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My First Year Willamette MBA Experience

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Exams, IKEWs, and PACE »

Wow! It has been a while since I have been on here to give you all an update on my experience in the first year of the Willamette MBA Program. A lot has happened over the past month! I experienced my first PACE presentation, IKEWs, more exams, and a powerful cold that kept me in bed for a while!

The week after my last post we had our Marketing midterm and the deadline for our IKEW memo submission. The Marketing midterm was a take home exam that we were able to work on throughout the weekend. We were required to select a Global 500 Firm and analyze their marketing efforts. Although it was a take-home exam, it required a lot of time to research and pull together. Additionally, at the same time we were working on finishing our IKEW memos. As with most aspects of this program, I recommend making sure you are able to devote ample time to assignments such as these in order to fully prepare and complete.

The following week we had our IKEW presentations. In addition, my PACE group and I were on the schedule to present our first case analysis. I was one of my team’s presenters preparing to present the day after my IKEW presentation. Preparing for both presentations was challenging. We had to be ready for two cases with little time in between. This meant we had to make sure we were separating enough of our time to each case and making sure we did not mix them up. Getting ready for the IKEW was a little less stressful than the PACE case. We had been preparing for the IKEW case for a little over a month and felt comfortable with the information. The PACE case was had been working on for about two weeks. On top of prepping for these presentations, we experienced some PACE team conflict. Adding this on to our load of work increased our stress dramatically. However, in the end we were able to prepare and successfully present both cases. For both presentations I highly recommend working closely with your team to practice presenting and discussing the case. We did about four practice runs before the day of our presentation. It was extremely helpful to practice presenting and answering questions.

The IKEW presentation was with faculty located in a small meeting room. I believe each group presented to two faculty members. The IKEW experience is different for each group. Our group was asked to give a brief summary of our analysis then we spent about twenty minutes answering questions and defending our recommendation. In the end, we were given feedback and that was it! The PACE presentation occurred during the regularly schedule class. Our Professor lectured for the first half of class then we hooked up our Power Point and presented our analysis. After presenting we answered questions and received feedback from the class and our Professor. It was a complete relief to finish the presentation and hear some constructive feedback.

The week after these presentations is when my cold finally took over. The stress and pressure from exams and presentations weakened my immune system. If I would have taken better care of myself I might have been able to shorten the duration of my cold. This program keeps you busy but getting sick is always a good reminder of the importance of keeping yourself healthy. Fortunately I am back to being healthy and ready to take on the remaining weeks of my first semester!

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions, comments, and/ or suggestions for further posts. Thank you and Happy Halloween!!!!

The First Exams »

The fifth week came with our first exam. The exam was in Accounting and it was essential to find time to prepare for it. Our Professors provided ample time and sufficient effort in order to prepare us through class sessions, lab and office hours, and plenty of practice problems. In my opinion, going to class and keeping up with these practice problems makes a significant impact on your understanding of the material. The next week came with another exam. This time the exam was in Data Analysis. Although, this may seem overwhelming our Data Analysis Professor also made sure to provide us with enough material to prepare for this exam. The best advice I can provide for these exams is to make sure you find time to prepare whether it is through studying on your own, going to tutor hours, or working in groups. Also, our Professors do a great job making sure they know what each student has going on in their other classes. Our Professors and second year students are extremely helpful resources with everything you do in the program.

Next week I will give another update on my progress through the program. I will summarize weeks seven and eight and discuss some of our presentations. Please feel free to leave me a comment if you have questions or suggestions for what you would like me to discuss.

The First Month… »

As promised, this week’s post will be devoted to discussing my first month in the Willamette University MBA Program. The first few weeks were very laid back with a focus on getting to know each other as well as the professors and class subjects. We had plenty of reading but few hand-in assignments until the fourth week. Additionally, we were given our case for Integrated Knowledge Experience Week (IKEW). For IKEW, faculty separates each student into groups of three to review and analyze a specific case.  These teams then present their analysis to faculty and receive feedback. These first few weeks were our first taste in trying to find time for reading, group meetings, client meetings, IKEW meetings and assignments. It was an eye opening month that showed us the need for time management and working in teams. Overall, I felt like the first month has prepared me to take on the demands of the remainder of the semester.

Next week, I will provide a brief description of my experiences with our first set of midterms and exams. As always, please feel free to leave me a comment with any questions or comments!

Compass Week »

Hello! This week I am going to focus on Compass Week (new student orientation). Next week I will be discussing my experience throughout my first month in the program.

Compass Week started in the afternoon on a Tuesday. It was a laid back introduction to everything we would be soon experiencing. On this day, each student checks in to receive their name tags and the name of their Peer Career Advisor (PCA). You then get the opportunity to sit at a table with your PCA and many fellow students to discuss questions and/or concerns. These PCAs are available to help you throughout your first year experience in the program. We also were given the opportunity to interact with each other through “ice-breakers”. To conclude, we participated in table discussions about various topics such as time management, the mentorship program, what is expected in the classroom, etc. I thought that this day was a great introduction to the program and my fellow classmates without being too overwhelming.

The following day we were required to dress in business formal attire and arrive at 8:45 am. At 9:00 am we experienced opening remarks and an official welcome from Stephen Thorsett, President of Willamette University as well as Debra J. Ringold, Dean of Atikinson Graduate School. Later that day we had our professional photographs taken followed by a lunch with faculty and staff. These photographs are used on the Willamette Intra-Web page as a way for professors and fellow students to put names to faces. You meet a lot of people over the first few weeks so you are likely to find it to be a very useful tool. Additionally, the lunch with faculty was a great opportunity to meet and hear a little bit about each professor. After hearing from each of the professors, we were divided into our PACE team to choose our PACE partner for the semester. Later that afternoon we went to workshops on topics such as student life, multicultural communication, professional networking, and more. Afterwards, there were additional optional workshops concluding with a family BBQ.

On our third day of Compass week we were again dressed in business formal attire. We began the day with career learning panels on topics such as marketing, project management, human resource management, and many more. We had a quick lunch and were then given the opportunity to listen to a very special guest speaker, D.A. Davidson. After our guest speaker we were taken to the nearby Willamette Valley Vineyards to meet our PACE client and teaching assistant. Although none of us felt prepared to begin discussions with our client, it turned out to be a great introduction to the project and the company we would be working with over the semester.

Our final day was a time for some team building on an outdoor challenge course. To be honest, I was not sure what to expect from this day of events. We had just spent the past couple of days in business suits, meeting faculty and clients, and taking professional photographs. Now, we are all dressed in athletic attire riding a bus out to the YWAM Retreat Center. However, it turned out to be my favorite day of the week. We broke off into our PACE teams and were assigned an instructor. We went through a full day of fun challenges. In the morning we did ground level challenges. The goal was to grow as a team and work on our group problem solving skills. Each challenge had its own obstacle that we had to overcome together. Then after lunch we moved our challenges up into the trees. We participated in ropes courses, swung from a giant tree, and flew through the air like a flying squirrel! After each challenge we discussed the obstacles and what we learned about each other. By the end of the week, we all felt like we knew each other much better. We were ready to take on the Willamette University MBA Program.

Welcome! »

Hello! Welcome to my blog! My name is Shannon Brown and I am here to share my first year experiences as a student in the Willamette MBA Program. Let’s begin by going back to my decision to apply to the program. I was working on my undergraduate degree in business management and trying to decide whether to get a job or continue my education when I heard about Willamette’s program. What drew me to apply to their program were not only their rankings and reputation but also their program layout. The Willamette MBA focuses on three key areas to encourage the success of their students; academics, experience, and career management. As an undergraduate student with little work experience, I knew the hands-on experience would be extremely beneficial.

After doing my research on the program, I decided to apply for admission. I took the GMAT, turned my application in by the first early deadline, and interviewed with admission staff. For me, the hardest part of the application was taking the GMAT. I have never struggled with test anxiety but the pressure from the importance of this test was overwhelming. Fortunately, I scored high enough to apply to the program. If I had the chance to do it again, I would have taken the test early enough to have the opportunity to try again before the admission deadline. I applied by the first early action deadline to receive full consideration for admission, merit-based scholarships and graduate assistantship awards. The best part of the application was actually the admission interview. Willamette MBA staff are extremely friendly and skilled at creating a comfortable environment for students and visitors. A week or two after my interview I received the unofficial admission decision through email and eventually the official admission letter in the mail. Although it was a nerve wracking process for me, it was all worth it when I received my admission decision. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to apply to Willamette’s MBA program.

Next week I will summarize my experiences with Compass Week (new student orientation) and my first few weeks in the program. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me comments! Thank you for visiting!