Life in the Texas MBA program goes beyond the cohort classrooms. The city of Austin is integral to our experience in the two years that we spend at McCombs. The best thing about Austin is that there is something to do here for everyone. From race-car enthusiasts to live music connoisseurs, everyone in the program takes a little bit of this city wherever they go. In this blog, we wanted to touch upon three different types of events that are truly unique to Austin’s soul.
For Music Lovers: Austin City Limits Music Festival
Move over Coachella, the biggest and best artists in music make their annual pilgrimage to Austin and play in front of 75000 people in the outdoor greens of Zilker Park. The venue is decked up with food and drinks, an art market, kids area for families, while music ranges from rock, indie, country, folk, electronic, and hip-hop. This year, the McCombs group created their own flag and made their presence felt all over Zilker Park.
For Technology Lovers: South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive
SXSW Interactive is focused on emerging technology making Austin the breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies. The festival includes a trade show, speakers, parties, and a startup accelerator. This year, Meerkat, the video streaming application, was one of the featured technologies gaining traction due to endorsements from many celebrities including Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Every year, Texas MBA has a booth at the SXSWi Tradeshow promoting new technology ventures supported by our own students.
For Fun Lovers: Eeoyre’s Birthday
It doesn’t get much more Austin weird than Eeyore’s Birthday Party – the annual Pease Park bacchanal known for outrageous costumes and booming drum circles. This event is celebrated on the last Saturday of April, featuring colorful costumes, a trash can of lemonade, honey sandwiches and a live flower-draped donkey.
Before I started at McCombs, I wondered if my friendships and connections with fellow students would begin and end in the classroom. You often hear stories of the competitiveness of certain business schools, and that can breed animosity and force only surface relationships among classmates. While McCombs students are certainly competitive (it takes a level of drive and ambition to get into a school like ours) I have been pleasantly surprised with the level of camaraderie among all of my classmates. It is not just that we coexist in the classroom. We actually like each other and do things together outside of campus that make the whole experience of business school more fulfilling and more fun.
Take the Austin Marathon for example. I signed up for the half marathon with two members of my study group and four other classmates. We all survived the core curriculum and recruiting, what is a marathon compared to that? Though all seven of us did not end up running it, it is telling that we all wanted to do this massive undertaking together. I cannot think of a stronger support system for such a major commitment of time and effort. A group ended up making signs and cheering on our friends that ran it together.
Leigh McCoy and Georgie Smyser making McCombs proud and looking good after 26.2 miles!
Probably the greatest example of the fun activities that McCombs students participate in together is the annual ski trip that occurred this past weekend. Over 100 students and their significant others descended on Park City, Utah for a couple of days of skiing, bonding and lounging (for the less athletically inclined). The trip is put on by the Graduate Business Adventure Club, a popular club that organizes outings throughout the year . They really do it big for the ski trip! The club organized dinners, hotel arrangements, happy hours and more to ensure that it was a weekend that no one could forget.
Texas MBA students Students skiing together on Park City Mountain
To say this trip was fun is a huge understatement. It was so nice to leave the stresses of recruiting and studying back in Austin and just relax with the friends that we have made the past couple of months. It provided the opportunity to spend time with people that I might not normally hang out with and strengthen the friendships that had already developed so far in school. This trip gave me even more of an appreciation for my fellow classmates and the McCombs program in particular. I mean, look at these people, how could it not?
Texas MBA 1st Years. Hook Em!
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
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 2014