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International Student Spotlight: The Road to McCombs

Texas MBAs come from all over the world. This week we’re highlighting some of our international students who made the long trip to McCombs. Check out what they have to say about Austin, McCombs, and the advice they’d like to share with future international applicants.

Texas MBA Student Faraha Kukkady

Name: Faraha
City of Origin: Bangalore, India

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I wanted a school that was into social impact and also has a strong entrepreneurship program. I also had the fortune of visiting the school before applying and I loved the reception I received. It was a fit right away! And Austin has a great music scene, which is a bonus!

Any advice for others from India thinking about attending McCombs? McCombs has a lot of hidden gems which I discovered after I joined the program. I would advise speaking to as many students and alums as you can to understand how McCombs can help you achieve your goals.

 

Texas MBA Student ShinName: Shin
City of Origin: Seoul, South Korea

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I knew alumni from McCombs and they recommended I apply because it is an amazing school. The community is friendly, diverse and very open to new-comers.

Any advice for others from South Korea thinking about attending McCombs? McCombs has so many hands-on opportunities, like MBA+, which will prepare you for any business environment in your future. Austin also has great weather and super friendly people!

 

Texas MBA Student Martin Cantu Name: Martin
City of Origin: Monterrey, Mexico

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? Texas MBA is a top MBA program that sets itself apart from other business schools. McCombs has a unique, friendly culture which helps anyone make the best of their program. A “pay it forward” attitude prevails in every McCombs student and alum. With the help of these networks, any goal seems feasible, and with Austin, a friendly, awesome city, included in the decision-making process, the choice becomes a no-brainer!

Any advice for others from Mexico thinking about attending McCombs? Come to Austin to meet the McCombs community! You will learn about the program, meet the admissions team, get to know current students and their experiences, and get advice on the future steps you need to take with your application (Take advantage of this opportunity, students want to help!) You will soon realize that the Texas MBA is the program you are looking for.

 

Texas MBA Student XiaopingName: Xiaoping
City of Origin: Shanghai, China

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? First, McCombs offers a customizable schedule that can be tailored to my personal goals. I can dive deep into the Corporate Finance Concentration and the MBA+ Program, to convert learning into action. Second, I appreciate the culture, diversity and collaborative community of McCombs and UT. My cohorts at McCombs are community leaders with diversified backgrounds. Learning from their valuable thoughts and experiences can inspire me to think more deeply about my career goals, life philosophy, and my contributions to society.

Any advice for others from China thinking about attending McCombs? I did a lot of research to choose McCombs, and after arriving here, things are far beyond my expectations! I really enjoy the down-to-earth culture. Most Chinese applicants do not know much about Austin and Texas. Texas’s current economic situation is the best among all the states in the US. More and more companies, especially the high-tech companies, are moving into Texas for this reason. Austin is a fast-growing city and the people here are nice and warm and you can enjoy the city life as well as the great natural scenes.

 

Texas MBA Student Arjun Dhand

Name: Arjun
City of Origin: Dehradun, India

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I was looking for an MBA Program which would allow me to leverage my background in energy as well as provide world class education and professional opportunities. McCombs was therefore my top choice!

Any advice for others from India thinking about attending McCombs? Spend a lot of time reflecting on your experiences, professional, academic and generally in life. Find a theme in your experiences and tie them to your story. It’s YOUR story, no one can tell it better than you, and McCombs is a great place to do that.

To learn more about the Texas MBA program, admissions events, and application information, please visit the Texas MBA website.

Marketing Case Challenge

For those of you just getting to know the MBA experience along with classes, recruiting, networking, and “networking with classmates” (i.e.: having some fun…), case challenges are a (sometimes overlooked) piece of the puzzle.

Case challenges are sponsored by companies and are generally real-world questions that the companies are actually working on.

There are basically case challenges for everything: finance, marketing, global, and operations are just a small portion of them. Usually, they’re overnight competitions where interested parties self-select teams of 4 people to compete against either their classmates or against other schools (depending on the competition). They usually have cash prizes for the top three places, and they generally give out swag for other stuff (best speaker, best deck, etc.). Judges are representatives from different companies, so they’re great networking opportunities as well.

This year, rather than an overnight challenge, the marketing case challenge was a week long. Teams received the case on October 21, submitted their completed presentations by October 28, and presented on October 30. The competition was sponsored by Walmart and focused around how Walmart could use Pinterest to target millennials. For someone with a consulting background who worked in healthcare, public sector, and cable, this was a pretty big change.

Here’s the team vigorously (sort of) finishing the deck to get it submitted before the deadline:

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Little did we know… they had an extra surprise in store for us during the competition… A TORNADO WARNING! Here’s a small group of us after we made it to safety:

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Hook ‘Em, pre-presentation style:

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A picture of the ultimate victors:

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And finally, the second place team celebrating:

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Personally, it was great to get to go through this. I learned a lot about marketing through the conference, and I honestly came in not knowing what I would gain from the challenge. After going through, it was awesome getting to work with people outside of my typical study team, get some marketing experience, and work on building my speaking-skills. Plus, the case was really interesting and relevant for anyone who has an interest in marketing.

There’s also a marketing conference that goes along with the case challenge each year which, this year, focused on “whole-brained marketing” (i.e.: How good marketers today own a combination of creativity and analytics skill-sets). The two keynote speeches were from Peter Horst, CMO, Hershey, and Kip Knight, President, H&R Block US Retail Operations, but the entire panel of speakers was awesome

Full details on the conference here or,
Check out the Storify feed. Hook ’em!

ExxonMobil & Net Impact Host 1st Energy Bowl at McCombs

It’s well-known that Texas produces more crude oil and natural gas than any other state in the US. However, did you know that the Lone Star State leads the country in wind powered generation capacity? The energy industry serves a crucial role in the macro economy and its complexity, technological advancements, and never-ending thirst for capital attracts many students to McCombs every year.

Here at UT, we benefit from vast resources to aid in our professional development towards becoming leaders in the energy industry. As Texas MBAs, of course we like to team up and make a friendly competition out of it whenever possible. Last week, Net Impact and ExxonMobil gave us the perfect opportunity to do so by hosting its inaugural Energy Bowl at McCombs.

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Texas MBAs at the Energy Bowl!

Leading industry experts MC’d the competition, which was not your average trivia night (not going to lie, I 100% expected a question on the gusher at Spindletop, TX…I was wrong).  Exxon and Net Impact tested students on categories including energy in pop culture, history, new and emerging sources, and projected trends in energy use. We’ve selected a few challenging questions to share below (Answers at the bottom of this post):

  • How many smartphone batteries would you need to equal the energy contained in one gallon of gasoline?
  • Which musician once worked as a roughneck on an offshore oil rig?
  • In what city was the first dam specifically developed for generating hydroelectric power?
  • How many 5 MW wind turbines would it take to provide the equivalent of NYC’s electricity consumption?

We had a great time trying to solve these problems and asking the panelists questions about the future of the industry between rounds. Perhaps more important than racking up points at trivia is your team name, shout-out to “1.21 Gigawatts” for the clever Back to the Future reference.

Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in conventional or renewable energy, there’s no better place to make the next step than McCombs!

(Answers: 4,000, Trace Adkins, Austin, 4,000 + back-up power)

Hands-On Experience: The Texas MBA+ Leadership Program

From Sara Reeves, Senior Program Coordinator, MBA+ Leadership Program

In the Texas MBA program, leadership is earned both in and outside the classroom. While our students are in the classroom building the technical skills necessary for success in today’s ever-changing and complex business environments, the MBA+ Leadership Program works to support and compliment the curriculum with a range of enhanced opportunities. These programs and services are designed to allow Texas MBAs to individually tailor their leadership growth experience through coaching, seminars, and consulting projects to make real connections between classroom theory and practice, setting themselves apart from other MBA students.

Coach-on-Call

Fall 2014 - Networking Presentation in Dallas with MBA Plus Coach 1

Networking Presentation with an MBA+ Coach

MBA+ has carefully curated a roster of more than 40 communication, specialty, and executive coaches identified for their range of expertise and years of experience. This guarantees students across the six Texas MBA programs can find coaches perfectly attuned to their individual needs.

Many of our coaches have been with the program for a number of years and have developed a special affinity for McCombs’ students, going out of their way to support them. It is not uncommon to find our communication coaches up with teams throughout the night during case challenge season, helping students perfect decks as the sun sets and practice presentations as it rises.

“Communication coaches are one of the best resources of the MBA program. I was pleasantly surprised that they would meet our team off campus at all hours of the night. I found my coach very insightful and would definitely look to her for advice in the future.” – Mikhail Buczkiewicz, Full-Time MBA 2016

Seminars and Events

Truly successful leaders possess a mix of technical business acumen and those more elusive “soft” skills. MBA+ supports both aspects of leadership through industry-specific workshops (such as our fall “Corporate Valuations” and spring “Entrepreneurial Selling”), as well as personal development seminars on topics ranging from Inclusive Leadership to Resilience.

MBA+ also give students the opportunity to broaden their networks and horizons by hosting events that bring together students from across our six programs and leaders from business community, including our signature International Night and Annual Pitch Party.

MBA+ Projects

We recognize experience is often the best instructor and strive to offer Texas MBA students hands-on opportunities through our micro-consulting program. Teams of 4-6 students tackle real-world business problems for companies ranging from high-profile consulting firms to local start-ups. By recruiting a selection of projects each semester across industry, functional area, and scope, we ensure students are able to gain the specific skills and network contacts needed to advance their careers.

Spring 2015 Projects - Salesforce - Team Picture
Spring 2015 Salesforce Team
“The MBA+ project was a transformative experience. We worked together as a cohesive unit and delivered a high-impact deliverable. Above all, the project was a first rate networking opportunity with a choice employer and its leadership, which gave us a good sense for the firm’s culture.” – Christian Barjum, Deloitte, Full-Time MBA 2016
Spring 2015 Projects - Pegasystems - Team Picture
Spring 2015 Pegasystems Team
“The project helped my communication skills and gave me a valuable leadership opportunity. I was interested in working at Dimensional and I have taken a full time job with Dimensional after interning there this summer! The project allowed me an opportunity to gain more exposure to the company and increase my network there.” – Molly Bell, Dimensional, Full-Time MBA 2016

Work Experience: Quantity vs. Quality

From Julia Campbell, Senior MBA Admissions Officer, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:

Sometimes more is better, like king-sized candy bars, vacation days, and itemized tax deductions. But sometimes more is NOT better, like saturated fat, bills, and dental work. The key is how you look at it.

Admissions officers are notorious for placing every element of your application on a Libra Scale and weighing the pros and cons, especially when it comes to work experience on your MBA application. On one side, there’s raw number of years (quantity), and on the other side is your job description (quality), among other considerations that teeter the scales.

Quantity

Wow! You are the CEO of a mid-size corporation. Oh, but it’s your first week on the job?…okay, well still that’s an amazing accomplishment and congrats on your career advancement so far, but perhaps you’d still admit that your knowledge and expertise in such a new leadership position wouldn’t be as developed as say someone who has been doing it for a few years, right? Being a CEO is good, but being a GREAT CEO is even better.

Same goes the other way, too. Have you been in the same exact job for 10 years? Wow! Congrats on keeping your resume neat and tidy and no doubt you are the go-to person for all the ins and outs of that role, but could it mean that perhaps you didn’t take as much initiative or demonstrate leadership qualities required to launch you to the next level?

Or, perhaps you’ve been a project manager for a year, but in that time you’ve produced measurable results, generated cost-saving strategies for your clients, improved processes and efficiency, demonstrated leadership, took on more responsibility outside your pay-grade and excelled throughout. That circumstance would make it easy for us to say to heck with quantity, quality is what counts here.

Quality

The other side of the Libra Scale is quality of work experience. A Chief Operating Officer title sounds pretty impressive, but were you a COO of a cat fashion show? Not to say that being a COO of a cat fashion show isn’t a real job (in fact that sounds pretty cool), but an impressive title with naught to back it up won’t move the needle in your favor when it comes to work experience.

On the flip side, something as ordinary as an “Account Manager” job title may sound a tad boring to the lay-person, but may actually be pretty exciting. Don’t let us make assumptions. Take every opportunity on your MBA application to illustrate just WHAT about your job made your experience rich and rewarding.

More on Fancy-Schmancy Titles

Answer me this: What is it with businessy-sounding job titles? It’s like the more words like Manager/Director/Lead/Chief/Executive/Senior is smushed into the title, the better. Not always so! Even if the job title is at face-value impressive, the scope of it is equally, if not MORE important. On your resume be sure to back up fancy job titles that contain those high-profile hierarchical buzz words with equitable descriptions that truly include initiative, accountability, project scope, expertise and oversight.

Dear Recent Graduates with ZERO Work Experience,

Fact: work experience is not technically an application requirement, rather it is strongly encouraged.  We are absolutely open to individuals applying to our program straight from undergrad. However, we strongly believe that 24 months of full-time post-baccalaureate work experience is key for building a strong Texas MBA application. Those admitted to the program with high quality work experience add value to the overall community, bring real-life expertise, and provide true diversity and depth to the classroom discussion environment.  Also, it may help to illustrate your peer set: The average applicant comes in with five years of experience, the full work experience range is anywhere from two to ten years of experience.

Having professional post-grad work experience allows candidates to have thought about their career goals in real-life terms. I wanted to be an Oceanographer when I was a kid. In adulthood, I discovered that have a fear of dark water = not a good match.  Experiential trial and error is a big part of building a successful career, and having the proof that reflects matching what you love with what you are good at will really help build the stage for a realistic set of future goals.

Therefore, undergraduate applicants who will have no work experience when they apply are inherently missing those things I mentioned above: contribution to the classroom and career experience.  So, while work experience is not technically a requirement to apply, it is for these reasons we really want to see full-time work experience around two or more years after graduation.

The takeaway on work experience: quality and quantity are not, by themselves, deciding factors. So, take full advantage of your resume descriptors, essays, and interview experience and be ready to describe the full scope of your work experience at every opportunity.

Good Luck!

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