Round 2 Roundup

It’s that time of year.

As the end of 2014 approaches, you’re starting to make a list of all the things you need to take care of. Holiday presents? Got ‘em. Christmas dinner seating arrangements? Done. New Year’s outfit? Check. Ski and/or beach trip? Bon voyage. Round 2 McCombs application?

Mayday.

Whatever it may be – finals, Q4 reports, family vacations, personal deadlines – the last few weeks of the year can culminate into chaos. Consequently, it’s easy to let the ball drop on an application that’s been open and requiring your unrequited love for months. But there’s no reason to resign in defeat, push back to Round 3, or delay business school for another year altogether.

Though January 6th seems abysmally soon, it still gives you a couple of weeks to tweak your application, polish your essays, and get your act in tip-top shape – with time to spare! You may be wondering how one can be so chipper in the face of this ominous deadline looming over your heads. So let me introduce you to Round 2 Boot Camp, or how to achieve application greatness in under two weeks.

1. The time to finalize records – GMAT scores, transcripts, etc. – is now.
As in, today. Like, stop reading this and take care of it ASAP. Mail tends to lag in the wintertime, and sometimes registrar and administrative offices close in observation of the holidays. Since this is the one aspect of the McCombs application externally removed from your direct control, you want to make sure this is resolved first. If you’re simply ensuring everything is in working order, all it should take is an email or phone call; if you’re venturing into this arena for the first time, though, be aware of the price tags that come along with expedited options.

2. Go through your information one final time, and then don’t look back.
It can get a little repetitive having to fill out your address, school/employment history, and resume bullet points over and over for every business school application – to the point of going cross-eyed and misspelling your own name. But the beauty of that part of the form is, most of the information won’t have changed, which means you can skim over your information for typos and mistakes, and then lay that part of your application to rest! And it is a rather big part, so kudos on being done with that. Treat yourself to a cookie.

3. Take full advantage of the outlets for creativity that the McCombs application offers.
Not every business school application allows for alternative options like online profiles and video essays, but that’s what McCombs is all about – giving everyone a chance to shine in their own, unique way. If you feel like words are failing you and coherency is becoming a real struggle, give it a whirl – it will only take a few hours out of a day to figure out if these choices work for you in a meaningful way, or if you’re dangerously toeing the line of a Lady Gaga music video. But you’d be surprised how quickly time flies when a mundane task like a 250-word essay turns into an online art project or personal manifestation.

4. Re-read your essays, allow up to one subject matter change, and then stick to your guns and see it through.
If we had all the time in the world, we would probably change our essay responses approximately once a week. The advice to “sleep on it and check back in a few weeks” is wonderful early-on in the game, but when you’re in a time crunch, it’s better to pick a path and stay the course. Chances are, almost any topic that you’ve thought through and developed will be a wonderful expression of your personal self and capabilities. Since you have many points along the process to inject personality into your application, it’s more important now to focus on being eloquent and memorable than to pick a new topic that’s fascinating but half-baked. That’s the true beauty of the McCombs application: it is multidimensional enough to where you can go forth confidently knowing that just as one specific highlight won’t make you a shoo-in, one better essay subject thought of in hindsight won’t be akin to having shot yourself in the foot either.

5. Make the open-ended essay prompt work for you.
Though it’s optional, you should embrace any and every opportunity to allow McCombs to get to know you better. The key to a powerful explanatory short answer lies in the balance between concise acknowledgement of a problem or issue, and more importantly, how it has shaped you into the ideal MBA candidate. As for explaining in excruciating detail the equivalent of a Greek tragedy – it’s a trap! What is more appealing to an admissions committee is a story rife with reform, proactivity, and insight. It helps to focus briefly on the underlying circumstances of your essay subject, and then emphasize your present reactions and future goals that arose from it.

6. Use the holiday season to touch base with your professors/managers, and confirm receipt of your LOR request.
Common courtesy dictates maintaining contact with your chosen recommender, as his or her letter to the admissions committee singlehandedly dictates your future (just kidding). The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to send warm wishes, chat about vacation plans, and gather a progress report on your letter of recommendation. Your email or call can serve as a heartfelt thanks for carving the time out of their schedule to benefit you, a helping hand if they’ve hit a road bump with submitting it, or a gentle nudge to get the ball rolling on your evaluation. Doing this sooner than later allows for two things: to alleviate the stinging possibility of radio silence with a cookie, and to have enough time for a follow-up attempt if you are indeed met with no response.

7. Dedicate a few hours once a day to finish an action item, and then stagger a final proofread no more than a week later.
Timeliness is critical for this step, but a perspective check can always help center you and place you back on the road to application nirvana. Take two hours out of your daily schedule, be it at the crack of dawn (I really don’t get you early-bird-and-worm types) or as your day is unwinding before dinnertime, and buckle down on completing one item at a time. Finalize one written or video essay, and then don’t think about it for a few days. The next day, craft your heartwarming email to your recommender. The day after that, glance at your resume and swap out cliché buzz words with significant action verbs, and then put it away for a couple of days. The satisfaction you receive from wrapping up tasks, as well as the clarity you acquire from a few days of breathing room in between, will be better than the aforementioned cookies. But you can still have a cookie every step of the way! In fact, I encourage it.

8. Set your personal deadline for a few days before the 6th.
Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and Murphy’s Law. I don’t condone dishonesty, but lying to yourself about the Round 2 deadline will do wonders. Do yourself a favor and factor in the following buffers while planning out your schedule: one day for falling sick, one day for the blue screen of death (or for us cool kids, the spinning pinwheel of death), and one day for Kim K. to have actually broken the internet. In all seriousness, truly aiming to be done a few days in advance (as if anything past January 2nd or 3rd is considered delinquent) will allow you to enjoy the holiday break you so deserve, and make you feel like an overall rock star.

9. Through it all, keep the reasons you wish to be part of the McCombs family at the forefront of your agenda.
Set your intention, remember your personal goals, fine-tune your focus, settle into your resolve, and don’t hesitate. There is one sole force driving you to apply at the end of the day, which is to become an MBA Candidate, Class of 2017. Let that determination guide you through the tricky waters of the application process, and if you ever feel disoriented, come back to that underlying ideal. Keep the McCombs spirit that first caught your attention in mind: believe in and embody the playful, strong, collaborative environment you wish to join.

10. Breathe.
You are at the threshold of the finish line, and nothing is as gratifying (or admittedly, terrifying) as the moment after you click “submit application.” But every moment leading up to that last step, remember to breathe. Conserve your energy for the things and people in your life that matter, and don’t fall into a state of panicked frenzy at the thought of things that are done and irreversible. Whether your GMAT score could have been better or your GPA is somewhat lackluster, these are numbers in the past and your main focus should stay in the present and future. It can be daunting to think of a team of people essentially evaluating your net worth to an institution as esteemed as McCombs. However, not only are the committee members well-seasoned and bona fide pros at what they do, but you are a unique, well-rounded and valuable asset to any institution, and breathing in with confidence and out with a sigh of relief is the only way to get through this.

That wasn’t too bad, was it?

Once you’ve submitted your application, take a few days off and relax, but keep us folks at McCombs near and dear to your heart! Stay on the lookout for an invitation to interview. Continue reaching out to your adoring fan club at the admissions committee with questions, or to students and alumni with casual conversation. Dig a little deeper into the plethora of opportunities at McCombs – which student organizations you would like to lead, which concentrations appeal most to you, which MBA+ Project or Lab/Fellowship best complements your career trajectory, etc.

We have complete faith in you on this end, and simply can’t wait for you join us on the other side, where the grass is always… well, burnt orange and beautiful.

Hook ‘em!

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Top 7 Reasons to come to McCombs that you won’t find in Businessweek

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.

Detroit Style Pizza from Via 313 – my home away from home! Via 313

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!

UT Football

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!

6. Thursdays
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

Haloween

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.

Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Career, Events, Full-Time, Student Life, Student Orgs

Exploring Austin’s Organized Awesomeness

A lot of my first three months in Austin have been spent on campus, at McCombs. Whether I am going to class, working on group projects, going to networking events or just hanging out with classmates, I seem to find myself here all the time Monday through Thursday. Luckily, the weekends provide me with plenty of time to go out and explore a city that I am brand new to. Austin’s downtown nightlife never disappoints, but the festivals and events held during the day, seemingly every weekend, keep me the most entertained. MBA students often talk about how flooded they are at school, but I never knew that I would be facing such difficult decisions on what concerts and festivals to attend on a weekly basis too.

Below is just a taste of the incredible events that Austin hosted, and I attended with classmates, over the past six weeks:

Music/Comedy

  • Austin City Limits– The flagship of Austin’s music festivals. Six stages spread across the beautiful Zilker Park with music for people of all tastes (headliners ranged from Outkast and Eminem to Pearl Jam and Calvin Harris). Hardcore music fans will buy a 3-day pass (guilty), but everyone should go for at least one day just to enjoy a beautiful day of music in Austin’s gorgeous October weather.

Austin City Limits

  • Oddball Festival – Hannibal Burress, Sarah Silverman, Louis CK and many others all packed into one afternoon/night of comedy. Many of the bigger comedians that were not part of this lineup, will be stopping by Austin in the near future.
  • Fun Fun Fun Festival Despite the dumb (dumb dumb) name, this festival comes off as a wacky (and equally entertaining) stepsibling to the aforementioned Austin City Limits. Any event that allows me to see Run the Jewels, Ginuwine and Yelle in succession (and at the same stage) will always get two big thumbs up in my book. Other acts included Alt-J, Nas, Two Chainz and stand-up from Fred Armisen among others.

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Food/Beer

  • 24th Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival – I thought I had a penchant for tasty and spicy hot sauces. I attended this festival and was quickly put in my place. While some of the participant’s entries certainly packed all spice and no flavor, I was able to find a couple bottles that compliment the breakfast tacos I make quite nicely.
  • Austin Beer Week - While I was not able to attend all of the Austin Beer Week, I made it out to the Real Ale tasting at Craft Pride. 16 different beers were tapped that night. My classmates and I did not get to try them all, but we happily enjoyed a few while listening to an odd heavy metal mix on Craft Pride’s patio. The festival runs over 9 days (starting on a Friday) and there are about 100 events running at 20-30 different participating establishments. Exploring this week a bit more is definitely on my to-do list next year.
  • Truck By Truckwest - The only downside with food trucks in Austin is deciding which food truck you want to enjoy for any given meal. There are so many out there, it is hard to get to them all. Truck by Truckwest helps alleviate this problem. You can buy anything from a 1-day to a 6-day pass, which grants you free samples at any of the 60 different trucks. The best part is that the food trucks seem excited to be part of the week and definitely do not slouch with any of the samples or the service. I am already looking forward to next year.
Texas-OU

Texas-OU

Sporting Events

  • Red River Rivalry (at the Texas State Fair) – Alright, this may be cheating a little bit since the Texas State Fair is in Dallas. However, I can say that the McCombs trip to the Texas State Fair and the Texas/OU Red River Shootout takes the cake for my favorite moment of 1st year (and there are plenty of candidates). This trip is a perfect combination of bonding with the entire McCombs full-time program, enjoying all sorts of fried foods at the State Fair (get a Fletcher’s corn dog) and blowing off all sorts of steam after our first group of finals.
  • F1 – Austin Fan Fest - Again, I am cheating here a little bit because I did not make it out to the F1 races but only walked downtown through the tents and F1 car displays. From what I heard from many of my classmates, I definitely missed out.

At the end of the day, one of the biggest reasons I chose McCombs over other schools was the city of Austin. I thought it was an exciting city that mixed several unique and fun professional and entertainment opportunities for me to explore. I did my best to encapsulate how Austin has lived up to the billing of offering so many incredible and diverse gatherings over the past six weeks. I easily could have included 10-15 more things that I try to fit into every week and weekend, but I unfortunately need to go run off for some more live music downtown!

Until next time, Hook ‘Em!

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

My First McCombs Halloween!

My friends and I often talk about how easy it is to revert back to being a student once you’re back in school. My diet has returned to Ramen, beer, and since we’re in Austin, a whole lot of breakfast tacos. Halloween is something that I never expected to make a huge comeback amongst a bunch of 27 – 35 year olds.  Oh, was I wrong!

At McCombs, Halloween is almost tantamount to a big festival. Halloween was definitely on top of everyone’s minds in the week leading up to the big weekend, and you couldn’t avoid a single conversation with your classmates without being asked, “So, what’s your costume?”

Celebrations at school started early on Wednesday, October 28th, with the Graduate Business Council and Student and Significant Others Clubs hosting its first ever “Little Monsters Bash –  a family-friendly Halloween bash. There are currently over 30 “little longhorns” (i.e.: children of McCombs’ students) in our program. This event was an effort to welcome all of the extended members of our community, while having fun and meeting these little munchkins. The Carpenter Center was transformed, with “trick or treat” study rooms, games, and even a parade. Different student organization and cohorts hosted student rooms by decorating and dressing in costumes to give out candy. It was adorable to see all the kids run through the study room trick or treating.

Meeting the future Longhorns!

After the more family-friendly events, Thurday’s Think and Drink was where the more adult celebrations began. McCombs has a well-known Halloween tradition of hosting a huge Halloween bash at Barberella – a local Austin bar (kind of famous in this neck of the woods). My roommate and I decided to dress up as “Harold & Kumar”. However, being the last-minute Halloween person that I am, this costume really entailed sticking on a sheet of paper that said “White Castle”, and a name tag: “Kumar.”  Walking in to the venue, I was blown away by the creativity, ingenuity and effort by my classmates in making their costumes. I saw everything from Blossom to Disney Princesses to Michael Jackson. I think my favorite for the evening was Daft Punk (Fun Fact: there was a ton of engineering done in the background to make the helmets work!). In spite of the absence of my costume, I had tons of fun!

It’s amazing to think that we just started on this journey 3 months ago, but time really does fly when you’re at McCombs. My first Halloween here has definitely been memorable and the festivities inside/outside class were very reflective of the inclusive culture that the school is famous for, which was one of the motivating reasons why I applied. I’ve already started brainstorming costumes for next year. It’s never too early!

Daft Punk!An example of the great costumes and my hastily put-together last minute costume

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Posted in Events, Full-Time, Student Life

Management Consulting 101

Ever wanted to help an oil and gas company reduce its operational costs? Or wanted to help a consumer goods company analyze which segments it should expand its product portfolio to? Or wanted to help a bank target millennials more effectively? Or wanted to work on all of these projects and then some? If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then I’m sure you are already day-dreaming about becoming a management consultant post your MBA. And if I just described you rather accurately, then boy does the McCombs School of Business have a host of resources for you to take advantage of!

The Dallas Consulting Trek was one such opportunity, where a bunch of us brave first year Texas MBAs visited the Dallas offices of consulting firms like Bain, BCG, A.T.Kearney, Deloitte, Strategy and PwC. We were all on some level surprised by how welcome we and all our questions were at all the firms we visited. In retrospect, it was primarily because our badges read “Class of 2016, McCombs School of Business.”

It was definitely insightful (and for some of my classmates game-changing) to hear about the kinds of projects that these firms took on. We heard a wide variety of viewpoints, from senior partners to brand new interns, all of who took out the time to give us an actual sense of the work they did, and share with us their personal experiences.

So why would anyone in their right mind drive to Dallas and spend the entire day running from one firm to another a precious 2 days before finals? Here are my top five reasons:

1. For someone peering in, all management consulting firms might seem the same. They’re not. The work these firms take on, what they consider important, the kind of people they hire, the culture, even the vibe of their office spaces – every aspect differs vastly from firm to firm. And the trek is a golden opportunity to discover these differences for yourself.

2. The trek presents a chance to build contacts at the top consulting firms early on in the game. This is a great way of getting in touch with McCombs alums working at these firms, a network that you can leverage while recruiting for internships.

3. Meeting consultants working in the consumer and retail space (my industry of choice) left me with a good understanding of the kind of problems this industry typically brings to consulting firms and what skills are required while working on these projects.

4. The trek allows you to look past the surface and discover the pros and cons of being a management consultant – from the diversity of industries and projects to the constant traveling.

5. For the career explorers considering management consulting, this trek provides a platform to have all your questions answered by none other than the people who live and breathe this work every day!

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Last but not the least, for those of you who have not been bitten by the management consulting bug, unlike roughly 25% of your class, you will find multiple other treks that suit your interest, whether it is investment banking, hi-tech, marketing, or even start-ups. Watch this space for more on that!

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

National Career Fairs: Getting the Jump on the Job Hunt

If you’re interested in opportunities with big companies that don’t recruit at McCombs, you can get a jump on hunting season (for internships and jobs, that is) by attending the national MBA conferences and career expos.

These fall events rotate through major metropolitan areas around the country and afford students the opportunity to log face-time and initial interviews with an array of companies.

Here’s what happens at these multi-day conferences:

  • Career expos: hundreds of companies staff booths with recruiters who talk to candidates and even interview them on the spot
  • Interview rounds for full-time and internship positions
  • Professional development seminars and workshops
  • Company-sponsored networking receptions

Current McCombs students have paid their own ways to attend the following conferences:

NBMBAALogoNational Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference and Career Expo
September 16-20, 2014 – Atlanta, GA
Thousands of attendees, ranging from association members to non-member MBA students, flock to this conference to meet hundreds of companies at the two-day career expo.

nshmbalogoNational Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Conference and Career Expo
September 24-27, 2014 – Philadelphia, PA
Similar to NBMBA, NSHMBA is open to member and non-member participants and attracts a wide array of outstanding businesses eager to meet prospective employees.

MBAV1MBA Veterans Conference
October 2-4, 2014 – Chicago, IL
This conference exclusively for veterans connects company representatives with former servicemen and servicewomen who are now pursuing MBAs and careers in the civilian sector.

Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) ConferenceROMBA_header_logo
October 2-4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA
Open to all LGBT students, MBAs, and allies, this conference brings together an assortment of programming from all sectors of the business world to facilitate networking within the LGBT community.

nawmbaNational Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) Conference and Career Fair
October 9-11, 2014 – Arlington, VA
An event designed exclusively for women MBAs, this conference brings together hundreds of women MBAs in a series of networking and professional development sessions.

Asian MBA (AMBA) Leadership Conference and Career ExpoNAAMBA_LOGO
October 10-11, 2014 – New York, NY
Entering its seventh year, this conference offers a one-day career expo along with a full day of networking events and workshops that bring together Asians and non-Asians alike.

net-impact-logoNet Impact Conference
November 6-8, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN
As a non-profit committed to empowering future leaders in non-profit and corporate social responsibility roles, Net Impact provides interactive sessions, keynote addresses, and a networking expo during its annual conference.

Attending the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) Conference and Career Expo was an outstanding experience for me this past September.

Along with many other first-years, I finished my last midterm (Finance) at 9 pm on Monday night and was on a plane to Atlanta less than 48 hours later. Lingering test-induced fatigue notwithstanding, I was excited to meet with representatives from a wider array of companies than I would have met on campus. We attendees joked that the experience was like real-time, in-person Tinder: we were pitching ourselves to companies in face-to-face interactions, and I’m happy to say that many of us experienced the thrill of the “swipe right.” Participating in NBMBAA allowed me to start the recruiting process early with target companies in my industry of interest and prepared me to be more at ease in subsequent networking situations. I’d highly recommend participating for future students who want opportunities to connect with companies that don’t come to UT-Austin: it’s a great chance to “hook ‘em” early in your MBA career!

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Ready, set, CASE!

One of the key takeaways from all my interactions with MBA students and alumni was to make the most of my time here and to manage my time effectively. Through it all: classes, homework, MBA+ project meetings, informational sessions, coffee chats, networking events and some more networking events, I found myself constantly trying to squeeze in that extra half hour to do something different. Three months into the program, I believe I’ve gotten so much better at it, and I’m sure you will too!  So I’m going to pass on what I’ve repeatedly heard on to you – make the most of your time here and manage your time effectively – and while you’re at it, make sure you spare some time for a Case Challenge.

At McCombs, we have five main case challenges during our first semester – the Global Case Challenge, Deloitte Case Challenge, Finance Case Challenge, Operations Case Challenge and the Marketing Case Challenge. They are typically all-night challenges, except for the Finance Case Challenge (so keep your schedules free from ~6pm – 3pm the next day). While the first two challenges are more broad in scope, the latter three are more concentration specific and offer you more insight into typical cases you may encounter in your selected field.

Case challenges are quintessential for those looking to get into consulting. While some may say that they are not interested in pursuing a career in consulting, I strongly believe that everyone in the program, whether they are interested or not, should give it a shot at least once. So far I’ve participated in the Global Business Challenge & the Deloitte Case Challenge, and my experience there has been nothing short of amazing! I’ve not only learned a lot from the topics we were provided and from working in teams under pressure, but also got a chance to network with some of the leading companies that sponsor these events.

Listed below are highlights/tips from my case challenge experiences:

  1. Find your team – They say you’re only as strong as your weakest link. People with diverse backgrounds typically work well in these settings – each person bringing different strengths to the table.  Also make sure they are fun to work with. You’re going to be spending 12 straight hours with them.
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  2. Goodbye Sleep, Hello Caffeine and Candy!
    1. Get TONS of sleep the night before and try not to over commit to anything on the day of.
    2. Stack up on candy!  For those particularly health conscious, save your cheat day for today!
      Hug your pillowtumblr_nab4mlLy6L1sfeix4o1_250
  3. Reserve a nice spot to crack the case, whether at home, a nice cafe or a study room at Carpenter/Reliant Center, make sure you find a spot that you’re comfortable spending all night at (other than your bed).tumblr_ndrsomiCp11rm4mpho1_500
  4. Book a communication coach: Highly recommend booking two hours of communication coaching before presenting the case. These communication coaches are available 24/7 and need to be reserved beforehand. The first hour should be 3-4 hours after you’ve reviewed the material, brainstormed and formulated a preliminary framework for your presentation idea. The second hour should be 2 hours before you decide to present to effectively deliver your speech.
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Now that you have all of that set up, here’s my insight on how my case challenge nights have wound up.

6:00 pm – Case debrief. Put on your happy face. Meet and greet the sponsor companies. Chit chat with your teammates and other teams.

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Between 8 pm and 7:59 am:

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7:59 am – Last minute to submit! All in one night’s work is now officially submitted. But the best part still remains – the Presentation!

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9:00 am – Put on happy face again. Present confidently. Support your findings. Definitely watch out for the time limit.

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Post Case Challenge: Get some sleep! Tell yourself how amazing the experience was; how much you learned from it; how you’ll never do it again!

 

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Post post case challenge: Sign up for the next Case Challenge!

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This is me with my Finance Case Challenge team. It starts it two weeks! Wish us luck! Till then, stay tuned…

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

Career and Networking: Leveraging Your Resources!

In a world revolving around “Time is Money”, leaving a paid job to pursue an MBA for two whole years clearly indicates our necessity to up the pace on our existing career graph, or plot a different career point on that graph – be it in terms of industry, function, or even geography.
When I came to McCombs, I knew that this would be the ONE opportunity I would have in a long time to translate my professional passions and talents into a future career. So in the last three months (as that roller-coaster ride called Semester-1 created havoc), it became crucial for me to track my career aspirations. Questioning was natural – do I stay in the technology sphere but move into business development? Or do I find my ‘fit’ in consulting – Google Airplane test, please! What classes do I take? Whom should I be reaching out to? How do I navigate the recruiting process?
The Career Management Cell (CMC) at the McCombs School of Business has provided a carefully drafted map to answer all of those critical questions, and more!  Before the MBA program even started, I received notices asking me to reach out to industry experts (working in my areas of interests) to understand the relevance of their experiences, both from the short and the long-term perspective. Once the program started, the first half of the Texas MBA Orientation led to my introduction to different career paths and opportunities. To know first-hand what daily life is for our alums spread out in different industries and functions is invaluable. Such opportunities have continued in huge numbers as the semester progressed. I personally found both the McCombs and the UT alumni network to be extremely reachable, always ready to guide me to choose the right post-MBA career.

PRO TIP: A pretty cool master tool that you would want to use is MARS. It will generate analytic reports on past recruitment data – basically which company recruits when, how many, and for how much (That’s my Analysis of Data class summed up right there). With the help of online business writing resources, Career counselors and second-year students, I made my CV more role-focused and impact-based and not, well, boring. I had the opportunity to attend the National Black MBA Career Fair in Atlanta this year and in order to prep, I got connected with the communication coaches, who helped me immensely with my introduction pitch, and taught me essentials of networking.

Career resources are spread out everywhere. That’s the great thing about being in a Business School. I cannot even begin to insist how important my interactions with my classmates and peers have been. Some of them have worked for the kind of roles in companies that I aspire to reach. Hearing a friend’s real-world accounts of what’s REALLY out there is the best way to explore these interesting but “uncharted” careers. The second-years who are budding entrepreneurs have time and again told me the importance of the McCombs Texas MBA brand in Texas. All you need to do is reach out to that person and a meet-up converts into an interview for a position created just for you! I think where the MBA has been really useful for me is not just by giving me concrete resources but by giving me the business acumen to identify the factors that will take me to the next level moving forward.

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Posted in Academics, Career, Student Life, Uncategorized

Knowledge Bomb

Mind = Blown

That about sums up my experiences during the first half of my fall semester and the close of final exams. I was told, re-told, and then told again that the first semester is a whirlwind. I was warned that I would have the constant FOMO (fear of missing out) for choosing one event over another that both happen at the same time, on the same day, on the opposite ends of 6th Street. I was told that the workload in Fall 1 (Accounting, Finance, Economics, and Statistics) would be significant. I was shown examples that my 24 hour schedule would be packed with 25 hours of recruiting events, socializing, happy hours, studying, classes, and projects. Even though I was repeatedly told about the rigors of the first semester and prepared as best as I could, I still felt caught off-guard and overwhelmed.

And I’d click the refresh button to experience it all over again in a second.

The people, program, and the city of Austin have all exceeded my greatest expectations of an MBA experience from a top 15 school. I have been able to meet fantastically intelligent people from around all corners of the globe. The professors in the core classes have done an admirable job in preparing all of us with a solid foundation in business principles, especially for a Biology and Chemistry student such as me. Lastly, I have been able to enjoy many of the great things that the city of Austin has to offer, including Rainey St. nightlife, food trucks, Texas football games, free concerts in the park, and amazing weather, just to name a few.

Here are just a few highlights of my first 4 months in Austin:

  • Catching a free summer musical, “Oklahoma!”, in Zilker Park:

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  • Watching the bats fly out into the dusk sky from under the Congress Avenue Bridge:

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  • Being taught by an economics professor that was yelled at by Castro for over an hour:

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  • Learning Finance from a great professor in Clemens Sialm:

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  • Having a fantastic study group that helped me understand that “walking down the demand curve” is not a euphemism and is an actual economic concept:

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  • Attending my first Longhorn football game with my wife:

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  • Experiencing the highs of an all-night business case challenge:

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  • And the lows:

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  • Playing racquetball next to Matthew McConaughey’s Intramural championship photo:

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  • Experiencing all things fried at the Texas State Fair, including deep fried pumpkin pie:

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  • And wrapping a post-finals weekend yelling my first “OU Sucks!” cheer at the Red River Shootout in Dallas:

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All in all, it has been a very memorable first 8 weeks of school. I have looked to make the most of all the incredible things that the McCombs School of Business and the city of Austin has to offer. And while the first 8 weeks have been full of many sleepless nights, I feel energized to begin a new half-semester of classes.

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

Still Here

Hello again!

I realize it’s been ages since my last blog entry. Sorry about that. Between class, homework, studying, and everything else that makes up my life right now, I haven’t even had time to think about blogging let alone make an entry. I do, however, want to let you know that I’m still in the game. I haven’t dropped out, failed, or gone mad…..yet.

Here’s a little status update so you know where I’m at.

1. I’m still here. Only somewhat sane and slightly cynical but I try to stay mostly optimistic –So what if I have classes 3 weekends in a row, or  3 quizes and homework and a project due for the same weekend?! I don’t need friends, or human interaction….or sunlight. I’ll have knowledge. And nobody can take that away from me.

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2. I’m halfway done with the first semester of year 2. One more semester left before grad! *nervous laughter*

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3. Just had midterms for Managerial Accounting and Business Law & Ethics. *eye twitching*

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4. May have developed a tick *eye still twitching* somewhere along the way…and some random panic attacks.

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5. Still doing freelance work…although I did cut back on my workload.

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6. Still in a state of frustration when I think about midterms and finals for this semester.

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7. My life now consists of studying, working, going to class, and sometimes eating marshmallows in my sweatpants while watching Netflix…because my brain is too fried to do anything else.

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Other than that, all is well. I can’t believe there’s only one more semester left before grad. I guess time does fly when you’re busy.

Anyways, more to come. Sorry again about the long gap of inactivity on here. Let’s just call that a mental health gap. Just wanted to let you know….I’m still here.

Cheers,

X.

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Executive, Mexico City, Student Life
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