Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Trent Alsin, University of Washington (Foster)

Trent Alsin

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“I love pizza, family, sports, hiking, and pizza.”

Hometown: Olympia, WA

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I was one of the very first people to transfer into the U.S. Space Force (I was formerly Air Force), and I was working in space launch before coming to UW.

Undergraduate School and Major: Whitworth University, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Space Force, Flight Commander

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? Seattle is amazing! There are so many cool towns around here, it’s beautiful, there’s amazing hiking, there are a bunch of sports teams that occasionally win, and it’s very diverse.

Aside from your location and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Foster’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One of the aspects of Foster’s program that stood out to me was the close connection with local industry. There are some fairly well-known companies based out of Seattle (understatement), and I was excited about the opportunity to integrate classroom learning with industry partnerships. Foster frequently brings in guest speakers and experts from the community, and I saw this as a very practical way to build upon my academic education.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Washington Foster? My favorite part of the Foster MBA program so far has been the Corporate Strategy class. It was the exact type of learning that I was hoping for from an MBA program. I would walk out of class each day amazed at the strategic intuitions I had never considered before; each day class felt incredibly profound and the learnings are certainly applicable to my future career.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve seen that among your classmates so far. I think Foster structures its program in a way that inherently hammers its We>Me philosophy through the focus on teamwork. For the first several quarters, most of your work will be accomplished within your assigned team of peers. I have gotten to see the embodiment of We>Me from my teammates nearly every day, as they continue to prioritize and care for each other. I haven’t been a part of any other MBA program, but this seems to be a uniquely other-focused learning environment. At the very least, I had always pictured an MBA as a very individualized experience where you’re taught some best practices, make connections, and then move along. It has been refreshing to see my peers make sacrifices to help each other succeed.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of my previous moves within the military happened days before the COVID government shutdown. I arrived at my new job and wasn’t able to meet my coworkers or my supervisor for almost two months. I consider it a significant accomplishment that I was able to learn a brand-new job and build rapport with my teammates in a uniquely challenging environment.

Describe your biggest achievement in the MBA program so far: I challenged myself at the beginning of my MBA program to truly dive into my academics with a goal to maximize my learning rather than to maximize my GPA. It is an internal, unmeasurable kind of achievement, but I feel great satisfaction in the fact that I have been able to focus on what I can learn from each class, professor, and peer.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I’m sure many prospective MBAs have a laundry list of business-related podcasts, books, and other materials that they’re trying to get through. My personal take, especially once the MBA program starts, is to engage with material that you find interesting and give your brain a bit of a break. I recently listened to an excellent BBC podcast called “The Lazarus Heist” on the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, and that’s often the type of thing I enjoy for my commutes.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? I’ll assume that all serious MBA applicants are spending a lot of time and effort on preparation. My advice beyond that would be to look for ways to differentiate yourself, and this doesn’t have to be anything business-related. A unique hobby or a consistent volunteering effort can really make you stand out during your application, and it gives you an opportunity to be remembered. Don’t forget that the application committees are composed of human beings (not robots) who will remember interesting things.


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