On Campus with Willamette’s Atkinson School of Management

Posted on December 24, 2012


This new feature stems from the positive feedback that ELGL has received on the blog feature, A Passion for Public Service, where Rafael Baptista is chronicling his decision-making process in choosing a graduate school. In the “On Campus” feature, ELGL will highlight graduate programs focusing on public administration or public policy.

Special thanks for those ELGL members who have reached out to their respective graduate schools and encouraged their participation. (Related link: On Campus with the Kansas MPA Program.) Today’s featured program is Willamette University’s Atkinson School of Management which was contacted with the help of ELGL member Will Norris. If you think we might have missed your graduate school, please contact Megan Messmer, ELGL project manager, at oregonelgl@gmail.com.

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About Willamette University’s Atkinson School of Management

Willamette University MBAs put into practice critical thinking, analytical reasoning and creativity. They lead teams of diverse knowledge bases and cultural sensibilities within and across disciplines throughout the world. This group includes current students and alumni across all classes.

Facebook: Willamette University MBA – Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Twitter: WillametteMBA

LinkedIn: Willamette University MBA

Blog: Willamette MBA

Ten Questions with Russ Yost 


Director of Marketing for Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Three facts we need to know about the program:

  • Willamette University’s MBA program is accredited by AACSB International (business) and NASPAA (public administration).  It is one of only two programs in the world to hold dual accreditation.
  • Willamette offers two program options – a full-time “Early Career and Career Change MBA” in Salem, Oregon and an evening “MBA for Professionals” in Portland and Salem, Oregon.
  • In the full-time MBA, students may select “Public and Not-for-Profit” management as one of their career areas of interest.  Also, many public sector employees who are working full time have chosen to earn their MBA in the evenings through the MBA for Professionals.

Examples of alumni working in local government (name and position).

  • Laura Whorton – Presidential Management Fellow (Federal)
  • Jessica Balsam – Marketing Team Lead, US Department of Energy (Federal)
  • Dominic McIntyre – Program Manager, US Department of Defense (Federal)
  • downloadJason Atkinson – Oregon State Senator (State)
  • Sharon Schooley – Assistant Attorney General (State)
  • Andrea Cantu-Schomus – Director of Communications, Secretary of State’s Office (State)
  • James Hanseling – Auditor, Oregon Department of Energy (State)
  • Katy Washington – Budget Analyst, City of Bellevue (Local)
  • Sandra Montoya – Treasury Manager, City of Salem (Local)
  • Keith Bondaug – Civil Engineering Assistant, City of Salem (Local)
  • Jarvez Hall – HR Business Partner, City of Portland (Local)

Biggest challenge for those entering the program.

Time management – An MBA program is a transformative experience with many competing priorities – coursework, team projects, professional organizations, job searching and personal interests.  Like any good professional, MBA students need to learn how to prioritize their time and take opportunities to grow their knowledge, professional experience and strategic career management skills.  It takes all three of these elements to be successful and leave the program with a job in hand.  Students are also better prepared for the demands of their professional careers in business, government and not-for-profit organizations large and small.

Give our readers three tips on finding the right graduate school.

  • Accreditation – Research the programs you’re interested in to see if they’re held to appropriate standards for faculty quality, curriculum design and student support.  AACSB International is the gold standard for MBA programs and NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration) for public administration programs.
  • Career support and outcomes – Students should have the resources necessary to continually refine and focus career goals and abilities to secure the employment they desire.  This includes mock interviewing, mentorship programs, site visits, coaching and participating in internships.
  • Program fit as a function of debt — Students must consider return on investment when selecting a program and the return on investment. Will the debt incurred be worth it in the long-run?

What would alumni describe as the most difficult part of the program?

The Willamette University MBA community is very diverse – welcoming students from over 20 different countries and a variety of professional and cultural backgrounds.  Alumni report that working in diverse teams is both a tremendous benefit and a challenge.  Much of Willamette’s MBA coursework revolves around team projects, especially the PACE (Practical Applications for Careers and Enterprises) program which pairs teams of students with public and not-for-profit organizations.  Students serve as consultants and work directly with their client organizations while applying the knowledge they are learning to real world challenges.

Do you recommend prospective students gain a couple of years of work experience before going to graduate school?

download (2)MBA programs are changing. Different MBA programs are designed to meet different goals. Students who want to complete their MBA early in their career have the opportunity to select an MBA program designed specifically for recent college graduates and students with one to three years of experience who are seeking their first professional position. These programs are generally referred to as “early career” MBA programs (like Willamette’s full-time Early Career MBA) because they provide early career students the full range of real professional experience (including in-class projects, team work and internships), knowledge, and the career management tools needed to succeed as early career professionals.

ELGL hosts monthly forums, previous speakers include Gov. Gregoire, Oregon Treasure Ted Wheeler, and Bob Moore, and Bob’s Red Mill. Provide us a few recommendations, regardless of location, on who we should invite to speak at future forums.

  • Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representativeimages
  • Kate Brown, Oregon Secretary of State
  • Charlie Hales, Portland Mayor
  • Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian
  • Maria Eitel, the Nike Foundation

In your opinion, what level of government is the most difficult to find employment in?

Local government organizations may be slightly more difficult because students (especially those from out of the city, state or country) have less familiarity with municipal agencies.  Students often attend large scale events like conferences for national professional associations, career fairs and on-campus recruiting events that focus on specific companies and industries.  Local governments (city, county, municipalities) are welcome to attend any of these events and activities to meet with prospective MBA students.  In addition, local government should take the opportunity to host on-campus information sessions for students where they can learn more about possible open positions and connect with students on a smaller scale.

Name two skills that entering students are most often lacking.

Networking and Relationship-Building – Early career MBA students are just beginning their career exploration phase and look for opportunities to practice interviewing, networking and connecting with professionals.  Offering mock interview sessions, opportunities for mentoring and coaching and encouraging “informationals” (the Willamette MBA Career Management office’s term for informational interviews), students build their networks and strengthen their confidence for internship and job searching.

Project Management and Organization – MBA programs are excellent opportunities to teach students how to organize projects and manage competing priorities.  During undergraduate programs, students often focus on one particular area of interest and immerse themselves in elective courses and research.  An MBA is designed to be flexible, adaptable and applied across sectors and industries and help students understand how to prioritize and weigh the costs, benefits and risks associated with decisions and actions.

Best restaurants in Salem:download (1)

As reported by Willamette MBA students:

General information:

  • Full-time or part-time program:  Both (full-time and evening)
  • Number of students enrolled each year: 140 new students per year (total 320 in program)
  • In state vs. out-of-state: As a private university, all students pay the same tuition level and are all eligible for financial assistance through merit based scholarships (U.S. students may also utilize government loans).
  • Online classes offered: No

Related links:

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