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Albers School of Business and Economics

Graduate Programs Blog

5 Tips to Balance Life, Work, and School

Posted by Luke Nguyen on February 24, 2017 at 11:02 AM PST

Going into graduate school, I was proud of my ability to accomplish tasks and balance everything using only my mind. Despite the occasional workload in undergrad, I thought it was quite manageable and I was able to play everything out in my head. I felt like I had the perfect balance of life, work, and school. Graduate school can’t be that different, can it? Never have I been more wrong in my life.

Fast forward to today, I have personally experienced my world being thrown into chaos. My weekly schedule consists of working 20 hours a week along with my graduate classes. A regular day would comprise of work in the mornings, classes in the afternoon, and then back to work until the evening. Anytime left in the late evening would be dedicated to tons of reading, assignments, and projects. On the weekends, I volunteer with my Vietnamese community on Saturdays and direct a leadership program on Sundays. With all of this going on, is it even possible to balance everything at once?

After a short period of getting accustomed to a much busier schedule, I have five tips that I’ve found to be very helpful in terms of creating that balance with life, work, and school:

     1. Get organized

Taking the time to visually lay out what needs to be done is incredibly helpful, especially if you have multiple tasks that need to be completed on a weekly basis. Planners, apps (Evernote is excellent), sticky notes, and whiteboards are an easy way to jot down your tasks. 

     2. Prioritize the important stuff first

It’s easy to get lost in all of the tasks that you need to do. You’ll accomplish some tasks here and there and suddenly realize you don’t have enough time to complete what matters. Prioritizing your tasks will help you allocate the proper amount of time needed for each item. Focus on the heavy stuff first and complete any menial tasks in between when you need a break. Time management is everything!

      3. Honestly assess the amount of time you waste

“I don’t have enough time.”

Although for some this statement might be true, take some time to look back on your week and see if this is actually true for you. You’d be surprised to find how many hours you end up wasting on something that could have been used for a more productive purpose.

     4. Build a support system

There will be times when you will be overwhelmed and stressed out of your mind. Be sure to have people who you can rely on during this time to help pick you back up and put you back on track. Knowing you’re not alone makes a huge difference.

     5. Create “Me Time”

Avoid burnouts by making sure you set time aside to focus on yourself. Be sure to eat well, make enough time for sleep, and exercise. Take the time to breathe, read a book, go out with friends for a drink, and spend some quality time by yourself. Do what makes you happy and spend time on things that matter to you. There is only one of you, so be sure to take care of yourself!

Luke Nguyen, '17 Bridge MBA Candidate


Second Year Reality

Posted by Rubi Cammarota on November 14, 2016 at 3:11 PM PST

Today I registered for Winter term courses. It’s hard to believe that I will only register for classes one more time! Now that I’m in my second year of the PMBA program, I can see the end of my studies drawing near. It’s officially time to switch my focus from internships and informational interviews to job hunting and interview preparation.

While there are still seven more months until graduation, I am feeling the pressure of the real world start to infiltrate my studies. I’m always thinking of how my classwork could be talked about in an interview, shown on a resume, or highlighted on LinkedIn. Networking has also taken on a whole new meaning as I start to think more strategically about the next few months.

While it’s exciting to imagine what will come next, I am already feeling nostalgic. Soon, I won’t be able to see my friends and professors every day. I will miss being immersed in a culture that engenders so much curiosity and critical thinking. However, I look forward to continuing to foster these special relationships and to seeing what everyone does next!  

Rubi Cammarota

MBA Candidate 2017


The Strategy of Teamwork

Posted by Alexis Thornton on April 21, 2016 at 4:04 PM PDT

A necessary element of the learning process here at the Albers School is group/ team projects. Rightfully so. None of us will be leaving this program to go and sit in a room by ourselves and complete our work in complete isolation. There is no better time than the present to learn the skills needed to build, manage and participate in a team.

I have been discussing this with my mentor for the past few weeks and he has shared some invaluable pieces of advice with me about the important role this topic plays in his daily operations. Following are some of the highlights of our discussions:

- Know your OWN leadership style

- Identify the strengths of each of your team members before you begin the project. Leverage those strengths and assign tasks according to these strengths

- Look to personality test like the Myers Briggs to assist you in creating a diverse team with diverse strengths

**You will never progress unless everyone around you is successful** (Whoa!)


- make a plan, "divide and conquer" large tasks. This distribution makes gives  everyone involved ownership AND makes the accountable for the final product

- set deadlines for your selves (and include some buffer in case things don't go as planned)

- know when to adjust your leadership style. An alternate way of putting this would be "Know your audience!"

- finally, know when to step back and let others lead.


Alexis Thornton

MPAC Candidate '17


Posted by Rubi Cammarota on February 11, 2016 at 4:02 PM PST

Networking is often considered to be the key to success in business school and to reaching one’s career goals. In fact, ask almost any MBA candidate for a few reasons why they decided to go back for their degree and you’ll likely hear “networking opportunities” from many of them.

Networking is for more than just to meet potential employers and business contacts. It helps you to harness your soft skills (see the previous blog for more on soft skills), expand your horizons, and practice pitching your most valuable assets. Seattle University has taken this into account and provides us many chances to rub shoulders with both fellow students and also industry leaders.

The Albers Placement Center and SU Advantage (part of SU’s Career Services) offer a number of special programs throughout the year to connect us to the community and to each other. The mentorship program links us with professionals in our desired industry and we work with them over the year. Oftentimes our mentors will also introduce us to their professional network. There are multiple career and internship fairs throughout the year to give us face to face time with recruiters from important companies. Mock interviews with local businesses also give us a chance to practice our interview skills and to speak with industry professionals.

An exciting announcement is that the Graduate Advisory Board is currently planning a new networking series! This monthly meeting will feature someone in the business community who will speak on a specific topic. After the presentation, students will share ideas, best practices, share job leads, make new contacts, and begin to build our network. This will be a fun, engaging, and non-intimidating space for us to form new connections. Stay tuned for details!


Winter Quarter

Posted by Rubi Cammarota on January 4, 2016 at 3:01 PM PST

Even though it was wet, dark, and cold, I woke up this morning with so much joyful anticipation. Winter quarter starts today and I am ready! After finals wrapped up in mid-December, my classmates and I were all in need of a break. Now, after three marvelously relaxing weeks, I can't wait to get started again.

You can really feel the excitement on campus. Friends are happily greeting each other on the quad and rushing into the bookstore to get their textbooks. The smell of coffee is permeating the air and fresh faces head into open classrooms.

Teams, Creativity, and Decision Making Retreat

Posted by Rubi Cammarota on November 30, 2015 at 3:11 PM PST

Over a weekend in early October I learned what it means to truly be a part of a fully-functioning team. It may seem that after three decades of working with other people I would have already experienced true group cohesion. However, it wasn't until Teams, Creativity, and Decision Making (the first class in our core curriculum) that I realized that what society calls "teamwork" and "leadership" are actually misnomers.

During the three days of the retreat I formed lifelong friendships with my fellow cohort members. We learned to problem solve in the beautiful woods surrounding Bastyr University just outside of Seattle and challenged our preconceived notions of what defines introverts, extroverts, leaders, and followers. We got to climb walls, swing on rope swings, belay huge log ladders, and learn to tight-rope walk. After dinner we stayed up well into the night getting to know our 35 new friends. As much as it sounds like a party, it was hard, emotional, and deeply gratifying work.

In the beginning of the quarter, the idea of studying emotional intelligence didn't make sense to me in a business school curriculum. However, I now believe that this experience will in fact be one of the most important parts of my MBA journey. Through reflection, journaling, and extended leadership practice, I can say that what I learned on the retreat will make me a better co-worker and manager in my professional life and will probably make me a happier person all around! 

The Mentor Program

Posted by Alexis Thornton on November 16, 2015 at 10:11 AM PST

Every year we begin the school year with one of the most exciting programs offered here at the Albers School- the Mentor Program hosted by the Placement Center. We are fortunate to have such a strong connection with our alumni and the business community that students have the opportunity to connect with 124 prospective mentors in numerous fields of business. The program lasts for 6 months and is an opportunity for us to explore potential career paths, network and, most importantly, gain an ally in the Seattle business community. 

For our introduction to the program we had a chance to meet with some of the mentors here on campus during an evening event, chat, ask questions and see if they were a fit. Applications are then submitted wherein we request our top 5 mentors. To paint a picture of the variety of industries available in this program, I looked at mentors from Weyerhauser, Chef’n, Getty Images and KPMG. Assignments have been handed out and now we, as students, are tasked with making the experience a valuable one.

I have had my initial check in with my mentor and our plan going forward is to have weekly calls and monthly lunch meetings. We will be discussing real-time challenges that he and his team are facing, leveraging skills (new and old) for when that new, post-graduation job comes around, and examining the business community as a whole and looking for areas where professional opportunities may lie. This last one is important because, as students, we often have a general idea of what field of work we would like to go in to once we complete our degrees, but rarely have the option to get an inside look at the “dream job.” We have been smart in making decisions about our educational future. This mentor pairing will help with making a smart decision about the next step- putting all this knowledge in to action. 

I’m definitely looking forward to making the most out of my time with my mentor and taking another step towards a career in accounting and finance. 

Alexis Thornton
MPAC candidate

Graduation and New Beginnings

Posted by Loc Nguyen on June 15, 2015 at 11:06 AM PDT


It was a joyous and emotional weekend for many graduate students in the MBA, MPAC, and MSF programs as they transitioned from being students to being alumni.  For most people, it took between 1.5 and 3 years to achieve their graduate business degrees.  Some people will use their degrees to find new career paths, some will advance in their current careers, and others will create new businesses.  Although people may have different roads ahead, the friendships and networks they built in graduate business school will remain forever.  The Albers School is proud to know that this talented group of people will go forth and use their knowledge and skills to help build a more just and humane world.

Status Update and Leading with EQ

Posted by Loc Nguyen on May 14, 2015 at 1:05 PM PDT

I’m about 2 quarters away from graduating and it’s seriously crunch time.  Among worrying about homework, projects, and exams, I’m also actively networking and preparing for stepping into a new career.  Spring quarter is always busy because students are frantically finishing up coursework in order to graduate and the school is offering plenty of events such as business ethics week, networking events, and the last executive speaker series of the year.  I was also graciously awarded the Albers Leadership Award for my service as AGSA co-president so thank you to the Albers School for the recognition.

However, I wanted to talk about a peculiar elective course offered at Albers called Leading with Emotional Intelligence taught by Bill Weis.  This course is widely revered by many students and alumni and it is commonly described as “sitting around and talking about your feelings”.  Why would anyone want to do that and how is that skill relevant to the graduate business student?

On the recommendation of both of my mentors and several colleagues, I reluctantly took the Leading with EQ course this quarter and finished my retreat 2 weeks ago.  When I came back from the 3 days at the Treacy Levine Center near Mt.Vernon, I felt strangely alone.  As it turned out, I realized that I was actually sad that the retreat had ended and that I genuinely missed the wonderful strangers who spent the weekend with me.  This came as a shock because I never imagined that I would feel this way from a course in business school.

Simply put, this course was life-changing.  It taught me the power of vulnerability and changed the way I view people.  If every manager had high emotional intelligence, I honestly think business as we know it would be transformed.  But make no mistake, the course description above is spot on.  To be succinct, if you’re someone who has perfect relationships and a perfect life, you probably don’t need this course.  For everyone else, this course should be mandatory not only in business school, but also in life. 

A warm thank you to facilitators Bill, Leilani, Carly, Hartley, and Glenn; my T-group members Crystal, Narmeen, Caity, and Ray; my coaches Jessica, Riley, Lindsey, Mike, and Livia; and my entire spring 2015 EQ course.  You are all wonderful people.

Loc Nguyen, 2016 MBA Candidate,  

AGSA Spring End of Year Social

Posted by Loc Nguyen on May 13, 2015 at 4:05 PM PDT

It's that time of the year again when many students finish their graduate business school journey and prepare to transition into new or old careers as SU alumni!  For many, it's a time for joy but it's also a time for reflection on the friendships made and the experiences that will never be forgotten. 

Come celebrate the end of the year with your fellow grad students, faculty, and alumni at The Chieftain Irish Bar & Restaurant on Wednesday, May 27 from 8:30 to 10:30 pm.  Food and drinks will be provided with your student ID!

This week we have focused on the ethics in business here at the Albers School. It has been yet another valuable dialog hosted by our administrators to emphasize the important role that we, as future MBAs, CPAs and CFAs, will play in the business world. It is our turn to change perceptions and the revive the tarnished image of the business sector that has arisen from the recent financial crisis.

The Albers School Mission teaches us: 

  • Honesty and integrity - in everything we do
  • Academic excellence - in teaching, scholarship, and service
  • Inclusiveness & collegiality - fostering a welcoming and open environment, treating others with respect, and collaborating toward a shared vision
  • Jesuit mission - growth in persons, education for leadership, and service and commitment to justice

There is no better time than now for us to begin formulating our ideas and ideals as they apply to ethics in the work environment.

This is a great example of the challenging topics that are brought to us in and out of the classroom. We have been tasked to make business a better, more trusted place to be. This is one of the reasons why I chose SeattleU. I have respect for any organization that challenges you to be a better person, but was thrilled to find that my university makes this such a priority.

Alexis Thornton

Master of Professional Accounting Candidate '17