Amongst all of my semester’s academic obligations, I have also had the privilege to intern at Austin Technology Incubator (ATI). In case you have never heard of ATI, they are a part of the University of Texas IC2 research unit and are a true reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit of UT and the city of Austin. ATI works with early stage start-up companies and assists them in their business planning and fundraising strategies in order to increase start-up companies’ chances for success.
Since ATI is part of the university, they are always on the lookout for talented interns to assist in their business strategy. I am currently assisting the organization in grant research and writing, which is a perfect intersection of my interests of business development and social enterprise. In the past five months of my internship, I have already learned so much about the real world challenges of start-up companies and the tactics necessary for successful grant writing. Most importantly, I have had the opportunity to meet some extraordinary leaders and entrepreneurs in the community. Needless to say, despite the economy, innovation continues to thrive in Austin, TX.
I’m sure we have all heard the notion about business school that the hardest part about it is getting into the program, not actually getting out of it. Taking this to heart I put all kinds of time and effort into getting in to Texas, assured that once I stepped foot on campus it was smooooth sailing. Wrong.
First semester, while an incredible experience, was probably the most ridiculous four months of my life in terms of time and work commitments. The saving grace throughout the whole time was the common theme expressed from second years that after the first semester, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how much work is required of you. Wrong.
This semester has started off with a bang. A case and a half a week for Strategy, homework due in every Operations class session (many times based on a case reading), Advanced Corporate homework every other week, Investment Theory homework (so far a stock valuation model and a portfolio construction homework assignment), and Advanced Accounting homework due every Tuesday (not to mention the exam I took last night). Now, I’m not saying this to complain because we all choose our paths in life – in fact, I opted out of a more cushy Negotiations class in order to get into my accounting course – but still, what was all this talk about its much easier after the first semester??!?
Across campus, past the football stadium, to the LBJ School I go…
I am once again broadening my horizons and taking classes outside of the McCombs School of Business. Since my concentration is Social Enterprise, I thought it would make since to take a class specifically dedicated to social entrepreneurship and innovation. Luckily, the Texas MBA has a flexible curriculum and I am able to dedicate a few of my electives to topics that really interest me and may not be offered at McCombs.
This semester, as part of my pursuit of the RGK Center’s Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies, I am taking a class at the LBJ School called Social Innovation. The class is co-taught by Dr. Peter Frumkin, Director of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, and Suzi Sosa from MPower Labs, Inc. So far, the course has been very insightful and has allowed me to adapt the skills and knowledge I have gained in my MBA to the challenges often faced in the world of social entrepreneurship. It has also been refreshing to study different types of cases that focus on social responsibility and positive change leaders around the world. Not to mention, each case analysis is coupled with complex and interesting discussion since the classroom is filled with a variety of graduate students, including those from the LBJ School, Law, and the School of Social Work.
As part of the class, I have the opportunity to participate in the Dell Social Innovation Competition hosted by the RGK Center. For all of you social innovators out there, I would definitely encourage you to check out the competition and preview all of the great ideas submitted.
Somewhere near the end of what seemed like our year long Christmas break, I realized that I had one semester left in this extravagant trip we call business school. In addition to a little enjoyment of six weeks of leisure, I spent a good part of my free time talking on the phone, writing emails, or knocking on the doors of the network of real estate finance resources I’ve developed. For those of you in the industry (or anyone that watches the news, reads the paper, or breathes air in America), you’ll understand that this has been an almost futile effort. Many of the traditional industry players are balking, the debt markets are frozen, and there has been an influx of experienced and educated talent into the job market (to be read “lay-offs”). I’ve decided to expand my search to different types of jobs, given the market has moved more to dealing with distressed assets and defaults versus the acquisition and development of assets under an easy money pretense. Continue reading
Well, we’re a little over halfway through first semester finals. I am not entirely sure what all the second years meant when they said finals weren’t as bad as midterms. They are just as intense with twice the material. The good news is, we’re done with three, so we have only two more to go, and then we’ll be done with our first (and notoriously most difficult) semester at McCombs. Some good news: in cramming for these finals, I have realized exactly how much I’ve learned this semester. As someone who is getting her first look at this stuff now (as opposed to some of my classmates who were business undergrads or living in the finance world prior to this), I have realized how far I’ve come. It’s amazing, really. In addition to realizing that – wow! I really HAVE learned a lot in business school so far – there are a few things that have come up this week that brought a smile to my face (sometimes rare during times like this). As I go back to the world of probabilities and decision trees (statistics exam tonight!), I leave you with some good moments from this week.
On the first day of finals, my professor gave to me… Continue reading
I’m not exactly sure where this semester went. It feels like yesterday I was driving south on I-35 with the UT tower, the Texas State Capitol, the Frost Bank Tower and the rest of Austin on the horizon. And now, one entire semester in (and sadly nearly one fourth of the way through my MBA), I’m shocked at how much I’ve learned in such a short period of time (AND absolutely terrified to be tested on it with exams)!
To give you an idea of what my life has been like for the last few weeks, let’s recap:
1. I had an unfortunate incident… Continue reading