Tag: classmates (page 1 of 3)

Reflections & Resolutions

Happy New Year, y’all!

It is hard to believe that the class of 2016 is already one quarter of the way through the McCombs MBA program. Looking back on the first semester I can confidently say that it was, at times, exactly what I had expected and simultaneously completely bewildering. There were days I felt confident and self-assured, and others that made me feel confused and uncertain.

I can see now that this is by design.


Entering McCombs, everyone thought they know exactly what they wanted to do after graduating, but that notion was quickly challenged by the time orientation ended. Suddenly most people identified themselves as “career explorers,” learning about and eliminating functions and industries one-by-one during company info sessions, conversations with alumni and second-years, and through hands-on experience with MBA+ projects. While scary, being pushed outside of my comfort has enabled me to self-reflect, learn, and grow more than I ever expected.

In the spirit of the New Year, and at the suggestion of Assistant Dean Mabley, I have made a list of resolutions for making the most out of my McCombs experience in 2015 (and beyond).

1)  Take better advantage of McCombs resources: There are endless perks and opportunities provided by the MBA Program Office. Often likened to drinking from a fire hose, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options. In the fall, I joined a few clubs, attended countless information sessions and had several appointments with career and academic advisors (a.k.a. MBA therapists). I attended conferences and heard from inspiring speakers including Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, and Jeffrey Raider, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s and Co-Founder of Warby Parker. This semester, I would like to attend more club and university events and take advantage of unique McCombs resources, such as using communication coaches for mock interviews and attending career treks to learn about companies that hire McCombs grads in cities like Seattle and San Francisco.

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

2)  Explore and embrace Austin: Everything you’ve heard about Austin is true. It is weird and wonderful and welcoming to new Austinites. I moved here last July from Kansas City knowing almost no one and very little about the city, and have since fallen in love with it. Some of my favorite things to do are to take my dog, Louie, to run in Zilker Park while I people watch, sample endless food trucks and try new workouts (ex: rowing, hot yoga with weights, boot camp; you name it, Austin has it). It recently clicked that I may only get to live in Austin for these two years, so I had better make the most of it. My Austin bucket list includes, among other things: seeing more live music, exploring the Hill Country, taking a class at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and a Matthew McConaughey or Sandra Bullock sighting, of course.

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

3)  Make time to be social: Thursday night means “Think ‘N Drink” at McCombs. And yet, there were more times than not that I gave up TND to complete homework or save a few bucks. Toward the end of the semester, I realized that these two years are probably the last time I will have Fridays free and definitely my only chance to create lasting relationships with my fellow classmates. I vow to do better in 2015 and make it a priority to have more fun.

Cohort 1 ladies night

Cohort 1 ladies night

4)  Land my dream internship: OK, so this one goes without saying, but hopefully if I put it in writing it will happen organically. It’s daunting to have to sell yourself to potential employers. However, thanks to the Strategic Career Planning class that is part of the McCombs MBA core curriculum, I feel prepared to enter the internship search with a polished resume and clear, focused goals. So here’s to a successful spring recruiting session and an impending internship offer!

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in  Atlanta last September

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in
Atlanta last September

Good luck to those of you applying for round two. Hook ‘em!

Knowledge Bomb

Mind = Blown

That about sums up my experiences during the first half of my fall semester and the close of final exams. I was told, re-told, and then told again that the first semester is a whirlwind. I was warned that I would have the constant FOMO (fear of missing out) for choosing one event over another that both happen at the same time, on the same day, on the opposite ends of 6th Street. I was told that the workload in Fall 1 (Accounting, Finance, Economics, and Statistics) would be significant. I was shown examples that my 24 hour schedule would be packed with 25 hours of recruiting events, socializing, happy hours, studying, classes, and projects. Even though I was repeatedly told about the rigors of the first semester and prepared as best as I could, I still felt caught off-guard and overwhelmed.

And I’d click the refresh button to experience it all over again in a second.

The people, program, and the city of Austin have all exceeded my greatest expectations of an MBA experience from a top 15 school. I have been able to meet fantastically intelligent people from around all corners of the globe. The professors in the core classes have done an admirable job in preparing all of us with a solid foundation in business principles, especially for a Biology and Chemistry student such as me. Lastly, I have been able to enjoy many of the great things that the city of Austin has to offer, including Rainey St. nightlife, food trucks, Texas football games, free concerts in the park, and amazing weather, just to name a few.

Here are just a few highlights of my first 4 months in Austin:

  • Catching a free summer musical, “Oklahoma!”, in Zilker Park:



  • Watching the bats fly out into the dusk sky from under the Congress Avenue Bridge:


  • Being taught by an economics professor that was yelled at by Castro for over an hour:


  • Learning Finance from a great professor in Clemens Sialm:


  • Having a fantastic study group that helped me understand that “walking down the demand curve” is not a euphemism and is an actual economic concept:


  • Attending my first Longhorn football game with my wife:


  • Experiencing the highs of an all-night business case challenge:



  • And the lows:



  • Playing racquetball next to Matthew McConaughey’s Intramural championship photo:


  • Experiencing all things fried at the Texas State Fair, including deep fried pumpkin pie:


  • And wrapping a post-finals weekend yelling my first “OU Sucks!” cheer at the Red River Shootout in Dallas:





All in all, it has been a very memorable first 8 weeks of school. I have looked to make the most of all the incredible things that the McCombs School of Business and the city of Austin has to offer. And while the first 8 weeks have been full of many sleepless nights, I feel energized to begin a new half-semester of classes.

They’re called “Intensives” for a reason

I’m Ivy Le. I’m an entrepreneur running a print, design, and content marketing shop in Austin, but I’m better known by search engines as the beer reporter for the Austin Chronicle, which I was until this week, when I became a UT McCombs MBA candidate.

I have a husband, who keeps our marriage strong with random acts of Hello Kitty, like this one on my first day of orientation for the Texas Evening MBA program (TEMBA, for short):

I’m the first college graduate in my family, and they’ll be very proud when I finish business school. They’re as anxious about my ability to perform as I am. Continue reading

18 Signs that You’re a Second Year Texas MBA at Houston Student

Welcome back, class of 2014! Finally, we are no longer the new kids on the block! (refrains self from singing…) In the spirit of two of my favorite time-killing websites, Buzzfeed and Imgur, here is a handy list to help you identify who’s who on campus:

1. Technically, this past class weekend was the inauguration of a new school year, but you’ve already gone through four weeks of school work starting with prepping for Austin Intensive. So really you’ve had zero summer break. At least you expected it this time.


2. Speaking of Austin Intensive, you were brutally reminded of why the word “intensive” is in the title, plus they kept you on your toes with new surprises this year like the Leadership Training. Except this time, it takes you twice as long to recover…you just aren’t as young anymore!


3. But this time you already know everyone so there’s not that awkward getting-to-know-you stage, and going out on West 6th was an absolute blast as you pretend to relive your undergrad years one last time.


4. When you get back from Austin, your inbox is jam-packed with emails from your favorite program coordinator Stuart Bone and other school-related emails, and you sigh a collective groan that it’s starting again.

 5. Although you are happy (quite literally) to receive the weekly happy hours emails again.


6. Everyone had warned you this will be the hardest semester ever (heads up, 2015s!). You had hoped they were just trying to psych you out but now realize they were not kidding! At least you’ve got your routine down and are ready for it.


7. To deal with all this work, your other favorite addictive substance, caffeine, took no time to make its way back into your life!


8. Good thing the buffet line at school is always stocked with plenty of teas, coffee, Red Bull, etc. Come to think of it, you actually kind of missed the food on school weekends. Hopefully you won’t get the “MBA 15” again…


9. Finally, the cushy classrooms that you saw during your class visits! No more freshman treatment…


10. And no more tuition bills!!!


11. You vow to be a good mentor. Hey, the 2015s actually seem to care about what little nuggets of advice you have (or they’re really good at pretending).


12. You also vow to not to lose your parking coin ever this year because that one time you did it really sucked.


13. You seem to have retained some sort of muscle memory of driving to campus and Hotel ZaZa. You also know exactly when to leave work on Fridays and all the alternate routes to circumvent traffic.


14. Business-speak like “leverage” and “synergy” roll off your tongue like it ain’t no thang. You think it makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.


15. You keep trying to impress your friends and family with random tidbits you had learned about the different companies from your case studies and they’re getting a little tired of it. “Honey, please don’t talk about Southwest Airlines again. Can we just board now?”


16. It boggles your mind that you’ll get to walk for graduation but you’ll have to come back for the summer. “What do you mean that blank piece of paper I got on stage doesn’t mean anything!?”


17. Speaking of graduation, your friends and family keep on saying “shouldn’t you have graduated by now?” and how you wish that were true…


18. Despite all the belly-aching, you already know you’ll miss school and the camaraderie once it’s over.


Cheers, 2014s! This is the beginning of the end!



Ready to Get Started with the MBA Experience

I had an epiphany in the winter of 2012. After three years in the “real world,” I was ready to shift the direction of my career and take a massive leap of faith into an MBA program. Thus began my 18-month journey that included studying for the GMAT and taking it more times than I intended and would ever wish upon another person, the MBA application process, and at long last, my admission to McCombs and decision to enroll as a member of the Class of 2015. Although I have been in Austin for just one month and am only on the cusp of officially starting classes, I already find it impossible to imagine myself enrolled in any other MBA program.

Before moving to Austin and enrolling at McCombs, I worked for three years at a market research company in Washington, D.C. called Hanover Research. Prior to working at Hanover, I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History and then spent my first year after college working as a research assistant at a policy organization affiliated with the university. Although I developed an excellent analytical skill set in those positions (as well as the ability to talk about market research to anyone who may inquire as a result of spending my final 18 months at Hanover on the sales team), I discovered during the first few accounting classes that any knowledge acquired in my former professional life may not be that helpful as I navigate through a maze of debits and credits and various financial statements.

Officially a Texas resident! My first day in Austin meant a trip to the tax office to register my car.

Those classes were part of the “academic intensive” component of orientation in which myself and the other first-year MBAs got our feet wet with accounting and statistics classes. However, the bulk of orientation and the days preceding it consisted of social events that allowed me to meet many of my classmates. Activities included a river float down the Guadalupe River, nights out on Rainey Street (followed by late night food at Magnolia Café), an all-class BBQ and party at The Salt Lick, and a pig roast that I hosted with my roommates at our house in South Austin. The best part of meeting so many of my classmates and getting to know them is that our conversations have moved past opening “meet-and-greet” topics such as “When did you get to Austin? Where in the city are you living?” to topics that friends actually speak about. The speed in which I have developed many of these relationships makes it easy to envision gaining lifelong friends over the next two years.

Now that I am registered for classes, have paid my tuition, and am thus “officially” a Texas MBA student, I am eager for the first semester to begin. Every second-year I have spoken to says the first semester as an MBA student is a unique combination of stress, fun, intense work, and general craziness. I say bring it on. Let’s get things started.

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