As we are deep into the second quarter for the first-year MBAs and quickly approaching Thanksgiving Break, I decided to sit down with Matt Foreman, a first-year MBA, to check in with him on how the semester is going so far. Matt has a background in aquatics management and has even traveled the world as an Assistant Cruise Director. He is planning on concentrating in general management while in the Illinois MBA Program. Heres what he had to say about his experience as an Illinois MBA:
Now that you are done with the first quarter of courses, tell me how you feel about the Illinois MBA program and the courses you are taking.
I was initially deciding between multiple Midwest programs, and I could not be happier with my choice to pursue my MBA at Illinois. I continue to be impressed with the caliber and diversity of my classmates. It is apparent that the investments being made in the program by administration are paying off. I am excited to be a part of the program as it continues to develop and position itself to be even better in the future. It is encouraging to know that my investment in the Illinois MBA will continue to increase in value as the program gains in ranking in years to come.
I’m not going to lie… this quarter has been a lot of work so far. The course load has surely forced me to master time management. I was able to pull good grades in high school and in undergrad without too much of an investment in time or effort. Here, you simply have to put in the work. Given all the late nights (and sometimes early mornings), I still love every minute of it. I find myself putting in extra effort because I enjoy the material and I want to learn it, not just because I am trying to get it done or get an A. I am not investing my time and money in an MBA because I want it to be easy; I want to make the most out of every opportunity that the program presents to me.
What did you like the most about the first quarter?
I really enjoyed how the courses reinforced each other. In my undergraduate program, I did not have that synergy. Here, I would find myself forgetting what class I was in, as we would be discussing Marketing principles in Econ and Accounting in Ethics. It was very beneficial for me to see how the independent subjects we were studying were all pieces of a larger puzzle. The framework of the program forces students to think, apply, and draw upon external concepts, and this enriches the learning process. I also enjoyed how the core principles we were discussing were fortified by classmates sharing their multitude of experiences.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Is that a trick question? The clear answer is I like all the professors equally... in all seriousness they are all so different. It was interesting seeing how they draw on their varied professional or industry experiences to supplement the course material.
What has been your favorite thing about the Illinois MBA program so far?
I have a background in international travel and am accustomed to meeting and interacting with those from other cultures and backgrounds. I have really enjoyed the geographical diversity within my class. It is beneficial on so many levels. There is another dimension added to class discussions when you are able to consider varying vantage points. Just the other day, we were discussing challenges Wal-Mart had in expanding throughout China. The student next to me was from China, and she was able to offer her first-hand experiences and explain the different cultural factors relevant to the decisions. Furthermore, I enjoy learning about the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our international cohorts. Not to mention, I love the international potluck dinners I have gone to and the places to stay and additional tour guides I now have around the world.
What are you looking forward to this quarter?
I just recently won an internal competition to be on a team of 4 that will represent the University of Illinois MBA program in Texas at a national case competition. Not only do case competitions offer an outlet to apply what we are learning in the classroom, they can also offer fantastic networking opportunities. I am very excited to have an opportunity to apply and refine my business acumen and presentation skills in a professional setting.
What advice/thoughts do you have for people who are considering applying to the Illinois MBA program?
Come here and visit the school! If not, engage in the virtual sessions. It was my visit back to campus that really opened my mind to whole-heartedly considering the Illinois MBA. The administration has invested a lot of resources in bringing in high caliber students. The best way to see and feel the energy of the program is to come here and experience it in person. Listening to, and seeing the caliber of, the student body here really impressed me. Also our facility, BIF (Business Instructional Facility), is second to none.
It was wonderful to hear Matt reinforce my feelings about the MBA program. I can't wait to check in with him again at the end of the school year!