How to Ace Your Recommendation Letters

The recommendation letter requirement is one of the more daunting parts of the application process, as it is one of the few components over which students do not have direct control. For the Type A, right-brained, checklist-making applicants among us (you know who you are), this might lead to some cold sweats.

Case in point: At an admissions event I spoke at recently, a highly-qualified woman raised her hand and asked how to request recommendation letters when you own your own business. While I don’t own my own business, when I initially applied to McCombs I worked for a start-up, and I was concerned my professional network was too close-knit to leverage. However, when I really put my mind to it, I had an abundance of people I could lean on. Here’s how I looked at my network when asking for a recommendation letter:

1) The boss.

This is arguably the person in your network that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Regardless of your supervisor or boss’s title, if you know you deliver great results to your superior, they are a natural fit. However, there is a caveat. Your recommendation letter request should not be the first time your boss is hearing about your MBA aspirations. If possible, start by letting your boss know you are considering applying, explain the time commitment an MBA would require, and then help him or her understand your motivations. When you later ask for a recommendation, there’s no backstory necessary.

2) The colleague.

The Texas MBA Program is a team sport, and I’ve heard it said from the Full-Time MBAs to the Executives that McCombs is known for its collaborative environment. Coworkers can vouch for your ability to work as a team, celebrate team successes, and meet deadlines. However, choose your coworker wisely — don’t simply default to your BFF from work. Your colleague should be able to speak to your professional strengths, not simply your extracurricular ones.

3) The mentor.

Mentors outside of your workplace are great to have in your corner when it comes time for a recommendation. However, be sure that your mentor has an understanding of your actual value, not just your potential. Select a mentor with whom you have worked on high-stakes tasks to ensure they will provide a recommendation with depth. If your mentor has only served in a capacity of an advisor with whom you meet regularly, consider scheduling some time to discuss your contributions and strengths so they will have some context prior to writing a recommendation.

4) The professor.

Depending on how long ago you attended undergrad, professors can provide esteem and proof of concept in their recommendations. However, they are probably one of the most constantly tapped individuals for letters of recommendations (think of all the former students, and all the graduate school possibilities, and all the job applications). If you’re going the professor route, be sure he or she is someone who sets you apart from the other students. You don’t want to be that someone in his or her inbox whose name sounds vaguely familiar but they don’t quite remember. Finally, good grades don’t always equal good recommendations. It’s the quality of your interactions, the sum of your class contributions, and the significance of your impression on that particular professor long after your final grade was submitted.

5) The outsider.

This person is an X-factor but someone who should not be overlooked. We all have them: suppliers, consultants, customers, coaches, and others. If you’ve worked closely with someone on a successful project, they are a great person to request information from.

Have another source you’ve tapped for a recommendation letter? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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Posted in Executive, Full-Time, Uncategorized

McCombs Students Venture to Houston for Healthcare Innovation

For many people, the first few things they think of when they think of Texas are the energy market and BBQ. However, Texas is also home to some of the finest medical centers and research facilities in the country, and is quickly becoming a hotbed for healthcare innovation. With the forward-looking Dell Medical School opening up this summer, the future of healthcare looks very optimistic.

Group at TMCx

The MBA Healthcare Association at TMCx

SO, in the midst of cramming for corporate finance finals, finishing human capital papers, and PowerPoint decks for strategic marketing presentations, the MBA Healthcare Association decided to take a break and trek down to Houston, TX to check out the Texas Medical Center’s TMCx accelerator and innovation labs, and Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation JLABS facilities.

The TMCx accelerator is a 4-month program that helps healthcare startups by providing offices, co-working space, and professional services to help develop and grow their business model. They even actively foster relationships between the accelerator companies and  providers at the Texas Medical Center! We toured their highly modern co-working, office and education spaces, all solely devoted to healthcare companies. We also met one of their accelerator companies, Braincheck, who is developing a digital cognitive assessment tool. After chatting with them about their time as a healthcare startup and their experience in the TMCx accelerator, they quickly turned us into test subjects for their product!


The Johnson & Johnson Innovation JLABS

Moving next-door to JLABS, we were blown away by the size and modernity of the facility. Wandering through, we explored the 35,000+ square foot, state-of-the art laboratory and healthcare technology development equipment. Companies that pass the selective application process can rent out this space at an extremely reasonable rate of $1,000 per month, with JLABS creating an environment that enables these companies to focus 100% of their attention on their product development.

Touring these two facilities was not only educational and enjoyable, but also eye-opening to how healthcare innovation and product development are changing. Clearly, good times are in store for the companies at TMCx and JLABS – we can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Posted in Career, Full-Time, Student Orgs

Airplanes, Austin, Classes, and People – My Texas MBA Allure

I’ve spent most of my life living in the eastern time zone, so moving to Texas was a wild departure from my past. As I chatted with prospective students who spent their whole lives in the Northeast, or maybe even outside of the US, it made me remember the questions and priorities I had when I was seeking out business schools. Did I find what I was looking for in Texas? (Spoiler: The answer to that question is “yes”)

Here are four main things I was looking for:

1. I want to go work for _______.

Inside, I’m still a small kid, fascinated by the prospect of two giant jet engines propelling a 300+ ton wide-body airplane up into the sky. I always wanted to work for the airline industry – yes, that pressurized metal tube, shoes off, delay-prone industry. Knowing this, I set out to find a school that gave me the best chance at fulfilling my ambitions. It was the active and well-connected alumni network, the well thought-out career support system, and Texas’ historic strength in the industry that made the school so attractive to me. In fact, it was one of the alumni that helped convince me that I would have the connection and resources at McCombs to get where I wanted to be.

Importantly, it’s not just the connection to a dream job or function that mattered. The relationship to my career aspirations, the career management staff and system strength, and diverse experiences of my classmates mattered just as much. I asked my self, “can I develop a connection with the career staff who will have my best interest in mind?” “Is the career support system proactive?” Thinking back, I made absolutely the right call.

(For brevity sake, I left out the next seven paragraphs about airlines. I have been known to talk people’s ear off about it…)

2. The Neat Outdoor-sy City Called Austin

First off, I spent most of my life in the frigid tundra of the Midwest. I loved the snow (and snow days!), and thought it had a bad reputation. When I descended on Texas, freezing weather was somewhat a foreign concept.


Austin’s Freezing February

Seriously though, Austin’s an outstanding outdoors town. It’s actually a neat town in general. I like to spend a lot of time outdoors – playing tennis, ultimate Frisbee, jogging – and in the ten different cities I’ve lived in my life, Austin’s has by far the best trails, courts, and the weather to enjoy it all. If you’re not familiar with the area, definitely check out Barton Springs Pool the next time you’re here. It’s Austin’s natural river open for swimming nearly all year-round


Hiking the Barton Creek Trail with Classmates

3. A Customizable Curriculum

By now, you’ve probably heard about our class structure – two years, four semesters, mandatory core classes to start. But it’s the brevity of the required core curriculum that was especially attractive. After all, the Full-Time Texas MBA Program is only two years / four semesters long.

When I was looking at the Texas MBA Program, I was concerned that the small class size meant less options for electives. Many case/discussion-based classes need critical mass to tap into the proverbial “wisdom of a crowd”. That said, I discovered a surprising number of interesting electives for a program that currently averages 270 students per year, because there’s so much time to take electives (nearly three-quarters of the program are reserved for electives).

A great example of a course that shows the diversity of our electives is “Corporate Governance” taught by Professor William Cunningham. To analyze a Board of Director’s important duties and responsibilities, the Professor invites several former and current senior executives from various companies to address the class. I’m taking this course this semester; it’s a rare opportunity to take a course where we can learn from today’s business leaders. And so far, it has been quite a treat.

4. The People

It’s a bit of a clichéd concept, but I believe that people can make the greatest difference. I always tell this anecdote about how I started to see UT as the place for me. Last year, I was making my decision on business schools, and visited Austin to check out the city and the university. Incidentally, it was the Austin Marathon weekend. There was something about the volume of energy and excitement around the city that surprised me, even if it housed a very large public university.

When I visited McCombs, it was much the same. The important thing to ask is – do I see myself with these people as my classmates? Would I enjoy their company, and be able to work with them? After talking to the current students, the faculty from the class I was able to shadow in, and even random people in the atrium, I think I saw myself fitting in just fine.


Texas vs. Cal from the MBA Student Section! (I believe we were winning at this point…?)

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

McCombs Annual Ski Trip

Some of you out there might be wondering: will attending business school in Texas still allow me to get out to the mountains to ski/board? Well, I’m happy to report, the answer is a resounding YES!

A fun day on the slopes in Breckenridge!

A fun day on the slopes in Breckenridge!

During the first weekend in February, about 150 Texas MBAs, spouses, significant others, and friends descended upon Breckenridge, Colorado for the annual Graduate Business Adventure Team (GBAT) Ski Trip. Every spring semester, the GBAT organizes a trip out of Austin, and up into the mountains, to take in a little fun on the slopes (and on the town!).  The GBAT organizes lodging arrangements, equipment/lift ticket discounts, shuttles, and happy hours. With everything that Texas MBAs have going on around Austin, it definitely makes things easy when all we need to plan on our own is flights!

We all had a great time breathing in the fresh mountain air (or huffing and puffing in the much higher than sea-level altitude, as it were). But beyond the excellent ski conditions, it was a great time to relax with friends and forget about the stresses of schoolwork that we left behind!

Some highlights of the trip included:

  • Sun and blue sky conditions
  • Friday evening happy hour at Mi Casa – such a great turnout that it was standing room only!
  • A couple of us getting summer internship offers while having lunch on the mountain
  • Condos that were just steps away from the lift
  • Bar-hopping on Main Street in Breckenridge
  • The Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships (see below)


Snow Sculpture Championships

Snow Sculpture Championships

Posted in Events, Full-Time, Student Life

Learning on the Job with MBA+ Projects

I know, you’re pouring over the McCombs website doing your due diligence researching all of the great programs the Texas MBA Program has to offer, and you’ve most likely come across the MBA+ Leadership Program.

Those smiling faces and their Starbucks aprons. “I want to try out my new b-school skills consulting for real live companies!”, you think. I know, because I wrote about it in my application essays, too. It is one of the unique experiential learning programs that drew me to McCombs. Now that I’m a real life McCombs student doing a real live MBA+ project, I’d like to share a report from the front lines.

First, it’s worth saying that I had no idea what to expect. I came to McCombs from the education sector, so I knew very little about business or consulting, except that I wanted to learn the tricks of the trade. Consulting (and all things business, for that matter) seemed like a black box. You put numbers and analysis and strategy meetings in on one end, and out come decisions.

For my MBA+ project, I’m working with Deloitte’s Human Capital practice to research the impact of the “Industrial Internet of Things” on people. How will workplaces change? How will people’s jobs change? How can companies proactively position themselves in the midst of this change? It sounds pretty high-level and vague, but the reality of the project has been more than I imagined: more company face time, more learning, and more fun.


1. Company Face Time

We interface with a team of six Deloitte employees who are company leaders at various levels. Across the board they have bent over backwards to make themselves available and to make this a positive experience for the McCombs team. Senior consultants fresh out of McCombs help to guide and navigate us through the process, and senior partners generously take our calls and emails. Everyone provides thoughtful advice and feedback. Who knows how many potentially billable hours of their time we’ve racked up at this point…

As a “nontraditional” student interested in transitioning to strategy consulting, it’s been an excellent way to hit the ground running right from the beginning. It’s true that making an office visit is a great way to get a feel for what it would be like to work at that company. Doing a MBA+ project is even better, in my opinion. You get a feel for what makes the company tick,  you know people at the company, and they know you.

2. Learning

I knew literally nothing about consulting at the start of this project. In the words of one of my fellow MBA+ teammates, “I thought a vertical was how high you could jump.” We’re halfway through our project, and I can say that I now understand what consultants do (kind of) and how to do it (ok, that’s a gross overstatement, but I know more than I did).

I’ve learned from my peers, many of whom are former consultants, and can style the heck out of a PowerPoint deck. And I’ve learned from jumping in. Week one of the project we were meeting with senior consultants who were giving us the rundown on the project trajectory. Week two we were on a call with partners. Week six we were presenting to those same partners.

And from all that work, I now feel like I’m starting to gain two very consultant-y (and generally useful regardless of industry and function) skills: I’m comfortable with ambiguity and I can work with a team to structure an unstructured problem. They’re skills I already had, but the project has helped to refine them, strengthen them, and make me view them in a new light.

3. Fun

On our launch call, an hour into a slew of tips and frameworks and ideas from Deloitte, one of the higher ups closed with this advice:

“You’re getting to do consulting without any of the downsides—don’t forget to have fun! There’s no downside, only an upside.”

I’ve gotten to work with five stellar fellow first years and have gotten to know them and learn from them. We’ve gotten to play consultant and present in a fancy downtown conference room. We got to spend hours reading fascinating research, talking to industry leaders, and coaxing a neat, structured final deliverable out of the mass of available information. It’s basically a playground for a b-school nerd. What more could you want?

Is it hard to focus on the project because there is a ton of other things going on at this point in the semester, most of which involves grades? Yes. Does the project help to ground me in the reasons I came here in the first place, and give me a taste of what I can do on the other side of this place? Heck, yes. So when you get here, just know that your very own MBA+ project awaits!

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Posted in Austin, Career

Founding Health Innovation Fellows or How I Accidentally Got an MBA in Entrepreneurship

One of the many reasons I chose McCombs was because of the burgeoning health industry in Austin. From the construction of the forward-thinking UT Dell Medical School, to the emerging digital health start-up scene, I knew there was opportunity as a McCombs student to get involved and learn from this growth.

While other MBA programs marketed more traditional healthcare concentrations, McCombs offered innovation and the chance to chart new territory in an industry in need of creative, tech-savvy ideas.

Once on campus, I got involved in the MBA Healthcare Association, eventually serving as president of the student-run organization. While this group does an excellent job of providing networking and high-level educational events, there was still a need for more in-depth healthcare programming where students could dissect and debate the many complexities of the U.S. healthcare system.

To help fill the gap, a fellow healthcare classmate, Nicholas Buck, and I launched Health Innovation Fellows (HIF) in the spring of 2015. The purpose of HIF is to promote McCombs as a place that produces business leaders with the capability to impact the healthcare industry through innovation and leadership. In other words, HIF provides an avenue for students to engage with groundbreaking healthcare leaders as well as gain hands-on experience bringing innovative ideas to the market.

HIF (1)Interested students apply and interview for HIF in the fall of their first year. In the spring, Fellows attend monthly roundtables with executive guest speakers. The events are part lecture, part group discussion and debate. Our January speaker is Stacey Chang, former Managing Director of the Healthcare practice at IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, and current Executive Director of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at UT. In the fall or spring of their second year, fellows join healthcare companies for a part-time internship for credit where they can apply the innovation techniques learned in their first year and during their summer internship.

Because the health industry is in a state of rapid change, both in terms of policy and technology, hands-on exposure to current challenges is vital to building the knowledge MBAs need to succeed.

As a second semester student and almost Texas Ex, I am excited to watch this program evolve under the first class of official fellows. Looking back on our experience, I did not appreciate the entrepreneurial skills I’d ultimately learn while building a new student organization. The McCombs program leadership and the UT Healthcare Initiative team helped support us along the way, providing valuable introductions and other resources. If you’re looking for a program that allows you to not only learn from the best but also build your own legacy, there is no MBA offering better than McCombs.

Meet the 2016 Fellows

McCombs Picture

Ben Berg, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on personalized medicine

Ben is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and VP of Recruitment of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. Prior to returning for his MBA, Ben spent four years in consulting at NSF Health Sciences Medical Devices, advising medical device manufacturers on FDA regulations.  This coming summer, Ben will join Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals as an intern in their Experienced Commercial Leadership Development Program. Ben received a B.A. in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ledeen Photo

Daniel Ledeen, MBA ’17 – Entrepreneurship & Healthcare – Nerds out on healthcare consumerism

Daniel is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and a Vice President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs.  During his first semester at McCombs, Dan worked with the Health Catalyst program at the new UT Dell Medical School and with Capital Factory, an Austin based incubator and start-up accelerator. Prior to returning to school, Daniel worked in business development for Telcare, a Sequoia Capital portfolio company focused on developing mobile health tools to improve patient engagement and risk management through leveraging real-time data and analytics. Before joining Telcare, Daniel served overseas in the United States Marine Corps as a Logistics Officer. Daniel received a B.A. in History from Rice University in 2009.


Abhinayaa Chokkalingam, MBA ’17 – Operations & Healthcare – Nerds out on innovative healthcare devices

Abhinayaa is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of Operations Fellows. Through the 2016 academic year, Abhinayaa will work with Dell as part of the Supply Chain labs program and will intern in Dell over the summer in the same department. After graduating as an Electronics and Communications Engineer, Abhinayaa worked in a rotational management role at Siva Group based in India across various industries including healthcare, education and trading equities. As part of the program, she managed the marketing team of Aiwo, a subsidiary of Siva Group, launching and branding a futuristic healthcare product across India, Singapore, and Seychelles. Abhinayaa received a B.E. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Anna University in India.


Dion Giannoukos, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Management – Nerds out on EMR and the growing use of data analytics in modern healthcare

Dion is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows. After spending the past four years in pharmaceutical R&D, Dion spent his first MBA semester developing his business acumen and was involved in several business challenges and projects alongside his coursework. This included an MBA+ project with NanoHybrids where he served as team leader, helping the client develop a marketing strategy for a new line of products directed at healthcare clinicians and research institutions. With previous experience in pharmaceuticals from translational research through clinical trials, Dion hopes to bring that knowledge and close connections with major institutions such as M.D. Anderson to McCombs. He looks forward to offering fellow students a better understanding of the challenges facing our healthcare system and how they can make an impact with the knowledge they acquire through their time at McCombs. Dion received a B.A. in Biology from Franklin & Marshall College.


Michael Love, MBA ’17 – Finance & Healthcare – Nerds out on making our healthcare system financially sustainable

Michael is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and Vice President of Education for the MBA Healthcare Association. Prior to returning to school for his MBA, Michael worked for Premier, Inc., a leading national healthcare solutions organization, in their consulting division. Michael worked with healthcare providers across the country, enabling them to increase hospital efficiencies, improve patient outcomes, and reduce the costs of care. His team-based projects allowed him to see all different sides of the healthcare industry, and through his work with the physicians, service line directors, and hospital executives, he implemented business opportunities that put the hospitals in advantageous positions in their markets. Michael returned to school to strengthen his financial, strategy and leadership skill sets so that he can continue to improve the financial stability of our healthcare system from a higher level. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Georgia.


Karthik Narasimhan, MBA ’17– Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on advances in drug discovery

Karthik is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. He is also a 2016 Marketing Fellow. Prior to business school, Karthik spent five years at Promega Corporation, a biotech tools provider for drug discovery, forensics and life sciences research. He was the Business Development Executive for the Asia Pacific region and was based in Singapore. This fall, Karthik worked on a MBA+ project for NanoHybrids, an Austin-based nanotechnology startup. He received a PhD in Biological Sciences from the National University of Singapore.

HIF Founders

Buck, George Nicholas 3

Nicholas Buck, MBA ’16 – High-Tech Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on bringing the digital age to healthcare

Nicholas is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and co-chair of the McCombs Admissions Committee. Prior to business school, Nicholas spent 4 years at a healthcare and pharmaceutical market research firm in NYC providing intelligence and consulting services to big pharma, health IT, and biotech firms. Last summer, he was a Sr. Graduate Advisor intern in Dell’s Commercial Marketing, Healthcare & Life Sciences group. There, he spent time formulating strategy for entry into a new customer segment and evaluating channel partner management programs. Post-graduation from McCombs, Nicholas will be pursuing start-up and boutique consulting firms that meld together his passion for technology and healthcare. He received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, and a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from A.T. Still University.

Thomas, Jennifer 3

Jennifer Thomas, MBA ’16 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on mobile health innovations

Jennifer is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and outgoing President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. This past summer, Jennifer interned with Bayer Pharmaceuticals in their Management Associate Program and will return to join their commercial rotational program in the fall of 2016. Over the course of this past semester, Jennifer had the opportunity to intern in a business development role for a local health tech startup, NarrativeDx, as well as work on a digital health accelerator design project with the new UT Dell Medical School. Prior to returning for her MBA, Jennifer spent five years in client management roles with Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), the leading provider of independent ad-hoc consulting services to business professionals around the world. Jennifer received a B.S. in Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.

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Posted in Full-Time, Student Orgs

Conquering a Finance Case Challenge

I recently participated in the 2015 Finance Challenge, where I joined a team with three of my classmates in analyzing a business valuation case study and presented our solutions to a panel of judges.

Here are my top five favorite moments of the Finance Challenge:

  1. Forming our dream team

The first step in any case challenge is assembling a team of four classmates who are interested in participating. The best teams are diverse – not just in cultural background, but also in skill set, work experience, and future goals. This is valuable because your team can generate unique ideas, you can learn from others’ experiences, and your presentation will be dynamic. McCombs has a wealth of diversity, so it wasn’t hard to create a solid team. I teamed up with a former investment banker, a former lawyer and banker, and a small business owner – and two of my teammates were even married!


  1. Preparing to tackle the case… with Home Slice Pizza

One of the key elements in preparing for a case competition is social time. After we received our case materials, we visited an Austin staple – Home Slice Pizza – where we talked about the case’s important issues and our ideas to solve them over two large pizzas and a bottle of Chianti. This dinner set the tone for our whole approach to solving the case challenge – relaxed, yet confident and efficient.


  1. Cracking the quants

The inner nerd in me (okay, I’m kind of an “outer” nerd, too) was extremely excited to build the financial valuation model for this case. So naturally, it was one my favorite moments. Our whole team was eager to flesh out every detail necessary to make the perfect model. We utilized topics and frameworks that we learned in our core corporate finance class as well as the “flex-core” valuation class. I suppose my background in financial consulting and my teammates’ banking experiences may have helped, too…

  1. Delivering the presentation

Case competitions are a great way for students to practice their presentation skills. As a former consultant, I did quite a bit of presenting, and I really enjoy public speaking. It was exciting to discuss our analysis with the judges and hear their feedback. For those who are looking to improve their communication skills, McCombs provides an invaluable resource: MBA+ Coaches. The MBA+ communication coaches are all current candidates or graduates of the UT Communication Studies PhD program, and they are available to all full-time MBA students to help with speech anxiety, interviewing, networking, writing, and more.

  1. Networking and celebrating

After the challenge was over, we chatted with the judges and other recruiters who attended the event. We reflected on what we learned from the challenge: how to remain cool under pressure, how to sift through loads of information and data to determine the key issues, and how to work closely with your peers to come up with the most innovative solutions. Then we went to happy hour at Uchi (another Austin favorite) to celebrate our success with our significant others. There’s nothing like a few sushi rolls and a glass of sake to cap off a week of late nights, early mornings, and a successful competition.


Hook ‘em!

-Tim Carreon, Class of 2017

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Posted in Academics

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 or 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 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.

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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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