Alumni Spotlight: April Underwood, Class of 2001

AprilApril Underwood, BHP ’01, is Director of Product for Twitter. She leads product strategy focused on harnessing the power of Twitter’s data through a diverse ecosystem of partners and developers.  April previously led product management, product marketing and business development teams at Twitter, focused on advertising products and Twitter’s API. Before joining Twitter, April held product roles at Weatherbill (Climate Corp), Google and Travelocity, and was a software engineer at Travelocity and Intel.

Tell me about your career path and how you ended up at Twitter.

After I left McCombs I moved to Oregon where I took a role as a software engineer at Intel, where I worked on internal software. I found I wanted to work more on a consumer-basing product, and I missed my family and friends in Texas, so in 2002 I took an opportunity with Travelocity in Dallas. I joined as an engineer, but my McCombs background made me well-suited for a variety of tasks aside from writing code. I was soon asked to be the point of contact on the technical side working with partners like Yahoo! and AOL. I transitioned into a product management role building out a platform to allow Travelocity to power travel experiences on more partner websites. I left in 2005 to get my MBA from Haas at University of California at Berkeley after which I went to work for Google. At Google, I worked on scaling how we brought new types of content to products like Google Maps and Product Search, and how to monetize those Google properties with advertising. After a few years of learning within Google, I was eager to take my experience to a startup, and I spent some time at a small startup. Unexpectedly, I got a chance to join Twitter (a product I already loved and a team I admired), and I took the leap. McCombs opened the door to the early roles in my career, which have consequently led to my current role at Twitter for the past 4 years.

When you were in school, Twitter didn’t even exist. Where did you think your career was going to go back then?

I graduated as the dot-com bubble was bursting in 2001 and it was a tough time in the job market. The first decision I made was that I wanted to go into an engineering role with the thought that I would go into a management or business role down the road. While I was in school, I had a part-time job working for a company that provided technical support for internet service providers, so I already had some experience in tech. I was pretty sure I would want to work in technology in some way, but the number of and types of opportunities has changed so much since that time. There are different types of products, technologies, and roles now than there were in 2001.

You have held various roles at Twitter. How did those transitions happen and do you have a favorite project you have worked on there?

I joined when Twitter was a much smaller company in 2010. It has been really special to be part of the growth of the company, and it’s given me the opportunity to develop products and teams from scratch. I really enjoy what I am working on right now, which is helping businesses understand how they can use Twitter data to make better decisions. I really enjoy the intersection of partnerships, product and technology — and building platforms. My experience at Twitter just keeps getting better and better as we grow our portfolio of products and more opportunities for leadership emerge. Perhaps even more importantly, I get the chance to work with smart and funny people who are not just co-workers but also friends. That’s a very high priority to me because we work hard and it makes busy or hard weeks less burdensome.

What are the main functions of the role you just moved into?

I run a team of product managers. We identify opportunities that exist, and focus a lot on defining the “why”, “for whom” and “what” of our products. We don’t do this alone – we partner closely with business teams, our engineering team which drives the “how” our products work, and spend time with customers and partners to inform our strategy and plans. We operate as a business within Twitter and have to make hard choices about which opportunities to go after since the possibilities are so unlimited.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most is the scale and uniqueness of our opportunity. With a billion Tweets produced every 2 days, we and our partners have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. I enjoy working on Twitter data because you can think of Tweets as the pulse of humanity. It is amazing to think of what kinds of problems can be solved with our data  – some have business impact and some make the world a better place.

How do you think your BHP and Management Information Systems (MIS) degrees have prepared you for your career?

MIS coursework was great preparation for what it is like to work on a team to build software. I learned how structure is required to build process and I learned the communication and interpersonal skills I needed to work well with other people. From the BHP side, I learned to not just focus on what you are building, but on why, who it is for, and ultimately what problems you are trying to solve That breadth of perspective made it possible for me as a 21-year-old new graduate to be able to join strategic conversations and ask the right questions of my peers and leaders in a work setting.

Do you have advice for women going into the technology industry?

For women going to work in any field where they are the minority, I would encourage them to reach out and connect with other women within their company, and that definitely holds true for the technology industry. We have two organizations at Twitter that help women connect with others within the company, and it’s a hugely valuable network (and also a lot of fun). You can start similar groups within your company where they don’t exist.  Ask to have coffee with the senior women in your company. Usually they are happy to build those relationships.

What advice do you have for current students in the program?

Number one thing – take a shot at starting a company. I didn’t do it myself, but I think school is a great time to try. Alums, executives, and investors are more willing to help you out while you are a student than they may be after you graduate. For students not looking to make that kind of a leap, I would recommend taking on as many internships as possible. I had two internships and part-time jobs and I learned so much from those experiences. It is the best way to figure out what you like and don’t like.

Student Profile: Rachel Gosch

RachelAfter spending the summer before her junior year conducting research, BHP senior, Rachel Gosch, was ready for a challenging internship this past summer. The mathematics major was interested in finding something technical that also involved consulting. At a loss for where to start, she Googled “Statistical Internships,” and discovered Summit Consulting.

Summit Consulting in Washington, D.C., was calling for an intern in their Federal Credit Modeling and Forecasting branch, which was right up Rachel’s alley. Rachel applied and completed two phone interviews before landing the position as a Summer Analyst with Summit. Once she accepted the internship, she spoke with her eventual mentor at Summit to determine which groups and projects would be a good fit for her.

Being in D.C., Summit works a lot with government entities such as the Department of Transportation. Within her branch, Rachel was placed on a team consulting the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Rachel and her team were tasked with two main contracts with the SBA. First was working on Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) of their different cash flow models. Her team acted as a third party consult to help the SBA forecast their budget and project how much to allocate to their different lending. The second task was to perform portfolio analysis on those lending programs to assess which lenders may be high-risk.  Rachel’s team then had to present their findings to the client, “The presentation skills I learned in BA 324 really helped me make the findings understandable and presentable,” said Rachel.

Working in the nation’s capital, Rachel had the chance to learn a lot about federal budget planning and allocations for groups such as the SBA, “I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about the SBA! I now know all about the different federal lending programs available for small business owners, how the process of receiving such a loan works, and the different criteria used to grade SBA-approved lenders,” said Rachel.


The six summer interns at Summit, including Rachel

Rachel spent 10 weeks in D.C. interning at Summit and one of her favorite parts of working at the consulting firm was the young atmosphere. “Summit is a young company, so most of the people that work there are around my age, which made fitting into the culture easier,” said Rachel. There were six interns total at Summit this summer and they became close doing things together outside of work. Of the six interns, Rachel was one of two undergraduates, the other was a student from University of North Carolina. The remaining four were graduate students at George Washington University (MBA), American University (MS), University of Tennessee (MS) and Rutgers University (MS).

In her senior year, Rachel is currently deciding between continuing her education or entering the workforce. She is actively applying to different master’s programs in Financial Engineering and Financial Mathematics. She is particularly interested in a Management Science and Engineering program at Columbia and will also likely apply to UT’s Business Analytics program. She is keeping her options open and also recruiting for positions dealing with statistics, data analytics and/or financial modeling.

Looking back on her time at UT, her fondest memory is all of the football games and seeing the tower lit orange, particularly when the team beat OU in 2013 and A&M in 2011.

Internship Spotlight: Rachel Solomon – The Neiman Marcus Group


BHP Senior, Rachel Solomon, has always wanted to work in high-end retail and when the opportunity presented itself for her to work at Neiman Marcus she jumped on it. She is very happy to announce the internship resulted in a full-time offer, which she just recently accepted.

Company: The Neiman Marcus Group

Intern Position: Buying/Planning Intern

Full-Time Position: Executive Development Program (to become an Assistant Buyer)

What steps did you take to secure your internship?

I used the Neiman Marcus Careers page to find the opportunity for the internship, and then met with HR representatives at the Fall McCombs Career Expo. I applied online in October, then took a retail math test and went through two rounds of interviews before eventually receiving an offer.

What were the responsibilities for this role?
I was a rotational planning intern, so I worked in the Home & Gifts and Men’s divisions with the Senior Merchandise Planners and Assistant Buyers. I helped recap sales history, forecast and project sales for future seasons, and allocate merchandise across stores. I also worked on a team project with the other interns to suggest the ways in which Neiman Marcus could leverage big data. We were lucky enough to present our findings to the senior executives in their boardroom at the end of the internship.

Describe the culture within the organization.
The culture at Neiman Marcus was one of my favorite things about the company. Going into luxury retail, I was expecting more of a cutthroat atmosphere, but what I experienced was just the opposite. Everyone was so warm and willing to help me with everything from my daily tasks to where I should take my visiting friends out to dinner. I cannot wait to go back to the office next fall and work with some of the most caring and creative people I have ever met.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?
I think the most important part of any job is the people you surround yourself with. I would make an effort to get to know as many people within the company as you can, because it’ll tell you a lot about what the company stands for and what the culture is like. And as an intern, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were not only willing, but excited, to tell me about what they do on a daily basis and even let me help. Sometimes I ended up doing work for people who weren’t my direct supervisors, which made for an exciting and well-rounded experience. So, I would say don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you because you never know what you’ll get to learn or do.

What was your favorite part about this internship?
I’ve always been interested in a career that would let me actively use both the right and left sides of my brain, so I loved the fact that I could spend hours in a database analyzing sales history and margins, then open a binder full of swatches and images to see exactly what the products I was analyzing looked and felt like. And at the end of my internship, I got to attend a weeklong event where many of our vendors came to present their products, oftentimes in the form of a fashion show. That was probably one of the most exciting weeks of my life.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program at the university to be applicable during your internship?
I think the communication skills taught in BA 324 helped me to secure the internship, while MIS 301 provided me with a good foundation of technical skills that I needed while working in the buying offices. Sometimes I was even able to show other employees Excel tricks I learned in MIS, which was a good feeling over two years after having taken the class.

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?
Since I rotated in so many offices, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of different people in the company. Oftentimes, I only worked in a particular office for two to three days. So I had to learn to adjust to new working styles and quickly prove that I had the skills necessary to help with whatever tasks my supervisors would assign. Since they hadn’t seen my previous work, sometimes that was challenging. But I learned how to briefly summarize other projects I had done and systems I had worked with over the course of the summer so they could figure out what I could complete without training, and what they would need to help me with.

What parts of your internship convinced you to sign on full-time?
I have always wanted to go into luxury retail, and have had my sights set on Neiman Marcus for years. I walk into the Austin store to find inspiration on a bad day, and I really can’t imagine anything better than working to fill the stores with the products I find so inspiring. Combine that with the fact that everyone I worked with this summer was so kind, helpful, bright, and driven, and there is no place I would rather be. I am so excited to begin this journey after graduation.

Annual BHP Community BBQ Kicks Off the School Year


Last night, around 200 students attended the annual BHP Community BBQ, where they chatted over free BBQ at Scholz Garten and then competed in six rounds of trivia with representatives from BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC.

Teams were asked to choose a team name. Some of the names that garnered the best reactions from the crowd were  “Sorcerer’s Prentice,” “Staff Infection” and “Dr. Konana’s Voiceover IP.”

Trivia rounds done by “Geeks who Drink” were witty and hilarious. Rounds included: “Bad YouTube Karaoke,” which required participants to identify songs that someone had completely botched and posted on Youtube; “Wallstreet Balderdash,” in which teams had to identify the true meaning of made-up words used by those working on Wall Street; and “Do Give Up Your Day Job,” a round which brought to light some interesting past occupations of famous celebrities.

The competition was fierce and in the end teams Deloitte and Lets Get Fiscal tied for first place, but a tie breaker question set team Deloitte apart as the first place winner. Deloitte team members included:


Top row (from left to right):
Arvind Sivakumar
Rabin Shetty
Sai Yeluru
James Abbott
Malorie Liljenwall (Deloitte rep.)

Bottom row (from left to right):
Mickey Li
Kevin Yu
Sophia Ding
Macy Huang
Lisa Feng
Nazifa Mim
Kevin Chiu (Deloitte rep.)

Special thanks to our sponsors: BP, ConocoPhillips, Dell, Deloitte, Dropbox, PepsiCo and PwC!


10 Things to Look Forward to Now that You’re Back at McCombs

Catching up with friends


AND your advisor 😉

dont know what im doing

Using your brain again




You regularly have 10 missed calls from your mom


You’re reclaiming your hangout spots around McCombs


Study groups


Your business professional look is ready to go at a moment’s notice


You take on a new leadership position


Welcoming new students and showing them the ropes