Interview Season

Interview SeasonYou probably haven’t noticed, but it’s been a while since my last blog. (I know, Rule #76: No excuses—play like a champion! Hear me out, though.) I’m finally wrapping up interview season, so I have some extra time now. Actually, I was traveling for an office visit and watching a TV segment on real life wedding crashers when I made a connection. Interviews are a blast, but absolutely tiring. I need to be cool, but also on my best behavior. I get to see a lot of friends, but they weren’t the reason I am there. I realized that interview season is sort of like wedding season.

Rehearsal Dinner
Most interviews through McCombs have what’s called a pre-interview dinner, basically a rehearsal dinner. As you would expect, these dinners are casual and typically at a fun venue. Early on in interview season, when rusty and nervous, I was grateful that faux pas were overlooked at dinners. However, once in mid season form, I relaxed and no longer relied on mulligans. Instead, I’m now comfortable enough laugh, crack jokes, give compliments, and make friends. Honestly—and this is never the case with actual weddings!—I look forward to the pre-interview dinner more than the main event.

I’ve never walked down the aisle, but I have gone down a hallway to an interview. It’s probably the same feeling. I have a nervous excitement with butterflies in my stomach; all I can think about is the person on the other end of that hallway; I know I’ll be asked a tough question, and I just hope I have an answer for it.

The main difference between an interview and a wedding is that for a wedding, if you blink and it’s over, it’s a good wedding. That is not the case when interviewing. Most interview slots are 30-45 minutes, so they require a conservative but respectable clip. And just like weddings, you can expect many similarities between interviews. Also, there are many flavors of interviews: some are long while others are short, some require lots of interaction while others not, and some are conservative while others are more “progressive.” Finally, as with wedding ceremonies, I go into interviews with one goal—don’t cry. (In both scenarios, it helps to prepare and anticipate what is coming.)

It hasn’t always happened this year, but if I can make it through the ceremony, I am generally asked to join the host at the reception, or office visit. This is the last hoorah. Office visits have given me a chance to meet folks from the other side of the aisle, all the way from analysts and staff (friends) to controllers and partners (grandparents). Again, at the beginning of the season, I was tense, but after getting one or two office visits under my belt, I was grooving. Ultimately, the office visit serves as the final chance for both the employer and myself to put our best foot forward. The employers make lasting memories for me, and I am hopefully a fun and respectful guest who they would welcome back.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

metro1There are some sweet perks associated with being an MPA student at McCombs. First off is the free access to Capital Metro all UT students receive. I ride a Metro Rapid bus to get to campus everyday which would otherwise cost $1.50 per trip, or $49.50 for a 31 day pass. Thanks to UT, I can swipe my ID card when I hop on and ride for $0.00. The Rapid buses are fast, clean, WiFi equipped, and have “next bus” tracking capabilities that help me gauge whether or not I need to power walk from McCombs. The bus comes by approximately every 10-15 minutes during peak periods. Of course the cost of this service is partially built into tuition, but minimizing my out of pocket incremental costs is always appreciated.

nyt-newspaper-new-york-times-newspaper-nyt-paper-new-york-times-paper-oNext are the McCombs-specific resources: laptop rentals from Media Services on the third floor of GSB, the Reliant Productivity Center on the fourth floor of GSB, and the free weekday New York Times papers on the first floor of GSB. The laptop rentals are great for when I need some computing power but don’t feel like lugging my laptop from home and don’t want to be tied to a computer lab. Rentals are free as long as the equipment is returned by 5 PM. Reliant is a great, quiet place to study right in McCombs with ample natural light, tons of cubicles, and a few group study rooms that can be reserved online. There is also a printer in the back of Reliant which can be pretty handy, especially since students can print straight from their laptops via easy-to-install software and drivers. Finally, there are the free copies of the NYTimes right by the entrance to McCombs. It’s great to be able to peruse the news in print during the week. I especially enjoy the Tuesday paper for the Science Times and the Wednesday paper for the Dining section (Melissa Clark’s “A Good Appetite” column is a particular highlight). And KenKen is fun any day.


Lastly there are the MPA specific benefits: nameplates and name tags, the MPA lounge, and the MPA mailroom. Every MPA gets a nameplate and name tag and they personally make me feel pretty legit. I never had anything close to this when I was a Fine Arts major in undergrad! We use the nameplates every day in class and the name tags were mostly used earlier in the semester for initial recruiting events. It might sound nerdy to you but I love my nameplate. Then there’s the MPA lounge. It’s an exclusive studying and socializing space (more of the latter in my opinion; I can’t get work done in there) that only MPAs have access to. Just touch your ID card to the sensor and open sesame, the door swings opens automatically for you into a room with couches, comfy chairs, and big tables. Sadly we don’t have windows (upside is you won’t get depressed when the sun goes down the night before an exam because you’re oblivious!) but we have recently acquired a coffee machine which my coffee drinking friends appreciate. We also have a big whiteboard calendar so MPAs can keep up with MPAC events, birthdays, and other goings on. There’s a whiteboard on wheels which is useful for working out homework problems or posting general announcements. Finally, there’s the MPA mail room. Every MPA has their own mailbox, which is used to return homework and exams.  And who doesn’t love getting “mail?”

It’s the little things

We are about two months into school now, and to say that life has gotten a little crazy would be an understatement! Not only have we completed first round interviews for most companies, but the first round of exams has happened as well. With recruiting dinners two or three nights a week and studying after those, it’s a struggle finding free time! However, I always believe in making time for yourself, so despite everything that has been going on, I have been sure to make time for myself to continue exploring Austin’s treasures.

IMG_3180One beautiful Sunday afternoon, a fellow MPAer and myself indulged in some stand up paddle boarding, or SUP as it’s called here in Austin! We rented from Rowing Dock, which is right on the Colorado River. I highly suggest that you try this at least once, as you not only get to enjoy the beautiful nature views and refreshingly cool river, but you get a great workout as well! It’s also a chance to get away from the stresses of class and interviews and get to know your classmates.

On a Wednesday evening, a group of us went to Pluckers for trivia night. This was a great night to enjoy some great food and company while also stimulating the brain cells! The questions ranged on difficulty and category and it is fun to see what crazy things your friends know. Don’t be surprised when two guys in your group are able to answer every question in the Dragon Ball Z category (don’t worry, that was a special category for the night we were there)! Even though the CPAs (our group name) didn’t win that night or even come close, it was still a great time to let lose with friends!

Just one more thing to explore! If you have kept up with my blogs (which you should), you know how much I like food and exploring Austin’s different restaurants. Last night I had one of the most amazing burgers I’ve ever had at El Sapo Botanas y Burgers. The atmosphere was great and outdoors, and you will definitely leave super full and satisfied!

All in all, Austin has been amazing in every aspect. Be engaged in your classes, don’t limit yourself when it comes to jobs because the opportunities are truly endless, and don’t forget to take time for yourself to enjoy some trivia or water activities while indulging in some great food!!



As Always, Hook ‘Em Horns

utbaylorEven though every student is busy with studying and exams, there is always time for a University of Texas football game. This past weekend’s game against Baylor was a hot and sweaty afternoon gamew, starting at 2:30PM. I began the game celebration by walking down Guadalupe around noon. Like any other UT football game, people filled the streets with burnt orange and white everything, from clothing and accessories to cups and temporary tattoos. People of all ages, from babies to the elderly were ready to show their support for the Longhorns.

Past Guadalupe, I attended a tailgate to get into the spirits of the game. All the fans at the tailgate were not only pumped for the football game, but were also proud to carry the UT name (despite our current football record…). After the lively tailgate, hordes of people made their way to the famous Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium. While the game was a bit of a disappointment, one can never not enjoy the tens of thousands of people who continuously show their support. The completely different varieties of people, the study-bugs, athletes, health-nuts, and much more that come together under one roof, to become part of the UT fan base, never ceases to amaze me.

If you did not purchase season tickets or have not been to a game, I highly recommend spending a few extra bucks to be a part of this one of a kind experience. While we do not always win, we can guarantee a great time at the game. Until next time, Hook ‘Em Horns!

It’s All About the People

It is four weeks into the Fall semester and recruiting is in full swing. Last week, on-campus interviews began along with pre-interview dinners and other networking events. It has been exciting to meet with prospective employers and move forward through the application process. While recruiting, students will often ask employers “Why did you choose Firm X over Firm Y? What makes your firm different?” Especially when it comes to similar companies like the Big 4, students want answers beyond putting on the mythical Hogwarts sorting hat and then figuring out which firm corresponds to which house. I doubt employers would condone this method anyhow. So, one of the tropes we have been hearing to answer that question is that “it’s all about the people.” At first, the advice may sound trivial or even an like an excuse to not answer the “real” question, but in digging deeper, it has immense value and truth. Nearly all of us MPAs are aspiring to start out in demanding positions that elicit long hours in hopes of growing our careers, and we will thus be spending more time with our co-workers than any one else we know! It will make a tremendous difference in our quality of life whether or not we actually like these people. Though we all should think about where we would like to be geographically and what type of work we would like to be doing, we also cannot forget to reach out to the people who will be central to our lives once we finish the MPA program.

With those words of advice, I will leave you with two interesting things I have seen when I have been able to take a break from the school and recruiting bubble:

Lily Allen at Stubb's

Lily Allen at Stubb’s

215 lb "Hogzilla" at a Smoke Out at Banger's

215 lb “Hogzilla” at a Smoke Out at Banger’s