Looking Back, Looking Forward – Part 2 of 2

Last week, I discussed some of my favorite moments from my first seven months in the MPA program. This week, I am looking ahead and getting excited for what’s to come in my final six months.

Future Plans: 

BUENOS-AIRES11. For the first summer session this year, I will be studying in Buenos Aires for five weeks as a part of the MPA Study Abroad program. I have never been to South America before and am appreciative of this opportunity to explore Argentina while still working on my degree with fellow MPAs and professors from both UT and Universidad de San Andrés.

graduation2. Of course I am looking forward to graduation, but not because it marks the end of assignments and exams (though for most it doesn’t even mark that milestone since many continue on for at least one summer session). Graduation is going to be a great time for MPAs to get together, relax, and celebrate. Orientation was probably the only other time we were all in the same room together and graduation will likely be our last. I can feel the nostalgia coming on already.

west_logo_dates3. Echoing #3 from my post last week, I will definitely be attending the West Austin Studio Tour in May. I think it’s pretty fantastic that between EAST and WEST, Austin has four formalized weekends each year to celebrate local artists.

UTtower4. Not a day goes by on campus during which I do not see or hear the bells of the magnificent UT Tower. So this semester, I am hoping to reserve a spot for a Tower Tour and check out the view from the top.

logo5.  I think it’s more than accidental that South by South West (SXSW, or “South By”) coincides with UT’s Spring Break. South By is a festival that kicked off in 1987 (meaning it’s been around longer than many current tMPAs have been alive) that includes music, film, and interactive components. I hear that the festival completely takes over the city. Though I probably won’t be in town the whole week, I would like to experience some of the madness.

I will keep you posted on how things turn out.

A Weekend In Austin


One of my best friends came to visit Austin the other weekend. Guests are always a great excuse to get out and enjoy the city I so often take for granted. It forces me to get out, spend some money, forget about homework, and have a good time—and clean up the apartment! At the risk of sounding scripted, I figured I’d share what Meg and I do when hosting company in Austin for the weekend.

When Meg and I pick company up from the airport (we are both from Atlanta, so our friends and family tend to fly in), we head straight to Torchy’s to grab some delicious tacos. Atlanta doesn’t have queso—never call it cheese dip!—like Austin does, so we always get a bowl to go with a taco or two. If we’re really looking to start the weekend off with a bang, we’ll get some Lil’ Nookies, which are deep-fried cookie dough balls, AKA delicious!

After grabbing Torchy’s and letting some of the food coma wear off, it’s about time for dinner. We’ll head towards downtown for something like Tacos N Tequila or East Side King on our way to Rainey Street. We typically start the night at Easy Tiger, so if we can’t think of anything we want to eat, we’ll grab a sandwich or pretzel there. After spending some time eating, playing ping pong, and hanging outside on the bleachers at Easy Tiger, we’ll walk back to Rainey for a little while. The end of the night is a great time to hop into Bangers and eat homemade sausage before running across the street and getting mini donuts at the food truck park. Our night is usually over by midnight because we’re tired and full and have a day’s worth of events already planned for the next day.

On Saturday morning, Meg or I will go to Rudy’s for breakfast tacos and pick up Starbucks for everybody. The two places are polar opposite environments, but their combination is undeniable. The morning is a great time to take friends to the Zilker Park trails and get a nice run or walk in. Truthfully, though, that never happens—we tend to watch Netflix until lunch. Because Meg and I live off of Far West (about 15 minutes from campus), we go to lunch at the Anderson Lane Hopdoddy. No lie, it is the best burger you can eat! Even though our next stop will be South Congress, the Anderson Lane Hopdoddy has a much smaller line than the one on SoCo.

South Congress is probably what everyone thinks of when they think of the “weird part” of Austin. I like going into Allens Boots, Lucy in Disguise, Uncommon Objects, and Goorin Bros. It’s about all I can take of shopping, but it’s a good smattering of what is available in Austin. Of course, because it’s Austin, we also grab Amy’s Ice Creams while on South Congress.

At this point, we’re really not hungry anymore, but it’s probably around dinner time, so we’re going to eat again. We’ll find a place near whatever we’re doing that night. Saturday night tends to consist of meeting up with more friends or going to West (not East!) 6th/4th/2nd Street. Because we tend to walk more and are even fuller on Saturday, we don’t even make it to midnight.

On Sunday morning, everyone is pooped because we’ve walked and eaten our way through a lot of the city. We’ll start the morning with a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee and take our time getting our day started. We’ll let our company pack up, so they aren’t stressed to make their flight. Once we’re ready to roll out, the gang will probably visit campus or Zilker, but last time, we visited the graffiti park. When we’re done doing our last activity of the trip, our friends to get to the airport, so naturally, we’ll stop by Torchy’s on the way. After Torchy’s, we drop our friends so they can get their wheels up and head home.

Friend Weekends help remind me that Austin, Texas is so much more than McCombs School of Business, and there are way more fun things to do than study. The truth is, Austin is an easy city to host in, and visits from friends and family are a great way to see the parts of the city that I like the most. It’s always great to see friends and family and to eat all the delicious food. Unfortunately, when the weekend is over, Meg and I have blown our budget, outgrown our jeans, and face the grim reality of work and school the next morning; however, it was all worth it!

Making Austin Memories

Hello, howdy, and good afternoon! Blogger Kat here, you’re source into the amazing lives of Texas MPA students. Since I’ve been back from winter break I have taken advantage of many unique opportunities here in Austin, including comedy shows and visits from incredible authors! Here are a few of my favorite moments from the semester so far. I hope you are inspired to explore all that Austin has to offer and make some memories of your own!

kayakAustin’s winter is quite different than a winter in South Bend, Indiana, where I spent my undergrad years at Notre Dame. Instead of snow and negative degree wind chills, Austin’s winter has been sunny and 75 (well, a few days have been)! I have taken advantage of these wonderful winter days by going to my favorite place in Austin, Zilker Park, to run or kayak with friends. I just couldn’t imagine any other way to spend such beautiful days. For great kayak and paddle board rentals, we always go to Rowing Dock! If you haven’t done a water activity in Austin yet, I highly recommend it!

kevin hartAustin is known for its concerts and live comedy shows. A few of us MPA students took a break from our studies and went to see Kevin Hart at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, an amazing venue. We definitely enjoyed our night and laughed more than I thought possible at the comedian!

brysonThis past week, I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite authors speak at the Long Center, a popular performing arts venue. Bill Bryson was quite entertaining and delighted the audience with stories of his life and readings from some of his most beloved books.

As you can see, I experienced some unique events in Austin this year and I’m on the lookout for more! Don’t limit yourself to just going out to sixth street every weekend; there is so much more that this incredible city has to offer!

My friends and I have started to really topgolfventure out and I love getting to know Austin. Up in North Austin, we found Topgolf, a driving range that turns golf into an arcade game, and you can enjoy food and drinks with your friends as you compete! Down in South Austin we found our inner kid at Blazer Tag, chasing each other around a multilevel arena with laser guns, each seeking victory for our team.

laser tagLike I said before, Austin is an amazing city with so much to offer to students. Try something new one weekend, such as laser tag or Topgolf, or seek out a concert to attend or a speaker to see. Spend some time outside at the beautiful parks and lakes that are found all around the city! You won’t regret it!

Looking Back, Looking Forward – Part 1 of 2

I am roughly halfway through my MPA career. I started on July 14, 2014 with Financial Accounting and Introduction to Taxation and will finish August 17, 2015 with Social/Ethical Responsibility of Business and Financial Accounting Standards and Analysis II (Advanced).  At this midpoint, I would like to reflect back on some highlights and look forward to some plans.


1. I have met numerous incredible people through this program including professors, the MPA staff, and my classmates. I am constantly learning from and inspired by these individuals and believe that I have formed connections and friendships that will far outlast this year. I am thankful to each and every one of you. This experience is life changing because of you.

2. A few weeks ago, I went to Houston for the day to see Maria Bamford at the Come and Take It Comedy Festival. This was my first time visiting the city and I had a great time eating at Mala Sichuan Bistro, exploring District 1 of the Houston Museum District, and of course seeing Maria Bamford perform–one of my favorite comedians. I look forward to going back to visit my Houston-bound classmates (see highlight #1) and exploring the city further.

IMG_99703. Back in November I went to the East Austin Studio Tour (which I had mentioned looking forward to in a previous post). I only saw a small portion of the studios participating and enjoyed seeing the vast array of artistic talent in Austin. This is definitely an annual event not to be missed.

Qui4. When a friend from college came to visit, we treated ourselves to a meal at Qui. Qui is the brainchild of Paul Qui, an ubiquitous Austin restauranteur known for the food truck chain East Side King. Qui studied at Le Cordon Bleu, trained at Uchi and Uchiko, and won Top Chef season 9. This was the most fantastic meal I have experienced in Austin hands down due to the atmosphere, service, and of course food. The taste of yellowtail seared table side on binchotan with midorizu and flowers still lingers.

IMG_03565. I kept hearing about Franklin Barbecue and the hours long line required to get in most days. As soon as finals were over, I decided to check it out for myself. Most people encouraged me to get the fatty brisket and I kept refusing, “No, I don’t really like brisket. And I certainly don’t like fatty meat.” When I got up to the counter after about four hours of waiting and a staff member offered me a sample of fatty brisket unprompted, I bit the bullet. And then I ordered a sandwich with fatty brisket and never looked back.

Now that you’ve heard some of my highlights, check back on the blog next week to see what I’m looking forward to this year.

3rd Year Lessons – Business Professional

If you were already a student of McCombs prior to entering the MPA program, you are probably already very familiar with the dress standards of McCombs and the degree of seriousness to which these dress standards are taken. If you’re like me, you joined the program from another university and had never dressed Business Professional in your life. I hope that you were able to blend in better than I did on orientation. I believe orientation was Business Casual. I wore white jeans. JEANS. I thought my sheer-ish chiffon shirt and heels were nice enough that a pair of hole-less white jeans were formal enough. Needless to say, I didn’t blend in very well amongst my peers of already-well-acclimated-McCombs students who all looked interview-ready in their blazers and slacks. I learned later that week in BA 101 that I had broken more than a handful of professional dress rules. The good news is that I think even the most lost souls have an understanding of these expectations by recruiting season (if you don’t feel like you’re there yet, go see Merri Su Ruhmann and ask her for one of her pamphlets, it saved me). The truth is, 3rd years typically live in Business Professional during their Spring semester. Because Business Casual is essentially Business Professional without a blazer, do yourself a favor and have more than one outfit on hand, and keep one clean at all times. If you’re a woman you are typically expected to wear heels. Please don’t kid yourself and think you will survive in heels all day. BRING YOUR TOMS, Nikes, bunny slippers or whatever it is that saves your feet. Just make sure you don’t hobble into your big interview on clearly suffering feet. Take your pants off as soon as you’re home and don’t put them on all weekend if you don’t feel like it, but your appearance really does matter significantly during that interview window. You will feel that you have been lucky to have been trained to look like a professional when you come across someone at a recruiting event who hasn’t been so lucky. This program really prepares us to be professionals in a way that will benefit our careers for years to come, if we allow it to.

Which impression would you like to make?



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