I don’t remember exactly where I was when I first learned that the McCombs Full-time MBA program (along with many other MBA programs) doesn’t hold classes on Fridays. I do, however, remember my reaction to the news. I thought back to 3-day weekends from work and the scheduling achievements of undergrad that made Thursday night the official beginning of the weekend. It sounded great. In my mind, Friday became a free day to catch-up and cool down… a reward for a dense week of MBA action. This plan worked beautifully for the first week or two but things quickly changed when midterms, student organizations, group projects, and other “stuff” started to ramp up. Just like that, I was forced to add Free MBA Fridays to the list of enigmas whose existence is only found in fictional fables. The tooth fairy… a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl victory… and Free MBA Fridays… all just plain fiction.
Okay, okay, I hear you: “awww, poor MBAs, having to work Monday-Friday like the rest of the world.” You’re right, I’ll stop whining. And you’re also right in assuming that not everything we do on Fridays is mandatory. We give up our Free MBA Fridays by willingly adding a lot to our schedules. So the question becomes: “is it worth it?”
This past Friday embodies that question. I, along with 100 other MBAs and BBAs participated in the Deloitte Case Competition. On paper, a case competition more closely resembles a form of torture than anything for which you’d voluntarily sacrifice a Free MBA Friday. Your 4- or 5-person team receives a case with a problem to solve on Thursday night around 8pm and is responsible for presenting your recommended solution to the problem on Friday morning at 8am. In other words, you stay up all night staring at PowerPoint slides and then try to convince a panel of professors and potential employers that you know what you’re talking about just as your delirium has reached its most extreme level. All-in-all, you’re done around noon on Friday… and then you sleep. All day. It was rough at times but when I think back on the experience, I think about my team; I had the chance to work with a group of sharp, fun people who worked hard and then rocked the presentation on Friday morning despite our self-induced deprivation. We met this challenge and I think we’ll remember this experience for a long time. Did the competition throw off our weekend sleep schedule? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes.
Looking back at the last few Fridays on my calendar, I see the Reaching Out MBA Career Fair in Dallas where I met with representatives from some great companies and I see powerhouse group study sessions that helped me prepare for my first round of final exams. Looking forward, I see Career Treks and a SEMA conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship that will be lights-out. These experiences have been and will continue to be some of the most beneficial of my first semester in b-school. Are they worth it? Yes. We are not here to sit by the side of the pool and think about how great swimming will be when we finally jump in come 2013. We’re here to dive in… and what better day for a metaphorical swim than Friday??…
…Or maybe an ACTUAL swim! The weather is great down here in Austin and guess whose calendar shows an open Friday afternoon this week! I guess a Free MBA Friday is more like an aurora borealis. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s awesome when it does. As for a Browns Super Bowl win… well, that’s still just fiction.
Each Wednesday, McCombs MBA students, professors, and program staff members all come together in the spirit of caffeination for “MBA Coffee” in the Carpenter Center. There is never a shortage on conversation…
9.21.11 – After a weekend of music at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival — the first for many of us Austin rookies — there were plenty of stories to be told. Let’s chat with a few MBA Coffee-goers and see what they thought of the weekend.
Perhaps you’ve met Sofie. If you aren’t as lucky as me to have her in your study group, maybe you remember a run-in with her over breakfast tacos or a random chat with her at a football tailgate. But if you think either of these describe your interactions with Sofie Leon, I have potentially disappointing news: she may seem spontaneous, but her day is planned out like an army ranger’s and her marching orders come from a sergeant more horrifying than any you’ve seen in Band of Brothers. This demanding monster I speak of is her Outlook Calendar. Take a look (click the photo to see this masterpiece in its full size):
Sofie believes strongly in the familiar “if it ain’t on my calendar, it ain’t happening” mantra. Between classes, lessons in Portuguese, and lots of meetings that include the intimidating “Fellows” label, Sofie runs an all-star schedule that could make you feel like your lack of sleep is just you being whiny. But while her schedule is unique, her situation is one we can all relate to. We were warned that days as a McCombs MBA candidate are busy and long, but the warning is becoming a reality as organizational commitments ramp up and exams seem to ALWAYS be looming. Yes, we still make time for fun… and no, we don’t all have to schedule it into our calendars. Although with so much to do around here, scheduling it in sounds like a pretty good idea.
So how do you work with all of us “Sofies” on group projects or, if you are a “Sofie” yourself, how do you manage your own busy schedule? First, dominate your calendar. Outlook… Google… iCal… whatever. Color-coding… recurring reminders… task lists… whatever. Just get it under control! Second, remember the MBA contact hierarchy, “T.E.P. – Text. E-mail. Phone call.” IN THAT ORDER and heavy on the “T” and “E.” Phone calls are inconvenient and awful. You know what, let’s just dump the “P.” If you can’t type and need something quickly, use HeyTell. It’s amazing. If you need some quality conversation with the family or long-distance BF/GF/BFF/Wife/Husband, use Skype or Google Video. A 30-minute video chat is much more rewarding (and efficient) than a phone call that might last twice as long. Just remember to look into the camera (not at the screen) when you are speaking. And on that note, don’t use our new rules as an excuse to keep your eyes on your iPhone all day. It’s good to look up as you walk through the GSB from time-to-time because (believe it or not) good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversations are still pretty awesome.
So there you have it: “T.E.H.V. – Text. E-mail. HeyTell. Video.” It might be time for a trademark. Is anyone from the law school reading this? Maybe Sofie knows somebody over there. If only I could get some time on her calendar…
When did you go to your first Major League Baseball game?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen way too many to count and you were probably too young to remember anyways. Being in the stadium and watching a baseball game is a beautiful thing and we Americans are lucky to have the experience so tightly interwoven into our culture. So when a group of international classmates approached me about seeing their first MLB game, I offered to take them. It was an easy decision. If you have the chance to give someone their first MLB experience, you say YES! And off to Houston we went…
Our journey closely resembled the beginning of a bad off-color joke — “So 2 Japanese guys, a South Korean, a Chinese guy, and an American walk into a baseball stadium…” — but our crew could not have been better. We compared baseball in America to baseball in Asia and I made sure they had a beer and a hot dog. We did the wave and stretched in the 7th inning. We did what people do at baseball games and we had an awesome time doing it. As I get more involved with SEMA (the Sports, Entertainment, and Media Management Association), I hope to help many more of our international classmates experience the world of American sports.
It’s been a great first month at McCombs and getting to know these brave international students while the Astros took on the visiting San Francisco Giants was definitely one of the highlights. When they came to school here, they brought a true global perspective with them and everybody is better off as a result. Next baseball trip: Tokyo?? I’m down.
I like meeting new friends… I enjoy the company of a lot of different types of people… overall, I consider myself a pretty friendly guy. Do you believe me? I would believe me, but I’m in business school now and arguments like this one don’t fly around here. In order to be convincing, you need to show some numbers! So just give me a second to ask Mr. Zuckerberg… OK here’s some data:
On July 31, I had 715 Facebook friends. In my 76-month Facebook career (I joined in March 2005), I’ve added approximately 9.4 friends per month. Not bad, all things considered. In fact, that’s about 6 times the average. Last month, however, I’ve added 266 new friends. What can explain this dramatic statistical anomaly?
A month ago, my newest 266 friends and I started our first-year orientation at the McCombs MBA program. That’s 266 new names to learn, 266 new stories to hear, and 266 new friends to make. Not possible, right? Well, maybe not at the office but it IS working at McCombs… and the people here are to thank for that.
This unique situation works because we’re all in the same boat. We’ve quit our jobs, many of us left the familiarity of our friends or family, and now we’re at the University of Texas to make new friends and work towards the future. And that leads me to the second reason our overwhelming situation just seems to work… networking. These people know people and I’m sure they know people I’d like to know. They say 8 of every 10 new jobs stem from a connection through your network. Well, our individual networks just took some heavy steroids so we have some serious net(WORK!)ing to do.
At the end of the day, this environment works because the people are simply incredible. My classmates are really friendly and can get down to business in a way that pushes you to keep working hard. It’s only been a few weeks – busy, busy, weeks – but my 266 new friends and I are starting to get to know each other pretty well. It takes a collaborative atmosphere and a lot of great people for this to work. I think I’ve found both at McCombs.