Blog posted by Morgan Brown / Blog Contributors include Texas MBAs Anwesha Chatterjee, Emily Hruby, Kristin Miller and Kavita Joshi.
In between our first and second mini-mesters, our classes were limited to Monday and Tuesday only. The rest of the week was spent doing career “treks”. Our awesome career services team and a student organization (the Graduate Marketing Network) organized treks to New York (finance), Seattle (marketing), Dallas (marketing and corporate finance), Houston (energy finance) and Austin (tech startup and other big companies). These treks are a terrific opportunity to learn more about the industry where we want to work in the future.
Austin – Start-Up Trek
Home Away's awesome rooftop provides a space for employees to relax
I participated in the Austin Technology Startup trek. We visited companies such as HomeAway, BazaarVoice and Austin Technology Incubator. At HomeAway, we were fortunate enough to meet the founder and CEO (a Mccombs alum!) of the $1.4B company who explained his experience as an entrepreneur of technology startup companies. We discussed funding opportunities and the future vision of the company. Later, we also met McCombs alumni in the company, who explained the nature of their work to us. At BazaarVoice, we were greeted by McCombs alumni who gave us a tour of the company and took the time to answer our questions about the culture of the company, the job opportunities available and what to expect when working for a startup company.
We ended our trek with a visit to the Austin Technology Incubator that I shall always rate as the most humbling experience of the day. We were led to a panel discussion of McCombs graduates and other bright minds that had chosen to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit rather than a plush corporate job. We explored ideas on starting up companies, knowing how to identify risks and avoiding mistakes. The session ended with a “speed dating” event where each of us spoke individually to all the entrepreneurs and asked them for advice, suggestions on starting our own companies. Next week, McCombs will host the three-day startup event in collaboration with ATI for future entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and sell them to venture firms.
When my day was over, I was rather glad that I chose to make this trip and meet so many bright and motivated individuals. I felt proud that they graduated from McCombs and UT and I hope that I can live up to the high standards that my alumni are setting for all of us here.
Dallas – Marketing
Pizza Hut (part of Yum! Brands) was one of the stops on the Dallas Marketing trek
We all arrived in Dallas and stayed with friends or at the Embassy Suites where McCombs had gotten a group rate the night before. During the week leading up to the trek, we had all researched the companies we were about to meet – American Airlines, Frito-Lay, and Yum! Brands. We met at 7:30am at the hotel, and took a bus to American Airlines. On the bus we read everyone’s research on the companies and chatted – it was nice to take a little break from schoolwork and enjoy visiting the headquarters. Since we had only had 2 days of class beforehand, we didn’t have much homework and the trip was a welcome respite after finals.
At all three companies we listened to panels of McCombs alums talk about their experiences, give us advice about classes to take and pointers for the interview process. We ate a catered breakfast at AA, a lunch of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell at Yum!, and an afternoon snack at, of course, Frito. The president of Pizza Hut, Scott Bergren, joined the panel and talked with us each individually at Yum. At Frito-Lay, our hostess (a 2010 McCombs alum) was generous enough to take us through the R&D department and by the test kitchen, which was very exciting. I was very impressed by the alums and other representatives we met who were ABMs and above, and it was inspiring to hear how their careers had grown in the few short years since McCombs. It was a long day, but we wrapped up by about 4pm which gave us plenty of time to return to Austin at a decent hour. I felt like I learned a lot, met some interesting and inspiring people, and had a welcome break from class!
Seattle Marketing Trek
Lady Starbucks Sees All
I attended the Seattle Marketing Trek, and this one is different from the others as it’s organized and run by student members of the Graduate Marketing Network. Two 2nd years, Lindley and Aditi, are both Seattle natives and managed to arrange for corporate visits while also showing us the town.
At the Alaska Airlines hangar at Sea-Tac Airport. Never seen it from this angle before!
We visited the corporate offices of Starbucks, Amazon.com, Jackson Fish Market (not a fish market, but a start-up software maker), Microsoft, Alaska Airlines and T-Mobile. Each corporate visit was informative and it was amazing to see the variety of companies all headquartered there.
We couldn’t come to Seattle without a visit.
Each day’s visits wrapped up by 5:30pm, so we also had plenty of free time to explore Seattle, sampling the seafood (Lowell’s, Umi), enjoying a walk down Pike Place Market, and generally trying to take advantage of all Seattle had to offer in our 3 quick, but productive days there.
Austin & Houston – CleanTech Treks
McCombs CleanTech-ers this year had a couple of great options to visit CleanTech companies. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend both the local Austin 1-day trek and the Houston 2-day trek. It was a lot of information to soak up, but definitely worth the time and effort.
In Austin, we visited Austin Energy, the leading utility in the Austin-area; the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a utility and environmentally conscious public-service provider; and Heliovolt, a next-generation solar-panel manufacturer. Austin Energy took us out to visit its solar arrays at the Austin airport and spoke with us about the utility’s interest in renewables and plans for increasing solar-powered energy. LCRA was one my favorite visits because we took a trip out onto the dam over Town Lake. It was great view, as long as you’re not afraid of heights! And at Heliovolt, we received an intro to the solar-energy market and as a bonus, our hosts let us walk by their pilot manufacturing line, which was a complete geek-out experience!
The Houston CleanTech trek this year was extensive. We visited eight companies in total. The companies were a mix of clean energy start-ups, established companies, and consulting companies with strong energy divisions. As a result, we were able to meet with experts in wind energy, energy transmission, natural gas, energy consulting, and even waste management. One of the best things about this trek is that it really expanded my understand of “clean energy” or “cleantech.”
I’d definitely recommend either of these treks to anyone interested in cleantech or clean energy. For me, it was mostly centered around learning about clean tech companies and meeting people. But they are a great way to meet industry folks and visit companies that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.