Why a Foster PhD: Sam Yam

Guest post by Sam Yam, UW PhD 

Photo of Sam YamWhen prospective PhD students in management are deciding which program to attend, I think there are two things that they should keep in mind. First and an objective one is whether your research interests fit with the faculty members at the program in which you’re applying for. And fortunately at Foster we have top-notch faculty members in many different areas, including behavioral ethics, leadership, groups/teams, turnover, sleep, etc. So finding a mutual research interest with faculty members at Foster should be a piece of cake.

The second thing prospective students should consider for is the informal or social support from faculty members, fellow PhD students, and even former PhD students. I want to speak from my own experience that I have the two greatest mentors in the world: Scott Reynolds and Ryan Fehr. English is not my native language and I really appreciated how Ryan Fehr taught me how to write. We did an independent studies together in my second year that was basically a writing course. That was something that Ryan didn’t have to do, but by doing that he demonstrated that he really cared about me and mentoring PhD students. Scott was great in a different way in that he would push me to think and to ask big-picture research questions. We met weekly and he was always available to help. Although I’ve only worked closely with a few professors at Foster, I know that most of the professors at Foster really do care about the development of PhD students.

Beyond these professional interactions, I also had a great time at Foster at a personal level. I was always talking to fellow PhD students. We exchanged research ideas, played basketball together, and generally just got along really well among ourselves. We also have many inspiring and productive former students placed at top research institutions. When I was a student I always looked up to them as role models even though I didn’t know them personally. And as I progressed through the program I got to meet them at conferences and they shared great advice with me as a Foster alumni. I think the informal social support from faculty members, fellow and former PhD students is awesome and that’s something that’s invaluable for me when I was a doctoral student at Foster.