable.

Incoming call.

Incoming call.

For example, we can put together some rough numbers and share the work on-screen during a group call.

So helpful. (Edited because this is an active assignment.)

So helpful. (Edited because this is an active assignment.)

We stayed online for about an hour, settled on an outline for the case write-up, and planned our next meeting. After hanging up, we were already in our own homes, free to keep working or shift focus as needed. Remote meetings are a little harder to navigate than face-to-face conversations, but they have their perks.

Today, I caught up on reading at the park near my house, one of my best habits for study-life balance. My kids appreciate it. Laptops and tablets were the inventions of the century — I think most of our TMMBA class would agree. I also had a Media Theory class with the University of Washington MCDM program. Some of my classmates give me a lot of credit for pursuing two degrees, but the momentum makes doubling up much easier than it sounds. Until last year, the military demanded most of my time. I appreciate how many hours I get to spend with my family now, though I do look forward to reading future “Weeks in the Life” from full-time working members of the cohort. I can’t imagine how they get it all done.

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 7th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Two

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

As I mentioned in day one’s blog post, I gave a persuasive presentation for Professional Communications yesterday evening. This particular class progresses in a unique format: a comprehensive seminar during immersion week followed by a longer-term self-paced schedule. We developed personal elevator speeches first, snapshots of who we are and what we hope to achieve condensed to the length of an elevator ride. I plan to maintain an up-to-date elevator speech for the rest of my professional career. Knowing exactly what to say in those moments is valuable.

Our most recent exercise was broader in focus, any topic with which we hope to persuade our classmates. Tactful persuasion is more complicated than it looks.

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 6th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day One

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Welcome to the first installment of a new TMMBA series, “Week in the Life,” in which you can read about a typical week in the life of a TMMBA student. Today you’ll hear a little bit about me, Sarah McCaffrey, a former Marine Staff Sergeant currently in full-time pursuit of two degrees, the Technology Management MBA and the Master of Communication in Digital Media.

I’m writing this blog post during a break in the middle of our Macroeconomics class.

Classmates focusing intently on the CPI inflation of Japan.

Classmates focusing intently on the CPI inflation of Japan.

My TMMBA-related activities start early, checking my university e-mail account and a private Facebook group set up by my learning team over morning coffee, to see if we have any action items. Today I spent a little over two hours rehearsing my Professional Communications persuasive speech exercise. I was lucky enough to have an audience, however unenthusiastic they became after the first few run-throughs: my two daughters, aged three and five.

Daughters, plus a distant ostrich.

Daughters, plus a distant ostrich.

As a member of the Monday section, I headed to Macroeconomics for today’s session. Dinner is catered at 5:00 p.m., completely delicious and much appreciated in all of our busy schedules. I gave my persuasive speech at 6:00, which we can feature on the blog later this week. Several student presentations kicked off the class today, as well as introductions to today’s perspective student visitors.

A few of our lovely visitors with their student liaison.

A few of our lovely visitors with their student liaison.

I look forward to blogging daily this week, mixing it up with non-class activities and team meetings. Thanks for reading!

Posted by Sarah McCaffrey - August 5th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

Ally AttackED the GMAT: Mission Accomplished

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I hit “submit” on my final GMAT question last Friday afternoon and instantly felt my pulse skyrocket. A few seconds felt like forever as I waited for my scores to populate on the screen.  And when they did, it showed that eight weeks of studying had been productive. Like many TMMBA students had told me, it is possible to study for 1-2 months, work full time and still achieve competitive GMAT scores.

It’s been almost a week since my test date, which has given me time to decompress and wrap my head around what worked and what didn’t. Of course everyone studies differently and has different strengths, but here are the top 8 things I wish I knew when starting the test:

 8.       Practice Practice Practice. There’s always room for more practice tests- no matter how many you do. My Kaplan GMAT book came with five online practice tests and GMAC provides additional software (free) with two tests. I felt good about completing four of the practice tests, but I could have used even more.

7.       Know when to take a deep breath. When I started reading questions without even comprehending what they were about, I knew I was starting to get overwhelmed. At this point, the only way for me to recover was to spare a few precious seconds, close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a small amount of time to refresh your brain and restart.

6.       Don’t be a perfectionist. Early on, I tried to get every single GMAT question right on my practice tests. Obviously this wasn’t going to happen, and I was taking way too long to complete the tests. Finally, I started altering my GMAT strategy so that I was OK with missing some questions. I started to learn that there were certain types of questions (mixture problems, volume questions, combined work formulas) that were taking me five minutes to complete and my answer was still wrong. I had to learn where to cut my losses, randomly guess, and focus on the areas I knew.


Looking just a bit nervous outside of the testing center…

5.       Focus on your weaknesses. From the very beginning, I knew that the quantitative portion would be my biggest struggle. I focused most of my early studying on this portion, but then began to work more on Integrate Reasoning, Analytical , and Verbal. Still, on test day, my scores came out very lopsided. I wish I would have spent more time on my areas that needed the most work.

4.       Strategize your plan to attack the GMAT. And most importantly- stick to it. Make a study plan and hold yourself to it. One hour a day worked for me during the week, since it was a manageable time and kept my brain in GMAT mode throughout the whole week. Find what works for you and stay consistent- like vacations and skipping the gym, it’s tough to go back when you’ve taken too much time off.

3.       Testing anxiety is real- prepare for it. Does it help you to visualize where you’ll be taking the test? Go visit the testing center a few days prior (my proctors confirmed they’ll let you see the facility). Practice with a timer going so that the clock doesn’t cause stress. Do whatever you can to eliminate surprises on test day so you can focus on the test and not your stress.

2.       Drink water on test day. This one comes straight from my test center proctor. She told me that GMAT test takers are often too nervous to eat/drink, and they worry about the 8 minute breaks (you have plenty of time to use the bathroom). Thus, they don’t eat or drink before the test and as a result, occasionally faint in the testing center. Don’t make Jennifer pull out the smelling salts- make sure you prepare your body physically for the test.

And finally, the #1 thing I want TMMBA Applicants to know about the GMAT:

The GMAT isn’t everything. Sure, it’s easy to be consumed by this one test- I see how it happens! You devote so much time to studying and thinking about the GMAT, you automatically assume it must account for a huge part of your MBA application. Not true. As I mentioned in an earlier post, TMMBA evaluates applications holistically. This means that TMMBA takes the GMAT into consideration along with your professional experience, education, communication and interpersonal skills, and leadership potential. An extremely high GMAT score doesn’t guarantee admission and a low GMAT doesn’t automatically hurt your admittance. Keep the entire application in perspective as you get your scores back.

Of course there are many more tips that you may find useful as you start your GMAT journey. While I am certainly no expert on the test, I am always happy to talk with applicants about their GMAT questions or concerns, especially in regards to TMMBA admissions. Now that “Ally Attacks the GMAT” has come to a close, I seem to have a lot more time on my hands…

 Best of luck to all you GMAT test takers- attack away!

Posted by Ally Wewers - August 1st, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink

Week 7: Keep Calm and GMAT On

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In my family, instead of counting days until a big event, we count down in “sleeps”. So- in honor of that, one more “sleep” until the GMAT! Hopefully it’s a night of rest, relaxation, and preparation for the big day.

It’s amazing how quickly two months of studying goes. I remember being excited to crack open my GMAT book at the beginning of June. Now, I’m definitely ready to stop lugging that brick of a book around. Since the GMAT also gives you your unofficial scores (Verbal, Quant, and Total) immediately after the test, there won’t be any additional time wondering how I did. For TMMBA applicants, this is helpful as you contemplate our final deadline on September 1, 2013. If you want to wait til the very last moment, you could take the test on Sept. 1 and submit your unofficial scores directly to us on that date to complete your application.

Back to D-Day- I’m the type of person who likes to have as much information as possible going into a situation. I’ve watched the official GMAT Video (What to Expect on Test Day) and gotten some tips online (Dealing with GMAT Anxiety, Do this, not That from GMAC). Here are the top points that I think will help my test day most:

 -Relax the morning before. Do whatever you need to do to get in the “zone”. It may be exercising, watching TV, meditation, or reading (no, not your GMAT book). Just make sure it’s something that gets your mind off of worrying about the test.

-Eat a healthy breakfast/lunch before, and bring snacks to keep in your locker for breaks. Yes- I have difficulties not eating for four hours (plus it will help keep energy up!)

-Don’t rush or feel pressed for time. There are enough stresses during the day- I know that traffic and things can only add to that stress level. I’m going to try to minimize other outer factors besides the actual test. Also- though my start time is 12:15pm, it’s recommended you are there 30 min early for check-in, etc. In my head then, my test time is really 11:45am- no later!

-Don’t cram. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I cannot truly learn anything new in 24 hours. I can review and refresh what I’ve already learned (that’s where my review sheets and error logs come in) but there’s no use in stressing myself out more.

-Remember this list of things to bring: driver’s license (or passport), snacks and water for my locker, test confirmation print-out, sweatshirt (test centers can be chilly), and a watch (to keep an eye on the 8 minute breaks).

At the end of the day, the best part will be having the test over with! Check back next week for a complete de-brief of the experience. In the meantime, I’m going to try to …  keep-calm-and-gmat-on

Posted by Ally Wewers - July 25th, 2013 - 0 comments - Permalink