5 Ways Women MBAs CAN Have It All

When I started in the Texas Executive MBA program (EMBA) last August, I fully expected life as I knew it to end. I scheduled a couple of relaxing trips — a beach vacation over Fourth of July, and a fly fishing adventure with my husband on the Salmon River in Idaho. I got my hair cut. I read Vogue and took a few spa days. I scaled back my involvement in non-priority projects. By the time August rolled around and I buttoned up my business suit for the first seminar, I was ready to kiss my “old,” pre-MBA life goodbye.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a panel at the annual Texas MBA Women’s Forum, speaking to prospective Evening and Executive applicants. I remembered how I felt just a year before as an audience member watching a similar panel and wondering whether I was ready to make the commitment to the program. Now that I’m well into my second semester as an EMBA, life has gotten complicated, but it’s not impossible, and I’m certainly still able to enjoy my “old” life. I’m here to inform women considering the program that you can have it all. Here’s how:

1) Your support network goes far beyond you.

Friends opening creditsWhether you’re married, single, or “it’s complicated,” you’ll quickly find that you need more than just the power of you to get through this program. For those who have significant others, it’s imperative that he or she be on board with your decision — they will be your sounding board and your soft place to land. But don’t think you have to have someone waiting for you with dinner on the stove to tackle an MBA. This program expands your network — intentionally so — both professionally and personally. Between your study group, your classmates at large, and your professors, you begin to develop a network that helps you answer some of the most challenging questions in your life, whether they are related to career advice, personal development, or schoolwork. Additionally, the women in the class ahead of me have done a great job at building relationships with the women in my class. I think I can safely speak for the ladies of the Class of 2016 when I say that we’re all looking forward to paying it forward to incoming female students next year.

2) You become a decision-making rockstar.

How often do you hum and haw over whether to attend a meeting or bring an issue to your boss? How many times a day do you click on the same email trying to decide how to respond? Dr. John Burrows, the EMBA program director, and one of your first-semester professors, likes to say “Begin with the end in mind.” While at first this concept can be difficult to grasp, once you get the hang of it, you start applying it to everything in your life. When a decision needs to be made, you are able to arrive at an effective, prompt, and well-supported conclusion. Not only that, but you begin to collect tools and strategies that help you dive into and analyze these challenging situations with confidence. Being in this program so quickly cuts through the chaff in your life, that you just might be surprised by how much extra time it frees up (which, of course, leaves more time for studying!).

3) You learn how to prioritize the right things, not all the things.

One of the most important parts of the program that you won’t find in any formal curriculum is that it teaches you to recognize when and how to take care of your personal life. This isn’t just something that MBAs need to learn — any executive looking to go the distance must get a handle on this lesson at some point.

Need to get some exercise? There’s no shortage of running groups or cycling teams to join (or start your own!). If you have kids, be there for them first. Your group will support you (and demand cute photos of your kids as repayment!). A few of us in the Class of 2016 have made a point to have “Manicure Mondays” every few months when we get our nails done together. It’s a simple thing but it allows us to debate cases or talk through tough quantitative concepts while doing something special and relaxing for ourselves. During my first semester, my husband and I bought a house and decided to renovate our kitchen ourselves. Did I often think I needed to be reading case studies while I knocked dry wall down off the walls? Absolutely. Did I finish reading those cases by the time class rolled around? Of course. Life has a way of expanding and contracting to your priorities. It’s up to you to ensure you put the right priorities in your life.

4) You learn how to maximize your unique strengths.

Leslie Knope quoteChanneling your strengths as a leader goes far beyond focusing on just doing what you’re good at. In fact, this program challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and to wrestle with questions you might previously have avoided. This is where you learn how to channel your natural talents, as you start to realize — with the guidance of great professors and supportive classmates — that there are unique aspects about you that make you a unique leader. These are the stories you come into the program with: a former career as a professional athlete, or a struggle to overcome a fear of public speaking. These bits and pieces of your history are often overlooked — and sometimes even hidden from ourselves and others. But the EMBA program encourages you to really explore what parts of those stories you can leverage to make the world a better place. How does this ultimately help you have it all? You have time to reflect on and ensure that an important part of yourself is not left behind as you grow and change as a leader.

5) You can find self-fulfillment.

Remember being forced to run the mile in grade school while being timed and yelled at by some domineering gym coach? I bet you couldn’t wait to stop running. Now think about what it felt like the time you chose to train for and complete a long distance race, whether it was a 5K or an Ironman. Sure, it was daunting going into it, but the process was just as satisfying as crossing the finish line. Pursue an MBA if you are looking for fulfillment at both a personal and professional level. It requires too much time, effort, and sacrifice if you don’t plan on finding personal satisfaction and happiness in not only the outcomes, but also the inputs. In her controversial essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Anne-Marie Slaughter writes about one challenge for women attempting the balancing act:

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that the regret she heard most often was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Make sure an MBA isn’t just another item on the list of what others expect from you. If you’re true to yourself in this program, you’ll do just fine.

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Posted in Austin, Executive

International Life at McCombs

In the Texas MBA program, we pride ourselves on being truly global. The most treasured element of our global identity is our international student community. At about 24% of the class, they represent many countries across the continents and create a global classroom environment that McCombs is well known for.

Indian Festival Diwali Celebrations in UT, 2014

Indian Festival Diwali Celebrations in UT, 2014

The culture of McCombs resembles that of a closely-knit family. All our classmates are deeply invested in helping us succeed and transition to the career of our choice. Most international students learn a lot from their domestic counterparts, especially about the culture and traditions of Texas. This year, the domestic students invited many international students to spend Thanksgiving with their families in Austin and other cities. International Night is another fabulous event where students from all countries get to display their culture to their classmates. It is this form of cultural exchange that makes the Texas MBA experience at McCombs truly unique.


International Night, 2014

As an international student who has lived and worked in the U.S. for many years, I must say that the resources available for students are absolutely phenomenal. Right in the first week, UT holds a Football 101 session for all new international students to help them get acquainted with the game that is at the core of UT’s culture. Communication coaches are available through the MBA+ leadership program, and have a great impact in the first year of the program. My communication coach helped me work a lot on my non-verbal communication and business articulation skills. She has also helped many international students through accent modification training. Career services put a special emphasis on helping internationals succeed through specialized job search tools and a one-on-one peer advising model. With a 90,000+ strong alumni base, a lot of international alumni serve as mentors to the current students and help them through their career trajectory.

At McCombs, we often hear the phrase, “What starts here, changes the world.” Our international students are the pioneers of this motto. They bring the best of their global business acumen, and often take back to their home countries the valuable lessons learned in the Texas MBA community. And it all begins – not with the world-class faculty, the top-tier internships, or the leadership skills – It begins when you watch a fourth quarter touchdown at the football field, and before your know it, you clench your fists and say “Hook’Em!” That’s when you become a Longhorn!

Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game

Bleeding burnt orange at a Longhorns game 2014

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Posted in Austin, Diversity, Full-Time, Student Life

Lessons from Recruiting

Depending on industries and functions of interest, recruiting season ebbs and flows in the Texas MBA program, starting with Banking/Consulting “Super Week” and continuing through April with the Careers Now Interview Forum.

I’m glad to say it has been a “net positive” experience for me, and I am feeling relieved in a major way now that I have my summer internship plans in place. In no particular order, here are my top takeaways from participating in both on-campus and off-campus recruiting over the past few months.

  • When you walk into an interview, bring extra copies of your updated resume.

  • Always wear deodorant. This seems like a no-brainer, right? But I’ve been to so many company events and stood in close quarters with classmates and recruiters only to catch a whiff of a nervous, un-deodorized body. If you want to keep it fresh and make a good impression, don’t be stingy with the Speed Stick.old spice - man your man could smell like - video
  • Invest in at least one great suit. Just ask Michael Scott: a well-fitting suit can be the difference between confidence and qualms.tumblr_lnaslkhqg81qa8ws4o1_500
  • Prepare questions to ask your interviewer. The more thoughtful, the better.Whats-your-policy-on-Columbus-Day-3
  • Smile. It will put you and your interviewer(s) at ease. And according to one of my fellow first-years, failure to smile “makes you look like a creeper.”emma_stone
  • Write thank-you notes. It will impress recruiters and will enable you to make a more personal impression. Most importantly, it’s just good manners.

  • And remember: you’re qualified, you’re capable, and everything will be okay!

When I was getting ready for one of my first formal interviews last fall at one of the national recruiting fairs, I called my older sister, who had attended similar career expos during her two years in business school. After I told her how nervous I was, she replied, “The only difference between you and your interviewers is that they have jobs right now–and you don’t. That’s it! So go in there and be yourself.” I’ve thought of that advice often over the past five months, and it has helped calm pre-interview jitters and recruiting event nerves.

With my recruiting process officially completed, I feel immensely grateful to the career advisors, peers, and alumni mentors who have helped me along the way. Now it’s full steam ahead till the end of the semester, and after that, a concerted effort to “hook ‘em” as an MBA intern this summer!

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

How to Tackle the MBA+ Experience

Ah, the MBA+ projects… these certainly constitute a range of emotions from us MBA students.  For those who haven’t heard, MBA+ projects are mini consulting projects that you can complete during the semester with a variety of companies.  Yes, that’s right, you can elect to do these on top of your already busy schedule, but there are definitely a few very important reasons why you should!  In this post I’ll talk a bit about my experience and my tips for the process.

At first, I was on the fence about doing an MBA+ project since I didn’t really know what to expect from my schedule and class commitments.  I mulled it over for a week or so and then realized that since I am not pursuing Consulting, I-Banking, or other major corporations (so basically the bulk of anybody coming to campus) that my recruiting schedule would be much less busy than many others’ in the fall so to just go for it – and I’m certainly glad I did.  The first step in the process is applying to projects (up to 10), and then your team will be selected by the companies sponsoring the projects.  Knowing where I did not want to recruit was how I selected my projects, so I focused only on Austin based start-ups and was matched with FreqSho.

FreqSho is an Austin based music discovery start-up that aggregates artist info from various web sources into a one stop shop for avid music fans.  When we started, the company was working off of a minimum viable product (MVP) and was working on launching a beta version.  Our task as a team was to help create the go-to-market strategy for launching FreqSho.  Given that I have an interest in transitioning from a background in Corporate Finance to Strategy & Marketing, the scope was perfect for me.  I have literally zero experience with marketing, and now I have some tangible skills, understanding, and stories to take with me into interviews.  Throughout the process I was able to learn more about utilizing primary research, digital advertising (Facebook, Google Display, and Search Engine Optimization), and project management skills.  Plus, I was able to score free Sam Smith concert tickets from my teammate and new friend, Gedy!

What to do:

  1. If you have a business background but are a career or function switcher like me, you should do an MBA+ project. Switching functions has been more difficult than I imagined and the MBA+ project is the only tangible experience I have in marketing compared to some class mates who have tons.
  2. If you don’t have a business background at all, you should do an MBA+ project. Start building skills and having interview stories aligned with your future goals
  3. If one of your target companies is sponsoring a project, you should do an MBA+ project. This is free networking, folks.  This is especially true for you aspiring consultants out there!
  4. Be selective! Pick either companies that you are interested in working for or projects that you are passionate about.  If nothing really strikes your fancy, you aren’t going to enjoy the process and it won’t be a great experience for you or your team.
  5. Consider your recruiting schedule and other commitments. Don’t over extend yourself unless you know it will be worth it.
  6. Get excited about meeting people outside of your cohort that you might not otherwise get to know

What not to do:

  1. Do not let FOMO (fear of missing out) get you. If you aren’t very interested in any of the projects, don’t do one just because it seems like all of your friends are doing one.  You will not fail the MBA program by not participating in an MBA+ Project
  2. Do not wait until the last 2 weeks to really get into the nitty-gritty of the project. This is much easier said than done.  Since these projects aren’t graded, it can be easy to let the tasks fall to the backburner throughout the semester, but it makes for an unpleasant rush to the finish.
  3. Do not stress too much. Like all things in life, some of the projects will inevitably have better sponsors and scopes than others.  If you end up on what turns out not to be your dream project use it as a learning example (great for those behavioral interviews!) and make the most of it.  Again, you will not fail the MBA program!
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Posted in Academics, Career, Full-Time, Student Life

McCombs Tech Trek: Seattle

In addition to the strong recruiting in Texas and the Midwest, McCombs has a presence on both coasts. Students can gain exposure by taking school-organized treks to such places as New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. The focus of the Seattle Trek, obviously, is the tech scene. In this visit I had the opportunity to meet the area’s biggest companies as well as meet an exciting start-up with Texas connections.




Geek Culture is alive and well at the Microsoft Store.


Microsoft has been a long-time recruiter of McCombs MBAs. It was great to listen to all of the McCombs alums discuss their enjoyment and fulfillment of working at Microsoft. McCombs places graduates in a variety of MBA roles, but the most common is marketing. Alyse Coogan, MBA ’14, talked about marketing Azure and the growth of Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Kalin Mckenna, MBA ’11, was also on hand to talk about her role as the marketing manager of the Surface tablet. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and reaffirmed to me that Microsoft would be an excellent company to begin a post-MBA career.




T-mobile Corporate HQ in Bellevue, WA. They are serious about their #BeMagenta slogan!


T-Mobile was the next stop of the day. T-Mobile has really undergone a transformation and is disrupting the telecom industry with their #BeMagenta focus. They talked a great deal about the leadership development program which allows incoming MBA students to spend three 9-month rotations in a variety of business groups. After the 27 months you are then placed as a Director in a business area of need. Do you want to have a 2.5 year path to major ownership and responsibility in a company? T-Mobile might be the right fit for you.




The view from one of many Amazon offices on South Lake Union.


Not much needs to be said about Amazon. Chances are if you are reading this blog on the internet, you have purchased something off of Amazon. Amazon provides an immediate opportunity for MBAs to produce real value to a company. There are no training wheels at Amazon. You are expected to come in, be customer obsessed, and deliver results. The singular drive to best serve the customer really shined through with our talks with MBAs at Amazon. The culture is intense, but so is the satisfaction in knowing that you can directly contribute to the bottom line.




Taking an Uber to visit Tune during the Seattle Tech Trek.


A few of my classmates and I were able to schedule an “off-trek” visit with a growing start-up in Seattle. The CEO of Tune, Peter Hamilton, is a University of Texas at Austin undergraduate alum and was gracious enough to talk about the company, getting funding from VCs and how to keep the culture of a company consistent in the midst of big growth. Tune, a mobile marketing technology company, doubled revenues in 2014 and grew to employ over 250 people. Meeting with Peter was a great example of the strength of the UT alumni base and the willingness of Longhorns to help out in any way possible.



The view from Zulily’s new office on the Seattle waterfront.


Zulily is an e-marketplace company that IPO’d in 2013. They have undergone tremendous growth and are a very unique business model. Unlike companies that emphasize fast shipping and almost immediate fulfillment, Zulily isn’t focused on quickly getting goods to customers. Instead, they offer a model where they will only ship out goods once they have reached a critical mass of purchases. They want MBAs that can think strategically about growing their business and how to stay competitive in a market that has seen rapid growth and cutthroat competition (HauteLook, MyHabit, etc.)

The modus operandi of business school is to have recruiters come to campus and pitch to you and your classmates on why their company would make a perfect fit for your post-MBA goals. The Seattle Trek, and other treks, provide an avenue to actually see company offices firsthand, to get hints of their company culture, and to generally obtain a greater sense of what it would be like to work in that environment every day. Because of this, I’d recommend that every MBA take the opportunity to visit companies on their home turf.

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

Reflections & Resolutions


Happy New Year, y’all!

It is hard to believe that the class of 2016 is already one quarter of the way through the McCombs MBA program. Looking back on the first semester I can confidently say that it was, at times, exactly what I had expected and simultaneously completely bewildering. There were days I felt confident and self-assured, and others that made me feel confused and uncertain.

I can see now that this is by design.


Entering McCombs, everyone thought they know exactly what they wanted to do after graduating, but that notion was quickly challenged by the time orientation ended. Suddenly most people identified themselves as “career explorers,” learning about and eliminating functions and industries one-by-one during company info sessions, conversations with alumni and second-years, and through hands-on experience with MBA+ projects. While scary, being pushed outside of my comfort has enabled me to self-reflect, learn, and grow more than I ever expected.

In the spirit of the New Year, and at the suggestion of Assistant Dean Mabley, I have made a list of resolutions for making the most out of my McCombs experience in 2015 (and beyond).

1)  Take better advantage of McCombs resources: There are endless perks and opportunities provided by the MBA Program Office. Often likened to drinking from a fire hose, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options. In the fall, I joined a few clubs, attended countless information sessions and had several appointments with career and academic advisors (a.k.a. MBA therapists). I attended conferences and heard from inspiring speakers including Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, and Jeffrey Raider, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Harry’s and Co-Founder of Warby Parker. This semester, I would like to attend more club and university events and take advantage of unique McCombs resources, such as using communication coaches for mock interviews and attending career treks to learn about companies that hire McCombs grads in cities like Seattle and San Francisco.

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

Golf lessons organized by the MBA Golf Association

2)  Explore and embrace Austin: Everything you’ve heard about Austin is true. It is weird and wonderful and welcoming to new Austinites. I moved here last July from Kansas City knowing almost no one and very little about the city, and have since fallen in love with it. Some of my favorite things to do are to take my dog, Louie, to run in Zilker Park while I people watch, sample endless food trucks and try new workouts (ex: rowing, hot yoga with weights, boot camp; you name it, Austin has it). It recently clicked that I may only get to live in Austin for these two years, so I had better make the most of it. My Austin bucket list includes, among other things: seeing more live music, exploring the Hill Country, taking a class at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and a Matthew McConaughey or Sandra Bullock sighting, of course.

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

Attending the live Sam Smith taping for Austin City Limits TV

3)  Make time to be social: Thursday night means “Think ‘N Drink” at McCombs. And yet, there were more times than not that I gave up TND to complete homework or save a few bucks. Toward the end of the semester, I realized that these two years are probably the last time I will have Fridays free and definitely my only chance to create lasting relationships with my fellow classmates. I vow to do better in 2015 and make it a priority to have more fun.

Cohort 1 ladies night

Cohort 1 ladies night

4)  Land my dream internship: OK, so this one goes without saying, but hopefully if I put it in writing it will happen organically. It’s daunting to have to sell yourself to potential employers. However, thanks to the Strategic Career Planning class that is part of the McCombs MBA core curriculum, I feel prepared to enter the internship search with a polished resume and clear, focused goals. So here’s to a successful spring recruiting session and an impending internship offer!

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in  Atlanta last September

Fellow first-year MBAs at the NBMBA career fair in
Atlanta last September

Good luck to those of you applying for round two. Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Career, Events, Full-Time, Internship, Student Life, Student Orgs

MBA Semester One? Check.

You go into a roller coaster ride expecting the adrenaline rush, expecting both the fear and the excitement. More importantly, if you are even remotely adventurous, you have been on the roller-coaster ride before.
MBA Semester one is a different story, however. I am surprised when people metaphorically compare the experience to that of a roller coaster only because nothing about the latter is life changing. I came into the program thinking I have done pretty well in the past, I will get through this. I was not only wrong, but it took all of ten days into the program to realize, how little I knew about the business world and the people who were bringing about the changing trends in commerce. Be it the finance class I took where bulk of our time was spent talking about present values of future investments or the famous Prof Britt Fruend’s Operations Management class, which spoke about Quality of product in Japan vs. that in America; I came to understand that there isn’t really an economic trend that is localized any more. Every change is working on a global level.
The Texas MBA in its first few days asked me to halt and see how I can obtain an eagle’s eye view on a problem. In the last 4 months, I haven’t worked with any team which would accept an answer for its face value. I was pleasantly amused to see evidence of researcher-like traits in almost all of my classmates. We maybe training ourselves to take quick, accurate decisions when situation demands, but at the McCombs School of Business, we are being trained to continuously evaluate the risk-reward parameters.

The last semester saw everything being thrown at each student all at once: the academic challenges, four sets of exams (well almost), networking with recruiters, finding and choosing career paths, deciding to give up Thursday Think ‘n’ Drinks for overnight case challenges (I did three and survived)! Suddenly, we also saw a surge in student club activities and students pitching for leadership positions. There were moments when all activities seemed to be taking place at just that one single moment. I knew I had reached a threshold limit when I literally had to block a time-slot in my calendar to update my calendar! It is only now, during the winter break, when I sit back and reflect at how intelligently the course structure has been designed. The idea is to help you restructure your efforts and re-think about whether your strategies and work-methods need be updated. This is the first step to effective leadership.
Irrespective of the roller coaster like ups and downs, I think what makes life extremely easy at McCombs is that spirit of collaboration which is forever maintained, no matter how busy everyone gets. We all are in this together and we help each other to sail through it together.
MBA Semester One: Over n Out.

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

Student Organizations and the McCombs 2014 Marketing Conference

One of the best parts of being a new McCombs student is embracing the opportunity to join student organizations so that you can connect with other first- and second-year MBAs who are as passionate about specific career paths as you are.

Just prior to Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 McCombs Marketing Conference. Centered on the theme, “Hacking Growth,” this outstanding two-day event resulted from the combined efforts of the Center for Consumer Insight and Marketing Solutions (CCIMS), the CCIMS Marketing Fellows, and the Graduate Marketing Network (GMN). As a proud member of the Marketing Fellows and GMN, I was thrilled to participate in the conference sessions and to learn from the various session speakers. The conference featured multiple sessions with marketing professionals as well as a case challenge for first-year MBAs.

Here is a recap of my favorite components of the two-day conference:

Networking with fellow students and corporate sponsors. We were fortunate to have an outstanding roster of companies supporting this event. The generosity of Nielsen, HEB, Deloitte, Dell, Frito-Lay, AT&T, nFUSION, Southwest Airlines, Walmart, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group made the conference possible, and we students had the opportunity to interact with attending representatives from each of these companies. For many of the case challenge participants, the networking reception and dinner table seating arrangements also afforded great opportunities to establish rapport with judges from the corporate sponsor companies.

Rebecca Messina_copyListening to Thursday night’s keynote dinner with speaker Rebecca Messina, Senior VP of Marketing and Innovation with Coca-Cola’s Ventures and Emerging Brands. Ms. Messina delivered a fascinating overview of how a large company like Coca-Cola can stay agile in an ever-evolving and increasingly digital marketing world. She talked extensively about the emotional impact that effective marketing campaigns can create when companies strive to develop brand love among their consumers. She also emphasized the “free salesforce” phenomenon that has arisen from consumer fan-generated digital content on the internet. Rebecca’s passion for marketing as a tool create brand love reminded me why I love being a marketer and why I love seeing the creative, innovative ways that companies are engaging their customers through social media and other digital platforms.

Jeff Raider_copy

Learning from Friday morning’s keynote breakfast with Jeff Raider, Co-Founder of Warby Parker and Harry’s Shaving Company. It’s not often that you get to learn from wildly successful entrepreneurs as they discuss the provenance of their products and businesses, but that is exactly what happened during this conference session with Mr. Raider. His engaging presentation afforded attendees an insider’s look at how Warby Parker and Harry’s Shaving Company both originated in the co-founders’ identification of unmet customer needs. It was incredibly inspiring to hear Jeff describe how he and his business school classmates developed the business model for Warby Parker, and how he then built on the knowledge gained from that experience to launch his next venture, Harry’s. As an added bonus, I walked away from that session with a great Christmas present idea for my dad, two brothers, and two brothers-in-law: Harry’s Shaving Company gift sets!

Though I was not able to participate in the case challenge due to a travel obligation (family wedding), I can’t end this post without giving a shout-out to all of the participants. They powered through Thursday night’s conference sessions and then stayed up till 8 a.m. the following morning working on a re-branding strategy for the Take 5 candy bar. Pictured below are my friends and fellow first-years Jordan, Kara, Jennifer and Glenda, who ended the conference by enjoying the sweet taste of victory and taking first in the case challenge–24 hours after the conference kicked off. Congrats to all of you!


We are already getting excited for the 2015 Marketing Conference and hope our Texas Talks readers will be there to participate!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Student Life, Student Orgs

Full-Time MBA Application: Round 2 Roundup

It’s that time of year.

As the end of 2014 approaches, you’re starting to make a list of all the things you need to take care of. Holiday presents? Got ‘em. Christmas dinner seating arrangements? Done. New Year’s outfit? Check. Ski and/or beach trip? Bon voyage. Round 2 McCombs application?


Whatever it may be – finals, Q4 reports, family vacations, personal deadlines – the last few weeks of the year can culminate into chaos. Consequently, it’s easy to let the ball drop on an application that’s been open and requiring your unrequited love for months. But there’s no reason to resign in defeat, push back to Round 3, or delay business school for another year altogether.

Though January 6th seems abysmally soon, it still gives you a couple of weeks to tweak your application, polish your essays, and get your act in tip-top shape – with time to spare! You may be wondering how one can be so chipper in the face of this ominous deadline looming over your heads. So let me introduce you to Round 2 Boot Camp, or how to achieve application greatness in under two weeks.

1. The time to finalize records – GMAT scores, transcripts, etc. – is now.
As in, today. Like, stop reading this and take care of it ASAP. Mail tends to lag in the wintertime, and sometimes registrar and administrative offices close in observation of the holidays. Since this is the one aspect of the McCombs application externally removed from your direct control, you want to make sure this is resolved first. If you’re simply ensuring everything is in working order, all it should take is an email or phone call; if you’re venturing into this arena for the first time, though, be aware of the price tags that come along with expedited options.

2. Go through your information one final time, and then don’t look back.
It can get a little repetitive having to fill out your address, school/employment history, and resume bullet points over and over for every business school application – to the point of going cross-eyed and misspelling your own name. But the beauty of that part of the form is, most of the information won’t have changed, which means you can skim over your information for typos and mistakes, and then lay that part of your application to rest! And it is a rather big part, so kudos on being done with that. Treat yourself to a cookie.

3. Take full advantage of the outlets for creativity that the McCombs application offers.
Not every business school application allows for alternative options like online profiles and video essays, but that’s what McCombs is all about – giving everyone a chance to shine in their own, unique way. If you feel like words are failing you and coherency is becoming a real struggle, give it a whirl – it will only take a few hours out of a day to figure out if these choices work for you in a meaningful way, or if you’re dangerously toeing the line of a Lady Gaga music video. But you’d be surprised how quickly time flies when a mundane task like a 250-word essay turns into an online art project or personal manifestation.

4. Re-read your essays, allow up to one subject matter change, and then stick to your guns and see it through.
If we had all the time in the world, we would probably change our essay responses approximately once a week. The advice to “sleep on it and check back in a few weeks” is wonderful early-on in the game, but when you’re in a time crunch, it’s better to pick a path and stay the course. Chances are, almost any topic that you’ve thought through and developed will be a wonderful expression of your personal self and capabilities. Since you have many points along the process to inject personality into your application, it’s more important now to focus on being eloquent and memorable than to pick a new topic that’s fascinating but half-baked. That’s the true beauty of the McCombs application: it is multidimensional enough to where you can go forth confidently knowing that just as one specific highlight won’t make you a shoo-in, one better essay subject thought of in hindsight won’t be akin to having shot yourself in the foot either.

5. Make the open-ended essay prompt work for you.
Though it’s optional, you should embrace any and every opportunity to allow McCombs to get to know you better. The key to a powerful explanatory short answer lies in the balance between concise acknowledgement of a problem or issue, and more importantly, how it has shaped you into the ideal MBA candidate. As for explaining in excruciating detail the equivalent of a Greek tragedy – it’s a trap! What is more appealing to an admissions committee is a story rife with reform, proactivity, and insight. It helps to focus briefly on the underlying circumstances of your essay subject, and then emphasize your present reactions and future goals that arose from it.

6. Use the holiday season to touch base with your professors/managers, and confirm receipt of your LOR request.
Common courtesy dictates maintaining contact with your chosen recommender, as his or her letter to the admissions committee singlehandedly dictates your future (just kidding). The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to send warm wishes, chat about vacation plans, and gather a progress report on your letter of recommendation. Your email or call can serve as a heartfelt thanks for carving the time out of their schedule to benefit you, a helping hand if they’ve hit a road bump with submitting it, or a gentle nudge to get the ball rolling on your evaluation. Doing this sooner than later allows for two things: to alleviate the stinging possibility of radio silence with a cookie, and to have enough time for a follow-up attempt if you are indeed met with no response.

7. Dedicate a few hours once a day to finish an action item, and then stagger a final proofread no more than a week later.
Timeliness is critical for this step, but a perspective check can always help center you and place you back on the road to application nirvana. Take two hours out of your daily schedule, be it at the crack of dawn (I really don’t get you early-bird-and-worm types) or as your day is unwinding before dinnertime, and buckle down on completing one item at a time. Finalize one written or video essay, and then don’t think about it for a few days. The next day, craft your heartwarming email to your recommender. The day after that, glance at your resume and swap out cliché buzz words with significant action verbs, and then put it away for a couple of days. The satisfaction you receive from wrapping up tasks, as well as the clarity you acquire from a few days of breathing room in between, will be better than the aforementioned cookies. But you can still have a cookie every step of the way! In fact, I encourage it.

8. Set your personal deadline for a few days before the 6th.
Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and Murphy’s Law. I don’t condone dishonesty, but lying to yourself about the Round 2 deadline will do wonders. Do yourself a favor and factor in the following buffers while planning out your schedule: one day for falling sick, one day for the blue screen of death (or for us cool kids, the spinning pinwheel of death), and one day for Kim K. to have actually broken the internet. In all seriousness, truly aiming to be done a few days in advance (as if anything past January 2nd or 3rd is considered delinquent) will allow you to enjoy the holiday break you so deserve, and make you feel like an overall rock star.

9. Through it all, keep the reasons you wish to be part of the McCombs family at the forefront of your agenda.
Set your intention, remember your personal goals, fine-tune your focus, settle into your resolve, and don’t hesitate. There is one sole force driving you to apply at the end of the day, which is to become an MBA Candidate, Class of 2017. Let that determination guide you through the tricky waters of the application process, and if you ever feel disoriented, come back to that underlying ideal. Keep the McCombs spirit that first caught your attention in mind: believe in and embody the playful, strong, collaborative environment you wish to join.

10. Breathe.
You are at the threshold of the finish line, and nothing is as gratifying (or admittedly, terrifying) as the moment after you click “submit application.” But every moment leading up to that last step, remember to breathe. Conserve your energy for the things and people in your life that matter, and don’t fall into a state of panicked frenzy at the thought of things that are done and irreversible. Whether your GMAT score could have been better or your GPA is somewhat lackluster, these are numbers in the past and your main focus should stay in the present and future. It can be daunting to think of a team of people essentially evaluating your net worth to an institution as esteemed as McCombs. However, not only are the committee members well-seasoned and bona fide pros at what they do, but you are a unique, well-rounded and valuable asset to any institution, and breathing in with confidence and out with a sigh of relief is the only way to get through this.

That wasn’t too bad, was it?

Once you’ve submitted your application, take a few days off and relax, but keep us folks at McCombs near and dear to your heart! Stay on the lookout for an invitation to interview. Continue reaching out to your adoring fan club at the admissions committee with questions, or to students and alumni with casual conversation. Dig a little deeper into the plethora of opportunities at McCombs – which student organizations you would like to lead, which concentrations appeal most to you, which MBA+ Project or Lab/Fellowship best complements your career trajectory, etc.

We have complete faith in you on this end, and simply can’t wait for you join us on the other side, where the grass is always… well, burnt orange and beautiful.

Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Full-Time, Student Life

Top 7 Reasons to come to McCombs that you won’t find in Businessweek

Ah, the business school rankings… one of the necessary, yet sometimes misleading data points that prospective students peruse year after year with hopes of choosing the right business school for them.  Well, despite even the recent rankings shake-up, there are so many things that make up a school outside of what you’ll find in rankings, news articles, or other “official” sources.  As a first year MBA student, I’m here to give you an insider’s view of what makes McCombs special:

1. Keep Austin Weird, y’all
In this day and age, Austin pretty much sells itself.  I could quote to you the many lists that site Austin as one of the best places to live or fastest-growing cities, but we’re trying to get away from the lists.  Having lived in Austin for almost 5 years now and seeing the growth first hand, I can tell you that the hype is true.  Austin is great because it really has something to offer everyone.  The city is well known for its vibrant music scene and killer BBQ, but there is so much more than that.  Whether you’re a nature lover who plans to explore the miles of greenbelts and kayaking on Town Lake (insider tip – that’s what the locals call it), or a craft beer connoisseur, there is plenty to keep you busy.  Personally, my favorite thing has to be all of the food – from sushi flown in from Japan to donuts with bacon or fried chicken, you name it, Austin’s got it.

Detroit Style Pizza from Via 313 – my home away from home! Via 313

2. Texas, Fight!     
I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but there is nothing like Texas football. Seriously. Whether you were a football-loving undergrad (me!), or coming from a small school where sports weren’t at the forefront of your weekends, or even from abroad where you think American Football is just crazy, being part of Texas Football weekends is an experience everyone needs to have!  Luckily for you, McCombs takes tailgating very seriously and we’ll leave it up to you to decide how passionate you are about attending the actual game.  Each home football Saturday, McCombs hosts our own tailgate, complete with great food, drinks, and even employee recruiting if you’re still telling me you REALLY don’t care about football.

First football game!

UT Football

3. Little Big Town
Football is one example, but there are many others that come with being a small program at a large university.  McCombs is a tight-knit place, and the fact that all of my classes are in one building sometimes helps me forget exactly where I am. But we have so many advantages being connected with the University of Texas system. This means that we are a part of a huge student body and alumni population (hello, immediate network!), we’ve got the aforementioned sporting traditions, and we get awesome opportunities, like having the CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, come to campus and speak to students.  Being in this unique program is really getting the best of both worlds.

4. Wine > Sleeping in a Tent
I personally hate camping.  Why you would choose a sleeping bag over running water and a real bed is beyond me.  I do like wine though. I mean, what is there not to like?  But no matter what camp you fall into (pun intended) McCombs probably has a student club for your interests – and if not, you can create one!  There is the Graduate Business Adventure Team (GBAT) that hosts the camping trips, Graduate Business Wine Club (one of my favorites, obviously), the Live Music Association, MBA Improv, and MBA Soccer Club, just to name a few.  Of course, there are also many clubs devoted to your career path and special topics in business.  Life during your MBA will be busy, so it is great to have fun ways to get out of the classroom and hangout with new friends, doing whatever it may be that you enjoy doing.

5. Shark Tank
If you’re addicted to the TV show, Shark Tank, like myself, you might remember the pitch from a few weeks ago for Beatbox Beverages that secured a $1 million deal with Mark Cuban.  Well, let me tell you that Beatbox was a business that started right here in the McCombs MBA program!  I use this example just to demonstrate how committed our program is to entrepreneurship – and this is a great city to explore that space.  At McCombs we have classes like New Venture Creation and Intro to Entrepreneurship where you can literally work on building your own business, or classes like Entrepreneurial Growth or the Texas Venture Labs Practicum where you can learn how to apply the topics you’re learning about to small businesses.  Plus, Austin as a community is very involved with start-ups.  There are several well-known incubators, conferences like SXSW and many venture capital firms hoping to find the next Facebook.  So, whether your interest lies in creating your own start-up, working with current start-ups, or funding start-ups, we’ve got something for you!

6. Thursdays
Thursday nights – what every MBA at McCombs looks forward to, assuming you were crafty enough to ensure a free calendar or at least free morning on Friday (that’s right, no Friday classes – ever!) you’ll be able to partake in our favorite weekly ritual, Think ‘n’ Drink. TnD is organized by the Social Committee and held at a different bar around town every week.  Everyone is invited, including significant others, friends, and this week even a few visiting parents, and it is a great way to wrap-up the week and hang out.  Sure, there will be weeks when going is unrealistic, but it is nice to have a collective activity that you can count on week after week.

Halloween Think ‘n’ Drink


7. Hands On Opportunities
One of the reasons I chose McCombs was because of all of the hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.  I can’t wait to get out of the class-room and start learning by doing.  I will be joining the Texas Venture Labs Practicum in the spring where I will work with a team of six other people- four are from other graduate programs like Law and Engineering, and we will partner with two local start-ups to help them with various issues related directly to their business. There are also partnerships for many other industries like Private Equity/Venture Capital, Operations, Marketing, Corporate Finance, Real Estate and our very own Investment Fund.  These classes are a great way to get in-depth knowledge in your area of interest and partner with companies that have an interest in McCombs’ Students.

Hook ‘em!

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Posted in Academics, Austin, Career, Events, Full-Time, Student Life, Student Orgs
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