Getting an MBA is still hard work! #JustDoIt

As we close out the final week of our Digital Marketing Campaign for our cohorts marketing class, you can read from the blog that there is a wide diversity of messages, experiences, and methodologies that our classmates have used to capture your attention and engage with you through your participation.  Some are funny, some are serious, and some are admittedly, just click bait. (To be honest, our team just considered posting photos of French Bulldogs over and over).

Marketing Final Start: Momo @ 3:30pm. “You got this dad!”
Dogs 12 hours later at 3:30am – Why the hell is he still up?  We’re over this.

But as a final thought on both this class, and the MBA program at Willamette University in general.  We thought it fair to say that while the MBA experience has thus far been both rewarding and fun; it is still school, it is still a lot of work, and it is still a big time commitment.

We now close out our 3rd semester, marking the half-way point in our program.  

Motivation is low and we’re getting old.  So for a final thought, if you’re considering doing an MBA, my advice would be start NOW.  Don’t wait. Because a year from now you could also be half-way done. And by this time next year, you’ll be glad you did, because starting now would pretty much be a non-starter.

So as a hat tip to Portland’s own Nike, JUST DO IT!

If you want a little more inspiration, keep reading:

Should scientists and engineers, people who might have already earned an advanced degree with a technical background still pursue an MBA?

Hear about the MBA perspective from someone who earned his MBA more than 15 years ago and how he feels his MBA experience has helped to both shape his career and open doors into upper management.

Easwar Srinivasan, Ph.D., MBA, senior manager in Lam’s Deposition Product Group

Listen in to a 1:1 interview between Samuel Wilson and Easwar Srinivasan, Ph.D., MBA; who works with me at Lam Research in Tualatin, as a senior manager in Lam’s Deposition Product Group.

Have you enjoyed this? Keep reading:

Want to transform your career? Apply today!

How to apply for your MBA

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and apply to start your MBA at Willamette University. How to get started?

MBA students at work.
Seile, Bia, and Sam developing a strategy for organizational change in Managing Individuals, Organizations, and Teams.
  1. Create an account in the application portal. You don’t have to complete the whole application in one session; you can save your work and return to it later.
  2. Fill out the application, providing your name, contact information, educational history, professional experience, and more.
  3. Write your personal statement. This essay is your opportunity to share your motivations for seeking an MBA and how you will contribute to the strength of the cohort.
  4. Upload your professional resume. The admission committee is looking for a diverse range of professional experiences when building a cohort, so let them know who you are and what you’ve done.
  5. List two references. These should be professional or personal connections who know you well and can speak to your aptitude for success in a graduate program.
  6. Request official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions you’ve attended.
  7. Register for your test. All candidates for admission must complete the GMAT, GRE, or LSAT. The school will reimburse you for the cost of the exam registration fee.
  8. Schedule your admission interview. Once you have submitted a complete application, a recruiter will contact you to schedule your admission interview.

Check out the application portal and get started today!

How pursuing an MBA in a foreign country helped me to become the critical change agent of my career

“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.”

I started working in User Experience Design fourteen years ago. It was called Information Architecture (IA) at that time. My undergraduate degree is in Computing with an emphasis in Business Management, and I have a master’s degree in Information Architecture. This master’s degree changed my whole career. I chose my undergraduate degree based on my pragmatic philosophy, but rapidly, I realized I wasn’t satisfied with that. So, becoming an expert in Information Architecture perfectly mixed two passions: technology and design. 

User Experience Design changed drastically during the last decade. At the same time, it got more important in most companies’ decisions; it started to compete with adjacent areas such as marketing, customer service, and ethnography research. I love what I do; I love where I am. It is immensely gratifying to work with the bleeding edge technology, with the best engineers I’ve ever met. I like the challenge. I like how it is huge. All this scenario lighted up a question inside me: what should I do to keep moving forward my career without compromising my values?

I moved to the US almost three years ago. Even though it was a great opportunity, it was also a tough decision. I came as a UX Designer for a VERY engineer-driven company. And my husband didn’t come with me at that time, so I spent one year by myself struggling to adapt to a new culture. One year later, more established, I decided to start this MBA program. It was nine years since my last graduation, and it is my first degree in a foreign country. Because it wasn’t challenging enough (just kidding), at the same time I had the opportunity to move to a new team, and of course, I accepted.

The Willamette MBA for Professionals has a crucial role in all this transition. It was the best decision ever. With it, I have experienced American culture more deeply and learned from different professional expertise. As Sam and Seile said, we are just in the middle of the whole program, and we’ve learned so much: Finance, Accounting, Statistics, Leadership, Strategy, Management… Most of this I still can’t apply on a daily basis in my current role. However, it opens my mind and helps me to keep the focus on the big picture and broader impact every decision has within the company strategy.

I’ve been at Intel advocating for developers for almost six years. I’ve learned and developed as a professional significantly during this period. Currently, I’m the Community Manager for Clear Linux* Project; an Open Source Linux Distribution optimized for Intel platforms. It looks a perfect match between my User Experience background and a strategic and influential role I was looking for. As a Community Manager, I’m highly focused on Open Source and Developer Experience through strategic community design, I’m the brand’s ambassador, engaging with potential contributors and building relationships with existing ones, using social tools to monitor feedback and engagement. I’m eager for the ‘whys.’

Steven Pousty @ DevRel 2019

I want to share a piece of one of the most significant courses we’ve had so far, in my opinion. All the discussions, material, and reflection have had a massive impact on how to drive my career at this new phase. Thank you so much, Professor Polly Rizova. For everything. It was an incredible semester!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The “Managing Oneself” article guides us through several uncomfortable and intriguing questions to help in this solitary journey to discover our purpose and the best way to combine our strengths and self-knowledge to achieve real— and lasting—excellence. 

Beyond that, Drucker affirms:

“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.”

Managing Oneself (Harvard Business Review Classics)
BOOK Peter F. Drucker

We are the critical change agent of our careers. We should advocate for ourselves, and the only way to do that is by cultivating a deep understanding of who we truly are.

I’ve worked from startups to multinational companies, but nothing was so challenging and enlightening as living in another country and pursuing a degree in a second language.

New challenges highly motivate me. I’ve just started this journey. There is still a whole world to conquer.

Apply now to Willamette MBA and starts yours journey too

Have you enjoyed this? Check out Sam and Seile’s point of view:

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others

At Willamette in 2019, this is not your grandfather’s MBA program

Professionals from a broad range of backgrounds come to Willamette University to earn their MBA. There is a stereotype of an MBA student: a middle manager working their whole career at the same big company, earning the MBA just to climb the ladder. At Willamette in 2019, this is not your grandfather’s MBA program. Students represent a wide variety of experiences, industries, and career paths: from newscasters to attorneys and from chemical engineers to not-for-profit executives.

We will highlight two current MBA students who represent less traditional fields.

What sets the Willamette MBA program apart

Sam and his dog Momo being a Process Engineer

Here’s to the incoming cohort of fall 2019. I’m so looking forward to getting to meet you. 

Samuel A Wilson, PhD, Lam Research | Process Engineer & Product Technical Owner

I enrolled in the Willamette MBA program on a bit of a whim. My personal life had just gone down the toilet, with the abrupt end of a 3-year relationship. I found myself with a significant quantity of free time suddenly on hand, and it seemed reasonable to take a negative event, turn it inward, and work on myself. 

But to be honest, the idea of going back to school and getting more education was completely unappealing to me. Despite the fact that my skip-level manager had floated the idea more than once, the reality was having already completed a 7-year PhD in chemistry only 6 years earlier, enough was enough. However, I needed a distraction, I needed new friends, and I needed a change of direction. 

After looking at all of the professional MBA programs in the Portland metro area, I decided to enroll at Willamette. From my own educational background, I’ve experienced community colleges, big state universities, and smaller private universities, but never the liberal arts college experience. I have to say: I could not be more impressed. 

I believe there are two main things that set Willamette University and its MBA program apart. The first is the quality of instruction. Because Willamette is a small liberal arts college, teaching is the professors primary focus, not research. And it shows. The professors are very committed to ensuring their students’ success. They take it slowly through difficult material, they make sure everyone is following along, and they provide valuable feedback that students can actually use and learn from. What’s more, every professor has also been interested in improving their own teaching! They solicit feedback from the class multiple times a semester and actually implement changes to align their teaching style with students’ learning preferences.

The second thing that sets an MBA apart from any other type of continuing education is the diversity of your cohort. Earning a PhD, one of the things that you experience as you move upwards through school is that the focus becomes increasingly more narrow. The students who you attend class with know chemistry. Sure, sometimes they might have other experiences, but generally, it’s just one flavor of chemistry or another. This experience would again be roughly similar to any higher education experience, regardless of major. But not with a professional MBA program. 

What makes the MBA for Professionals program unique from a cohort perspective is that your classmates represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. In our cohort, we have people who work in the for-profit sector, the not-for-profit sector, and government. We have scientists, engineers, accountants, human resources professionals, planning analysts, supply chain managers, and customer service .  We have people who work in the medical field, people who work for utilities, even a former TV newscaster! And now, these people are all students together in the same cohort, and they bring those experiences into the classroom. The result is a multicultural and multidimensional experience. Class is less of a lecture from teacher to student and more of a discussion among colleagues sharing experiences and ideas. Everyone in the room is learning together.

Photo by Antonio Gabola on Unsplash

So here we are, almost halfway through the program. Is summer rough?  Yes. Would I rather be out camping and BBQing with friends as opposed to sitting in class for 8 hours a week, doing homework and taking tests again?  Yes. But would I go back and not join this group of people, all working and learning together to advance their careers? Not a chance. Thus far, this has been an extremely valuable and rewarding experience, and I would sign up to do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Seile’s take on MBA

Seile Tekle, Executive Director at Historic Parkrose Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and mommy

I joined the Willamette MBA program because I was interested in the support the university provided for not-for-profit professionals. Running a small local not-for-profit required me to wear multiple hats, ranging from bookkeeping and admin tasks to employee supervision and board management. Willamette’s MBA program was what I needed to brush up on my leadership, as well as learn new skill sets to successfully run the organization. With courses in finance, accounting, and leadership that have immediate impact on my job, the program has delivered huge value to myself and my organization. 

Skills acquired from our marketing strategy course can help not-for-profit frame their organization in terms of target customers, just as a for-profit business would. They must provide a compelling value proposition to run a successful not-for-profit and meet the needs of the community they serve. Moreover, Willamette MBA allows not-for-profit professionals to become better leaders, community advocates, change agents, and problem solvers. 

Not-for-profits deal with various socioeconomic challenges that are complex and deep-rooted, but they are often constrained with limited resources. Successful leaders must develop efficient resource management and fundraising skills. For instance, when creating programs to serve historically disadvantaged communities, it is important to incorporate effective data gathering and analysis methodology, the right policies and procedures, fundraising plan, and effective financial reporting standards.

Understanding how accounting works and being able to present the organization’s financial performance to supporters and donors is critical. Capturing outcomes with targeted data gathering tools, analyzing the data, and presenting it persuasively allows for sustained and long term success.

In conclusion, mission-based not-for-profit professionals can benefit from the holistic MBA learning environment to better themselves, while enhancing their service work. Burnout is one of the biggest challenges not-for-profit professionals face while engaging in social advocacy and equity work. The right mentor and support network can make all the difference. One of the first lessons in the Willamette MBA program was the importance of self-awareness, motivation, and self-care in leadership. One must constantly recharge as a leader to become an effective leader. 

As a not-for-profit professional, I believe that my MBA experience has impacted me in three key ways:

  1. It teaches me self-awareness and self-renewal skills as leadership qualities,
  2. It empowers me to broaden my financial prowess and speak financial language to communicate with donors and funders, and
  3. It helps me design programs that have long-term, measurable impacts on the community my not-for-profit serves. 

In my opinion, this is the best investment you can ever make! 

Ezra celebrating his mom’s success.

Want to transform your career? Apply today!

Have you enjoyed this? Check out Bia Palmeiro’s point of view: