Connections and Practical Experience: Q&A with Alina Okhotnikova, MBA 2020

Alina OkhotnikovaWhy did you choose the Full-time MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

 I was excited by the great connections Foster has with Seattle based tech companies, the recruitment statistics, and many opportunities to obtain practical experience. I believe in learning by doing and here at Foster, there are plenty of options to try different things. Due to the small class size admissions team, faculty and career management professionals know you very well and are willing to help you grow and be successful! MBA program experience at Foster has exceeded my expectations!

Student Experience

How have your fellow students influenced your experience in the program?

I can’t stress enough how important classmates’ contribution is. Biggest A-ha moments for me came from realization that often times there is no right or wrong answer, strategy, or approach but instead there are many ways to think about the problem. The diversity of backgrounds, various point of views and opinions bring very special and unique value to the study experience! I learn a lot from my friends every day! It helped to broaden my view, expertise and be better prepared for future professional and personal challenges.


What class has been the most useful or interesting to you?

It’s been 10 years after I graduate from college and I must say I was happy to be back in class! Especially because professors and curriculum are absolutely fantastic. I enjoy case-based studying because it allows you to immediately apply frameworks and theory to real-world problems and learn a lot about the biggest & innovative companies. Core Finance, Strategy and Leading Teams and Organizations are my favorites so far.

What has surprised you about the MBA experience?

Timewise, it is much more intense than a fulltime job and you have to be ready to prioritize and say No to some things and be ok with that. It is hard to accept trade-offs and chose one activity over another but I’m thinking of it as a valuable experience that prepares you to real life of a top executive.

Have you participated in any experiential learning opportunities?

Foster Applied Strategy project is the highlight of the spring quarter. One of my MBA goals was to gain practical experience and I’m so happy I had an opportunity to work on the project that was very relevant to my professional experience, helped me to gain new skills and meet new people from the Silicon Valley startup!


What are your impressions of the faculty?

Professional, smart, motivated to provide the best experience, have connections to the business community and have the most relevant up to date knowledge! Also approachable and open.

Career Impact

What are you planning to pursue post MBA?

Post MBA I want to build on my experience in marketing operations & execution and move to Product Marketing/Marketing Strategy role in tech. The most valuable part that supports my goal is exposure to tech companies and people. Thanks to the location and alumni network, there are many ways to be connected to the tech world! Bay Area tech trek & Seattle company visits I attended were great!

Work / Life / School Balance

What strategies do you use to balance the various demands of the MBA experience as well as your life outside of the program?

Planning is everything for me. Balancing MBA and family with 2 kids, I have to plan everything in advance, be effective, forget about procrastination and, again, prioritize. It is possible to HAVE IT ALL!


What are your overall impressions of the Seattle?

I’m a big fan of Seattle everything – hiking trails, coffee, weather, people, and tech companies! Having fun of people complaining about the weather. They just haven’t been to Russia! Would love to stay here post-MBA.

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