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Peer Advising Takeaways - A Deeper Glance into Foster Concentrations

This is your first or second year at UW. You know you want to study business, so you submitted that Foster application before October 5th, or maybe you’re a DA. But what now?

Choosing a focus can be hard. It’s not just about which courses to take, but also what internships to apply to and which soft skills you should develop. To give our ABSA members a 3D view of each concentration at Foster, we formed an entire panel of current students from across all Foster focuses who spoke at our Peer Advising Workshop. We gave them your questions, and here’s what they said.

How did you choose your major?

A classic question with not-so-classic answers. Alice, who studies HR, found out through her internship at Boeing. She was echoed by Peter and Zac (representing Finance and Information Systems) who also stressed the importance of considering real-life applicability. Peter recommended taking IS along with another focus because coding makes you more competitive in the job market. Rae, our Marketing representative and also ABSA’s president, chose marketing because of her passion in consulting. She finds marketing to be useful to see the interests from both the company’s and the consumer’s sides. Harry, who studies Supply Chains, is fascinated by how products are made. Understanding the operations process is like piecing together a puzzle, one of Harry’s biggest hobbies. As for our Accounting major Baron, having a stable career is important to him, so he decided to pursue the Big 4. Baron interned at EY this summer and is set to return full-time next year.

What skills do you feel are most necessary for your major/career?

In terms of technical skills, excel, coding, and data analysis are the big three mentioned. They are applicable to basically any and every focus, and are especially important for Accounting, Finance, and IS.

Networking is the must-have soft skill. Our panelists agreed that being genuine is essential in forming strong relationships. For more details, refer our Network 101 blog post (link here).

What’s one misconception people have about your major?

  • Accounting: “Accountants are antisocial.” Again, networking is must-have skill, especially in a big company.

  • Marketing: “Marketing is too straightforward and obvious.” The truth is, 90% of companies are wasting billions of dollars on marketing because they fail to pursue the right marketing strategy.

  • Information Systems: “It’s too technical.” Actually, it’s not that bad, especially since you’ll likely come in the way of coding at some point in your career. Tip: try a few IS classes.

  • HR: “HR doesn’t need experience.” Big companies rely on talents, and it’s hard to retain them. Companies need HR personnels to keep their teams together.

  • Finance: “Finance is just investment banking.” Actually, finance has many subfields including asset management and strategy.

What are your plans after graduation?

  • Accounting: work full time at EY, obtain CPA certification

  • Supply Chain: work as supply chain strategist at Boeing

  • Marketing: pursue a graduate program in business analytics

  • Information Systems: work full time at PwC while pursuing a Master’s in Information Systems; change to a cyber security consulting firm in 5 years

  • HR: Work as a Boeing HR Associate while pursuing a Master’s Degree

  • Finance: Work at Bain & Company as an Associate Consultant

What are the most useful Foster classes?

  • BCMU 301 is basically a 10 week boot-camp that trains you for public speaking and PowerPoint presentations. A bonus: it prepares you well for behavioral interviews.

  • MGMT 445 is useful for consulting. It is a year-long program where students are assigned to consulting projects of actual businesses.

  • IS classes provide valuable knowledge in data concepts.

  • FIN 350 and beyond are helpful for technical finance concepts

What are some extracurricular activities you are involved in that helped advance your career interest?

  • Foster RSOs: Baron, who interned and is set to work full-time at EY, met the company’s recruiter at an RSO event and kept in touch with him throughout his time here. Plus, being a part of an RSO a great thing to write on your resume! ABSA meetings are a great place to start ;)

  • Case Competitions: Case competitions are a great way to prepare for a consulting career. Alice, who represented HR, got her Boeing internship through a case competition despite not winning.

  • Study Abroad: If you are interested in international business, studying abroad will give you an eye-opening experience. Foster’s Certificate of International Studies in Business, which Zach is a part of, is another great opportunity.

Do you have any career tips?

  • For freshmen, it’s hard to find a job without experience. Getting a campus job is a great first experience to kick start your career.

  • For sophomores interested in working for the Big 4, apply to the Summer Leadership Programs that they offer! It gives you an increased chance in landing an internship with them during your junior summer.

We hope that our peers’ academic and career experiences give you a more comprehensive understanding of what each focus looks like. Good luck in your journey at Foster!

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