Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hello world!

Hi everyone! My name is Wei and I am a first year student in the Kelley Direct MBA program. I'm halfway through my first year right now and definitely loving the experience. I was given the opportunity to contribute to the Kelley Direct blog and I am really grateful for the opportunity. I wanted to quickly introduce myself in my first post so you can get to know me and hopefully, at least for prospective students, be able to relate to my experiences and how it got me to where I am now.

A little background about myself: I graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in Industrial Design and a BA in Comparative Religion. I found out during the ID program that I wasn't passionate enough to be a designer for the rest of my life, and somehow by chance fell into consumer goods product development. It was a career path I'd never heard of, but something I've fallen in love with since I started my professional career. I spent the last 3 years in the toy industry mainly working on Disney products and have some great memories from those experiences. However, I soon discovered that if I wanted to continue moving forward in my career, I would need to build up my business skills and knowledge. This is why I decided to pursue my MBA and I most certainly don't regret the choice!

For all the creative minds out there, you do have skills to contribute to the MBA program. You don't have to be a numbers person at all to succeed. You certainly may need to put more time in to the quantitative courses, but there are other skills you can offer to the program, to your cohort, and to your team mates. For people who have been trained in design, for example, you can offer your creative problem solving skills. You can also offer your persuasion skills, as designers are often required to sell their concepts to their coworkers or superiors. I can guarantee you that your classmates will appreciate you for it and for your unique perspective.

In any case, thanks so much for reading! I look forward to posting more in the future and sharing with you my experiences.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cell Phones and Online MBA Education

I purchased an iPhone recently, and it got me thinking about online education. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, allow me to explain. I owned the same cell phone for five years. It was a classic flip phone with an antenna. It took 25 keystrokes to write a simple phrase like “happy birthday." It was a terribly inefficient device that my friends reminded me of regularly.

I didn’t get a new phone sooner because I’m a late adopter. It takes me a long time to evaluate products and services, and it takes an even longer time to make a decision. I tend to be distrustful of “the next best thing,” and I prefer to allow other people to test new products so that I may learn from their feedback. So why did I choose to earn an online MBA degree – a relatively new educational program design – instead of a traditional two-year immersive program?

There were three mental obstacles that I had to overcome in order to apply (and be accepted) into the Kelley Direct program. It’s my hope that prospective students who read this blog entry may find my thought process to be parallel to their own. Clearly my goal is to be a good steward for the program, and I hope prospective students will choose the Kelley Direct program, but at the end of the day everyone has to do what’s right for them. With all that said, let me continue.

First, I wanted to make sure that whichever MBA program I chose would have a great reputation. I wanted the program to be challenging and to adhere to strict academic standards, and the Kelley School is frequently ranked among the best in the country. Additionally, the Kelley School has done a tremendous job opening up its career and alumni resources to Kelley Direct students. The administration has further integrated the program so that everyone knows that it’s the first word in “Kelley Direct” that is the most important.

Second, as sick as it sounds, I wanted to keep working. When I was evaluating full-time programs, I had lots of discussions with prospective students about career goals. The inevitable first question that I was asked was “What do you do?” and the follow up question was “What do you want to do?” After answering these questions the same way for about the 500th time, I realized that (a) I love my work, (b) I’m doing exactly what I want to do and (c) I have great opportunities to progress in my career. So why leave for two years to go back to the same job in the same industry?

Third, I have a young family, and their happiness is of paramount importance. My daughter is about a year-and-a-half and my wife is working on her master’s degree. How far would our family be set back if we made nothing for two years? What kind of dad would I be, or shall I say could I be, while being a full-time student? I should note that I met people who were dealing with the same circumstances, and they were accomplishing their MBA as a full-time student while being a family-person. I admire their commitment to fulfilling their MBA dream, but I knew that their path was not for my family and me.

Obviously I’m very happy about my decision to enroll in the Kelley Direct program. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my skills. I’m even looking forward to viewing PowerPoint presentations on my iPhone.

Rounding 3rd, Heading for Home

Late last month, I had the opportunity to sit in on a webcast for prospective students. It offered me the chance to reflect on where I have been and what I have accomplished over the last 18 months. I am in the middle of my second year at the Kelley School (hence the baseball analogy in the title).

There were 20-some people on the web conference, all of whom were evaluating online MBA schools and trying to find the best online MBA program for their own circumstances. I had the same questions as they did. "Is it worth it?" "Are the professors top notch?" "Do you feel like you are learning as much as you would in the classroom?"

Yes, yes and yes!

Having completed almost six of the eight quaters for my degree through Kelley Direct, I look back amazed at the knowledge that I have attained, the people that I have met and the professors that have diligently taught and mentored throughout my time at the Kelley School of Business. As promised by the faculty during my first in-residence, the rigor of the program is there. The professors are as good as advertised. The classes are demanding.

In case you are wondering, I am not being paid to write this and I am not brainwashed. The Kelley School has delivered on its promise. I am looking forward to two more exciting, intense quarters before graduation.