I will unapolagetically tell you that I am not a cheerleader. Now the point of these blogs is to give you a little taste of what you might experience if you come to McCombs, or if you’re already here, I suppose it’s just one more slice of yellow cake reminding you of the sweetness of your life. But while this little post has nothing to do with veering into negativity, we should be clear: Austin and McCombs are more than some anodyne, bubble-gum pop, neverending fun-fest of lovely intellectual lamplights coming on, all set against the background of a happy island universe of live music and foodie dens. Austin and McCombs are absolutely both great, but were I a Harvard blogger, I would be equally remiss to promote that experience as some crystalline winter wonderland full of sharp geniuses, charming ivy, tantalizing red bricks, and meeting Minnie Driver at the local watering hole.
I say this as a preface to my actual remarks so that you understand that there are, as with anything and any experience, good and bad sides, people you will love and those you praise only obliquely so as to a bit more subtly suggest your actual latent, um, mild antipathy, and so on and so forth.
The point, though, is this: there are indeed some GREAT people here. And so as not to arouse your suspicions that I built up that whole strawman in paragraph one just so I could really snow you here a few lines later, let me tone down my enthusiasm and follow more simply the lead of Ray Liotta: ”He’s a good guy…a good fella’.” There are some real goodfellas at McCombs.
Detour briefly: one of my favorite movies is Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. The movie is a chain of vignettes done in the cinematic equivalent of Japanese ukiyo-e painting (no, I’m not trying to impress you with my obscure knowledge, but if you go to the calendar store, you’ll see what I’m talking about and you’ll think it’s cool too and we can all be friends). Anyway, one of the best vignettes/pseudo-stills depicts three or four Japanese mountaineers. The episode’s ten or twelve minutes are painstakingly slow and all that’s really happening is these men are freezing to death, caught in a mountain storm, and they can’t hardly see even a foot or two ahead. So they sit and stand there and struggle to put one foot in front of the other and you can see that the real stuggle in their head is whether or not they should push on or whether they’re just going to sit down in the snow and accept the cards dealt them and die. Then suddenly, the movie god’s hand waves, wingardium leviosa, and the storm ends. And there, no more than five feet away, they see their tents, their provisions, their entire camp. Ukiyo-e don’t really have morals to the story; they are just beautiful glimpses, literally “floating world” pictures.
My first month and a half here has been a blizzard. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about business school, and that has been the background for my already trying drama of settling on a profession, on a “what I really want to do for the rest of my life.” Opportunity is a wonderful thing, and in this lovely information age, McCombs is able to provide more of it than you will know what to do with, and truly amazing opportunities at that, but in the end, I only have three pounds of custard to process all these smashing opportunity neutrinos and besides, at twenty-eight, double-declining depreciation perhaps offers a more accurate assessment of my neuronal balance sheet value.
All’s well that ends well. I have, fortunately, come to some conclusions finally and after six or so weeks. I have some idea of what I want to do after business school and some more clearly defined idea of how to get there. I have figured out, at least a little, which opportunities to focus on and which to ignore. This is all good and well and happy.
The point of this post, though, is that there really are some people here who deserve credit and if you are thinking about applying to McCombs or if you are already here, you may not be aware that the level of caring for the students on the part of the program staff is anything above or beyond what you might find at any other institution. Fair enough. Also fair to admit that we all wear uniforms to work, and that applies to behavior, decorum, and used vernacular most of all. People are paid to be professionals; professionalism may occasionally prevent notice of what lies beneath.
Behind all that though, and without getting into the specifics of my own career-settling-upon odyssey, let me simply aver: the folks in the MBA program office, A to Z, directors to career management to lowly office clerk (ok, that last’s a lie…haven’t hung out with the copyboy yet) are there for you. They will not only put up with your caprices and whinings and great idea fairies, they will not only smile and tolerate your newest latest and greatest plans for mounting the corporate peaks, they will actually listen and remember you and check in with you after you shake hands, say goodbye for the day, and close the door. And that, frankly, is the highest praise I can give any staff – that as much as, coming from my background, I am no fan of official business-speak and being taught how to case-interview….I believe, behind all of that, there are some really good fellas working here. If you haven’t met them, drop in, have a cup of coffee, bring a smile, and you’ll probably get more than a few in return.
MBA PROGRAM STAFF: you know my mailbox. I’m not greedy, but no Mr. Pink, OK? $10 tip minimum.