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!

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Posted in Academics, Career, Full-Time, Global Trip, Student Life

SXSW Recap: The Music

“South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual music, interactive and film festival held in Austin every year.” – SXSW.com

While technically accurate, this generic definition did nothing to prepare me for the 10-day blur of adventures I got myself into with classmates and friends, new and old.

Start-Up Crawl to kick-off SXSW

Start-Up Crawl to kick-off SXSW

Spoon, Jurassic 5’s Charlie Tuna, Nas, Run the Jewels, Verite, BØRNS, Gorgon City, Odesza, Elliphant, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Big Data, Twin Shadow and Best Coast were among the bands I saw play throughout the festival. There were many others…

Up front for Twin Shadow

Up front for Twin Shadow

And I did not even really see all that SXSW had to offer. Admittedly, I skimped a little bit on many of the amazing interactive panels. One of my classmates won a guitar from a Japanese start-up by playing an accurate rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and many others attended fascinating panels led by CXOs of some of the most prestigious companies in the world. I also somehow missed Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart wandering the street, as well as a free screening of Fast 7.

However, for me, SXSW was about trying to catch as much music as possible. I chose to bypass any of the SXSW badges, as well as the SXSW music wristband and test my luck by utilizing connections and being in the right place at the right time. Before SXSW, many of my fellow McCombs friends staying in town came together, compared schedules and tried to plan out our days. While at times this was successful (Spotify House), sometimes we just got lucky. There were multiple shows I just ended up walking into the venue not knowing who was going to be playing, only to have an incredible night with friends.

Here are a few of my top SXSW Music Tips & Tricks that helped me a lot:

– Create a What’sApp (or something similar) chain with all McCombs people that stay in town for SXSW. We leveraged this on a daily basis to determine what people’s plans were for the day, and most importantly to determine what the line/wristband situation was at similar venues. Many of us did not waste time at ‘at-capacity’ venues and were able to meet up at near-empty ones for shows (this is how I saw Ghostface and Raekwon).

– Leverage McCombs connections!!! There are a lot of McCombs alumni that are working at amazing companies in Austin and across the country that hold SXSW events. Through direct and one-off connections, I was able to volunteer at an Umbel event and get VIP-access for Spoon. Through a one-off connection, I scored VIP-backstage tickets to a Nas concert and was let into numerous after-parties and events.

Leveraging McCombs best student, Jimi

Leveraging McCombs’ best student, Jimi

– Hit up South Congress if you are looking for a more relaxed day. Once you cross the bridge and get downtown, there will be people everywhere. The streets are still manageable, but do not expect to be able to drop into a coffee shop and get work done. South Congress has a much less crowded, chill vibe (especially during the first week). They also have some great local acts (although these can be found all over downtown and the east side). West 6th is generally less crowded than the East Side and Downtown.

– Give new venues and new bands a try. This is pretty self-explanatory, but as long as the venue isn’t too far away (2+ miles away from downtown), check it out! I had never heard of Scoot Inn and now I cannot wait to go back!

We’re already looking forward to next year!

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Posted in Austin, Events, Student Life

McCombs’ Favorite Classes: Strategic Marketing with Professor Mackie

The only way to really learn about business is to understand the real-world applications of concepts or to go out and actually apply these concepts in a real-world setting. The Texas MBA program provides you with ample opportunities to enjoy the benefits of both these learning methods. Firstly, there are a plethora of experiential opportunities that McCombs offers like the MBA+ projects and the Fellows programs. But even apart from these programs, classes often become a really great way to learn about practical applications and even put your learning to test. It is precisely for this reason that I have particularly enjoyed my Strategic Marketing class with Professor Kate Mackie.

The Strategic Marketing class, as the name suggests, covers various aspects of marketing strategy both at the product level such as the 4P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion), and at the company level such as resource allocation. What is interesting is that we actually strive to apply these concepts in a simulation, where we compete against each other to maximize shareholder value, much like what a lot of us aim to do as future C-suite executives. The competitive element of the class adds an element of fun and often has us frantically checking the results early on Friday morning, which is supposed to be our day off!

Another reason I find this course unique is that it does not look at things solely from a large resource-rich organization’s perspective. It takes into account possible resource limitations that firms may have to deal with and forces you to make decisions keeping these limitations in mind! Moreover, as readings for the class we read articles not only from business journals but also from business weeklies such as Bloomberg Businessweek, which I think is a great way to keep the conversation current. A shout out to Professor Mackie for making this course rigorous yet fun!

On one hand, this class has shattered certain beliefs I had in a previous life when I worked in a marketing role in the healthcare industry. For example, how it is actually better for a smaller company to compete in a more niche market where it can dominate rather than chase a large market. On the other hand, it has taught me useful tools as I prepare for my internship in the consumer packaged goods industry. Such as how important a clear positioning statement can be when developing a promotional campaign with a creative team.

All I can say is that, the Strategic Marketing has left me with a more sound understanding of the strategic decision making process that extends well beyond the realms of Marketing. When I was applying to McCombs, I reached out to a lot of students and Professor Mackie’s name came up when I asked about their favorite class. Now I know precisely why!

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Posted in Academics, Full-Time, Student Life

McCombs Student Adventures: Marathons & Ski Trips

Before I started at McCombs, I wondered if my friendships and connections with fellow students would begin and end in the classroom. You often hear stories of the competitiveness of certain business schools, and that can breed animosity and force only surface relationships among classmates. While McCombs students are certainly competitive (it takes a level of drive and ambition to get into a school like ours) I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of camaraderie among all of my classmates. It is not just that we coexist in the classroom. We actually like each other and do things together outside of campus that make the whole experience of business school more fulfilling and more fun.

Take the Austin Marathon for example. I signed up for the half marathon with two members of my study group and four other classmates. We all survived the core curriculum and recruiting, what is a marathon compared to that? Though all seven of us did not end up running it, it is telling that we all wanted to do this massive undertaking together. I cannot think of a stronger support system for such a major commitment of time and effort. A group ended up making signs and cheering on our friends that ran it together.

Leigh McCoy and Georgie Smyser at a marathon

Leigh McCoy and Georgie Smyser making McCombs proud and looking good after 26.2 miles!

Probably the greatest example of the fun activities that McCombs students participate in together is the annual ski trip that occurred this past weekend. Over 100 students and their significant others descended on Park City, Utah for a couple of days of skiing, bonding and lounging (for the less athletically inclined). The trip is put on by the Graduate Business Adventure Club, a popular club that organizes outings throughout the year . They really do it big for the ski trip! The club organized dinners, hotel arrangements, happy hours and more to ensure that it was a weekend that no one could forget.

Students skiing together on Park City Mountain

Texas MBA students Students skiing together on Park City Mountain

To say this trip was fun is a huge understatement. It was so nice to leave the stresses of recruiting and studying back in Austin and just relax with the friends that we have made the past couple of months. It provided the opportunity to spend time with people that I might not normally hang out with and strengthen the friendships that had already developed so far in school. This trip gave me even more of an appreciation for my fellow classmates and the McCombs program in particular. I mean, look at these people, how could it not?

Texas MBA First Year Group Shot

Texas MBA 1st Years. Hook Em!

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Posted in Diversity, Events, Full-Time, Student Life, Student Orgs

5 Ways Women MBAs CAN Have It All

When I started in the Texas Executive MBA program (EMBA) last August, I fully expected life as I knew it to end. I scheduled a couple of relaxing trips — a beach vacation over Fourth of July, and a fly fishing adventure with my husband on the Salmon River in Idaho. I got my hair cut. I read Vogue and took a few spa days. I scaled back my involvement in non-priority projects. By the time August rolled around and I buttoned up my business suit for the first seminar, I was ready to kiss my “old,” pre-MBA life goodbye.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a panel at the annual Texas MBA Women’s Forum, speaking to prospective Evening and Executive applicants. I remembered how I felt just a year before as an audience member watching a similar panel and wondering whether I was ready to make the commitment to the program. Now that I’m well into my second semester as an EMBA, life has gotten complicated, but it’s not impossible, and I’m certainly still able to enjoy my “old” life. I’m here to inform women considering the program that you can have it all. Here’s how:

1) Your support network goes far beyond you.

Friends opening creditsWhether you’re married, single, or “it’s complicated,” you’ll quickly find that you need more than just the power of you to get through this program. For those who have significant others, it’s imperative that he or she be on board with your decision — they will be your sounding board and your soft place to land. But don’t think you have to have someone waiting for you with dinner on the stove to tackle an MBA. This program expands your network — intentionally so — both professionally and personally. Between your study group, your classmates at large, and your professors, you begin to develop a network that helps you answer some of the most challenging questions in your life, whether they are related to career advice, personal development, or schoolwork. Additionally, the women in the class ahead of me have done a great job at building relationships with the women in my class. I think I can safely speak for the ladies of the Class of 2016 when I say that we’re all looking forward to paying it forward to incoming female students next year.

2) You become a decision-making rockstar.

How often do you hum and haw over whether to attend a meeting or bring an issue to your boss? How many times a day do you click on the same email trying to decide how to respond? Dr. John Burrows, the EMBA program director, and one of your first-semester professors, likes to say “Begin with the end in mind.” While at first this concept can be difficult to grasp, once you get the hang of it, you start applying it to everything in your life. When a decision needs to be made, you are able to arrive at an effective, prompt, and well-supported conclusion. Not only that, but you begin to collect tools and strategies that help you dive into and analyze these challenging situations with confidence. Being in this program so quickly cuts through the chaff in your life, that you just might be surprised by how much extra time it frees up (which, of course, leaves more time for studying!).

3) You learn how to prioritize the right things, not all the things.

One of the most important parts of the program that you won’t find in any formal curriculum is that it teaches you to recognize when and how to take care of your personal life. This isn’t just something that MBAs need to learn — any executive looking to go the distance must get a handle on this lesson at some point.

Need to get some exercise? There’s no shortage of running groups or cycling teams to join (or start your own!). If you have kids, be there for them first. Your group will support you (and demand cute photos of your kids as repayment!). A few of us in the Class of 2016 have made a point to have “Manicure Mondays” every few months when we get our nails done together. It’s a simple thing but it allows us to debate cases or talk through tough quantitative concepts while doing something special and relaxing for ourselves. During my first semester, my husband and I bought a house and decided to renovate our kitchen ourselves. Did I often think I needed to be reading case studies while I knocked dry wall down off the walls? Absolutely. Did I finish reading those cases by the time class rolled around? Of course. Life has a way of expanding and contracting to your priorities. It’s up to you to ensure you put the right priorities in your life.

4) You learn how to maximize your unique strengths.

Leslie Knope quoteChanneling your strengths as a leader goes far beyond focusing on just doing what you’re good at. In fact, this program challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and to wrestle with questions you might previously have avoided. This is where you learn how to channel your natural talents, as you start to realize — with the guidance of great professors and supportive classmates — that there are unique aspects about you that make you a unique leader. These are the stories you come into the program with: a former career as a professional athlete, or a struggle to overcome a fear of public speaking. These bits and pieces of your history are often overlooked — and sometimes even hidden from ourselves and others. But the EMBA program encourages you to really explore what parts of those stories you can leverage to make the world a better place. How does this ultimately help you have it all? You have time to reflect on and ensure that an important part of yourself is not left behind as you grow and change as a leader.

5) You can find self-fulfillment.

Remember being forced to run the mile in grade school while being timed and yelled at by some domineering gym coach? I bet you couldn’t wait to stop running. Now think about what it felt like the time you chose to train for and complete a long distance race, whether it was a 5K or an Ironman. Sure, it was daunting going into it, but the process was just as satisfying as crossing the finish line. Pursue an MBA if you are looking for fulfillment at both a personal and professional level. It requires too much time, effort, and sacrifice if you don’t plan on finding personal satisfaction and happiness in not only the outcomes, but also the inputs. In her controversial essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Anne-Marie Slaughter writes about one challenge for women attempting the balancing act:

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that the regret she heard most often was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Make sure an MBA isn’t just another item on the list of what others expect from you. If you’re true to yourself in this program, you’ll do just fine.

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Posted in Austin, Executive

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

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

Lessons from Recruiting

Depending on industries and functions of interest, recruiting season ebbs and flows in the Texas MBA program, starting with Banking/Consulting “Super Week” and continuing through April with the Careers Now Interview Forum.

I’m glad to say it has been a “net positive” experience for me, and I am feeling relieved in a major way now that I have my summer internship plans in place. In no particular order, here are my top takeaways from participating in both on-campus and off-campus recruiting over the past few months.

  • When you walk into an interview, bring extra copies of your updated resume.

  • Always wear deodorant. This seems like a no-brainer, right? But I’ve been to so many company events and stood in close quarters with classmates and recruiters only to catch a whiff of a nervous, un-deodorized body. If you want to keep it fresh and make a good impression, don’t be stingy with the Speed Stick.old spice - man your man could smell like - video
  • Invest in at least one great suit. Just ask Michael Scott: a well-fitting suit can be the difference between confidence and qualms.tumblr_lnaslkhqg81qa8ws4o1_500
  • Prepare questions to ask your interviewer. The more thoughtful, the better.Whats-your-policy-on-Columbus-Day-3
  • Smile. It will put you and your interviewer(s) at ease. And according to one of my fellow first-years, failure to smile “makes you look like a creeper.”emma_stone
  • Write thank-you notes. It will impress recruiters and will enable you to make a more personal impression. Most importantly, it’s just good manners.

  • And remember: you’re qualified, you’re capable, and everything will be okay!

When I was getting ready for one of my first formal interviews last fall at one of the national recruiting fairs, I called my older sister, who had attended similar career expos during her two years in business school. After I told her how nervous I was, she replied, “The only difference between you and your interviewers is that they have jobs right now–and you don’t. That’s it! So go in there and be yourself.” I’ve thought of that advice often over the past five months, and it has helped calm pre-interview jitters and recruiting event nerves.

With my recruiting process officially completed, I feel immensely grateful to the career advisors, peers, and alumni mentors who have helped me along the way. Now it’s full steam ahead till the end of the semester, and after that, a concerted effort to “hook ‘em” as an MBA intern this summer!

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

How to Tackle the MBA+ Experience

Ah, the MBA+ projects… these certainly constitute a range of emotions from us MBA students.  For those who haven’t heard, MBA+ projects are mini consulting projects that you can complete during the semester with a variety of companies.  Yes, that’s right, you can elect to do these on top of your already busy schedule, but there are definitely a few very important reasons why you should!  In this post I’ll talk a bit about my experience and my tips for the process.

At first, I was on the fence about doing an MBA+ project since I didn’t really know what to expect from my schedule and class commitments.  I mulled it over for a week or so and then realized that since I am not pursuing Consulting, I-Banking, or other major corporations (so basically the bulk of anybody coming to campus) that my recruiting schedule would be much less busy than many others’ in the fall so to just go for it – and I’m certainly glad I did.  The first step in the process is applying to projects (up to 10), and then your team will be selected by the companies sponsoring the projects.  Knowing where I did not want to recruit was how I selected my projects, so I focused only on Austin based start-ups and was matched with FreqSho.

FreqSho is an Austin based music discovery start-up that aggregates artist info from various web sources into a one stop shop for avid music fans.  When we started, the company was working off of a minimum viable product (MVP) and was working on launching a beta version.  Our task as a team was to help create the go-to-market strategy for launching FreqSho.  Given that I have an interest in transitioning from a background in Corporate Finance to Strategy & Marketing, the scope was perfect for me.  I have literally zero experience with marketing, and now I have some tangible skills, understanding, and stories to take with me into interviews.  Throughout the process I was able to learn more about utilizing primary research, digital advertising (Facebook, Google Display, and Search Engine Optimization), and project management skills.  Plus, I was able to score free Sam Smith concert tickets from my teammate and new friend, Gedy!

What to do:

  1. If you have a business background but are a career or function switcher like me, you should do an MBA+ project. Switching functions has been more difficult than I imagined and the MBA+ project is the only tangible experience I have in marketing compared to some class mates who have tons.
  2. If you don’t have a business background at all, you should do an MBA+ project. Start building skills and having interview stories aligned with your future goals
  3. If one of your target companies is sponsoring a project, you should do an MBA+ project. This is free networking, folks.  This is especially true for you aspiring consultants out there!
  4. Be selective! Pick either companies that you are interested in working for or projects that you are passionate about.  If nothing really strikes your fancy, you aren’t going to enjoy the process and it won’t be a great experience for you or your team.
  5. Consider your recruiting schedule and other commitments. Don’t over extend yourself unless you know it will be worth it.
  6. Get excited about meeting people outside of your cohort that you might not otherwise get to know

What not to do:

  1. Do not let FOMO (fear of missing out) get you. If you aren’t very interested in any of the projects, don’t do one just because it seems like all of your friends are doing one.  You will not fail the MBA program by not participating in an MBA+ Project
  2. Do not wait until the last 2 weeks to really get into the nitty-gritty of the project. This is much easier said than done.  Since these projects aren’t graded, it can be easy to let the tasks fall to the backburner throughout the semester, but it makes for an unpleasant rush to the finish.
  3. Do not stress too much. Like all things in life, some of the projects will inevitably have better sponsors and scopes than others.  If you end up on what turns out not to be your dream project use it as a learning example (great for those behavioral interviews!) and make the most of it.  Again, you will not fail the MBA program!
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Posted in Academics, Career, Full-Time, Student Life

McCombs Tech Trek: Seattle

In addition to the strong recruiting in Texas and the Midwest, McCombs has a presence on both coasts. Students can gain exposure by taking school-organized treks to such places as New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. The focus of the Seattle Trek, obviously, is the tech scene. In this visit I had the opportunity to meet the area’s biggest companies as well as meet an exciting start-up with Texas connections.

 

Microsoft

Microsoft

Geek Culture is alive and well at the Microsoft Store.

 

Microsoft has been a long-time recruiter of McCombs MBAs. It was great to listen to all of the McCombs alums discuss their enjoyment and fulfillment of working at Microsoft. McCombs places graduates in a variety of MBA roles, but the most common is marketing. Alyse Coogan, MBA ’14, talked about marketing Azure and the growth of Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Kalin Mckenna, MBA ’11, was also on hand to talk about her role as the marketing manager of the Surface tablet. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and reaffirmed to me that Microsoft would be an excellent company to begin a post-MBA career.

 

T-Mobile

T-Mobile

T-mobile Corporate HQ in Bellevue, WA. They are serious about their #BeMagenta slogan!

 

T-Mobile was the next stop of the day. T-Mobile has really undergone a transformation and is disrupting the telecom industry with their #BeMagenta focus. They talked a great deal about the leadership development program which allows incoming MBA students to spend three 9-month rotations in a variety of business groups. After the 27 months you are then placed as a Director in a business area of need. Do you want to have a 2.5 year path to major ownership and responsibility in a company? T-Mobile might be the right fit for you.

 

Amazon

Amazon

The view from one of many Amazon offices on South Lake Union.

 

Not much needs to be said about Amazon. Chances are if you are reading this blog on the internet, you have purchased something off of Amazon. Amazon provides an immediate opportunity for MBAs to produce real value to a company. There are no training wheels at Amazon. You are expected to come in, be customer obsessed, and deliver results. The singular drive to best serve the customer really shined through with our talks with MBAs at Amazon. The culture is intense, but so is the satisfaction in knowing that you can directly contribute to the bottom line.

 

Tune

Tune

Taking an Uber to visit Tune during the Seattle Tech Trek.

 

A few of my classmates and I were able to schedule an “off-trek” visit with a growing start-up in Seattle. The CEO of Tune, Peter Hamilton, is a University of Texas at Austin undergraduate alum and was gracious enough to talk about the company, getting funding from VCs and how to keep the culture of a company consistent in the midst of big growth. Tune, a mobile marketing technology company, doubled revenues in 2014 and grew to employ over 250 people. Meeting with Peter was a great example of the strength of the UT alumni base and the willingness of Longhorns to help out in any way possible.

Zulily

Zulily

The view from Zulily’s new office on the Seattle waterfront.

 

Zulily is an e-marketplace company that IPO’d in 2013. They have undergone tremendous growth and are a very unique business model. Unlike companies that emphasize fast shipping and almost immediate fulfillment, Zulily isn’t focused on quickly getting goods to customers. Instead, they offer a model where they will only ship out goods once they have reached a critical mass of purchases. They want MBAs that can think strategically about growing their business and how to stay competitive in a market that has seen rapid growth and cutthroat competition (HauteLook, MyHabit, etc.)

The modus operandi of business school is to have recruiters come to campus and pitch to you and your classmates on why their company would make a perfect fit for your post-MBA goals. The Seattle Trek, and other treks, provide an avenue to actually see company offices firsthand, to get hints of their company culture, and to generally obtain a greater sense of what it would be like to work in that environment every day. Because of this, I’d recommend that every MBA take the opportunity to visit companies on their home turf.

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

Reflections & Resolutions

comfort-zone

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.

comfort-zone

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.

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

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.

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

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.

Cohort 1 ladies night

Cohort 1 ladies night

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!

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in  Atlanta last September

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in
Atlanta last September

Good luck to those of you applying for round two. Hook ‘em!

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