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Career Exploration with Foster Alumni Panel

On October 17th, we held our alumni panel with speakers, from all the Foster concentrations, who shared their experiences from Foster and how it led to their current career paths.

Meet the panelists!

Accounting and Information Systems: Vivia Zhu

  • She graduated from Foster in 2022 and majored in Accounting and Information Systems with a minor in ethics.

  • Currently doing a Masters of Science in Taxation

  • One thing she misses the most about undergrad is the time spent studying with her friends.

Finance: Jessica Luu

  • She graduated from Foster in 2019 with a degree in Finance and Marketing.

  • She joined Microsoft in the finance rotation and is now in sales finance.

  • She misses the flexibility of having classes at different times and being able to get brunch in between classes with friends.

Marketing: Midori Ng

  • She graduated from Foster in 2016 with a major in Information Systems and Supply Chain Management.

  • All her internships were in Marketing.

  • Worked from Tableau → Amazon Music → traveled for a few months → now: opened her own marketing agency

  • She misses the accessibility of food because there were so many options on campus for food and coffee.

Operations & Supply Chain Management: Shayla Van

  • She graduated from Foster in 2022 with majors in OSCM, IS, and HR.

  • Currently working at EY as a consultant.

  • One thing she misses is how each day was different because of the flexibility and the ability to go out during the day.

Entrepreneurship: Savanna Beck

  • She graduated from Foster in 2022 with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Information Systems.

  • She has now started working at a small consulting firm.

  • She misses the late-night study sessions and all the very entertaining conversations.

Human Resources Management: Sabrina Mu

  • She graduated from Foster in 2022 with a degree in Human Resources Management.

  • She took part in CISB and was the president of the Chinese track.

  • She is currently working at SpaceX as a HR coordinator.

Q & A

Why did you choose your specific major/focus? What made you want to get into your current field?

Shayla: She originally wanted to do HR because she really enjoyed the yearbook club in high school but started to realize she wanted something else. She took supply chain because it was interesting and nothing she ever really learned before. She loved how much logic was involved and the project managing aspect as well. She went on to declare Information Systems because she wanted this more technical coding experience. Currently, she is working at EY as a consultant which fits into her wish of working in a team and helping to make a change for others.

What kinds of RSOs did you participate in during your undergrad?

Savanna: She joined Business Impact Group (BIG) for consulting which was an interesting and challenging experience. It teaches a lot and helps you go through obstacles especially since working with others is something very relevant in the real world.

Midori: She joined lots of case competitions, which is one of the most applicable things to apply to the real world. It’s useful for any field because you have to research, present, answer questions, and many other items.

What were your experiences of job search and recruitment as you approached graduation?

Midori: Go to the career center and get your resume checked! Keep your Linkedin updated and make sure to add to it. AngelList Talent ( is a great website for recruiting at startups and entry-level roles.

Savanna: She took MGMT 312, which is the Career Development Workshop. It helps develop personal skills and goes through all things such as making a LinkedIn profile, creating connections, learning how to reach out, and more.

Sabrina: She wished she was told about how the recruiting cycle starts super early. But her advice is to set checkpoints of when to start looking, when to apply and other action points to stay on track. And don't stress yourself out too much about it!

Vivia: Her advice is just don't get discouraged! You’ll be rejected many times before the interview or call back but it's part of the process so don't take it to heart. Take that feedback and use it to learn how to do better next cycle

Did your plans for the future change from your first year of undergrad to now? What changed the plans you already had?

Jessica: She took an Info class and hated it but added Marketing later on because she found it interesting. She still uses IS skills in her job today but you do not need IS to work in tech. One thing to keep in mind is that learning what you don't like is just as important as learning what you don't like.

Sabrina: She was originally going to major in international studies but went into business because it was more practical for her. She ended up trying accounting, marketing, finance, and IS classes but didn't like any of these. Her advice is don't feel like your path is set in stone. Don't feel pressured/barricaded to stay in a certain field just because it's popular or most likely to make the most money etc.

What are the various concentrations you can explore within accounting?

Vivia: Within Foster, there are no official tracks within accounting. Common paths to take are working in audit (verifying financial statements), working in tax (helping individuals or companies with annual tax returns), or working in a finance role.

How did your decision to major in marketing and finance overlap in your current career?

Jessica: Marketing is very data-driven which overlaps into the finance field. In her day-to-day work she doesn’t use much of the topics from marketing but she does analyze and work closely with lots of data. Again she wants to reiterate that you don't have to major in something to go into that field.

Do you think it is beneficial for business students to have some knowledge about programming and computer science?

Vivia: 100% yes. The world is revolving more and more around tech and is super applicable to any role. It’s very worth it in giving business students that coding foundation.

What are some specific examples of how case competitions helped in your field and with your job?

Midori: It’s part of her role and many general prompts in case competitions are very similar. These items could include who the audience is that she needs to reach or the goal, what the ads look like, how to know if it worked, which ads performed better than others and many other factors.

What kind of role does diversity play in creating a positive working environment?

Sabrina: There are big actions such as employee resource groups that create safe spaces for POC, women, the LGTBQ community and more. There are also celebrations for different months such as AAPI month, Hispanic history month, Black history month where speakers are invited and provide a platform for people to learn. There are also small everyday movements such as whether you’re in an interview panel and if the panelists are diverse. These factors impact the candidate's experiences and their perception of the company. In general, they are pushing forward with diversity efforts and making it known to leaders.

What exactly is operation management?

Shayla: It’s basically dealing with suppliers and being able to coordinate with them and the company and getting them delivered in time to roll it out to the consumer. For example, Boeing planes have parts coming from each country, so working with each team and managing the logistics and coordinating the pipeline so everything goes smoothly. The industry is growing a lot

What are some classes or activities provided by Foster or UW that help with gaining experience for Entrepreneurship?

Savanna: Entrepreneurship classes are very fun, very hands on, and you meet a lot of people from all different majors. She recommends you add one on and see if you like it. There’s also an entrepreneurship marketing class where she worked with a client throughout the quarter and helped give market advice and other projects.

Do you need to take the CPA exam?

Vivia: Depends. It's not required if you're not going into client service work. For the Big 4, you can still work at these firms, but if you want to get promoted to manager, you’ll need the CPA to have the authority. You would need 225 credits from UW to sit for the exam which covers 4 parts; Audit, Tax, general business, and government regulations.

We hope you were able to gain more insight about each of the Foster concentrations and all the different opportunities within Foster that will allow you to explore these concentrations. See you on Monday from 6-7PM for our next event!!

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