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Application Recommendations & References: Providing an Austin Twist

From Stephen Sweeney, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:

Here at the Texas MBA program, we offer you two options for submitting the recommendation for your Texas MBA application.

  1. Send a recommendation request via our admissions management system
  2. Utilize the recommendation function within LinkedIn

Recommendations

Option 1

The first option is to send a recommendation request via our admissions management system. This is how we have been reviewing recommendations for the past several years. Basically, you fill out a form in our application with the information for who you want to recommend you. Your recommender then receives an email notifying them to complete the recommendation. Once complete, your recommendation appears on your application. This is a straight-forward process and one that many other MBA programs follow.

Option 2

The second option is for you to utilize the recommendation function within LinkedIn, a platform familiar to most working professionals worldwide. We believe a strong LinkedIn profile with substantial recommendations will be a great asset to you during your MBA program and beyond.

LinkedIn offers a form similar to the application and based on the information you provide, the Admissions Committee will access your LinkedIn profile and review your recommendation. Note: It is important that the recommendation information you provide matches your LinkedIn profile and that the recommendation is publicly visible before you submit your application.

Why Provide Options?

Here at the Texas MBA, we believe in flexibility. Our program is designed to be flexible and customizable. Our application follows a similar approach. You have options in choosing how you wish to submit Essay 1, your recommendation, and many other options exist throughout the process that revolve around us getting to know you.

The LinkedIn option may prove attractive to applicants who are already comfortable with a current recommendation on their profile, as there is no need to request an additional recommendation.

We recognize that some of our international applicants may not have a LinkedIn profile, or that in some cases, military veterans may not be allowed to have an online social presence for security reasons.

The Admissions Committee does not prefer one option over the other. The most important part of a recommendation is the actual substance of the recommendation. With that in mind, let’s review how to leverage your recommendation to help make your application shine.

If you’re like me, asking your supervisor or your colleague to write a recommendation detailing your virtues makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable.  “So, tell me again how I’m amazing?  And don’t spare any details!” But a solid recommendation for your MBA application is very critical. Here’s how you can leverage your personal testimonials:

3rd personYou’ve worked hard over the past few years and have earned praise, but why must you have to ask for it, and in writing? Well, the answer is easy: as an Admissions Officer, I need perspective on your business acumen, your personality, and your leadership and teamwork skills to confirm your claims of awesome-ness from someone other than yourself. Think about it: You have complete control over every aspect of your MBA application, except for the recommendation.  You’ve already written essays, submitted a resume and transcripts, took your tests, and you may have also been interviewed. Now it’s time for a 3rd party to weigh-in and offer us a new perspective that will hopefully add depth and value to your overall application.  But most importantly, a good recommendation will provide a CREDIBLE corroboration of your positive attributes.

Who’s the Boss?

The best recommendation will come from a direct supervisor or the equivalent. Nobody knows your capabilities in the business world better than the person supervising you in your current role.  Even better if they write your performance evaluations!  This means they are used to thinking about you and your skill set.  This person should be able to come up with clear examples from first-hand knowledge of your measurable success, which is crucial.

There are, of course, some exceptions when asking your direct supervisor isn’t the best bet. Perhaps you or your supervisor is new to the position, organization or role. This could be bad news if you or they haven’t been around long enough to speak intelligently about your abilities. Also, there may be conflicts of interest. Your supervisor could be a relative (in the case of a family business), or they could be opposed to you leaving your position for an MBA (if you’re applying to our full-time program), or in rare situations, you may not have a healthy relationship with your supervisor that may jeopardize your opportunity.

All of these are valid reasons for not getting a recommendation from your supervisor. You may want to elaborate on this in the Optional Essay to give us context for why you may have made this decision.

Other Options?

Other good recommendation options would be a former supervisor at a previous job, or a project manager. You may also consider a business client, lawyer, accountant, industry mentor, or other peer professional if you’re in a family business setting or in a consulting/ advertising role. Remember that whoever you choose needs to be able to discuss with us in detail your qualities, skills, and virtues.

Quick Tip: don’t just pick the CEO or President of the company. Just because they know your name and you have shared an elevator ride with them doesn’t mean they know you well enough to recommend you for b-school.  We’ve read enough recommendations to know when somebody knows of you, and when they know you.

Get on Their Calendar.

Make sure to let your recommenders know in advance you are going to request their help. I would suggest letting them know a good three months ahead of time, if possible. It is also a good idea to meet with them, let them know what your short and long term goals are, why McCombs is the best school for you, and offer them a copy of your updated resume. That way they can talk about their belief in your direction and goals with some background.

One Final (obvious) Tip…

Most importantly, make sure to ask someone who actually likes you. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many candidates have recommendations submitted by people who write just a few words (“She’s really great.”), come up with poor examples (“One time we had a problem with a client, and she handled it well.”), or clearly just don’t think that highly of you (“She performs equally well when compared to her peers at a similar level.”).  Yikes.  You might as well have asked a perfect stranger to write your recommendation, and it probably would have come out better.

We look forward to reading these glowing professional love letters soon. if you have any questions about your application process please reach out to us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu.

Good luck in selecting your recommenders!

How We “Slack” in The Texas Executive MBA Program

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Slack is a new online collaboration tool (and is super addictive!) [.gif source]

If you read the title of this post and thought it would be about Executive MBAs slacking off, you’re about to be slightly disappointed. Slack is a new, hyper-addictive online messaging tool that the Texas Executive MBA Class of 2016 started using last August, before our first seminar, to communicate with one another. One of our classmates, Josh Treviño, uses Slack at his office and suggested we set up a team account. Slowly but surely, students began trickling in, tentatively posting questions about pre-readings or class schedules.

The early days of our Slack environment were like being in a library: a place to request or look for information, quietly and without bothering anyone.

Fast-forward to nearly a year later, and our Slack team is more like a bustling conference at a convention center, with hallways and rooms to duck in and out of, people laughing in one corner and others sharing useful tips and tricks in another. Not only has Slack helped us find the program information we need, but many credit the tool with our class’s ability to form strong bonds with one another. Inspired by Bill Morein’s How We Slack at FiftyThree, which discusses business uses for Slack, we wanted to share how Slack has helped busy students like us, as Slack’s tagline promises, “be less busy.”

slack for education and universities

General Channel

We have one channel, #general, that anyone can join – and pretty much everyone has. This is where the chit-chat takes place, and can run the gamut from people asking questions about which elective to take, to updates received by individual students about the program, to people testing out their Slackbot-programming skills.

Class Channels

Channels named after our classes each semester help keep things organized. Think #financial-management, #managerial-economics or #strategic-management. If you’ve got a class-related question, need to track down a file, or are just looking for some motivation to work on a paper or study for a big test, this is the place to do business. These channels are archived by the moderators a few weeks after classes wrap up so they don’t use up valuable storage space.

Funny Quotes Channel

Being in one of the Top 20 MBA programs in the country means you’re always surrounded by smart, quick-witted people, whether they are your classmates or professors. A few weeks into our first semester, there were so many funny verbal exchanges happening in and out of class that often times were also some of the best learning moments. #funnyquotes is where the greatest ones get memorialized. A gem from the #funnyquotes feed recently: “Shake hands, kiss babies, and never confuse the two.” That’s Dr. John Daly, professor of our Advocacy elective.

Jobs Channel

Whether you’re looking for a new job or know someone who is, our #jobs channel has helped several people swing to the next vine. It also serves as a place to ping classmates for connections within companies (usually someone has an “in!”), solicit resume advice, compare notes on the executive coaches in the UT Career Services program offers, and offer referrals of candidates who may not be in our program.

Hobby Channels

We’re a diverse group and that extends to our hobbies. Among our hobby channels, we’ve got #field-and-stream for the outdoors-men/women in the program who like to hunt and fish, #wine-club for the group that shares a mutual love of wine after class on the weekends, #chinese for those who want to learn more about the Chinese culture prior to our class trip to China next May, and #hangout which serves as a catch-all for people who want to coordinate grabbing lunch or a drink with a classmate in the area.

Private Groups

There is the option in Slack to send private messages, as well as create private group messages. In my study group’s case, we have a private group titled “Goose” (named after our team name, “Two O’s in Goose”) set up to share notes about group work, gatherings, and inside jokes (most of which, unsurprisingly, involve references to Top Gun).

Questions about Slack or its uses for student communication? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or tweet at me at @racheltruair.

Get to Know the Texas MBA in Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston

Six FormatsThe top-ranked Texas MBA program offers a prestigious degree from world-renowned faculty across six programs. We encourage you to check out all the events happening this summer and fall so you can learn more about how the Texas MBA can unlock your full potential!

Events are the best way to interact directly with our programs, as you get to know current and former students and admissions staff. Please check out the events happening this fall in Dallas/Fort Worth & in Houston (including informal coffee chats with our admissions officers, coming soon!). Our programs in DFW & Houston allow you to earn your Texas MBA from the same acclaimed McCombs school of business faculty, while continuing to work full-time!

Register now: This fall, the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth & the Texas MBA at Houston are offering special “Lunch & Learn” events so you can get to know these programs & enjoy lunch on us!

Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Lunch and Learn | September 12th in Dallas

Texas MBA at Houston Lunch and Learn | September 12th in Houston

If you have any questions, please send us an email. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Life as an EMBA: Explore the Texas Executive MBA Program

The Texas Executive MBA program offers experienced business leaders the opportunity to unlock their full potential, expand their network, and earn one of the most prestigious MBA degrees in the world. All while continuing to work full-time.

A current Texas Executive MBA, Rachel Truair, has shared some key takeaways from her first year in the program:

MBA-1st-Year-3-29wjla3

This summer or fall, learn more about the program by attending a Texas MBA event.

Read more on our Texas MBA Student blog or reach out to us at TexasEMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu with any questions you may have. We hope to meet you soon!

 

What Diversity Means at McCombs

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Texas MBA students celebrate at the 2014 Diversity Forum. Apply for the 2015 forum on our website!

From Rene Martinez, Associate Director of Admissions, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:

Here at the McCombs School of Business we tend to brag incessantly about our awesome students. They truly are not only the smartest MBA students around, but also the kindest, most genuine, and highly capable people that we know.  But what makes them this way?

I could begin to list off their unique work backgrounds, or the interesting things they learned during their undergraduate experiences, or their innovative career plans, but while important and impressive, these lists do not really explain what makes them special. If I were to identify the defining characteristic of a McCombs student, it would be an excitement for learning and an adventurous spirit that keeps this excitement alive through adversity and change.

This characteristic is so pervasive within our student body that we work very hard to create an academic environment to support and encourage innovation, adaptation, and excitement for the unknown. We insist that our student body is as diverse as possible, so that the unknown can be found not only in the courses you take, but also in the person sitting next to you in your study group. Diversity, at its core, is opportunity: opportunity to learn, step outside yourself and grow, and to make a network that can pull you in directions that will most benefit your future. It is what makes us different, and we encourage each of our students to be themselves fully, without reservation.

No matter who you are, you can be successful at McCombs, as long as you, too, are excited about the unknown and want to grow with the people around you. 

Last summer we celebrated our 30th year of partnering with the Consortium of Graduate Study in Management (CGSM), an organization whose purpose is to promote and develop diverse MBA candidates. Our recently admitted CGSM Class of 2017 is our largest class at McCombs to date and one of the largest among member schools!

This is only one of many ways we support and promote diversity, including our Diversity and Women’s Forums, the Forte Foundation, MLT, ROMBA, National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA), National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) and our many, many student organizations. Each year we are excited to see the countless ways each new student adds to the diversity we have forged over the decades McCombs has existed. We look forward to the possibility of adding your uniqueness to our community as well! Please reach out to us to learn more about how you can find your fit at McCombs.

Hook ‘Em!

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