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Real Humans of the Washington Foster School of Business MBA Class of 2022

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Luke Sprague, Foster MBA Class of 2022

Age: 31
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Sonoma State University, Psychology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 8 years, Tech/Software

Why business school? Why now?
Ultimately, it came down to making forward progress. Up until this point, my career has taken me down different paths and I’ve mostly just followed where that path led. After working for eight years, I’ve begun to develop a more concrete career plan and felt it was necessary to build well-rounded business skills to pursue that path. From what I had read and heard, the MBA offers a chance to stretch yourself beyond what you’ve been doing and sets you up strongly to be an effective leader. When it comes time for me to manage a team, I wanted to ensure I had the proper skills to lead. I enjoy challenges and stretching myself, even though it may be uncomfortable. So why not pursue a degree which provides that challenge while simultaneously giving me lifelong skills and a growing network of peers.

More practically speaking, I wanted to make a pivot from Customer Success to Marketing. Creating and sustaining a marketing strategy for a company that positively impacts the lives of consumers is exciting to me. The classes in an MBA program will teach me the skills to do the job well, and the career management office will help me develop my unique story for a seamless pivot. I could spend an hour talking with someone about the advantages of an MBA. If any of this resonates with you, I think it’s a worthy endeavor.

Why Foster? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Foster is known for its tight-knit community and class size, not to mention the fact that some of the most reputable companies are right here in our backyard. After learning everything I could about the program, what struck me most during the application process were my conversations with current students and staff. Everyone, from first-years to second-years to the admissions office, was enthusiastic and willing to provide guidance. With a first impression like that, it wasn’t a tough decision. In the end, I was hopeful that I would get individual guidance towards my professional and personal goals, and now that I’m here, I can confidently confirm that’s the case. Additionally, the strength of the community within the program also permeates out into the alumni network. Finally, and I think it goes without saying, you can’t beat the Pacific Northwest if you enjoy outdoor activities and coffee.  

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
My experience in fast-paced, always ambiguous start-ups. Being immersed in this environment has strengthened my resolve and allows me to bring optimism and positivity to difficult situations.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I make a mean bagel and if all else fails with recruiting, I’ll repurpose my MBA skills to open a bagel shop called “Spraguel’s Bagels.” (I’m trusting you to not steal the name)

Post-MBA career interests?
Marketing and Brand Management either in Tech or CPG. I plan to bring my experience working one-on-one with clients to the process of building global marketing strategies that impact large groups of people.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?

Formulate your unique story. When reading articles like this one, don’t try to replicate what you’re reading. Use the information to inspire your own story. It can be easy to look to others for ideas, but you’re a leader, right? It’s why you’re contemplating business school. Focus hard on authenticity because that’s how you’ll shine in the MBA environment when you get there. Spend the time upfront thinking about what you want and why you want it. I’m glad I spent that time well – it made the essays and interviews much more manageable.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I loved my conversations with current students and wish I wasn’t so intimidated to reach out. Current students are there to help, period. Every student I reached out to during the application process was either on a list of ambassadors or was introduced by another student. Being on an ambassador list means that you’ve pre-emptively volunteered your time. Those students are excited to speak with prospective students. Speak to as many students as your schedule will allow, and ask open-ended questions about their experience.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The answer itself is not particularly illuminating, but I wouldn’t have skipped anything. Everything from the MBA conferences to current student outreach to GMAT studying was paramount to building a well-rounded view of what the MBA was all about. It’s a long process. Prioritize your time and put your full effort into each portion. You never know what will make you stand out during the review process.

What is your initial impression of Foster’s students/culture/community?
Reading and hearing people speak about something only scratches the surface of reality. Experiencing Foster’s culture and community has been a joy. It’s lived up to the hype. I’m constantly impressed by the achievements and drive of my classmates, and their willingness to support their peers.

One thing you have learned about Foster that has surprised you?
The students here at Foster are given such a large platform to help create the most impactful MBA experience they can. We work very closely with the Program Office and Career Management Office to help shape the program for a constantly changing world. It’s really quite amazing just how much support we’re given.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Before I began the program I was anxious about the quant classes (Finance, Accounting, Microeconomics). I took an MBA math class about two months before I got to school and that eased the anxiety. Now that I’ve started, I’m much more anxious about recruiting. Getting a job is a full-time job! But I’m trying to focus more on the process rather than the end result.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about the opportunities that pop up as we go. There are constant announcements about case competitions, opportunities to volunteer, and chances to run for leadership positions. I’m also optimistic and truly hope that I get a chance to walk into PACCAR Hall to attend class in person with my classmates

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.