In the Texas MBA program, we pride ourselves on being truly global. The most treasured element of our global identity is our international student community. At about 24% of the class, they represent many countries across the continents and create a global classroom environment that McCombs is well known for.
Indian Festival Diwali Celebrations in UT, 2014
The culture of McCombs resembles that of a closely-knit family. All our classmates are deeply invested in helping us succeed and transition to the career of our choice. Most international students learn a lot from their domestic counterparts, especially about the culture and traditions of Texas. This year, the domestic students invited many international students to spend Thanksgiving with their families in Austin and other cities. International Night is another fabulous event where students from all countries get to display their culture to their classmates. It is this form of cultural exchange that makes the Texas MBA experience at McCombs truly unique.
International Night, 2014
As an international student who has lived and worked in the U.S. for many years, I must say that the resources available for students are absolutely phenomenal. Right in the first week, UT holds a Football 101 session for all new international students to help them get acquainted with the game that is at the core of UT’s culture. Communication coaches are available through the MBA+ leadership program, and have a great impact in the first year of the program. My communication coach helped me work a lot on my non-verbal communication and business articulation skills. She has also helped many international students through accent modification training. Career services put a special emphasis on helping internationals succeed through specialized job search tools and a one-on-one peer advising model. With a 90,000+ strong alumni base, a lot of international alumni serve as mentors to the current students and help them through their career trajectory.
At McCombs, we often hear the phrase, “What starts here, changes the world.” Our international students are the pioneers of this motto. They bring the best of their global business acumen, and often take back to their home countries the valuable lessons learned in the Texas MBA community. And it all begins – not with the world-class faculty, the top-tier internships, or the leadership skills – It begins when you watch a fourth quarter touchdown at the football field, and before your know it, you clench your fists and say “Hook’Em!” That’s when you become a Longhorn!
Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game 2014
Ah, the MBA+ projects… these certainly constitute a range of emotions from us MBA students. For those who haven’t heard, MBA+ projects are mini consulting projects that you can complete during the semester with a variety of companies. Yes, that’s right, you can elect to do these on top of your already busy schedule, but there are definitely a few very important reasons why you should! In this post I’ll talk a bit about my experience and my tips for the process.
At first, I was on the fence about doing an MBA+ project since I didn’t really know what to expect from my schedule and class commitments. I mulled it over for a week or so and then realized that since I am not pursuing Consulting, I-Banking, or other major corporations (so basically the bulk of anybody coming to campus) that my recruiting schedule would be much less busy than many others’ in the fall so to just go for it – and I’m certainly glad I did. The first step in the process is applying to projects (up to 10), and then your team will be selected by the companies sponsoring the projects. Knowing where I did not want to recruit was how I selected my projects, so I focused only on Austin based start-ups and was matched with FreqSho.
FreqSho is an Austin based music discovery start-up that aggregates artist info from various web sources into a one stop shop for avid music fans. When we started, the company was working off of a minimum viable product (MVP) and was working on launching a beta version. Our task as a team was to help create the go-to-market strategy for launching FreqSho. Given that I have an interest in transitioning from a background in Corporate Finance to Strategy & Marketing, the scope was perfect for me. I have literally zero experience with marketing, and now I have some tangible skills, understanding, and stories to take with me into interviews. Throughout the process I was able to learn more about utilizing primary research, digital advertising (Facebook, Google Display, and Search Engine Optimization), and project management skills. Plus, I was able to score free Sam Smith concert tickets from my teammate and new friend, Gedy!
What to do:
- If you have a business background but are a career or function switcher like me, you should do an MBA+ project. Switching functions has been more difficult than I imagined and the MBA+ project is the only tangible experience I have in marketing compared to some class mates who have tons.
- If you don’t have a business background at all, you should do an MBA+ project. Start building skills and having interview stories aligned with your future goals
- If one of your target companies is sponsoring a project, you should do an MBA+ project. This is free networking, folks. This is especially true for you aspiring consultants out there!
- Be selective! Pick either companies that you are interested in working for or projects that you are passionate about. If nothing really strikes your fancy, you aren’t going to enjoy the process and it won’t be a great experience for you or your team.
- Consider your recruiting schedule and other commitments. Don’t over extend yourself unless you know it will be worth it.
- Get excited about meeting people outside of your cohort that you might not otherwise get to know
What not to do:
- Do not let FOMO (fear of missing out) get you. If you aren’t very interested in any of the projects, don’t do one just because it seems like all of your friends are doing one. You will not fail the MBA program by not participating in an MBA+ Project
- Do not wait until the last 2 weeks to really get into the nitty-gritty of the project. This is much easier said than done. Since these projects aren’t graded, it can be easy to let the tasks fall to the backburner throughout the semester, but it makes for an unpleasant rush to the finish.
- Do not stress too much. Like all things in life, some of the projects will inevitably have better sponsors and scopes than others. If you end up on what turns out not to be your dream project use it as a learning example (great for those behavioral interviews!) and make the most of it. Again, you will not fail the MBA program!