As I write this on the plane heading home to California for Winter Break, it is hard for me to believe that the first semester is behind me. Although nearly 5 months have passed by, it seems like just yesterday that I was pulling in to Austin, anxious to start this MBA journey.
Despite my high expectations, I had no idea what an amazing experience this would be on so many levels. Since writing something of substance is proving difficult, I thought a recap in Top Ten form would work (after all, I’m on vacation and need to get back to watching football and reading Super Freakonomics.)
So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Favorite Things about McCombs:
1. Austin is Amazing – Where else can you find the opportunity, culture, entertainment and recreation that you find here in ATX? The first thing you’ll notice is that the people couldn’t be friendlier, even if you have California license plates like I do. Not to mention the weather; I’ll take the sun of Texas over the snow of the Northeast any day.
2. My Peers Constantly Impress Me – Walking in the first day of Orientation, I was immediately impressed by the group of people surrounding me. Whether it is co-owning one of Austin’s best restaurants (Lambert’s), competing in the Olympics, or giving up a job in investment banking to join Teach for America, I feel lucky to call myself their classmates. Additionally, the way in which my classmates are willing to support each other is truly remarkable. The week before finals, I left all my Macroeconomics notes from the quarter on a plane on my way back from my PLUS project presentation. Within hours of posting my frustration on Facebook, I had 10 different students, some of whom I don’t even have classes with, offer to help recover the information. To me, this incident really sums up the culture at McCombs and why it is such a unique place.
3. The Music – No matter what you are interested in, Austin has it. Austin City Limits in the Fall and South by Southwest in the Spring are amazing but there are great options every night. A few of the concerts my peers and I have enjoyed include: Phoenix, Method Man, Pat Green, Jay Z, Black Crowes, Robert Earl Keen and a host of great local acts like Dan Dyer, Bob Schneider and The Gourds.
4. Opportunity is All Around – As a member of Venture Fellows, I will have the privilege of interning at one of our partner Venture Capital or Private Equity firms in town this Spring and next Fall. This opportunity is fairly unique to our program due to the entrepreneurial nature of Austin and the proximity of VC & PE firms in the area. Many of my peers are starting companies in classes like New Venture Creation while others are ramping up for upcoming case interviews with top consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain and BCG. Still others are building the strength of our Clean Tech curriculum, ensuring McCombs is the leading MBA program for all forms of energy.
5. The Strength of the Network – Due to the commitment and pride UT grads (affectionately known as Orangebloods) have for their alma mater, the Texas Alumni network is tremendously valuable. While reaching out to McCombs alumni is always a great starting point, it does not stop there. UT alums from all the Universities’ great programs are always eager to help a fellow Longhorn (even if you did spend your undergrad years at OU.)
6. The Food – Tacos are a staple of Austin cuisine, even for breakfast (they sell them in our cafeteria). The BBQ is unreal and the queso cannot be beat. Somehow, they have even managed to figure out sushi as well. Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t give some credit to Whole Foods (the 80K sf flagship store is located underneath the Whole Foods corporate headquarters and serves as my cafeteria numerous nights a week).
7. Supportive Leadership – The fact that both Dean Gilligan and Dean Hirst still teach classes in the first year core says a lot about how connected the leadership of McCombs is to the students. Additionally, the program office staff couldn’t be more supportive or more committed to our success. Whether it is Cindy Benton at Student Services, Stacey Rudnick at Career Services or Jeremy Wells at Financial Aid, we are lucky to have such a great group of professionals behind us.
8. The Nightlife – It doesn’t get any better than Austin! There is something for everyone on any given night. You have to see it to believe it. I will leave it at that.
9. A First Class Faculty – When I talk about a first class faculty, you will naturally assume I am talking about credentials and that is indeed a part of it. Whether it is my econ professor who worked as an economic advisor to the White House or my Operations teacher who spent the last few years working with Shell Oil to implement their Global Leadership program, all of our professors have the pedigree one expects from an elite program. In addition to their impressive resumes, they are also first class people.
Whether it is welcoming students to their homes for a faculty dinner, arranging a make-up quiz because a student has a bad case of the flu (I’m still convinced I had the Swine Flu) or providing career advice, they never stop supporting us (or making us laugh…usually at their expense. See the picture above where our whole Cohort dressed up like our Finance teacher, Sandy Leeds, on the last day of class.)
10. Longhorn Athletics – MBA Tailgates, Basketball Games, the Red River Shootout in Dallas, it is always good to be a Longhorn. Many of my classmates don’t care about sports (I don’t understand them either) but I think they would all agree that these experiences bring us together as a program and a class. Our professors, alumni, recruiters and even the Dean are frequent attendees to all these events. Since starting the program in August, I have yet to experience defeat in either football or basketball (both teams are #2 in the nation). Hopefully, this trend continues!
Hope you all have a Happy Holidays and a great New Year! Good luck to all of you working on those applications. Make sure to tune in to the BCS National Championship on January 7th so you can see my classmates and I rooting on the Longhorns from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Until next time…Hook Em!