Reflecting Back On a Busy First Quarter at the Oregon MBA

Reflecting back on a very busy first quarter as an MBA student (and a Canadian) at the University of Oregon.

When I made the decision during the summer of 2012 to return to grad school, my research quickly led me to the University of Oregon. I reached out for more information, and over the next few months was able to interact with both current students and alumni of the top sports marketing program in the world.

My enthusiasm for graduate school diminished a bit during the first few weeks of GMAT studying (in particular, trying to remember long division and geometry, two skills I had learned at the age of nine but was now absolutely clueless about). But I gave it 110% and gutted it out (to steal a few sports clichés) and got the test out of the way. Next up was a visit down the I-5 to Eugene, Oregon. I arrived on a rainy March night (surprise, I know), and immediately fell in love with the campus. The combination of beautiful old brick buildings, deciduous trees, and beautiful new buildings (including Lillis, where I spent about 90 percent of my waking hours over the past few months) makes for quite the setting.

During my visit, I sat in on a few classes, met more current students, and got a feel for the MBA program. I’d highly recommend any prospective students make the trip down/up/across to Eugene. I didn’t need to spend much of the 10-hour trip home on a decision – I loved everything about the school, the program, and the people.

Like Billy Madison, I was going back to school. Oregon was the only choice.  

The Classroom

Fast-forward a few months. Our prologue (MBA initiation, essentially) kicked off on September 16th, with classes starting two weeks later on the 30th. First year MBA students at the University of Oregon are told that the first quarter is the toughest. We are required to take five core business courses (management, marketing, statistics, financial accounting, and corporate finance). Each course featured unique challenges, from extensive group projects, to case write-ups, to learning how to actually use Microsoft Excel (this may have been unique to me…).

It took a few weeks to get my “school legs” under me – let’s just say that my attention span needed some work. The people who told us that the first quarter would be tough weren’t lying – time management and organization were very useful skills to have during the last 10 weeks. I didn’t really know what to expect as I had been out of school for about four years, but I learned a lot over the 10 weeks. We were able to construct a marketing campaign for a regional brewery, and I now consider myself an expert on all matters the franchise Café Yumm!

Warsaw Sports Marketing Center

A trip up to Nike’s Headquarters at the end of the first week was a great teaser for the rest of the quarter. The reason I came back to school was not to re-learn accounting, finance, or statistics (though all three are very important business skills). It was to learn more about sports business, sports marketing, and how I could potentially develop my interests and passions into a fulfilling career after school.

Our Warsaw group convened every Thursday night to hear from several of the program’s industry connections, but we had a number of other weekly engagements as well. Some of the highlights included talks from Portland Trailblazers President Chris McGowan, Nike Golf’s Merritt Richardson, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, as well as Nascar’s David Higdon, who ran an entertaining and interesting four-day integrated marketing seminar throughout the quarter. During his time at the ATP, Higdon worked extensively with Roger Federer– as an avid tennis and Federer fan, it was really cool (for lack of a better word) to learn about how Federer’s brand was created and developed.

Outside of the Classroom

I can unequivocally say that the best part of the Oregon MBA program is the people – I have made lifelong friends down here in only a few short months, and I think it is a testament to the quality and diversity of people that the program attracts. I didn’t know that I had to actually “leave” Canada to get a snowstorm, but we were also treated to a few gorgeous snowy days in early December (it also gave me an opportunity to teach people about the word ‘toque‘). Not many cities can compete with my hometown of Vancouver for scenery or natural beauty, but I’m not sure Vancouver can compete with a nice, crisp fall day in Eugene, either.

You can’t tell, but it is raining really (really) hard.

I had my first experience with NCAA Football here in Eugene. College football isn’t a big deal in Canada, but I quickly embraced the passionate culture that surrounds the Ducks here in Oregon. I spent some time this summer doing my homework on the Ducks and several of their Pac-12 opponents (it didn’t take long for me to develop a respectful hatred of Stanford). I made it to every single Oregon Ducks home football game this quarter, including “the monsoon game” against Cal, the incredible Civil War victory over Oregon State, as well countless other dominant performances.

There is so much to look forward to over the next year-and-a-half, including trips to San Francisco, New York, Boston, and China. The people I have met are genuine and driven (while not being overly competitive), and the underlying passion for sports, health, and community has reaffirmed that I made the right decision to come here. I am very proud to tell people I am a Duck and have absolutely zero doubts that the skills I will learn and continue to develop at the MBA program here will help me find a rewarding career.


Written by Jeff Angus

Jeff is a 2015 MBA Candidate at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Victoria (BC) in 2009.He frequently shares his thoughts on Twitter @anguscertified and is passionate about writing, storytelling, fitness, health, and everything and anything sports-related.