Tag: mba (page 1 of 19)

Who Should Write Your MBA Recommendation?

The Texas McCombs MBA application requires one professional letter of recommendation from a person who has supervised your work and/or has assessed your performance during your career.

A recommendation letter is one of the only things you rely on someone else to provide in your application. Circumstances differ for every applicant and deciding who you should ask will vary.  Below are some scenarios to help guide you in choosing the best recommender your application.

Your Supervisor

Your current direct supervisor is traditionally the best choice. This is likely the person in your network that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. However, this may not be a viable option for you.  Perhaps you aren’t able to communicate to your employer that you’re applying to business school or you do not work with your direct boss that closely. It could also be that you attained a new role recently and your current supervisor has not had a chance to work with you very much. Or,  you’re an entrepreneur & don’t have a supervisor.

All of these are valid reasons to look for other recommendation sources, but remember that if you do not ask your current supervisor to write your recommendation letter, we do ask that you explain your choice in the Optional Statement.

Your Former Supervisor

If you cannot ask your current direct supervisor to write your recommendation, maybe you can ask a previous supervisor? Depending on how recently you worked with them, the “old boss” may be the best choice, especially if you had a strong professional relationship with that person. This is also a very common option.

Your Indirect Supervisor

Asking an indirect supervisor can another option, especially if you’ve worked with this person closely on past assignments or long-term projects.  This is a nice alternative to a supervisor that you may not work with closely.

Your Client or Vendor

This type of recommendation source is especially useful for entrepreneurs or for applicants who work for a family business.

If you work for a family business, it is preferred that you ask an individual outside of your family to write your letter of recommendation.

Your Mentor

Mentors inside or outside of your workplace are great to have in your corner when it comes time to apply to business school. However, be sure that your mentor has a clear understanding of your current professional value, not just your potential or future goals. Select a mentor with whom you have worked with on measurable tasks to ensure that they will provide a recommendation with depth. Often, mentor recommendations are submitted as an optional secondary recommendation. Keep in mind that the admissions committee is looking for someone who has worked with you professionally.

Other Options

There are many individuals who may fall in the category of “other recommenders.” For example, a former professor, a colleague or a coach.

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Considering Your MBA
in Uncertain Times

Dave Jackson is the Senior Admissions Officer for the Texas McCombs MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program and is a proud McCombs MBA alumnus . He has 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations, and communication. Dave graduated from the MBA program in 2010 amidst the Great Recession. Here, he provides a personal perspective of his time in the program that may be helpful to those currently evaluating an MBA amongst the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. 

Dave Jackson Headshot

Dave Jackson, Senior Admissions Officer of MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth

I remember sitting in a conference room in the Fall of 2008, in my first year of the Texas McCombs MBA at DFW program. For those who remember that time, we were in the midst of one of the worst recessions in our country’s history as the subprime mortgage crisis brought the financial system to its knees.

The alum standing at the front of the room talking to our class asked, “Who thinks this is a good time to be looking for a job?”

None of us even gave a thought to raising our hands. Most of us were more worried about keeping the jobs we had, let alone finding something new.

He looked at his audience of skeptics and said, “I would argue that this is the best time of all to be looking for a job. Because companies are only hiring people for positions that they know will add value. And those are the jobs you want.”

One simple argument changed our whole perspective on what appeared to be a bleak economic situation.

Now we’re facing another crisis – a public health challenge combined with an economic one. And it’s perfectly rational to ask: Is now the right time to make an investment in an MBA?

This is ultimately a personal question: Everyone has their own set of criteria for what makes a good investment and when is the right time to make it.

Here are a few things to consider:

Return on InvestmentJust as investment advisors recommend that you invest your money for the long-term, recognize that you have many more years ahead in your career and your MBA will pay off over a long period of time. But in thinking more specifically about payback, the most recent GMAC survey of business school alumni found high-levels of both satisfaction and return among both full-time and part-time graduates. Employers value the MBA and despite an uncertain hiring environment, there will be opportunities for good candidates in the future. Additionally McCombs was named No. 1 Best Value among top 20 business schools by U.S. News and World Report, based on the gap between average starting salaries and debt.

NetworkRemember that the concepts of return and value are two different things. While return is more easily quantifiable and you should expect a reasonable payback period, you begin accruing value with your MBA from the day you start, and you continue to accrue that value over the rest of your life. A big part of that value comes from the network you build with your classmates and alumni. As a McCombs student, you instantly join a powerful and passionate network of 500,000+ University of Texas at Austin and 100,000+ McCombs alumni who are eager to help their fellow Longhorns. Being surrounded by a group of smart, goal-oriented, diverse and downright interesting people will give you new perspectives on how to do your work differently, provide you with new tools for solving problems and give you connections (and friendships) that will always be with you throughout your career.

Knowledge Another main source of value in an MBA is the knowledge you gain, which has no expiration date. MBA faculty are the best in their fields, and they also recognize the strength of knowledge in the room. They know how to facilitate discussion and draw on the expertise of you and your fellow students. At McCombs we are fortunate to have extraordinary breadth across academic disciplines, as one of only five schools in the nation to rank in the top 20 across 11 or more U.S. News graduate business specialties. Additionally our faculty have been named top 10 Best Professors by The Princeton Review for 10 of the last 11 years, based on feedback from students about teaching quality and accessibility outside the classroom. We assume that everyone seeking an MBA aspires to be a leader, and our curriculum is geared toward preparing you for leadership. As we’re learning each day, strong leadership skills and empathy are critical in difficult times to ensure that our businesses, organizations, and team members are prepared to get through difficult challenges. As an MBA graduate, you will be well-equipped to play a leading role in solving the next crisis we face as a society.

Perspective Finally, it’s important to recognize that the current environment, while difficult and unprecedented, is temporary. The world economy has weathered many challenges over its long history. And while the “when” isn’t clear, things will get better. It’s important to consider whether waiting to pursue your MBA is worth the opportunity cost of missing out on the benefits you can start receiving sooner.

Warren Buffett, a child of the Great Depression who has become one of the world’s greatest investors in good times and bad, has said, “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”

An MBA is an investment that will pay off over a long time horizon, in ways both easy to measure and less tangible but still significant. So if you’re thinking about whether these turbulent times are right for making the MBA investment, it’s worth considering that this might be the best time of all to go for it.


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram.

Finding Love at Texas McCombs

This Valentine’s Day, we revisit some of our favorite MBA love stories! Current MBA students and alumni who found love during their time at McCombs share their sweet stories below.

An Impromptu First Date 

Aneesh and Abhisikta on their wedding dayAbhisikta Dasgupta and Aneesh Bansal, current 2nd year MBA students, met at an improv team-building activity during MBA Orientation. Two free tickets to the Hideout Theatre were taped between their seats and thus became their first official date.

“We started going out immediately after orientation and love happened gradually. It’s nice to have a partner who knows what you are going through and is there to support you,” says Abhisikta. “It is definitely more rewarding than challenging. Getting your MBA can be very stressful, so we give each other space when needed.”

Abhisikta and Aneesh got married in January 2020 in Delhi, India.

“We both have Indian parents and Indian weddings can be crazy,” says Abhisikta. “We passed on most of the planning to Aneesh’s parents but still spent many sleepless nights trying to find the right balance of both cultures. Finally, we did manage to collapse a week worth of madness into a single day of events. It was a fun, happy day.”

Abhisikta and Aneesh Wedding Photos

Abhisikta and Aneesh during their wedding celebration.

Abhisikta & Aneesh Wedding

Abhisikta says her best memories with Aneesh include getting lost while hiking and Aneesh’s cooking.

“We got lost while hiking on the Crystal Mountain (near Mount Rainier), roamed around for hours, thought we would be eaten by wild animals (it was getting dark), said our good-byes and love yous, but then spotted a lake and a bunch of tents and found a trail and are still alive to tell the tale!”

“Aneesh loves cooking for me and then he waits eagerly for feedback,” says Abhisikta. “I sometimes forget and he makes a very sad puppy face.”

Abhisikta and Aneesh are both joining Amazon after graduation in Seattle, where they plan to adopt two dogs and take full advantage of Amazon’s dog-friendly office policy.

Interviewing Your Future Husband 

When Caitlin Ellinwood, MBA ’19, was doing research for a start-up while in school, little did she know it would lead to the first conversation with her future husband, Jonathan Powell, MBA ’20.

“I was working for a robotics start-up founded by a McCombs alum and I needed to interview people related to the aerospace industry,” says Caitlin. “Jon had just started at McCombs a few weeks prior and I found out he was previously a helicopter pilot. I ended up interviewing him about his time as a maintenance manager for Apache Helicopters [in the U.S. Army].” 

Caitlyn and Jon wedding photoPhoto by Creatrix Photography.

Caitlin and Jon took a trip together to New Orleans after he completed his first semester of school to celebrate, which became a pivotal point in their relationship. The couple married in February 2020 in a “flash-mob style” wedding at the Mopac bridge alongside 50 of their closest friends and family members. 

“We chose Mopac bridge because Jon LOVES bridges! During our first trip together in New Orleans he dragged me across the entire French Quarter to see a bridge in the middle of the day while we were out with friends,” says Caitlin. “I complained at the time, but it has become one of our fondest memories. We’d visited the Mopac bridge a few times and thought it was a beautiful opportunity to show our guests Austin’s beauty and get to have fun on a bridge!”

Caitlyn and Jon on their wedding day
Photo by Creatrix Photography.

“Before we told people we were dating, we used to fist bump on campus when we saw each other. It has stuck as an inside joke between us and we still do it to this day,” Caitlin said. “It’s definitely a bit awkward at the beginning – it would be like dating a coworker. But once you’re settled in it’s great to have someone you can talk to you about classes, career goals etc.” 

Caitlin and Jon wedding photo.
Photo by Creatrix Photography.

They plan to lay low this Valentine’s Day and catch up on some alone time after the busy holiday season. 

Summer Love Turned Forever

Launa and John Bilal, both MBA ’17s, met at the  Consortium Orientation Program (OP) in 2015. John was much quieter than Launa, and his first impression of her was, “she’s a handful.”

Laura and John at graduation.

In 2016, they both moved to Dallas for their MBA summer internships and decided to live together. During that time, they fell in love.

“Being able to have a partner who is just as ambitious and understands the challenges and pressures of being in business school as well as the subsequent careers that we accept is important,” says Launa. “There is never a need to explain our frustrations, fears, or exhaustion during business school or with our work because we are sharing very similar experiences. In the same vein, we know how important it is to celebrate when either of us had milestones in business school or in our careers because we understand the challenges first-hand.”

launa and john

During their last semester of business school, Launa and John studied abroad in Switzerland and traveled together across Europe.

“One of our favorite places was Barcelona – we took a paella cooking class, marveled at La Sagrada Familia, walked through Casa Batlló, went to an ancient bath spa, and just otherwise enjoyed the culture and beauty of Barcelona,” says Launa. “It was a wonderful few days of being together, enjoying each other, and not thinking about school, work, or anything in between.”

Launa and John on their wedding day.

Launa and John both travel for work, and so this will be the first Valentine’s Day they will be spending together since getting married. They will be celebrating with a night out in Dallas.

“The primary objectives of going to business school should be to elevate yourself, learn about yourself, and explore areas that you otherwise would not have the opportunity to do in your previous careers,” says Launa. If you happen to meet someone who you feel you could also grow with and grow to love, that is a plus! Do what you set out to do – grow and challenge yourself – and the rest will fall in place.

#FultonFloresMerger

Cassie Fulton and David Flores are proud members of the Evening MBA Class of 2016 and even gave a nod to their b-school background at their wedding last year with a creative hashtag: #FultonFloresMerger.

“We met during the first orientation weekend of the program,” says Cassie. “David spotted me walking down the stairs and we ended up walking to dinner at the stadium together. At the end of the weekend, he ended up asking for my number so we could grab lunch — and the rest is history!”

Cassie famously told her brother she was getting her MBA not her “MRS”, but came away with both. Cassie and David tied the knot in February 2019 in Austin, Texas and reserved a whole table just for their “McCombies.”

Cassie & David WeddingCassie and David posing with their McCombies at their wedding.

“We started our relationship by taking the Myers-Briggs [personality assessment] with our classmates — this was VERY helpful,” says Cassie. “Being in class together and trying to navigate being a couple, trying to make friends or network with peers, and also be professional in the class environment was tricky. Being McCombies together, we made great friends in the program and built a great network. We also have similar motivations and language when discussing life and our careers.”

Cassie & David Wedding Photo

After business school, David’s job moved them to Minneapolis, MN and then to Raleigh, NC. They just moved back to Austin and don’t plan to leave again. Cassie is VP of Global Product Marketing at CPA Global and David is a Senior Customer Support & Engagement Manager at Collins Aerospace.

Out of the Friend-Zone 

Kinza Azmat and Nishanth Ramesh graduated from the Weekend MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth program in 2018. They first met a pre-MBA happy hour and their story is a little different from the other MBAs.

Kinza Azmat and Nishanth Ramesh

“I know what you’re thinking: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, love at first sight. That’s precisely the opposite,” Kinza says. “We friend-zoned immediately and continued as platonic group mates. Suffice it so say that this friendship extended beyond graduation, especially since we’d seen each other at our highest and lowest points while at McCombs.”

“Our classmates were akin to VC firms, seeing our relationship’s potential much before the original founders,” she says. “Even at the insistence of many friends, we were obstinate to external advice and continued to remain friends.”

A year after graduating from McCombs, Kinza decided to move to Denver. But before moving, she wanted to close all open chapters in Dallas – subtly dropping hints to Nishanth about a potential relationship. The target audience did not receive the intended message; Nishanth invited other McCombs friends to all of Kinza’s attempts at a “real date.” Finally, Kinza point blank asked him out and he enthusiastically agreed.

“Our first date consisted of a Brandi Carlile concert, a cozy sushi spot, and the realization that all of our classmates were right,” says Kinza. “Love was a matter of weeks, a shared home came next at 6 months, an engagement at month 8, and a wedding-to-be in October 2020!”

Nishanth wanted the proposal to be fun and include their friends, at a place special to both of them – the climbing gym. Kinza enjoys competing in bodybuilding and trains to peak for photoshoots, so Nishanth coordinated a faux photoshoot of Kinza climbing at the local gym and she didn’t suspect a thing. But then, Kinza started getting suspicious, especially when Nishanth asked her to take the tape off her fingers before the next route.

“As she was being lowered from her last climb, the rope turned and she saw all of our friends gathered at the bottom, smiling and cheering,” Nishanth says. “The rope was still tied in to both of us, highlighting how she’d been trapped…oops, connected for life when she said ‘yes.'”

Kinza Azmat and Nishanth Ramesh surrounded by their friends after the proposal.

Kinza and Nishanth surrounded by their fellow MBA at DFW classmates after the proposal.

Dave Jackson, Senior MBA Admissions Officer in Dallas, who admitted both of them into the program, was one of the many spectators there to witness the proposal.

“Not only is it great to have two of my favorite people meet in the program and become engaged, but the fact that so many of their classmates were there when Nishanth proposed also testifies to the culture of the program and the relationships you form.” says Dave.

Kinza Azmat and Nishanth Ramesh

This Valentine’s Day, Kinza and Nishanth are staying true to their nature of valuing adventurous experiences and plan to go shoot zombies in a virtual reality arcade, followed by a romantic dinner.

“Our advice would be to keep doing you, make friends, experience new adventures, and let your feelings guide your life,” says Kinza.

An Adventure in Love

Lis Reed and Peter Mamone, MBA ’15s, first met on the McCombs Adventure Program (MAP) tubing trip right before orientation. They became “fast friends” after learning about each other’s military background and officially started dating that spring of their first year at McCombs. They knew they loved each other after spending a summer apart. 

Lis Reed and Peter Mahome

“We did our first year internships in different places: I was in the Bay Area with Apple; Pete was in Dallas with Deloitte. We knew it was love when we really missed each other over the summer,” says Lis. “These days we’re both at Google here in Austin.”

One of their favorite memories at McCombs was traveling to Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines with classmates for a Global Connections MBA Study Tour. 

“It was a once in a lifetime experience and awesome to share it with each other! It was really nice to be with someone who understood how chaotic business school schedules can get and who values their career.” 

Lis Reed and Peter Mahome

This Valentine’s Day weekend the couple will be heading to Nashville to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary.

Best wishes to all our McCombs couples! ❤️

Student Spotlight: Laura
Gallardo, MBA at Houston
Class of 2021

Laura Gallardo Headshot

Laura Gallardo
MBA at Houston ’21

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.

Work-Life-School Balance

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.

Laura, her husband and her two children.

“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 and her children posing by the UT tower

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.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram. Hook ’em!

After Admission: Deciding Your
MBA Offer

Making it through the MBA application process to receive an offer of admission from Texas McCombs is a big accomplishment! But it is not the end of your MBA admissions journey. The decision process goes both ways and you must accept your offer of admission to be enrolled in the next class. As a driven and competitive MBA candidate,  you may be deciding between offers at multiple business schools. Everyone’s individual decision is different, but a few common themes always come up when we ask our students, “Why McCombs?”

The City

Austin, Texas tops rankings for quality of life, growth, tech and innovation year after year. ATX has been named the No. 1 Best Place to Live by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, 2018 and 2019!

A few photos of Austin - Lake Travis, the city, the Capitol, & a concert

The MBA program moved into a new, world-class facility in 2018. Robert B. Rowling Hall sits at the intersection of the university and the Austin business community, acting as a launchpad for ideas. Open, transparent and flexibly designed, the building creates the physical space for you to engage, collaborate and learn experientially. Our dedication to excellence plus our new home made us a Top Ten Business School to Watch in 2019 .

Rowling Hall exterior

Robert B. Rowling Hall, Graduate Business Building, UT Austin

The Network

Right at the center of Austin is the McCombs School of Business–  a tight-knit, driven community of students, staff and faculty, making up part of one of the largest university networks in the world:

500,000+ UTY Austin Alumni, 100,000+ McCombs Alumni, 25,000+ MBA Alumni

Our MBA culture is famously welcoming and our students come from diverse backgrounds that make our community dynamic and inspiring. It has been said that McCombs MBAs are relentlessly driven, yet they are the first to jump in and encourage and support each other to excel. Connect with current MBA students to learn more about what sets us apart.

Texas McCombs MBA Consortium Students at Rowling Hall, fall 2018

Texas McCombs Consortium MBA students at Orientation 2018

The Focus on the Future

Texas McCombs is human-centered and future-focused, meaning we have our eye on what’s coming next in business– from the exciting research coming out of McCombs every day to the many rankings where we are among the best schools in the nation. We strive to be a top business school, giving our students the best possible experience. Recently, we landed on seven Top 10 lists in Princeton Review’s 2020 rankings!


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram. Hook ’em!

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