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Why is an MBA residency important?

December 29, 2020
Online MBA student group stands holding read SU ballcaps

For Jamian Griggs, the residency retreat was a surprise: Not a surprise that as an Online MBA student, he would need to attend—but rather a surprise that he would get so much out of it.

“It was unexpected and shocked me in a great way,” Griggs explained. “I was given the amazing opportunity to get to know my classmates, indulge in fun outdoor activities, while learning and absorbing many leadership parables.”

As students start Albers’ Online MBA and MSBA programs, they are required to attend an in-person retreat in Seattle (though the required residency has temporarily moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This transformative event allows students the chance to get to know one another, build stronger bonds and jumpstart their professional MBA networking and growth.

“It is apparent that Seattle U prides itself on ensuring student success and fostering an environment of collaboration and magnanimity,” Griggs said.

The Albers Advantage

Griggs works as an investment management hedge fund controller at Goldman Sachs. Based in New York, he learned about Seattle University through his sister. He’d never been to the city of Seattle before in his life (but he’d heard good things). As he learned more about the program and specifically the courses offered, Griggs realized that the program covered everything he hoped to gain.

“I really want to grow my career, and I feel that furthering my education is the best way to do that,” Griggs said. “I always wanted to be in a management position and assume a leadership role. I feel that you need the proper credentials to do that. I always want to learn more and be more involved, and I feel that the MBA curriculum has those tools necessary for me to get that experience and to attain those objectives that I've always wanted.”

From the start of the application process, he could tell that the Albers program would not be some online degree where the classes and homework would be done over email without ever speaking to another classmate or instructor. Now, Griggs is well into his coursework, and looking back, he has seen how the retreat allowed him to build relationships that have helped him along the way.

“When it comes to the cohort and the community that's been established at Seattle U, it's incomparable to any other relationships that I've had in my professional career—and also a lot in my personal life really,” Griggs said. “Because now, not only do I have a classmate but I have a friend for life.”

Griggs is not the only online student who has seen the long-term impact of the residency. Although Mariel Dunham is based in the Seattle area and works for AT&T, she was worried that with an online graduate program she would not be able to build any meaningful connections with her classmates and instructors. Through the residency retreat she felt herself challenged on a personal level, but it also gave her and her peers a foundation for the rest of the program.

“While everything else is online, having that initial in person contact and experience allows for you to draw on real life experiences with those within the cohort,” Dunham explained. “It doesn't simply feel online anymore.”

Building and continuing that camaraderie is something Griggs has leaned on as well. Even with a three-hour time difference between him and many of his classmates on the west coast, Griggs found help and motivation throughout the program. He thinks back to a paper he was struggling with when one of his classmates reached out to ask the group how they were handling the assignment.

“Someone just put in the group chat, ‘Hey I'm struggling with this paper. Any insight?’” Griggs explained. “We all just chimed in and really helped each other and just pushed each other along.”

A Program Built for Success

The MBA and MSBA residency retreats are a critical component of the online program, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the residency has been moved online. The now one-day Zoom event gives students the same opportunities. In addition to helping students build stronger connections to their classmates and Seattle U, the residencies give them the opportunity to reflect on what kind of leader they want to be.

“The MBA residency was amazing and I think a real key part of why I am enjoying the online program so much,” Dunham explained.

Dunham and Griggs are not the only students who share this kind of feedback. Students regularly say how meaningful and valuable they found the experience. The programming focuses on teaching you how to build and maintain strong working relationships, and students will also gain an understanding of how to manage conflict professionally and effectively.

In addition, many students like Griggs want an MBA program that ensures success and support on their way to being a leader in their company and in their career. The residency offered him the first step to better understanding how to be a leader who influences their team and colleagues appropriately.

Learn more about the benefits of the MSBA and MBA residency retreats or reach out to an Admissions Advisor today to ask about the upcoming virtual retreats, the admissions process, or any other questions you may have about our Online MBA or MSBA programs.