Laura Gallardo is a first-generation college student that learned to navigate her own way through undergrad to Texas McCombs. From applying for scholarships & aid, to registering for classes for the first time, Laura took the initiative to ensure optimal success in her professional life. She is now taking her attained journalism and public relations skill set into the business world as she works toward her MBA at Houston degree.
In October, Laura Gallardo took over Instagram stories on MBAchic to show followers what a day in the life of a working professional student is like in our Texas McCombs MBA at Houston program.
Laura’s motivation to pursue her MBA is fueled by the desire to make her family proud.
“My parents emigrated from Mexico in pursuit of a better life. My father’s work ethic has always resonated with me and motivated me. As a teenager, it’s so easy to be influenced by the wrong crowd, particularly in the area that we grew up. I knew that if I wanted my sister to stay on the right track, I needed to set the right example for her.”
Choosing a Business School
After completing her undergraduate degree, Laura pursued a job in journalism as a local news producer. She worked in the newsroom for six years before transitioning into a traditional public communications role at a law firm. After 11 years as a working professional, Laura realized she had to move outside her comfort zone. An MBA felt like her calling.
In recent years, I found myself making multiple lateral professional moves, when in fact I’d been vying for leadership roles. I took a hard look at my career and determined that in order to shift my professional life in an upward direction, I had to re-invest in my education. A BA in communications has served me well so far, but I am hungry for strong professional growth.
Laura says she had a gut instinct that drew her to attend McCombs. She knew she wanted to ensure that she was pursuing a degree from a school that held weight in the business world, and was drawn to the University of Texas at Austin for its recognizable name and reputation.
I made my decision to apply to McCombs after sitting through an admissions webinar series hosted by our program’s amazing admissions counselor, Jenn Cole. The webinar series was incredibly helpful in walking me through the admissions process from point A to point Z. From my very first interactions with the program, I know it could potentially be a right fit for me.
That gut instinct was solidified after attending an open house in the spring and sitting through a class. The program’s culture immediately drew me in. Current students were extremely helpful in answering questions about the workload, schedule, and overall culture – in other words, just keeping it real! Their willingness to share was very comforting. Now as a student, I can confirm that is still the case – the class of 2020 has been incredibly welcoming and inclusive.
As a mother of twin 4-year-olds, the MBA at Houston program also offered Laura a convenient weekend class schedule that worked for her family. Her husband’s job requires him to travel during the week, so they felt the program’s alternating weekend structure would be the best fit. Laura developed a routine with her husband to make the addition of the program a smoother life transition.
“The alternating weekend structure allows my family to have our normal routine during the week, and plan ahead for class weekends. On weeknights leading up to class, I excuse myself immediately after dinner to study, but make sure to read my kids their bedtime story and tuck them in to bed.
Fortunately, now at 4-years-old, they understand why mommy is not around some weekends. As a result, we’ve had some endearing conversations as they’ve asked me questions about school based on their own experiences in pre-k, such as if we have ‘circle time’ and if I ‘learn about colors.’ I try to explain to them as much as possible about my weekend absences or having to step away after dinner to ‘do homework.’
Balancing a family, full-time career, and an MBA does have its challenges for Laura. Having limited time means missing a few soccer games and special occasions. Laura credits her friends and family for being understanding and supportive in the process and her parents for being readily available to provide child care.
“Most importantly in this MBA journey, having a support system that I can rely on for emotional and moral support has been so crucial.”
Laura’s Post-MBA Plans
“Ideally, I would like to apply my current skill set (attained from a career of journalism and public relations) to a different industry. I am increasingly interested in an investor relations role where I can use my new knowledge about accounting and finance, gained here at McCombs, and compliment it with my previous experience. If I remain solely in the communications field, I would hope to lead the marketing strategy team for a publicly traded company or a private equity firm. My long-term goal is to lead at a Fortune 100 company.”
Laura’s Advice to You
“If you’ve been even remotely considering pursuing an MBA, go for it! Invest in your career and yourself. Prepare and begin the admissions process early so you’re not cramming to meet the final deadlines: study for the GMAT, request your letter of recommendation, think about how you’ll fund tuition– set the wheels in motion early. Once June rolls around, the enrollment process moves extremely fast,
Don’t let your role as a parent keep you from pursuing graduate school. Like any major life change, having the right support will be crucial when returning to school, and especially if you have a family. Between classes, projects, and studying, the program will inevitably keep you away from your loved ones, so surround yourself with friends and family who have your best interest at heart, understand, and are there to encourage you.”