Last Day of Foster MBA Orientation

We had a case competition!
We had a case competition!

Orientation Day 3

  Thankfully this is the last day of orientation!  We spent the morning in two info briefings – the first one was on computer resources.  It was exhausting because there were a ton of questions about what was available to us, and while some of the questions were useful for the entire class because the information couldn’t be found elsewhere, there were a lot of questions that were specific to one student or it was on information that had already been provided to us several times in the past.  The second info brief was on crafting persuasive recommendations (i.e. recommending a course of action to a decision maker).  We then immediately got to apply our knowledge by doing a 1hr business case evaluation with our core team.  It was really enlightening to see our team in action for real this time, under time pressure.  We did well and developed an amazing outline, presentation, and business case backed up with a rough quantitative analysis…but we never briefed it.  Signs of good things to come, though!

  Lunch was filled with meeting with club representatives and getting an opportunity to talk to people about the MBA Assocation at Foster.  These networking events/fairs really force me to eat fast, so I just grabbed a sandwich and wolfed it down in a corner before going to meet the club folks.  It was great to be able to talk to people about what each club offers, but right now I’m still planning on joining waaaay too many clubs.  Need to cut em down to like 4-5.

  After lunch was when the action happened:  we got about 2.5 hours for another case competition.  My team gelled together really well and we never ran out of ideas…the real problem was keeping the team on track and on time, or we’d be coming up with too many creative solutions!  We ended up winning a little piece of paper saying that we won, which is kind of nice and really unexpected.  Our team did surprisingly well once it came time to brief – everything just magically came together!

  The final event of the night was a happy hour in PACCAR hall hosted by BizComm and some other clubs.  I actually ended up just hanging out with a couple of my classmates from ’16 and had some really deep conversations.  It was really great to have some really good discussions on deciding on a career.

  Rode the bike home and ended up doing readings for the Leadership class until midnight.  It begins!

Foster Full Time MBA Orientation, Day 1-2

So, it begins!
So, it begins!

  While the Fall Quarter hasn’t started for us, the UW Full-time MBA class of 2016 has been busy in the PRIME program (aka the orientation program).  So it’s been a busy couple of days and a flurry of briefings and networking-heavy meals.  There are so many amazing people in this program, it’s tough to get to know all of them on a deeper level than a basic introduction.  There’s just not enough time at these initial networking events, and I think most people are really trying to make an effort to get to know their classmates.  One of my buddies quipped “everybody’s in baby-kissing mode” but things will settle down in a couple of weeks.

 The info briefings each had some great take-aways, but there were some repeated info from the previous welcome/preview events that I attended several months ago.  We were told (again) that Fall Quarter is going to be insanely busy.  Finance and Accounting aren’t my strong points, but I’m hoping my experience with Oklahoma State’s online program will help.  Each of the briefings were well done and very well presented, and at one point everybody got up to the front of the room and got to dance.  If I was trying to be a tough ex-military guy, I’d abstain from that kind of activity.  But I resolved at the beginning of this program that I’m going all in, so I got into it and enjoyed myself!  

  We closed the first night with a gorgeous cruise on Lake Washington.  Food was great (pasta bar and tons of crab and shrimp, woah!) but the bar only accepted credit cards, so there was a long wait to cash out.  Weather was amazing and got some quality time with my classmates and the Foster MBA staff.  

Our mighty vessel for the first night of orientation - I don't remember being treated this well as an undergrad at Cal!
Our mighty vessel for the first night of orientation – I don’t remember being treated this well as an undergrad at Cal!

  After the event I had to ride my bike back home in the dark – the batteries in my bike light died so I had to follow another biker.  Fun fact: the Burke Gilman Trail doesn’t have any lights!  

  The second day we got more info briefs.  Lunch was busy, we had a Leadership & Opportunities Fair where we got to see all the extracurricular programs, campus resources, and additional certificate programs that are available to us.  I’m especially excited for some of these programs, but I’m being extremely protective of my time right now and being very careful not to overcommit.  I’ve basically decided to try to do no more than 3 of the long-term programs for the first year and go from there.  Pagliacci pizza catered the event (excellent choice!) and I honestly wanted to just hide in a corner and wolf down an entire pizza by myself.  I didn’t, of course – I quietly enjoyed two slice and a meager cup of water while chatting with classmates.

Study tours, you say?  
Study tours, you say?  

  The highlight of the day was getting to find out who was on my Core Team!  These are the folks that I’m going to be spending a lot of time with in the Fall Quarter while we power through the core curriculum.  The MBA staff assigns these teams based on a variety of factors, but they try to set you up to succeed.  

  We have five on our team, and we met up at Ivar’s Salmon House to have some beers at the patio.  Not gonna lie, my team is pretty sweet so far.  It’s early though, and we all know about Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.  But at least there haven’t been any warning signs, either.  Looking forward to Fall Quarter, Team Huffies/Above the Sound!

Team Huffies!  #AbovetheSound
Team Huffies!  #AbovetheSound

3 Productivity Apps I’m loving right now

One week until the Foster MBA program starts!  I’ve spent the last several months trying out different productivity apps and websites to try to find stuff that’s 1) useful and 2) so easy to use that it won’t take a lot of time to maintain.  Note: I use Mac, PC, and iOS devices.

Here’s what I’m using, and why:


1) Sunrise – I used to use Google Calendars for everything because I liked how easy it was to add new appointments (click and drag!) and color code them on both PC and Mac.   I synced my google calendar to iCal so I could keep up with my appointments on my iPhone.  I live and die with my calendar – it’s home to my to do lists, itineraries, and directions to where I need to be at any moment.  Plus, it’s one of the few things that Siri can actually read to you in a useful manner.  The problem with Google Calendars and iCal was that they weren’t really great on the iPhone.  I want to see something more visually appealing and clean like the google calendar 5-day/week view rather than the silly dots + list view of iCal.  So I found Sunrise.

On mobile, Sunrise allows you to seamlessly swap between a 3-day view of your calendar and a longer month + agenda view.  I use the 3-day view as my go-to daily planner.  I’m diligent about locations for events and such, so if you need directions to your next appointment, just open up Sunrise, tap the event, and tap the location and boom – directions via google maps to where you need to go.   On the desktop, I use it as a google chrome app and it looks like google calendar.  I still use my color coding system, but Sunrise will also read the event title and automatically categorize it with an icon.  Sunrise also can sync up with TripIt, Asana, Producteev, and a host of other apps to make your life easier.  It seamlessly syncs up with google calendar and facebook too…so if you’re invited to an event, you can see it, accept it, and see it in Sunrise.  Easily the best calendar/scheduling app out there today.

2) Evernote – I used to use Google Drive a lot to archive my files and notes – until it stopped being useful on my iPhone.   It just wasn’t convenient to use on mobile because it eats up a lot of space (it downloads files to your phone…gigabytes worth of stuff while you’re not looking), it was painfully slow, and not great at viewing content.  I finally switched to Evernote and now I use it for a ton of stuff…think of any information that you’d like to save and have on hand at a moment’s notice: blog ideas, to-do lists, websites/articles to read later, membership cards, etc.  You can drop PDFs, word docs, gifs, movies, websites, and all sorts of content in there, either just with a drag and drop interface through the app or using a chrome extension like Evernote Web Clipper.  It’s fast, it’s easy, and great on Mac, PC, and iOS.  Oh yeah, it also can sync up with Sunrise.  Bonus!

3) Dropbox – I used to use Google Drive to upload my iPhone photos to the cloud for sharing, but it was extremely slow and painful.  Every time my phone went on standby, it would stop uploading so you had to sit there with your phone and watch the files get uploaded.  Also, the iOS Google Drive app would download every file onto your device…so when I uploaded a photo from my iPhone to Google Drive, it would make a duplicate on my iPhone’s drive.  Imagine all your photo albums taking up twice the amount of space on your poor, low-end iPhone.  Now Dropbox automatically uploads my recent iPhone photos when I have a wi-fi connection and I can access it on all my devices.  It’s also really, really fast.

The day I fell in love with the UW Foster School of Business

Rainier Vista
Rainier Vista

First time on the University of Washington campus, the night before the Preview Weekend.  Weather was pretty glorious, and the view of Rainier was spectacular. The library was stunning, with the grand staircase and all that. Can’t believe it’s 90 years old!

I came to campus a day early to meet with a fellow veteran and talk about the MBA program.  After I found out I was accepted by the Foster Graduate School of Business, I got an email from Tyler, a second-year MBA student at UW.  We chatted a little bit about the program via email and arranged to meet on campus the evening before the actual Preview Weekend events started.  Turns out we were at the same base in Afghanistan at around the same time (he got there just when I was just leaving) and we knew a lot of the same people.  Small world!  

We met up at PACCAR Hall, UW’s really new and futuristic business building and my potential home for the next two years.  Tyler brought in some other vets to help answer my questions, and we had some coffee from the downstairs cafe for an hour or two.  

This conversation reminded me that I am making the right decision, and that Foster is a great place to be! Like me, they were worried that their classmates would be a bunch of competitive, me-first types…but it couldn’t be any farther from the truth. They emphasized how everyone works together and collaborates, and that Foster’s small class sizes were great to keep that friendly atmosphere.  In a tight community like that, the jerks need not apply.