From the category archives:

MBA experience

This article is written by Keith Soranno, a GWSB Class 2014 graduate. Keith has been one of the key figures in forming the image of this remarkable class and is well known for his straightforward no BS attitudes and expression.

Going to graduate school for me was a different decision than for most individuals. Being a little older, I did not see an MBA as a way to get ahead or make more money, but rather a way to round out my professional career and to backstop against any future jobs where an advanced degree might be required. Due to this, my decision was based on cost to benefit vs. maximum benefit with cost not being as critical.

I was also working full time so it was a key to have a program that was flexible as well as close to my office. This narrowed down the choices to the 3 major schools in D.C. I was accepted to all three programs, but one was too expensive for what I calculated my payback to be on the degree. One school was too far off the metro line (this is how petty some of my criteria were). And the final school was George Washington, 4 blocks from my office, advertised flexibility to accommodate the working professional and a nationally recognized program. After visiting with the admissions group I felt confident to commit the next two years of my life and signed up.

Orientation came and went, and I settled into my first class, Accounting. Immediately, I began to question my decision to come to GW. As I sat in the first lecture listening to the teacher berate students over the most insignificant items, I thought I had been transformed back to undergrad. It was comical to listen to this teacher verbally abuse a student who had to be at a deposition in CA the day of our mid term exam. So much for flexibility, right?

This seemed to be a common theme that punctuated the dysfunction of the MBA program. Lack of cohesive leadership, apathetic teachers who were disinterested in the students professional advancement, a fragmented student body consisting of Full and Part-time students that seemed to be kept separate by the administration to allow infighting as a cloak to the real issues facing the school, and finally, an administrative group that seemed more interested in telling student why they could not fix anything and that it was their fault classes were canceled.

So what is an upset, angry and disenfranchised student to do? Well, in my case I was very lucky to have an amazing group of peers in my program who were just as upset and motivated to do something about it. So after many drinks one night at a local bar we decided that we were going to take matters into our own hands and run for roles on the MBA student organization.   We were going to unite the students, bring a common voice to the students and force the administration to listen to our needs. Sounds simple, right?

The next 12 months were filled with such highs and lows, from the dean of the business school getting fired, to creating and building a common voice for the students the entire process was amazing. What I learned about an MBA program, it is not about coming in and getting served, it is about going out and making the experience into what you want it to be. If you sit around and complain, nothing gets better, you are truly in control of your own destiny, and if you make a small effort to find people who you connect with where and what those connections will lead to is endless.

Grad School is just like life. You find some mentors you truly value their insight and opinion, and others who you wish you would never have to see again. You make connections in the strangest of places and find that strangers may become friends for life. The administration are bureaucrats and not interested in getting anything done, rather they are most concerned with protecting their job.

Overall, it opened my eyes to the world and made me realize that if I wanted anything I was going to have to go out and find the circumstances I wanted and if I could not find them, I would have to make them. While this was always something I knew, having to deal with it first hand was a good reminder and an excellent prep for my future endeavors. I do recommend going to grad school and I would recommend GW, not for the faculty and administration, but for the students and people that you can connect with. Remember though, you are in control of what you want and what you will get out of the program. If you relinquish control, you will be disappointed.

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All last week, and especially around the weekend, my Facebook newsfeed was swelling with the updates from my FB friends about their activities. This was exciting time for them – they were celebrating their MBA graduation: GW Business School Gala, GWSB Commencement, GWU Commencement on the National Mall. All the highlights I had to experience just two years ago. I know for most of them these were bittersweet  moments:  the sense of accomplishment and the sense of a loss. I did not have the sense of accomplishment this time around, since I graduated in 2012, but I sure felt the loss.

In the last two year, after my graduation already, I have stayed in touch with the continuing students of GW part-time MBA program, I also met quite a few students from the full-time Global MBA program, thanks to the MBAA board that did a fantastic job of bringing together the part-time MBA students for out of class socializing, and bridging the gap between the part-time and full-time students. I wrote about that in my post “MBAA Revolt…

So in the last two years I have been crushing their happy hours and their celebration parties, I have had good times with them and many good conversations. I have been so much around them that I was dubbed “the ghost of the MBA past” ;-) by my good friend Keith. I have made more meaningful (both in quality and numbers) connections with the part-time MBA class 2014, than I made in my own three years of MBA.

This class was, and will probably stay for a long while, the most remarkable, the most cohesive, the most proactive both in social life and academic bargaining with the shool’sy administration class in the history of GW part-time MBA program. I also wrote about that in “My part-time MBA Heroes” post.   And that’s why I had the sense of a loss: most of the people in this class have just graduated last week. No more happy hours, semester end parties, and other outings.

Thankfully most of them reside around DC area, and I hope to have at least occasional opportunities to hang out with some of them, but with busy-ness of life and other priorities after the school is done, it’s definitely going to be less feasible.

That’s why I feel like this was my graduation too, and this time it seems to be for good.

But it’s too early to say goodby just yet. I am going to publish a guest post from Keith with his perspective on the GW part-time MBA program. And he is not going to beat around the bush with niceties and political correctness BS. So stay tuned.

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This post is written by Jason Barrett, a 25 years old GW part-time MBA dropout turned a professional whiskey drinker – Jason is the youngest master distiller in the USA. He makes whiskey for a living (BlackButtonDistilling.com) and probably wouldn’t have this opportunity without the time he spent at GWSB. I am glad that I had a chance to meet Jason at one of the GW PMBA happy hours and have a chance now to follow him in his entrepreneurial pursuits.

I have always been stubborn, at first I tried my hand in politics because I loved debate, then I moved on to sales where I could get paid to talk to folks and get them to see my point of view.

I got involved in craft beer and was an avid home brewer for many years. Then I almost bought a craft brewery that was going out of business. During that transaction I decided I wanted to work for myself, but that I didn’t have the skills to really be a well rounded business owner. So I applied to GW School of Business and started classes just 6 months later.

During my time at GW I took accounting and marketing classes as well as attended a ton of seminars and talks on campus. All of this was on top of 60 hour work weeks and an active social life. In accounting I learned the language of numbers as well as how to put together a balance sheet, cash flow statement and profit and loss statement. In marketing I learned how to write a strategic marketing plan, and in the cases we reviewed I learned how a small business like mine would gain attention.

During this time I started my formal business plan for my own startup. I quickly realized that the ideal business for me was not making craft beer but making craft whiskey. I attended 5 distilling schools the following year each with a week long workshop focusing on different parts of the business. Yeast management, marketing, barrel aging and production planning. All of these were helpful in the specifics of my business but the core of my business plan was built on knowledge from my GWSB MBA classes. I also was able to review my business plan with the entrepreneurship office on campus before pitching my banks for funding. I pitched seven banks in three days and two of them extended offers of credit. All seven banks told me after the fact that it was the most thought out and complete business plan that the banker had seen in their careers.

I have since learned that banks as a rule do not lend to startups with under three years of financials, much less to 25 year olds who want to go make whiskey. But the depth of knowledge laid out in those 60 pages showed that I had done the homework and was ready to run this company. As I said earlier I learned how to speak the language of numbers and how to write strategic marketing plans through my classes at GWSB. Without them there would have been no loan and no company.

Black Button Distilling

Now sadly I will never finish my MBA at George Washington University School of Business. I moved to NY a few weeks ago to run Black Button Distilling. The laws up here are much friendlier towards grain to glass farm distillers. But I will always look at my time at GW with a certain amount of reverence. Because without GW MBA there would be no Black Button Distilling.

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Last week I went to the GW MBA Follies. This was my first ever Follies and I was really curious to see what it was all about. During my MBA years I either did not even know about specific dates when the Follies was performed or would not go under the feeling of guilt of wasting a night for entertainment when it could be better used to work on my MBA homework assignments ;-)

This year, however, I was well-informed about the upcoming Follies date. Thanks to the GW MBAA announcements and repeated postings on the Facebook group for part-time MBA students at GWSB, of which I am still a member, my curiosity was piqued up and well-sustained. As I said at the beginning, this was the very first time I would go to see Follies. So for me it was like checking out the box on my list of things to try at least once. It was also one of those things that I missed during my MBA time proper and would like to do to complement my overall MBA experience.

To be honest, I had some idea of what the Follies were like. Before going to this year’s show, I looked up a few videos of MBA Follies from other business schools, and videos of GW MBA Follies from previous years on YouTube. It was moreover interesting to see how this year GW MBA version stacks up.

I had fun and quite a bit of laughs. Since the show was produced exclusively by the full-time Global MBA students (and mostly 2-nd years), some of the jokes were more of the “inside jokes” to which the audience at large reacted with great enthusiasm, but they were lost on me. Most of the Follies, however, had more universal appeal for business school students at large:  of course, lots of swiping on the GW MBA falling rankings and the hiring prospects for the students. But this seems to be a recurring theme for GW MBA Follies. I was a bit surprised by quite extensive use of expletives in one or two episodes, but this is just a matter of personal preference, I guess.

Though I overall liked this years Follies, for some reason I think that Follies 2012 were a bit more creative and funnier. It may be just because I knew more students participating in the Follies from my elective classes last year.

You can watch a complete set of videos from this year’s GW MBA Follies on YouTube. And since I already checked out the box for attending live Follies on my check list, that’s what I am going to do in the future as well – watch online ;-) . You can start doing just that by watching one of the episodes from this year’s GW MBA Follies with Dean Doug Guthrie.

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French Labor Market and Corporate Social Responsibility

March 17, 2013

It was exactly a year ago that I went to Audencia Nantes School of Management, France for a week-long study abroad program offered by GWSB MBA. It was a very eventful week for me, and probably one of the brightest highlights of my whole MBA experience. The course that I took there was on Corporate […]

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Going Global: MBA Students in Ghana

March 13, 2013

Written by Kristin Schulz, class 2014 part-time MBA student at GWSB; Residential Programs Manager at Clean Currents. Passionate advocate and evangelist for renewable energy and business sustainability. One of the great things about the part-time MBA program at GW is the flexible course offerings that make it possible to sit classes into an already packed […]

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Business Case for Telework

March 10, 2013

Who could have thought that an internal change of policy at Yahoo! would have such a ripple effect on the nation’s workforce. Message boards and comments section on the articles covering the issue are swelling with very heated debates.  Opinions from both proponents and opponents of the telecommute practices are full of reasonable, and not […]

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MBA Student Loan – Days of Reckoning

March 3, 2013

In my post-MBA time there have been a few milestones directly connected to my MBA. First was the Graduation Gala that I described briefly in my blog. Then, of course, were  the Commencement weekend ceremonies back in May: GWSB Commencement and GWU Commencement. Sometime in July I received my MBA diploma by mail. This was […]

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MBA Done – Heading Back to School

February 27, 2013

I just really cannot let it go. I am becoming a GWSB fixture of sorts – a proverbial perpetual student, except I am not doing it to get another formal degree, but to pursue some of the interests through the classes I did not have time to take during my MBA tenure. In my post […]

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MBAA Revolt … er Reform at GWU School of Business

February 22, 2013

About four months ago when the whole country was embroiled into the perils of the final phase of the presidential election campaign, something even more significant, albeit unnoticed by the general public, was happening at GW School of Business MBA program. October was the season for election of the board members to the MBA Association […]

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MBA Graduation Gift to Myself

December 12, 2012

It has been over two years already since I read Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek. I shared some of the thoughts on the book in my post The 4-Hour Workweek – Jar of Goodies from Tim Ferriss. One of the lasting impressions from the book, besides some business and career-management advice, as well as […]

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Post-MBA Summer of Firsts

September 30, 2012

As I wrote back in June in my post MBA Postpartum Syndrome the issue of the newly found free time was one of the most overwhelming challenges for part-time MBA graduates. I also shared a few plans of my own that I had for the use of the post-graduation time. Now, three months later, I can […]

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Business Communication Epiphany

July 17, 2012

In my very last module of part-time MBA program at GWSB I took a class on Business Communication. I mentioned that class briefly in one of my posts before. This was a very hands-on class and quite a bit of fun too. I am going to have a longer post with the recap of that […]

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My Part-time MBA Heroes

July 2, 2012

Last Thursday I was reliving some of the best things you can get from MBA besides highly acclaimed (and frequently challenged) credentials, cursory introduction to critical business knowledge and skills, and chronic sleep deprivation . I went to a celebration of the end of the first summer module by first and second year part-time MBA […]

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MBA Postpartum Syndrome

June 18, 2012

It has been interesting to hear and observe some of the reactions of my part-time MBA fellow graduates in the wake of the graduation. The recurring theme in verbal exchanges from some of my former classmates is, “what are you doing now with all the free time you’ve got?” Another popular one: “Are you looking […]

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45 Down and 7.5 to Go to MBA Degree

June 14, 2012

Written by Ben Lee, part-time MBA student at GWSB, principal at BRL Consulting Group. Blogger at Sustainable Employees. The article was in the works for a bit and reflects Ben’s selection of courses back in April. Yes, only 7.5 credits to go and I will have completed the MBA program at GWU.  Let’s review what […]

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You Can Do It, You Should Do It, And You Will Do It!

June 12, 2012

Written by Davide Sonzogni, GWSB MBA graduate 2012. It was almost 3 years ago when my dear friend Anna said: “You can do it, you should do it, and you will do it!” In fact, before submitting my MBA application I was not sure if going back to school in my late thirties was a […]

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Commencement Weekend – GWU Celebration

June 10, 2012

It has been exactly three weeks since the GW University-wide Commencement on May 20-th. It was another very special event, not the least reason for that was that it took place on the National Mall. As a matter of fact, GWU is the only University in the nation that has its Commencements held on the […]

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Commencement Weekend – GWSB Celebration

May 25, 2012

Another mark in unwinding my MBA experience at George Washington University School of Business: last Friday, May 18, I was at the GWSB Commencement Ceremony. The spirit of the event was very celebratory. Seeing all my fellow classmates the last (but one) time coming together was very special. For me the Commencement celebration was the first […]

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GWSB Graduation Gala-2012

May 16, 2012

Last night I went with my wife to a Graduation Gala -2012 for GWSB. The Gala was held at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. Quite an impressive venue at night (someone told me they were not quite impressed with it in daylight). I have mixed feelings about the event, though I mostly […]

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Inspirational Graduation Quotes for MBAs

May 10, 2012

Updated on May 15, 2012. Here is another link to short goofy moments at Commencement speeches: Gotta Watch: Best commencement speeches. On one of the news sites I ran into a link to 12 Great Graduation Quotes . Those graduation speeches are always aimed at 20-somethings college grads who have their whole life ahead. I […]

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MBA – Happened

May 5, 2012

On Thursday I had my very last MBA class. I personally count it as the official end of my MBA program at GWSB. Of course, I still do not have grades for any of my classes, I still have commencement ceremonies and celebrations, and I still will have to wait 6-8 weeks to actually receive […]

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GWU MBA Gala – Second Time’s a Charm

April 29, 2012

Yesterday I attended an MBA Gala – again. I enjoyed every minute of it: saw a bunch of my classmates, met quite a few new people, danced through the night, got updates on people I have not recently seen in school, met a lot of “significant others” of my classmates, and even hopped on one […]

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Mild MBA Senioritis Disease Case

April 16, 2012

A couple of months ago I was at the parents meeting at my daughter’s high school. The principal and the staff were sharing information about the graduation activities, deadlines, dues, and such. Among other things there was a mentioning of “senioritis” epidemy that affects most seniors at the high school, and how we as parents […]

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Open Letter to (Part-time) MBA Students

March 28, 2012

Since I came from my Study Abroad week in France 10 days ago, I have been on a mission. The mission is directly coming out from my Most Valuable Lesson Learned in France: I have been making a conscious effort to meet with people in informal settings over a meal or a drink, just to […]

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Study Abroad in France – Most Valuable Lesson

March 21, 2012

I have planned at least three more posts with reflections on my Study Abroad in Nantes, France trip. Among those posts I hope I will have one on the formal part of the  Corporate Social Responsibility course, as there were quite a few eye-openers during the classes and company visits. But for me personally the […]

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Study Abroad in Nantes – First Day in France

March 11, 2012

Today I arrived in France and will share briefly while it’s all fresh. This is my first trip to France and, as a matter of fact, to any country in Western Europe. Long ago I had opportunities to travel quite a bit around the Eastern Europe, but that was it. So after arriving to Charles […]

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Featured Interview at Accepted.com

March 9, 2012

About a month ago I was approached via email by Sarah from Accepted.com with invitation to be interviewed for their website in the MBA blogger category for their own blog. It took me a few days to get around and answer the questions of the interview, but finally the interview was published today: Blogger Interview: […]

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International Exchange Programs at GW MBA

March 8, 2012

About a month ago I did something what I could only dream about in my part-time MBA program at GWSB: I signed up for a short study abroad exchange program. The GWU School of Business has a rather strong push for international exchanges/residencies. The University is offering these programs all around the world, from South […]

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Part-Time MBA in 16 Months – 5 Lessons Learned

February 9, 2012

Written by Angela Wolf, GWSB MBA alumna 2010. This is Part 2 of the post. Continued from Get the Most from Part-time MBA in 16 Months. Now down to what’s important… what did I get out of the program. One of the biggest lessons from the program is that and MBA doesn’t necessarily teach you […]

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Get the Most from Part-time MBA in 16 Months

February 7, 2012

Written by Angela Wolf, GWSB MBA alumna 2010 I had the pleasure of taking several GW MBA classes with Vitali throughout 2009 and 2010. And I was happy to see him in a lounge in the MBA building between classes one day in December 2010, completely out of the blue. I hadn’t seen him for a while, […]

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GWSB Business Gives Back – What a Blast!

January 30, 2012

What a great evening! Really enjoyed the night with my wife. Great cause, great entertainment, great networking, great organization! The event was held at the House of Sweden, on the Potomac waterfront in Georgetown. There were celebratory speeches, acknowledgement of this year’s recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award, hors d’oeuvre, open bar (take a note, if […]

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My George Washington MBA Experience

January 25, 2012

Written by Brian Fitzgerald, VP of Digital Strategy at O’Rourke Hospitality In late 2007, early 2008 I started to prepare to go back to school and get my MBA in the Washington DC area. I researched the various schools, weighed my pros and cons and took the GMAT. When all was said and done I […]

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GWSB MBA Alumni Stories

January 24, 2012

This post is just a brief introduction to the article I am preparing for publishing tomorrow. I am planning to have stories from the GWSB MBA alumni published on this site. Basically, I am interested to hear from them about: why they decided to pursue MBA in the first place, why part-time, why GWSB their […]

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Final MBA Term First Day of Classes

January 23, 2012

Today was my first day of classes in the final term of part-time MBA program at George Washington University School of Business. I had two classes piggy-backed from 4.30 PM to 9.40 PM. I don’t have classes for the rest of the week in the first Spring Module, so it seems like a reasonable workload. […]

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