A Texas MBA Degree = A Head Start to Your Dream Career

That six figure salary; The desire to travel the world; The ambition to make a difference. These are some of the reasons  that bring us to business school and we all hope to fulfill these aspirations through that dream job at the end! At McCombs, the faculty strives to help us to do exactly that through the many resources the business school has to offer.

If you see the class BA181 in the MBA curriculum and wonder what it’s about, I’m sure you are not alone. When I came to business school, I was surprised to find not only core classes in Finance, Accounting, Economics, Marketing and Operations but also one dedicated to Career Management. This unique class is perfectly designed to prevent the ever-busy MBA from losing sight of that end goal: To not just get a job, but the right job. It is led by an extremely talented Career Management team who provide you with a road map to reach your goal. Outside of class, they are always accessible to provide advice on topics ranging from career switching, networking, resume writing, interviewing, or sometimes just providing a shoulder to lean on for advice.

Besides a dedicated Career Management team we also have access to communication coaches who help up build our brand and communication skills through personal coaching sessions. Being an international student still learning the ropes of a new culture, these resources have been extremely useful to me. I am able to walk up to the team with questions that sometimes seem silly to me, but have always gotten the support I need. This has helped me greatly during networking events and career fairs. Learn More.

Our schedules are packed with information sessions and networking events with over 350 companies visiting campus! This can sometimes get stressful with homework, exams,  and networking all happening at once, but it has opened up a world of opportunities.

   CC Reception 1015

           Networking Reception at McCombs Career Fair          

             Tech Trek - Facebook 0115

 Tech Trek visit to Facebook

Career resources come in many forms and one of the most valuable is the UT network. Being part of this big network gives you access so alumni and seniors who are always willing to help the next generation of graduating MBAs. My personal experience reaching out to alumni has always been extremely pleasant. They are always willing to take time out for students from their Alma Mater no matter how busy their schedule. The collaboration that the Texas MBA program fosters stays with you long after you leave school. Alumni and staff are always there to help you succeed.

Finally, the biggest resource offered is the University of Texas and McCombs brand. Every day I learn of the many doors this brand opens up to students. With alumni spread across many industries and companies all around the world, the brand brings with it immense opportunities that I am learning more about every day.

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Posted in Academics, Career, Full-Time, Student Life, Uncategorized

How to Survive as a Liberal Arts Major Turned MBA

When you hear “debit,” do you think about your bank card? What about statistics? Does it make your stomach churnI Regret Nothing - Friends GIF just a bit? Is Excel only a program that’s used to conveniently sort rows and rows of data? In undergrad, did you purposefully avoid expensive calculators and figuring out what X was (again!)? If so, you’re probably one of my fellow liberal arts majors: Journalism, human resources, psychology, history, the list goes on and on.

While we know that most of our majors are divergent in practice, there is at least one glaring common thread that binds our educational and professional experiences together: Relatively minimal math.

Now, this is definitely not a slight to any of you that may actually regularly use quantitative skills on a daily or even weekly basis in your current position. However, notice that I said “relatively minimal.” Compared to many of your classmates who will be sitting next to you on the first day of class, you’re behind the math curve, and in the MBA classroom, learning these skills isn’t just part of the curriculum – it’s an expectation, and if you’re less familiar than those who have more advanced skills in these areas, the effort to maintain pace can become much more exacerbated.

So, let’s assume that you’ve taken the GMAT, you’re pleased with your score, and you’ve submitted your applications. Now what? Well, as you prepare for interviews, and even after you’ve plunked down your deposit on your choice program, it’s time to strengthen those quantitative muscles so that you’re able to flex them on day one.

Pro Tips! Here’s a list of things I recommend for those idle days pre-MBA:

    • Take an Intro to _____ class: Fill in the blank on this one. At McCombs, our core classes are very quant-heavy. In the first quarter of the semester, you’ll take Accounting, Finance, and Statistics, and in the second quarter, you only build on the skills you learned in the first, so it’s very easy to become overwhelmed if you’re not familiar with the material. Further, many in your class will have been a strong business or engineering background, so many of the concepts will be more review for them and may be completely new and foreign to you. Taking an MBA-level stats class as your first statistics class has a very steep learning curve, so audit a community college Intro to Statistics or Intro to Finance class during the spring or summer. If you’re able to know what a Z table is before the first day of class, you’re already one step ahead of where I was. An added advantage of taking a class at a local junior college is that it begins to prepare you to actually be back in the classroom, which will help with the initial transition from work back to school.
    • Read up on Excel: I used to think I was really good at Excel, but it turns out, it was only because everyone around me was not as good. Lesson learned: It’s all relative. I have a classmate on my study team who is a former IT analyst, and when we worked on Excel models together for homework, I would never, ever see him touch his mouse. He was a true Excel ninja, and the rest of my study team were in absolute amazement. Don’t take this to mean that you have to learn all of the Excel functions, shortcuts, and formulas before you begin your program, but you should have more than a basic understanding of what Excel is able to do prior to your first class. I recommend reading Marketing Analytics by Wayne Winston, which is our textbook for Analytics of Markets. It’s not a book that you read at leisure (it’s over 700 pages), but it does show you step-by-step how to use Excel functions in ways that you will be expected to know. The best part is that on the book’s website there are a ton of Excel spreadsheets that serve as companions for the exercises in the book, so you’re actually getting hands-on experience. Also, you may ask someone who knows Excel pretty well to sit down with you and teach you the basics, but it’s a bit more difficult to do this when you don’t know what you don’t know.
    • Don’t be scared of numbers: It took me a while to decide to come back to get my MBA because I was honestly scared of numbers. Studying for the GMAT helped me to mitigate that avoidance a bit, but I wish I had done more to really prepare for MBA-level math because the concepts come quick and it only builds from there. Go to a used book store and get an MBA-level textbook, read the chapters, and do the practice problems. The best thing you can do as a student who has more qualitative skills than quantitative skills is to recognize that and commit time and energy into strengthening those areas. On the first day of class, you want to feel like you have a reasonably good idea of the segments of the curriculum, which will strengthen your ability to positively contribute to the class.
    • Utilize free online courses: There are so many free remote learning resources available, and I would recommend browsing sites such as Coursera.org or Smart.ly to find a course that is most tailored to the skill gaps that you may have. My favorite site pre-B-school was Coursera. It includes dozens of free MBA classes that are taught by top MBA professors. For instance, I enrolled in a free accounting class, which allowed me to really understand the basic and more advanced concepts before I began my actual coursework. An alternative to these sites is MBAMath.com. It’s a bit dry in its delivery, but the content is absolutely necessary. Although it does have a flat annual subscription fee, it’s minimal, and you are able to access the site throughout the year for supplemental learning as you continue through your actual MBA coursework.

Good Luck and Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Full-Time, Student Life

Full-Time Travelers: Texas MBA Treks



Great Scott! Back to the Future Day was October 21st this year, and that week McCombs first-year MBAs glimpsed their potential destinies. With a two-day break from their courses, students trekked across the city, state and country to become better acquainted with companies from local startup RealMassive to investment banks in the Big Apple.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 2.07.11 AM

McCombs alumni welcomed visitors all along the way with warm greetings, fond memories and useful career development tips, as well as branded swag and delicious treats. And speaking of Hollywood classics, there were some big screens too, like this one at Austin big tech trek participant Emerson…

Thanks to MBA career advisor Daniel Liu for this photo from the big tech trek

… and futuristic motor vehicles that make modern-day stagecoaches seem so last century (yes, even when they have no class, McCombs MBA students stay classy).

Thanks to Tina Mabley, Director of the Full-Time MBA Program for capturing the tech trekkers in their best hook 'em poses

Thanks to Full-Time MBA program director Tina Mabley for capturing the tech trekkers in their best Hook ‘Em poses

For 20 MBAs on the Dallas marketing trek, the Monday morning agenda comprised coffee, juice and breakfast pastries served by American Airlines, Pizza Hut for lunch, and Frito-Lay’s Rold Gold pretzel dippers as a late-afternoon snack—all at those respective firms’ corporate headquarters. Presentations from members of the Longhorn family and current employees on navigating a major merger in the travel industry, managing relationships with franchisees and reaching target customer segments through emerging platforms like Periscope, among other topics, provided the food for thought. 

Six first-year MBAs at the Dallas headquarters of Pepsico's Frito-Lay division

Six first-year MBAs at the Dallas headquarters of Pepsico’s Frito-Lay division

Houston Energy Finance (visits including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Phillips66), Houston Clean Tech (visits including NRG and First Solar), and Dallas Private Wealth/Asset Management (visits including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse) were among the other treks. The adventures in networking continued throughout the next few weeks in Houston and Dallas, as consulting firms and Houston investment banking institutions hosted more forward looking McCombs MBAs.


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Posted in Career, Full-Time

Marketing Case Challenge

For those of you just getting to know the MBA experience along with classes, recruiting, networking, and “networking with classmates” (i.e.: having some fun…), case challenges are a (sometimes overlooked) piece of the puzzle.

Case challenges are sponsored by companies and are generally real-world questions that the companies are actually working on.

There are basically case challenges for everything: finance, marketing, global, and operations are just a small portion of them. Usually, they’re overnight competitions where interested parties self-select teams of 4 people to compete against either their classmates or against other schools (depending on the competition). They usually have cash prizes for the top three places, and they generally give out swag for other stuff (best speaker, best deck, etc.). Judges are representatives from different companies, so they’re great networking opportunities as well.

This year, rather than an overnight challenge, the marketing case challenge was a week long. Teams received the case on October 21, submitted their completed presentations by October 28, and presented on October 30. The competition was sponsored by Walmart and focused around how Walmart could use Pinterest to target millennials. For someone with a consulting background who worked in healthcare, public sector, and cable, this was a pretty big change.

Here’s the team vigorously (sort of) finishing the deck to get it submitted before the deadline:


Little did we know… they had an extra surprise in store for us during the competition… A TORNADO WARNING! Here’s a small group of us after we made it to safety:


Hook ‘Em, pre-presentation style:


A picture of the ultimate victors:


And finally, the second place team celebrating:


Personally, it was great to get to go through this. I learned a lot about marketing through the conference, and I honestly came in not knowing what I would gain from the challenge. After going through, it was awesome getting to work with people outside of my typical study team, get some marketing experience, and work on building my speaking-skills. Plus, the case was really interesting and relevant for anyone who has an interest in marketing.

There’s also a marketing conference that goes along with the case challenge each year which, this year, focused on “whole-brained marketing” (i.e.: How good marketers today own a combination of creativity and analytics skill-sets). The two keynote speeches were from Peter Horst, CMO, Hershey, and Kip Knight, President, H&R Block US Retail Operations, but the entire panel of speakers was awesome

Full details on the conference here or,
Check out the Storify feed. Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Full-Time, Student Life

ExxonMobil & Net Impact Host 1st Energy Bowl at McCombs

It’s well-known that Texas produces more crude oil and natural gas than any other state in the US. However, did you know that the Lone Star State leads the country in wind powered generation capacity? The energy industry serves a crucial role in the macro economy and its complexity, technological advancements, and never-ending thirst for capital attracts many students to McCombs every year.

Here at UT, we benefit from vast resources to aid in our professional development towards becoming leaders in the energy industry. As Texas MBAs, of course we like to team up and make a friendly competition out of it whenever possible. Last week, Net Impact and ExxonMobil gave us the perfect opportunity to do so by hosting its inaugural Energy Bowl at McCombs.


Texas MBAs at the Energy Bowl!

Leading industry experts MC’d the competition, which was not your average trivia night (not going to lie, I 100% expected a question on the gusher at Spindletop, TX…I was wrong).  Exxon and Net Impact tested students on categories including energy in pop culture, history, new and emerging sources, and projected trends in energy use. We’ve selected a few challenging questions to share below (Answers at the bottom of this post):

  • How many smartphone batteries would you need to equal the energy contained in one gallon of gasoline?
  • Which musician once worked as a roughneck on an offshore oil rig?
  • In what city was the first dam specifically developed for generating hydroelectric power?
  • How many 5 MW wind turbines would it take to provide the equivalent of NYC’s electricity consumption?

We had a great time trying to solve these problems and asking the panelists questions about the future of the industry between rounds. Perhaps more important than racking up points at trivia is your team name, shout-out to “1.21 Gigawatts” for the clever Back to the Future reference.

Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in conventional or renewable energy, there’s no better place to make the next step than McCombs!

(Answers: 4,000, Trace Adkins, Austin, 4,000 + back-up power)

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Posted in Full-Time

How We “Slack” in The Texas Executive MBA Program


slack user growth

Slack is a new online collaboration tool (and is super addictive!) [.gif source]

If you read the title of this post and thought it would be about Executive MBAs slacking off, you’re about to be slightly disappointed. Slack is a new, hyper-addictive online messaging tool that the Texas Executive MBA Class of 2016 started using last August, before our first seminar, to communicate with one another. One of our classmates, Josh Treviño, uses Slack at his office and suggested we set up a team account. Slowly but surely, students began trickling in, tentatively posting questions about pre-readings or class schedules.

The early days of our Slack environment were like being in a library: a place to request or look for information, quietly and without bothering anyone.

Fast-forward to nearly a year later, and our Slack team is more like a bustling conference at a convention center, with hallways and rooms to duck in and out of, people laughing in one corner and others sharing useful tips and tricks in another. Not only has Slack helped us find the program information we need, but many credit the tool with our class’s ability to form strong bonds with one another. Inspired by Bill Morein’s How We Slack at FiftyThree, which discusses business uses for Slack, we wanted to share how Slack has helped busy students like us, as Slack’s tagline promises, “be less busy.”

slack for education and universities

General Channel

We have one channel, #general, that anyone can join – and pretty much everyone has. This is where the chit-chat takes place, and can run the gamut from people asking questions about which elective to take, to updates received by individual students about the program, to people testing out their Slackbot-programming skills.

Class Channels

Channels named after our classes each semester help keep things organized. Think #financial-management, #managerial-economics or #strategic-management. If you’ve got a class-related question, need to track down a file, or are just looking for some motivation to work on a paper or study for a big test, this is the place to do business. These channels are archived by the moderators a few weeks after classes wrap up so they don’t use up valuable storage space.

Funny Quotes Channel

Being in one of the Top 20 MBA programs in the country means you’re always surrounded by smart, quick-witted people, whether they are your classmates or professors. A few weeks into our first semester, there were so many funny verbal exchanges happening in and out of class that often times were also some of the best learning moments. #funnyquotes is where the greatest ones get memorialized. A gem from the #funnyquotes feed recently: “Shake hands, kiss babies, and never confuse the two.” That’s Dr. John Daly, professor of our Advocacy elective.

Jobs Channel

Whether you’re looking for a new job or know someone who is, our #jobs channel has helped several people swing to the next vine. It also serves as a place to ping classmates for connections within companies (usually someone has an “in!”), solicit resume advice, compare notes on the executive coaches in the UT Career Services program offers, and offer referrals of candidates who may not be in our program.

Hobby Channels

We’re a diverse group and that extends to our hobbies. Among our hobby channels, we’ve got #field-and-stream for the outdoors-men/women in the program who like to hunt and fish, #wine-club for the group that shares a mutual love of wine after class on the weekends, #chinese for those who want to learn more about the Chinese culture prior to our class trip to China next May, and #hangout which serves as a catch-all for people who want to coordinate grabbing lunch or a drink with a classmate in the area.

Private Groups

There is the option in Slack to send private messages, as well as create private group messages. In my study group’s case, we have a private group titled “Goose” (named after our team name, “Two O’s in Goose”) set up to share notes about group work, gatherings, and inside jokes (most of which, unsurprisingly, involve references to Top Gun).

Questions about Slack or its uses for student communication? Feel free to leave them in the comments below, or tweet at me at @racheltruair.

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Executive, 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. Read more ›

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Posted in Executive, Student Life

Infographic: First Year Executive MBAs Tell All

EMBA Infographic

EMBA Infographic

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Posted in Executive, Student Life

GWiB Goes Country, Y’all!

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.

Carly Tanker, Lasso Queen!

Carly Tanker, Lasso Queen!

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.

Morning Trail Ride

Morning Trail Ride (no filter needed!)

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!IMG_5034

See you next year, Larry!

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Posted in Academics, Student Life, Student Orgs

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.


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Posted in Austin, Diversity, Full-Time, Student Life
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