Despite living in the great state of Texas, I will say that while we are busy keeping Austin weird, we don’t get to do very many “real Texan” things. Well, that all changed during the second annual Graduate Women in Business Retreat we had in April.
This year, we had almost 20 ladies drive out to Rancho Cortez in Bandera, Texas for a night of fun and bonding with our official cowboy host, Larry. We began the afternoon with a scenic horseback ride and lasso lesson. My horse’s name was Whiskey, and he was poorly behaved – the irony does not escape me. After dinner, we went on a hayride where we were able to take in the scenic Texas Hill country as well as get up close, and a little too personal with some real, non-Bevo longhorns.
Later in the evening, we enjoyed s’mores around a campfire with some of the other guests, including a nice family from Sweden. We rounded out the evening with some time in the hot tub and some serious girl-talk before turning in for the night.
The next morning, which started early at 8am (despite his casual demeanor, Larry runs a pretty tight ship), we had breakfast and were able to split up into another two groups for final trail rides before heading back to Austin.
Carly and I were so happy that we were able to get the retreat together, because I have to say it was one of my favorite events for the year. We have such a strong community of women in the MBA program here, that it was great to spend some time together having fun and getting outside of our comfort zones. It was also great to have a diverse group of attendees, international students, exchange students, part-time students and first and second years. Overall, now that we are coming to a close on the first year of the MBA program I can say that I am so thankful to have met these wonderful women and can’t wait to hang out at Rancho Cortez again next year!
See you next year, Larry!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Good luck to those of you applying for round two. Hook ‘em!
Ah, the business school rankings… one of the necessary, yet sometimes misleading data points that prospective students peruse year after year with hopes of choosing the right business school for them. Well, despite even the recent rankings shake-up, there are so many things that make up a school outside of what you’ll find in rankings, news articles, or other “official” sources. As a first year MBA student, I’m here to give you an insider’s view of what makes McCombs special:
1. Keep Austin Weird, y’all
In this day and age, Austin pretty much sells itself. I could quote to you the many lists that site Austin as one of the best places to live or fastest-growing cities, but we’re trying to get away from the lists. Having lived in Austin for almost 5 years now and seeing the growth first hand, I can tell you that the hype is true. Austin is great because it really has something to offer everyone. The city is well known for its vibrant music scene and killer BBQ, but there is so much more than that. Whether you’re a nature lover who plans to explore the miles of greenbelts and kayaking on Town Lake (insider tip – that’s what the locals call it), or a craft beer connoisseur, there is plenty to keep you busy. Personally, my favorite thing has to be all of the food – from sushi flown in from Japan to donuts with bacon or fried chicken, you name it, Austin’s got it.
2. Texas, Fight!
I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but there is nothing like Texas football. Seriously. Whether you were a football-loving undergrad (me!), or coming from a small school where sports weren’t at the forefront of your weekends, or even from abroad where you think American Football is just crazy, being part of Texas Football weekends is an experience everyone needs to have! Luckily for you, McCombs takes tailgating very seriously and we’ll leave it up to you to decide how passionate you are about attending the actual game. Each home football Saturday, McCombs hosts our own tailgate, complete with great food, drinks, and even employee recruiting if you’re still telling me you REALLY don’t care about football.
First football game!
3. Little Big Town
Football is one example, but there are many others that come with being a small program at a large university. McCombs is a tight-knit place, and the fact that all of my classes are in one building sometimes helps me forget exactly where I am. But we have so many advantages being connected with the University of Texas system. This means that we are a part of a huge student body and alumni population (hello, immediate network!), we’ve got the aforementioned sporting traditions, and we get awesome opportunities, like having the CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, come to campus and speak to students. Being in this unique program is really getting the best of both worlds.
4. Wine > Sleeping in a Tent
I personally hate camping. Why you would choose a sleeping bag over running water and a real bed is beyond me. I do like wine though. I mean, what is there not to like? But no matter what camp you fall into (pun intended) McCombs probably has a student club for your interests – and if not, you can create one! There is the Graduate Business Adventure Team (GBAT) that hosts the camping trips, Graduate Business Wine Club (one of my favorites, obviously), the Live Music Association, MBA Improv, and MBA Soccer Club, just to name a few. Of course, there are also many clubs devoted to your career path and special topics in business. Life during your MBA will be busy, so it is great to have fun ways to get out of the classroom and hangout with new friends, doing whatever it may be that you enjoy doing.
5. Shark Tank
If you’re addicted to the TV show, Shark Tank, like myself, you might remember the pitch from a few weeks ago for Beatbox Beverages that secured a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban. Well, let me tell you that Beatbox was a business that started right here in the McCombs MBA program! I use this example just to demonstrate how committed our program is to entrepreneurship – and this is a great city to explore that space. At McCombs we have classes like New Venture Creation and Intro to Entrepreneurship where you can literally work on building your own business, or classes like Entrepreneurial Growth or the Texas Venture Labs Practicum where you can learn how to apply the topics you’re learning about to small businesses. Plus, Austin as a community is very involved with start-ups. There are several well-known incubators, conferences like SXSW and many venture capital firms hoping to find the next Facebook. So, whether your interest lies in creating your own start-up, working with current start-ups, or funding start-ups, we’ve got something for you!
Thursday nights – what every MBA at McCombs looks forward to, assuming you were crafty enough to ensure a free calendar or at least free morning on Friday (that’s right, no Friday classes – ever!) you’ll be able to partake in our favorite weekly ritual, Think ‘n’ Drink. TnD is organized by the Social Committee and held at a different bar around town every week. Everyone is invited, including significant others, friends, and this week even a few visiting parents, and it is a great way to wrap-up the week and hang out. Sure, there will be weeks when going is unrealistic, but it is nice to have a collective activity that you can count on week after week.
Halloween Think ‘n’ Drink
7. Hands On Opportunities
One of the reasons I chose McCombs was because of all of the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. I can’t wait to get out of the class-room and start learning by doing. I will be joining the Texas Venture Labs Practicum in the spring where I will work with a team of six other people- four are from other graduate programs like Law and Engineering, and we will partner with two local start-ups to help them with various issues related directly to their business. There are also partnerships for many other industries like Private Equity/Venture Capital, Operations, Marketing, Corporate Finance, Real Estate and our very own Investment Fund. These classes are a great way to get in-depth knowledge in your area of interest and partner with companies that have an interest in McCombs’ Students.