From dolphin-watching with Assistant Dean Gary Karns, to mastering Microsoft Excel in preparation for the MOS Excel Certification Exam, to learning that the statistic flossing adds 6.4 years to your life is in fact “inferential,” Module 1 as a MAM-SSM student was nothing short of exhilarating.

Our professors exhibited genuine concern for us not just as students, but as individuals, allowing us to excel beyond academics. Perhaps this accounts for the astoundingly high job placement rate (91% within 3 months of graduation and 100% within a year).

Dr. Karns frequently offered us sailing opportunities, taking us out on his boat to explore the Puget Sound, look for dolphins, and pick his brain on the program – and perhaps share a few stories about prankster students of years past.

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We worked with Dr. Sleight – M.Ed in Psychology, Ph.D. of Philosophy in Educational Policy Studies, and, perhaps most impressively, “Excel Master” (clearly our professors are nothing short of exceptional). We haven’t yet attained these advanced degrees, but we are boldly aspiring to his Excel mastery. We endured a rigorous exam to be officially “Excel certified” – a guaranteed resume booster to capture any hiring manager’s attention. In fact, one alum got hired on the spot simply because he knew how to perform an obscure function in Excel.

Eighty-percent of the MAM-SSM program is group work. We take personality tests over the summer, and Program Director Dr. Vicki Eveland intentionally places us in groups with those who have opposite personality types. Can you imagine a “driver” (who is assertive and pushes everyone to stay on task and move forward), an “expressive” (an emotional out-loud thinker who wears her heart on her sleeve), an analytical (a processor who thinks through everything before speaking), and an amiable (an artisan who is always caring for others) all spending endless hours together weekly working on projects? Luckily my first group survived with only a few mild disagreements quickly mediated and resolved by the “amiable” group member’s unbiased conflict resolution tactics. Perhaps the daily visits to Zeek’s Pizza just down the street allowed us to bond on a deeper level.

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This group work is essential for any aspiring leader or manager. Having the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively across a broad and diverse group of individuals is the strongest foundation for leadership. There were of course challenges, but overall this experience has been incredibly rewarding and stretching – allowing us to think in different ways, view business from all angles and points of view, and figure out how to propose solutions that work.

After spending several weeks in class during the “intensive” Monday-Friday, 9AM – 4PM, we concluded the quarter by treating ourselves to a three-course meal in the private room of Seattle’s famous Steelhead Diner located in the heart of Pike Place Market. What way to celebrate the end of a life-changing first quarter? Second quarter update to come next week!

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