Tag: MBA student life

Texas MBA Epilogue: From an Executive MBA

Twenty-one months. Thousands of miles traveled and hours spent studying. Dozens of trips to Austin. More caffeine consumed than I care to admit. It all leads to the ceremonies scheduled for this afternoon. Continue reading

Austin: The City with Something for Everyone

Life in the Texas MBA program goes beyond the cohort classrooms. The city of Austin is integral to our experience in the two years that we spend at McCombs. The best thing about Austin is that there is something to do here for everyone. From race-car enthusiasts to live music connoisseurs, everyone in the program takes a little bit of this city wherever they go. In this blog, we wanted to touch upon three different types of events that are truly unique to Austin’s soul.

For Music Lovers: Austin City Limits Music Festival

Move over Coachella, the biggest and best artists in music make their annual pilgrimage to Austin and play in front of 75000 people in the outdoor greens of Zilker Park. The venue is decked up with food and drinks, an art market, kids area for families, while music ranges from rock, indie, country, folk, electronic, and hip-hop. This year, the McCombs group created their own flag and made their presence felt all over Zilker Park.

For Technology Lovers: South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive

SXSW Interactive is focused on emerging technology making Austin the breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies. The festival includes a trade show, speakers, parties, and a startup accelerator. This year, Meerkat, the video streaming application, was one of the featured technologies gaining traction due to endorsements from many celebrities including Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Every year, Texas MBA has a booth at the SXSWi Tradeshow promoting new technology ventures supported by our own students.

For Fun Lovers: Eeoyre’s Birthday

It doesn’t get much more Austin weird than Eeyore’s Birthday Party – the annual Pease Park bacchanal known for outrageous costumes and booming drum circles. This event is celebrated on the last Saturday of April, featuring colorful costumes, a trash can of lemonade, honey sandwiches and a live flower-draped donkey.

Eeooyre'sBday

Farewell, Spring Break: An Ode to Global Connections – Colombia

Imagine, if you will:

A balmy, salt-spiced breeze saunters down the street as you step into an alley lined with exotic fruit vendors displaying colors and flavors yet to be discovered by your senses. Lively salsa music emanates from around the corner, where an enchanting band has set up shop next to street merchants selling alluring handmade arts and crafts in shades of chartreuse, turquoise and emerald. All around, people are smiling, laughing, dancing.

Dream sequence? Possibly. But for the McCombs students who went on a Global Connections trip during the two weeks of spring break, the dream became a reality as soon as finals were done, bags were packed, and flights were boarded.

I had the pleasure of going to Colombia for 15 days with a group of 30 or so classmates. During that time, we visited several cities, including Bogotá, Medellín, Zona Cafetera and Cartagena (for a small, extended sojourn once the program came to an end.) In each city, we had the chance to immerse ourselves in the corporate and cultural sides of Colombia, all while sipping on some mighty good coffee.

Return of the "prom pose"

Return of the “prom pose”

First, let’s talk business. We met with over half a dozen companies, encompassing all sizes and industries. We walked the very fields where owner Jesús Martin harvests the same beans he selected, roasted and brewed into every cup of coffee he served us at his café later that day. We suited up in safety apparel to go inside Colombia’s main 3M manufacturing plants to witness firsthand how iconic products like Scotch-Brite and masking tape are made. We strolled the immense greenhouses of La Gaitana, one of the country’s largest exporters of flowers, and learned how they sustain their large-scale operations with such a nimble workforce. We dined casually at the headquarters of Corona, one of the largest producers of porcelain and ceramic products, with the company’s CEO – before he exchanged his three-piece suit for casual attire and chose to spend the entire day with us as we visited factories and storefronts to review the company’s inventory and supply chain procedures. Every company we met with, we were greeted with open arms, delicious treats, and a wealth of executive-level insight.

Endless appreciation for the substance that fuels my every morning

Jesús Martin: Endless appreciation for the substance that fuels my every morning

A company that's the epitome of strong leadership and values

Corona: A company that’s the epitome of strong leadership and values

When we weren’t off pursuing global business savvy, we were out and about exploring everything Colombia has to offer: local cuisine, live music, and tropical ecosystems in dazzling technicolor. Speaking as someone who thinks the word marathon should involve Netflix and not the great outdoors, I’m proud to say we did it all: descending into the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquirá, conquering the 700+ stairs leading to the top of the rock of Guatapé, ziplining across acres of lush vegetation in Armenia, and flying up winding mountainsides in open-air Jeep Willys on our way to Salento. But alas, every daredevil requires the occasional night off, so we also made sure to indulge in good food, drinks, and dancing when we could. There were spectacular meat/cheese platters, fresh juices from fruits you can only readily find and consume in Colombia, and desserts akin to ambrosia (one dish literally comprised of rich hot cocoa with chunks of creamy cheese melted into it – holy cholesterol.) The ever-present music that permeates the country by day seems to be heightened at night, causing body parts to inadvertently tap, shimmy and wiggle to the beat. Salsa clubs packed with dancers of all skillsets gave us an opportunity to burn some of those decadent aforementioned calories to the rhythm of bongos and trumpets.

Guatapé: Started at the bottom

Guatapé: Started at the bottom

Indescribable feelings

Salento: Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings

Ziplining over babbling brooks? Don't mind if I do

Ziplining over babbling brooks? Don’t mind if I do

Beautiful, mystical, sprawling far as the eye can see

Beautiful and mystical, sprawling as far as the eye can see

One of the best parts of this experience? Forever creating those memories alongside my fellow MBAs. We had folks from the full-time and part-time programs alike, alongside some who were in entirely different disciplines outside of McCombs, and it was one of the highlights of my trip getting to know these people I might not have had the chance to meet otherwise. Together, we picked up some Spanish phrases (no dar papaya, y’all), learned the importance of cultural differences (I lescant even, y’all), ventured into new gastronomy (aguardiente, y’all!) and even hunkered down for a brief earthquake (…is my altitude sickness kicking in or did the earth just move, y’all?)

Hanging out on a mountain, nbd

Hanging out on a mountain

TL;DR:
1) Colombia, in all its lively, loving warmth, has truly captured my heart
2) Global Connections is a wonderful way to spend spring break doing exceptional things for both your career and your psyche
3) I need a vacation to recover from my vacation

My favorite color: Caribbean blue

My favorite color: Caribbean blue

Sunset over Cafe del Mar

¡Viva Colombia!

Hook ‘em!

International Life at McCombs

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

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

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

Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game 2014

MBA Semester One? Check.

You go into a roller coaster ride expecting the adrenaline rush, expecting both the fear and the excitement. More importantly, if you are even remotely adventurous, you have been on the roller-coaster ride before.
MBA Semester one is a different story, however. I am surprised when people metaphorically compare the experience to that of a roller coaster only because nothing about the latter is life changing. I came into the program thinking I have done pretty well in the past, I will get through this. I was not only wrong, but it took all of ten days into the program to realize, how little I knew about the business world and the people who were bringing about the changing trends in commerce. Be it the finance class I took where bulk of our time was spent talking about present values of future investments or the famous Prof Britt Fruend’s Operations Management class, which spoke about Quality of product in Japan vs. that in America; I came to understand that there isn’t really an economic trend that is localized any more. Every change is working on a global level.
The Texas MBA in its first few days asked me to halt and see how I can obtain an eagle’s eye view on a problem. In the last 4 months, I haven’t worked with any team which would accept an answer for its face value. I was pleasantly amused to see evidence of researcher-like traits in almost all of my classmates. We maybe training ourselves to take quick, accurate decisions when situation demands, but at the McCombs School of Business, we are being trained to continuously evaluate the risk-reward parameters.

The last semester saw everything being thrown at each student all at once: the academic challenges, four sets of exams (well almost), networking with recruiters, finding and choosing career paths, deciding to give up Thursday Think ‘n’ Drinks for overnight case challenges (I did three and survived)! Suddenly, we also saw a surge in student club activities and students pitching for leadership positions. There were moments when all activities seemed to be taking place at just that one single moment. I knew I had reached a threshold limit when I literally had to block a time-slot in my calendar to update my calendar! It is only now, during the winter break, when I sit back and reflect at how intelligently the course structure has been designed. The idea is to help you restructure your efforts and re-think about whether your strategies and work-methods need be updated. This is the first step to effective leadership.
Irrespective of the roller coaster like ups and downs, I think what makes life extremely easy at McCombs is that spirit of collaboration which is forever maintained, no matter how busy everyone gets. We all are in this together and we help each other to sail through it together.
MBA Semester One: Over n Out.

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