Ah, the business school rankings… one of the necessary, yet sometimes misleading data points that prospective students peruse year after year with hopes of choosing the right business school for them. Well, despite even the recent rankings shake-up, there are so many things that make up a school outside of what you’ll find in rankings, news articles, or other “official” sources. As a first year MBA student, I’m here to give you an insider’s view of what makes McCombs special:
1. Keep Austin Weird, y’all
In this day and age, Austin pretty much sells itself. I could quote to you the many lists that site Austin as one of the best places to live or fastest-growing cities, but we’re trying to get away from the lists. Having lived in Austin for almost 5 years now and seeing the growth first hand, I can tell you that the hype is true. Austin is great because it really has something to offer everyone. The city is well known for its vibrant music scene and killer BBQ, but there is so much more than that. Whether you’re a nature lover who plans to explore the miles of greenbelts and kayaking on Town Lake (insider tip – that’s what the locals call it), or a craft beer connoisseur, there is plenty to keep you busy. Personally, my favorite thing has to be all of the food – from sushi flown in from Japan to donuts with bacon or fried chicken, you name it, Austin’s got it.
2. Texas, Fight!
I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but there is nothing like Texas football. Seriously. Whether you were a football-loving undergrad (me!), or coming from a small school where sports weren’t at the forefront of your weekends, or even from abroad where you think American Football is just crazy, being part of Texas Football weekends is an experience everyone needs to have! Luckily for you, McCombs takes tailgating very seriously and we’ll leave it up to you to decide how passionate you are about attending the actual game. Each home football Saturday, McCombs hosts our own tailgate, complete with great food, drinks, and even employee recruiting if you’re still telling me you REALLY don’t care about football.
First football game!
3. Little Big Town
Football is one example, but there are many others that come with being a small program at a large university. McCombs is a tight-knit place, and the fact that all of my classes are in one building sometimes helps me forget exactly where I am. But we have so many advantages being connected with the University of Texas system. This means that we are a part of a huge student body and alumni population (hello, immediate network!), we’ve got the aforementioned sporting traditions, and we get awesome opportunities, like having the CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, come to campus and speak to students. Being in this unique program is really getting the best of both worlds.
4. Wine > Sleeping in a Tent
I personally hate camping. Why you would choose a sleeping bag over running water and a real bed is beyond me. I do like wine though. I mean, what is there not to like? But no matter what camp you fall into (pun intended) McCombs probably has a student club for your interests – and if not, you can create one! There is the Graduate Business Adventure Team (GBAT) that hosts the camping trips, Graduate Business Wine Club (one of my favorites, obviously), the Live Music Association, MBA Improv, and MBA Soccer Club, just to name a few. Of course, there are also many clubs devoted to your career path and special topics in business. Life during your MBA will be busy, so it is great to have fun ways to get out of the classroom and hangout with new friends, doing whatever it may be that you enjoy doing.
5. Shark Tank
If you’re addicted to the TV show, Shark Tank, like myself, you might remember the pitch from a few weeks ago for Beatbox Beverages that secured a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban. Well, let me tell you that Beatbox was a business that started right here in the McCombs MBA program! I use this example just to demonstrate how committed our program is to entrepreneurship – and this is a great city to explore that space. At McCombs we have classes like New Venture Creation and Intro to Entrepreneurship where you can literally work on building your own business, or classes like Entrepreneurial Growth or the Texas Venture Labs Practicum where you can learn how to apply the topics you’re learning about to small businesses. Plus, Austin as a community is very involved with start-ups. There are several well-known incubators, conferences like SXSW and many venture capital firms hoping to find the next Facebook. So, whether your interest lies in creating your own start-up, working with current start-ups, or funding start-ups, we’ve got something for you!
Thursday nights – what every MBA at McCombs looks forward to, assuming you were crafty enough to ensure a free calendar or at least free morning on Friday (that’s right, no Friday classes – ever!) you’ll be able to partake in our favorite weekly ritual, Think ‘n’ Drink. TnD is organized by the Social Committee and held at a different bar around town every week. Everyone is invited, including significant others, friends, and this week even a few visiting parents, and it is a great way to wrap-up the week and hang out. Sure, there will be weeks when going is unrealistic, but it is nice to have a collective activity that you can count on week after week.
Halloween Think ‘n’ Drink
7. Hands On Opportunities
One of the reasons I chose McCombs was because of all of the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. I can’t wait to get out of the class-room and start learning by doing. I will be joining the Texas Venture Labs Practicum in the spring where I will work with a team of six other people- four are from other graduate programs like Law and Engineering, and we will partner with two local start-ups to help them with various issues related directly to their business. There are also partnerships for many other industries like Private Equity/Venture Capital, Operations, Marketing, Corporate Finance, Real Estate and our very own Investment Fund. These classes are a great way to get in-depth knowledge in your area of interest and partner with companies that have an interest in McCombs’ Students.