Ryan Hoogstra, MBA '20
Ryan Hoogstra, a recent MBA graduate from Seidman College of Business and the winner of the 2020 ACG Cup competition.
How did the Seidman MBA program help you achieve your personal and professional goals?
After undergrad graduation and working in my career for a few years, I felt I needed a new challenge. The Seidman MBA program provided me with an opportunity to grow personally and professionally through coursework, networking, and various professional development opportunities administered by Grand Valley. Upon graduation from the Seidman MBA program, I felt that I had the additional experience I needed to grow in my career for years to come.
What was the most rewarding part of the Seidman MBA program?
- Networking: Networking with like-minded, ambitious students was first and foremost the greatest benefit of the Seidman MBA program. These individuals helped me to understand how another industry or occupation might look at something. By having so many different perspectives on business, I was able to learn how to look at things on a macro level. Additionally, the cohort format provided me with an opportunity to work with my classmates intimately over two years. The arguments and breakthroughs we had throughout the program brought us closer together and I can confidently say that I have made friends for life.
- Capstone: I had the opportunity to work with a local company as part of my capstone project. This is an incredible company and I was fortunate enough to work with high-level managers in developing a new sales strategy for their products. Our proposal would revolutionize the industry. They were very receptive to it and will be implementing aspects of our proposal into their business in the future.
- ACG Cup: Grand Valley participates in the ACG Cup, an annual valuation competition with some of the area schools. The competition was a supplement to our coursework and added valuable experience that I can take to the “real world”. Our faculty advisors, George Chang and Eric Hoogstra, were a huge help to our presentation which ultimately led to us winning the competition.
- Presentations: Learning how to present yourself and your business is a key aspect of success in my opinion. The Seidman MBA program provides its students with opportunities to present in front of an audience in a safe environment. Many of the students, myself included, were able to build the confidence they needed to do a presentation in front of their associates or customers.
How were you challenged during the MBA program?
I was forced to think “outside the box”. My peers had different perspectives and opinions and I had to keep an open mind. The coursework was demanding, but manageable. The most challenging event was likely the ACG Cup and how much work and preparation went into the presentation and analysis.
What opportunities did the Seidman MBA present you?
Having studied financing and accounting during undergrad, I felt that the MBA program helped to provide exposure to other disciplines in business of which I was not as familiar. By working alongside students in varying occupations and learning their perspectives, I was able to rethink how I would approach an opportunity or problem.
Anything else that you would like to share with prospective MBA students?
The hybrid format provides students with the flexibility of taking two classes in one semester while receiving that incredibly beneficial in-seat instruction, providing the students and faculty with an opportunity to have an open dialogue on the subject matter. I never felt that I couldn’t work full-time while managing the MBA program. Yes, this is a grad program and there will be work that you will need to do, but you can easily manage a work/life/school balance.
Keep an open mind. This program does the best work when students are open-minded to others’ opinions and ideas. If you are a prospective student that prefers the 9 to 5 job, this isn’t for you. This program is designed for people who want a fulfilling career and will do everything they can to get where they want to be.
The cohort structure was huge for me. As I discussed earlier, spending two years with my peers led to lots of positive conversations and breakthroughs in both our coursework and professional careers. Our small groups within the cohort were set up very well with students from various backgrounds. In an online program or unstructured class schedule, you don't get the ability to build relationships like this.