Guest post by Greg Fisher, 2012 graduate, UW PhD in Technology Entrepreneurship.
First Placement: Indiana University
Current: Indiana University
While the structure of most PhD programs is fairly similar, there are subtle but important factors that distinguish one program from the next. For me, there are some things about the the Foster PHD program that stand out as clear distinguishing factors. The first is the way that the program allows you to discover who you are as a researcher and to begin to forge your own identity as a scholar. Some people get into a PhD program at other institutions and become tied to one senior person and one dominating perspective from the start of the program. I really appreciated the opportunity that I had to work with many senior people and that I was encouraged to explore various different research methodologies, theories and phenomena as part of the PhD program at Foster. This allowed me to discover and create my own preferences and interests and in the process I feel like I was given the opportunity to begin to forge my own identity as scholar.
Secondly, Seattle must be one of the best metropolitan areas in which to do a business orientated PhD. The region is home to a significant number of large and innovative companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing and it has a vibrant and accessible entrepreneurial ecosystem which links entrepreneurs with cutting edge university research and with new venture investors and startup programs. So whether you hope to do research in large organizations, on in smaller new ventures or anything in between, being based in Seattle is a huge advantage when it comes to accessing data and observing interesting phenomena in action. I was able to interview many local venture capitalists and angel investors and tap into many years worth of data from the UW Business Plan competition as a basis for my dissertation research. If I had been based anywhere else I don’t think I would have had access to the same people or data.
Third, the people that I worked with UW always seemed to care about me as a person. I had many highs and lows while on the PhD program including the birth of my two daughters and a death of a family member. Through all the stress and emotions associated with these types of events, the faculty and staff at the Foster School of Business were incredibly supportive and encouraging. They gave me space and time to be at home with my daughters when they were born, they covered my classes and encouraged me to get on a flight and fly back to South Africa when a family member passed away and almost everyone always seemed to take an interest in my personal wellbeing. I observed all the other PhD students being treated with the same level of respect and care. I suspect that this is not something that is common across all PhD programs.
I am very proud to have graduated from the PhD program at Foster. I managed to find the exact job that I wanted at the end of the program and I am extremely happy with my career trajectory in academia, thanks to the foundation that the Foster PhD program provided.