Pop quiz: What is the difference between student organizations, a.k.a. clubs, and the Texas MBA Fellows Programs?
According to everyone’s favorite Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, a fellow is “a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice.” A club, on the other hand, is defined as “an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal.”
To put it simply, Texas MBA Fellows Programs are hyper-clubs that offer students immersion learning experiences in a specific industry or function, such as Operations, Marketing, Finance, and Entrepreneurship. The programs are highly selective and typically comprised of only about 15-30 MBA students each year, which allows members to have special access to business leaders and, often, dedicated job and internship opportunities.
A short description of each McCombs program is below, but I encourage you to visit the Texas MBA Fellows Program webpage to learn more about the unique aspects of each one.
Board Fellows: McCombs Board Fellows places selected MBA students as non-voting board members of partner local non-profit organizations for one year. The purpose is to give talented and committed graduate business students the opportunity to work with and learn from non-profit leaders while contributing their time and business skills to benefit the community.
CleanTech Fellows: The CleanTech Fellowship is a selective leadership program that offers exceptional Texas MBA students the opportunity to deepen industry knowledge through hands on experiences in the clean tech world. Once selected, each CleanTech Fellow spends 10-15 hours per week working with a company of his or her choosing and meeting with the other fellows to check in, attend speaker series and discuss developments in the industry.
Corporate Finance Fellows: Founded by Intel, Corporate Finance Fellows brings together selected students to work in a team on a specific project designed by Intel and other corporate partners. Each student participates in a 3 credit hour practicum course during the spring semester, followed by a summer internship sourced by Corporate Finance Fellows’ corporate partners.
Marketing Fellows: The Marketing Fellows program gives selected McCombs MBA students committed to pursuing leadership in marketing the opportunity to develop their marketing acumen and management skills through a combination of focused curriculum and consulting projects. The program is student led and managed with support from Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solutions (CCIMS) and Marketing faculty.
Sigma Fellows: Sigma Fellows provides selected MBA students interested in pursuing leadership in the functional areas of operations, supply chain or information management the opportunity to develop their management and leadership skills through a comprehensive integrated learning opportunity. Through a combination of focused classroom discussions and consulting projects, Sigma Fellows develop a better understanding of real-world challenges and enhance the Texas MBA experience within the three Sigma disciplines.
Venture Fellows: Venture Fellows was founded in 1999 to provide selected McCombs MBA students the unique opportunity to work with venture capital and private equity funds. The Venture Fellows program consists of a two-semester internship component and weekly meetings with a guest speaker from the venture capital or private equity community to discuss relevant industry topics and experiences.
Venture Labs Fellows: Texas Venture Labs (TVL) offers a combination of focused curriculum, hands-on learning and a speaker series to students with a passion for learning about the entrepreneurial and funding processes. Through a rigorous recruitment process, 30 graduate students from the Schools of Business, Engineering, Law, and Natural Sciences are selected to participate in the program, during which they work on cross-disciplinary teams to accelerate the formation and launch of 5-10 startups selected through an equally rigorous process. TVL teams provide immediate impact and value to the partner companies for which they consult.
I can say from experience that joining a Fellows Program has added practical value to my McCombs MBA journey. As a Marketing Fellow, I have (so far) been able to advise American Airlines about how to design and promote its in-flight entertainment package, offer ideas about engaging Hispanic Millennials to the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and design a marketing campaign for Chipotle catering.
The best part about the immersion aspect of the program is how truly interested the companies have been in our thoughts, ideas, and recommendations. Having the ear of executives from Fortune 500 companies is not something every MBA student (or working professional, for that matter) receives, and I am so thankful to McCombs for giving me the opportunity on a weekly basis.
P.S. Although not technically Fellows Programs, the MBA Student Investment Funds (MBA Investment Fund & Real Estate Investment Fund) are equally elite and provide McCombs students with rigorous, hands-on experience in the school’s own private investment company.