At the University of Washington Foster School of Business, mentorship programs are a priority.
The school is in its fourth year of pairing alumni with upper division students, making sure their professional networks are ready to grow, and setting the scene for students to take the world of work by storm as they prepare to leave the school. The Foster Undergraduate Mentoring program is a partnership between the Undergraduate Business Council, Foster Alumni Team, and EY Center for Career Advancement where mentees can get help about everything from resume critiques and interviewing tips, to post-undergraduate school planning and personal connections with cultural or ethnic sensitivity. At the same time, alumni who choose to take on the role of mentors get to work on their leadership and coaching skills and strengthen their professional abilities.
The school also recently reestablished their mentorship program for upper division students to work with freshman students, understanding that life in college can be stressful, confusing, and overwhelming, but doesn’t have to be.
“We make sure our students have someone to talk to and help guide them through the next part of their career development because these are hardworking, ambitious students,” Vikki Day, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs, said. “For the freshmen, it helps them adjust to campus and when they see an upperclassman doing what they want to do, they’ll know they can do it too.”
The University of Washington is a public research university located in Seattle, Washington, that offers a two-year undergraduate business program through the Foster School of Business.
Day said that the business school recently received approval and funding to get a new building, and the leaders are currently in the design-build phase and in meetings with construction teams. Up for consideration are more team rooms, classrooms that allow for more collaborative work, flexible spaces that can be modified easily.
In Fall 2018, the school received 5,733 applications to the undergraduate business program. They shared that 1465 were admitted by the university and considered by Foster, while 1,804 students made upper-division applications to Foster. In total, 819 freshmen were offered admission, and 517 upper-division students were offered admission.
The average SAT score among freshman applicants was 1310, and 1210 among upper division applicants and the average ACT score among freshman students was 31, and 29 among the upper division students.
The school estimates that the four-year cost of attending Foster including tuition and fees is $46,068 for a student who is a resident of Washington and $147,592 for an out-of-state student. Students who choose to attend Foster should also take into consideration additional expenses on food, lodging, transportation, and supplies that are predicted to add up to another $65,724. Almost 90 percent of incoming Fall 2018 business students received some form of scholarship support averaging $15,500 to help ease the cost of attending, and over 70 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 told Poets&Quants in a survey that they believed their business degree was worth its cost in tuition.
NEARLY THREE-QUARTERS OF ALUMNI REPORTED HAVING A ‘SIGNATURE EXPERIENCE’
The Foster School of Business offers students a choice of majors in Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, General Business, Human Resources Management, Information Systems, Marketing, and Operations and Supply Chain Management.
Students can also work on a minor in Entrepreneurship that is also open to non-business undergraduates, or a Certificate of International Studies in Business, or Professional Sales Certificate.
Whichever area of specialization a student chooses, all business students must take the same core classes in financial and managerial accounting, managerial economics, business finance, information systems, global business perspectives, introduction to law, leadership and organizational behavior, strategic management, marketing, statistical methods, and principles of operations management.
The school offers six courses that contain a significant applied experiential component to students, but every student at Foster has to take part in a case competition as part of their capstone course, giving everyone the experience of participating in a consulting project and working with an external organization.
About 70 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they were engaged in a “signature experience” as part of their undergraduate business studies, with many sharing that their capstone experience was life-changing.
George Nova, from the Class of 2016 who is now working as a business analyst for Amazon, said that he was engaged in project work and simulations in almost every class he took at Foster. However, it was his business consulting class, capstone project class, and experience in the Global Business Case Competition, where members of the Certificate in International Business competed on real business cases for international expansion projects, that truly helped give him hands-on learning in understanding how business people think, solve, and strategize.
In his business consulting class as a marketing and finance major, he said that he and his peers worked as consultants representing real customers and worked to solve real business problems, while for his capstone project, his team worked with a client to write documents and provide decisions on new product development and or product line expansions.
Over 80 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said they would recommend the program at Foster to a friend or colleague, and about 65 percent said that the program had prepared them well for the world of work.
TOUGH ADMISSIONS STANDARDS
At Foster School of business, high-performing students are invited to be part of the Fosters Honors Program if they have completed at least 60 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 and above, and have a minimum of 24 graded credits in residence at the university. Admitted students must also maintain their GPAs to graduate “With Distinction”.
Students in the program will spend time working on research and class-based projects closely with researchers and industry professionals, joining in seminar-style presentations and networking events.
The school shared that 85 percent of students in the Class of 2017 had business-specific internships before they graduated, and with the Class of 2018, this number rose to 90 percent.
The school also offers students 28 different business-specific student organizations to choose from in order to make their resumes and portfolios more attractive to employers.
One of the popular student groups is the Business Impact Group, which works on projects and events alongside local Seattle businesses. The aim is to help develop small business in struggling communities, especially in relation to minority and female-owned businesses. Students in the group get a chance to work on their consulting skills and portfolios as they advise businesses.
Open even to non-business majors, the group believes that every individual can bring a skill to the table. The freshman program takes on about six students per quarter and is aimed at giving freshman students an introductory look into consulting. Students can also choose to join the organization at the core consultant level before advancing into returning consultants, project managers, and executives.
Many alumni members of the Class of 2016 also shared that they taken part in case competitions both nationally and abroad in countries such as Spain, creating full scope diversification and expansion plans for global leaders, made presentations to company executives, and learned about teamwork and time management.
“Foster graduates go to the workplace with a combination of teamwork and strategic leadership,” Day said. “They are collaborative and able to get out in front of things, and when necessary, can strategize and be competitive.
MANY STUDY ABROAD OPTIONS
The University of Washington and Foster School of Business offers its students over 500 study abroad opportunities to choose from, with 21 business-specific programs. Whether a student is interested in a semester-long trip, a spring break trip, or a global experience over summer, the school has something to offer.
In 2019, Foster is offering its students an opportunity to travel to London, Israel, and Rome in three different spring break and summer programs. Those who choose the Business London program will take a seminar-style course during the Winter Quarter 2018, and leave for London in March 2019 to network with alumni living and working there, as well as visit organizations including Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and Bain. They will also engage with the London School of Economics, and get to listen to guest speakers.
The school also offers Exploration Seminars, which are 3 to 4-week long programs that happen during Early Fall (August to September). These programs are focused on allowing students to learn through daily company and cultural visits that relate to the theme of a seminar, with very little traditional lecture time, and lots of company visits. In 2019, students can expect to apply to exploration seminars in Australia, Ghana, India, Morocco, Spain, London, and Morocco.
About 35 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they had a global experience while at Foster. Some said they had studied abroad in the European countries of France and Italy for a semester, some went to the Arab countries of Oman and Qatar, and others went to Asia to visit Singapore, India, Bangkok, and Japan.
“We are constantly thinking about how we’re teaching and providing learning opportunities for the next generation of leaders,” Day said.
What Alumni Say:
“There was project work, simulations, and every element mentioned above in almost every class that I took at the Foster School of Business. However, I will emphasize three key applicable experiences that helped me understand how business people think, the problems that they try to solve, and the strategies they use. These experiences came from the MKTG/MGMT 445 business consulting class where we worked as consultants representing real customers and solving real business problems. The second experience I want to emphasize is the Global Business Case competition where members of the Certificate in International Business competed in real business cases for international expansion projects. And the third experience was the MGMT 430 capstone project where we worked with the client to write documents and provide decisions on new product development and or product line expansions.” – Recent Alumni
“The REI business case competition helped tremendously. It was a valuable experience to be able to come together as a group, start with ideas, and end with a final pitch to a real company. I still think about to this day.” – Recent Alumni
“I had the chance to go on the Exploration Seminar to India to learn about Women in Leadership and it changed my outlook on the career path ahead of me, as well as my life in general. I met my best friend and it has impacted many of the decisions that led to success for me.” – Recent Alumni
Where the Class of 2018 Went to Work:
Deloitte – 29
EY – 20
PwC – 20
Amazon – 17
Accenture – 13
Boeing – 12
KPMG – 7
Microsoft – 7
Moss Adams – 7
Nordstrom – 6