UT McCombs MBA Admissions Q&A with Vicki Duran, Jolene Ashcraft and Jaryn Creasy
UT McCombs MBA Admissions Q&A with Vicki Duran, Jolene Ashcraft and Jaryn Creasy
Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)
Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about UT McCombs School of Business. It is critical to your decision making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask the UT experts about this top business school.
I also want to give a special welcome to Vicki Duran, Director of MBA Admissions, as well as Jolene Ashcraft, Senior Associate Director with a focus on Diversity at UT McCombs. Additionally, for the student perspective, joining us today is Jaryn Creasy, a second-year MBA student at UT. Prior to business school, Jaryn worked at an advertising agency and in the marketing group at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore, MD. She interned this summer at General Mills and will be returning full-time as a Consumer Insights Associate in the fall. Thanks to everyone for joining.
I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. What’s new at McCombs?
Vicki Duran: This year we have added some new concentration areas and also a new department. The new department is “Business, Government & Society”, and this department will focus on the regulatory, political, legal, and ethical environment of business. And within that department, we have two new concentration areas: “Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Public and Governmental Affairs”. We’ve also added a health care concentration this year; one in “Consulting”, and another in “Innovation Leadership”.
Jolene Ashcraft: Another thing I wanted to share with you all, that we are very excited about, is that our students won three different national case competitions this year. In September, we had a team that won the National Energy Finance Challenge, and that was against 15 other top MBA programs in the country. And in November, we sent a team to the GE Experienced Commercial Leadership Program case competition which was held at the GE headquarters in Connecticut, and we took first place there. And then this past January, we had a team win the Renewable Energy Case Challenge which was at Michigan Ross School of Business and sponsored by Duke Energy. And we are very proud that our teams took first place in all those competitions versus other top business schools across the country. And a neat tradition that we have here at Texas is that when any team wins a national competition at the university, whether that be academics or athletics, we have a tower here at the university and the tower is lit orange for any winners of national competitions. So the tower will be lit orange for those teams who won national competitions, and we are very proud of that.
Jaryn Creasy: From a student perspective, I’d love to share some new student organizations and clubs that have formed here over the last year. The Venture Labs are a cross-campus initiative that really fosters innovation and technology commercialization and entrepreneurship across campus. And that gives students first-hand working knowledge of working with real start-ups, kind of doing their due diligence and then helping those start-ups get established in the community.
Board Fellows is something new from our Net Impact groups, and that allows students to sit on the board of directors for local partner non-profits in order to really make an impact there and learn about the non-profit world. Additionally, we just had our first Energy Forum on campus which really brought together research from the Business School, the Law School, the Energy School, Geosciences, and it also brought together business leaders in order to discuss current issues in an energy world. So these three things have been going on from a student organizations perspective, which are pretty exciting and new.
Linda Abraham: Let’s turn to the applicants’ questions that I have here. Viet asks, “I submitted my application on January 14th. Can you please tell me when I could hear some news about admissions/ interviews?”
Vicki Duran: Sure. Typically, once we receive your application and it is considered complete, meaning that we have received your transcripts, your letters of recommendation, and your completed essays and resume, then the review process can take anywhere from 10-12 weeks. During those 10-12 weeks, you might be invited at any given time to interview. So in other words, your application may go through a first read before you are invited to interview, it may be read twice before you are invited to interview, or it may even go to “committee” before you are invited to interview. So if you are not invited to interview right away, I wouldn’t say to necessarily be alarmed because it can happen at any time during that 10-12 week process.
Linda Abraham: Juan asks, “How hard is it to intern for the MBA Investment Fund? What is the application process and do you evaluate work experience or education primarily?” I’m assuming that at the moment he is referring to the Investment Fund selection process.
Jolene Ashcraft: For those of you who don’t know, the MBA Investment Fund is actually a completely student-run investment fund that we have here on campus. It is managed by the students. It is great hands-on experience for those of you who are interested in getting into investment banking or investment management, private equity, or anything in the finance world. There is an application process for that, and it is a pretty competitive organization to be a part of. But basically they will look at your previous work experience, your GMAT score, and at how you are performing in your first semester core classes like accounting, finance, and statistics. There is also an application that you will have to fill out and an interview process. There is usually some sort of finance stock-pitch competition. So there are several different components of the application process. But they do take people from all different backgrounds, so you don’t necessarily have to have had previous finance work experience, just a commitment to learning more about it, wanting to go into it in the future, and then going through the application process which includes a lot of different components.
Vicki Duran: And as Jolene said, it is pretty competitive. It is also the largest student-led fund in the United States. They manage more than $15 million in assets. And typically, they will take about twenty new students each year onto the fund. And this process that Jolene talked about, it is actually the second-year students who are conducting the interviews, reviewing the applications, and making decisions, with support from the faculty liaison that works with the fund, Professor Sandy Leeds. So it is one of the student-led organizations, but it is one of the few organizations where you do have to go through an interview process.
Linda Abraham: Akshat asks, “I don’t know if it’s true, but people say that Texas is not as happening a place as NYC or California. Is that so?”
Jaryn Creasy: I am actually from the East Coast, but there is a lot happening in Texas. From my perspective, there are a ton of job opportunities in Dallas and in Houston. But aside from that, Austin is such a vibrant community to be a part of for two years that I would say that we offer just as many opportunities as NYC or a big city. So I would say that is definitely not true from my perspective.
Jolene Ashcraft: From a job standpoint, the state of Texas actually has more Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters than any other state in the country, so there are a lot of great job opportunities. But just from a personal standpoint, Texas, and Austin specifically, has a lot of things going on. And if you are interested in McCombs and haven’t had a chance to visit Austin, we highly recommend you doing so. It is a vibrant place; a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of start-ups here in Austin. From a living standpoint, there is a lot of green space, a lot of lakes, and a lot of outdoor activities. Austin is considered the live music capital of the world and there are a lot of great music venues and art. There are lots of things to do here in Austin in addition to business opportunities and education. And from the political standpoint, Austin is the capital of Texas as well.
Vicki Duran: And we don’t ride horses to work, and we don’t all wear cowboy hats and cowboy boots every day! So it is a great place to spend a couple of years. And by the way, the sun shines here 320 days a year, and that’s a shout out right now to everyone on the East Coast experiencing the worst winter ever!
Linda Abraham: I can also tell you that I’m in Los Angeles, and I know a lot of friends’ kids that are moving to Texas – Dallas, Houston, Austin – because they feel that there is better quality of life and more opportunity in Texas. So as a native Angeleno, I’m not sure I’m too happy about that. I have mixed feelings, but I know it’s a fact that Texas right now is certainly financially and economically doing great, far better than either NY or California.
Dhiman asks, “I have heard from one of the alums that the Information Technology concentration is being revamped this year. Could you talk more about this if this is correct?”
Vicki Duran: That’s the “Information, Risk, & Operations Management” concentration. I have not heard that it is being revamped. If that is true in fact, we have not heard about it yet, and I’m sure more information would be posted on our website about it. But as of this time, we have not heard of anything along those lines. But I’ll certainly follow-up and look into that.
Linda Abraham: Jeff writes, “I started a hobby in high school that I run as a business today. Can you go over the ways McCombs supports entrepreneurship in its MBA program?”
Jolene Ashcraft: We have a number of ways that we support entrepreneurs. From an application standpoint, when we are looking at work experience, we definitely value people with entrepreneurship experience who have started their own companies. We know that you bring a great breadth and depth of experience in starting your own company, and can add a lot to the class that way.
Within the program, we have several different opportunities. We have the Texas Venture Labs. You can apply to be a part of this program and if so, you have support from local entrepreneurs, you get advice from investors, and you are peered with people across the university that pertain to your start-up whether it’s engineering students or law students, or geosciences, or public affairs. So that is a great resource for the university and people who are interested in entrepreneurship.
We also have an organization called Venture Fellows. That is another student-run organization within the Business School. It is similar to the Investment Fund in that it is an organization that you have to apply to be a part of, and the current second-years pick the new class of Venture Fellows. But if you are chosen to be a Venture Fellow, you actually get to intern at a local VC firm or a start-up here in Austin while you are going to school. And that is a great opportunity for people who are interested in entrepreneurship to get exposed to the VC and angel investing community, to really understand what they are looking for when they are evaluating start-ups and deciding what types of companies they are going to invest in. So those are a couple of the ways that people who are interested in starting their own businesses can really tap into the resources here at McCombs.
And then there is one more. A student organization we have is the Entrepreneur Society, and anyone can join that. And that is a very active society that puts on a lot of different events, brings in speakers, and provides resources for those of you who are interested in entrepreneurship.
Linda Abraham: We have a few questions here asking about notification and timing. One is asking whether there is a confirmation email that goes out when the hard copies of transcripts have been received. “Do we receive information that our application has been sent for review or do we have to check the status online?” Could you just go over that process one more time?
Vicki Duran: Typically, we do not start reviewing your application till it is considered complete; that means your recommendation letters are complete, your transcript has been submitted, and the entire application including your resume has been included. So it is really on the applicant to go online into the applications system and check your status on a regular basis. Sometimes we may try to remind you that your recommendation letters are not complete if we see an application that looks like it has been out there for a while, but we cannot do that for everyone. We expect to receive over 2,400 applications again this year, and we are on track to do that right now. That is a lot of applications for 260 people in the classroom. So as you might imagine, we definitely take our time in looking at your application and making sure that your application gets all of the attention it needs, and that is why it takes 10-12 weeks. Your application will have multiple reads before a decision is actually given.
Jolene Ashcraft: Something also to note is that there are actually two different types of status checks websites. The website where you apply online for McCombs is the McCombs Admissions Committee website. So you will submit your application there. The status will say when your application is complete. That is where you will receive an email and find out and be able to schedule an interview if you are invited to interview. And then once you have received a final admission decision, you will receive an email that your status has changed, and then you’ll be able to log in there to see your application status. So that is where the online application is.
There is also the GIAC status website. GIAC is where you send your official transcript, your official test scores, and that is the department within the university that receives all those documents and verifies that they are official and complete. They have a separate status check website that will reflect when they have received your documents. And please note that once you send in your documents, it can take a little bit of time for them to process it, receive it, match it to your application, and then update that website, so don’t be alarmed if you think it is received on one day and then it is not immediately updated. It can take a couple of weeks to do that.
Vicki Duran: So if your status states that your transcript has not been received and you know that you submitted it, don’t panic at that point. Give it a little bit of time because GIAC is actually the clearing house for all applications to the entire university of Texas University where we have over 50,000 students. So it does take a little bit of time for them to verify your transcripts and then give us the authority to move forward with reviewing your application.
Linda Abraham: Daniel asks, “Are there any financial aid opportunities for international applicants without the need of a co-signer?”
Vicki Duran: At this time, the University of Texas does not have an opportunity for international students to secure loans through the university without a co-signer. So they still need to have a US co-signer. I know that some schools may actually underwrite loans for international students, but the University of Texas at this time has not agreed to take on that type of risk involved with the loans, so we don’t have that opportunity.
However, all admitted students are considered for scholarships. There is not a separate application process for consideration for those scholarships. As we review your applications, as we meet as a committee to make decisions, we discuss each application and whether or not they are deemed worthy of consideration for a scholarship. And these are all merit-based scholarships. So we will look at your academics, GMAT score, your GPA, the quality of your work experience, and what we see as your potential for leadership or the demonstrative leadership that comes through in your application.
And scholarship decisions are made before your decision date. So if you are admitted to the program, you will not find out upon admission that you have received a scholarship award, but you will find out typically before you have to make your decision. In other words, if your decision deadline is March 15th, you will probably know around the 10th or so of March if you are being given a scholarship award. If you do not receive a scholarship award before your decision deadline, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will not receive a scholarship because as scholarships are returned to us by applicants who decide to go with another program, then we are constantly reevaluating the admitted pool and re-awarding those scholarships.
Linda Abraham: Andres asks, “Where is McCombs going to be focusing the majority of its resources and efforts in the next five years according to Dean Gilligan’s philosophy?”
Vicki Duran: Dean Gilligan came to the Business School a couple of years ago and he had the entire business school, faculty and staff, involved in looking at his 3-5 year plan at that time. One of the areas that kept rising to the top in every discussion was a focus on energy. So there has been an expansion in some of our energy-type programs, so we have the “Energy Finance” concentration, we have the “CleanTech” concentration.
Certainly a lot of our applicants this year are very interested in sustainable or renewable energy. So the Career Services team is doing their part in reaching out to companies, wind and solar companies for instance, because Texas is certainly an energy state, with many wind farms, a lot of solar energy companies that are up and coming, and certainly oil and gas production. But within the oil and gas companies, they have a strong focus on renewable energy for their firms as well as companies like General Electric which do a lot of recruiting at our campus. So that is one of the areas of focus.
There is probably going to be a new dual degree coming on-board this fall as well. That is with the Jackson School of Geosciences and that is on earth and environmental resources. That is a new dual-degree that we are in the final stages of getting approval on. And again, that ties back to the interest that we see out there for energy.
But that is not the only focus. Entrepreneurship has always been a strength of this program and continues to be, as well as a number of different finance and marketing concentration areas. And now health care certainly is in the news almost daily and something that we’ve seen another increase in from our applicant pool wanting to go into careers in health care and policy.
Linda Abraham: Daniel asks, “For those of us who didn’t study economics or business or math in college, what classes do you recommend we take before starting at a school like McCombs?”
Jolene Ashcraft: For those of you who haven’t had a lot of quantitative classes previously and want to do something to really prepare yourselves before starting an MBA program, first-off I would recommend just getting some undergraduate level textbooks for finance and accounting and going through those and just familiarizing yourself with the terminology and some of the basic principles. And then also if you want to enroll in some classes at a local community college or extension program, we would either recommend finance, statistics, economics, or accounting. Those are the classes that students sometimes have problems with if they’ve never experienced those types of subjects before, especially accounting. And then prior to orientation, here at McCombs we actually have a Boot Camp as well that you can take part in that can help you prepare yourself for the first semester, for finance, accounting. And you can go through that Boot Camp to really help get better prepared for the first semester before you even start the classes.
Jaryn Creasy: From a student perspective, I was a little bit nervous about that because my undergrad major was not focused in any sort of business or math, so I actually did take an accounting course at a community college. I thought that really helped me once I entered into the accounting courses here, just to be able to understand some of the fundamentals before getting on campus. I also did the MBA Math which was provided to us over the summer, and I thought that also really helped me ramp up prior to starting the school year.
Linda Abraham: Lauren asks, “Jaryn, are you familiar with the Marketing Fellows CCIMS program, and could you talk about it for a minute?”
Jaryn Creasy: Sure, I definitely am. I am actually a Marketing Fellow here. Marketing Fellows is a completely student-run organization and it is two years old. It has a big focus on practicum projects, so you work on a marketing project with a company that is part of CCIMS. And you also take two courses where we bring in CMO-level speakers that come in and present to us a current business issue that they are facing. So it is a very interactive case-based class where you are really working with these senior level people on serious marketing issues that their companies are facing. And we help to give different input from a student’s perspective on things that we would think about and look at. So it’s a really dynamic class. And then adding in the practicum project is a great way to network in a community, but also to work on a real-world marketing issue facing a company.
So it’s a great organization, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to put my mark on it because it is completely student-run. So we source all of the speakers in conjunction with our advisers in CCIMS. I’ve had conversations with the CMO of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group; it is great access for the students. We shape what we want to learn about and we put the speakers together, so it is very student-run, and everything that we want to see happens in the organization. For example, this fall we decided that as first-years we didn’t have access to all the marketing concepts right away, and we thought for the incoming first-year class we really want to put together a brand camp for them. So that is something we completely organized and put on. We brought in different speakers and we did a mini-case challenge in order to really introduce marketing concepts early on to the first-years so that they would have a leg up going into the interviews for internships. So that’s a brief overview, but it’s a really dynamic program that helps shape the marketing leaders graduating from our program.
Linda Abraham: Eshan and Carlos are both wondering, once they interview how long it will take for them to be notified before receiving an admissions decision. Is there a notification date or is it a certain amount of time after the interview?
Jolene Ashcraft: Neither. It’s kind of best to go off when your application is completely submitted. So once we have all of your test scores, your transcripts, essays, recommendation letters, and your complete application, from that point it’s usually about 10-12 weeks to hear a final decision. And the interview can really take place at any point during that 10-12 week period. It could come earlier, it could come in the middle, and it could come later, depending on the number of reads your application gets before being invited for an interview. There isn’t a set amount of time after the interview when you will hear a decision. So just figure that after your application is complete and submitted, it is about 10-12 weeks to hear a final decision.
Linda Abraham: So the trigger-date is the application complete date; not the interview date, not the submission date. That is really the summary. Anshul asks, “If placed on the wait-list, is the final decision only made when all of the candidates are evaluated from the second and third rounds, or can we expect a response sooner?” And maybe you could just address the wait-list process at McCombs.
Vicki Duran: First of all, being on the wait-list means that we really liked your application and we feel you have a lot of the qualities that will make you successful in the MBA program here. I know some people think being on the wait-list is sort of the kiss of death, but it really is not. We do admit people each year off of the wait-list, so that is the good news. And we would not have put you on the wait-list if we did not see you as a good candidate for our program. Having said that, we expect over 2,400 applications for 260 seats in the class. And we will not increase the number of seats in the class because we like that six to one student-faculty ratio that we have right now. So being on the wait-list and accepting the wait-list means that you are willing to wait and see. We do not have rounds; we have a rolling admissions process. Therefore, we will look at the wait-list as we are reviewing the regular applications that have come in. We don’t wait until the very end to look at the wait-list; we are basically looking at the wait-list throughout the spring. In some cases, people have been admitted to the program as late as the 1st of July.
Once you accept the wait-list, then we invite you to try to be patient. We would ask that if something does happen that you feel will add significant value to your application being evaluated, please let us know. That would include things like getting promoted at work, retaking the GMAT and getting a better score. If you feel that your GMAT may not have been that strong but you are not interested in taking it again, but decided instead to take some business courses like accounting, stats, micro or macroeconomics, or a finance course, let us know what those grades are. Let us know that you are doing that. But I caution people against stalking the admissions staff once you are on the wait-list, and we say that in the kindest way possible. We want to hear from you when it’s something that is really going to add value to your application. But we cannot address questions that come every week about your wait-list status. We know it’s difficult to wait, and it’s not always the decision that you want to get from us and we recognize that, but you will hear from us ultimately on the wait-list one way or another.
Linda Abraham: I also want to add something from my perspective. I think it’s really important that applicants realize that all their interactions with any school they are applying to, any MBA program, are reflections of their judgment. So if you essentially spam the admissions office with meaningless notices and non-informative emails, that will reflect on your judgment and it’s not going to make a positive reflection on your judgment. If you take Vicki’s response to heart and you send in meaningful, substantive updates when you have something to say and not when you don’t, that will reflect well on your judgment. In addition to whatever actually is in the content of the email, this context is something you need to keep in mind in all your interactions with the school. William asks, “What is the process for getting involved in the MBA+ Project program?” And maybe you can describe for a minute what the MBA+ Project program is.
Jaryn Creasy: The Plus Project is a really great opportunity to get hands-on experience working with a project. A company comes to us and says we’d like a team of smart MBAs to work on. I did a Plus Project my first semester for American Airlines. Essentially there are two ways you can go about getting involved with the Plus Project. You can source a project on your own where you make contact with the company you’d really like to work with; you get the ball rolling on a project that would really interest you, and then you put together a team and lead the team that works on this project. The other way to get involved is that a lot of companies come to us with projects that they want people to work on. For those, you are welcome to apply to any projects that are posted. And either the company will select the team, or they let the Plus Projects Office team put together the students who will be working on the project. Then it’s a semester of working with the company on the project.
To give my example, I worked with American Airlines creating their social media strategy. It was a great marketing program to work with, great access in American Airlines, and on an issue that is very current right now. A lot of companies are trying to figure out what social media means. So essentially, I had a really wonderful experience in getting to work with a company firsthand on a pressing issue that they are facing.
Vicki Duran: And it looks great on your resume. And anyone can do a Plus Project. We encourage you for sure to look at doing one in your first semester. And this is purely extracurricular so you are not getting course credit or payment in any way for it. But you get great access to leaders at different companies and organizations, and you could put that on your resume in your second semester which is when you will start doing interviews for summer internships. It looks great to see that you led a consulting project for American Airlines or any other company, or that you were part of a team that worked on a specific issue or problem that was sitting on some executive’s desk and they couldn’t get to it. Now you have that consulting experience or that experience if you are a career switcher. So if you were an engineer and now you want to be a brand manager, a company that is looking for brand managers for summer internships may not look at your resume if they just see engineering experience. But if they see you worked on a Plus Project where you did a project for Nike for instance on children’s apparel or something along those lines, then they are more likely to give you a second look.
Jolene Ashcraft: I also just wanted to talk about our expanded Texas MBA+ Leadership program overall. The Plus Projects are one component of that program, but there are a couple of other things that the Plus Office provides as well. It’s a really unique program that is a huge asset to McCombs and to our students. So in addition to the Plus Projects, the MBA+ Leadership program also provides communication coaches for our students. So you have access to communication coaches, who mostly have PhDs in communication or they are executive career coaches. And you can use them for presentation prep if you are prepping for a big presentation for a class or a case competition, or for a Plus presentation when you are going to pitch to the company that you’ve been working on the Plus Project for. Or you can even use them for individual communication coaching like interview preparation. A lot of our students use the communication coaches for prep for interviews and that is a great resource.
The other thing that the Plus Office provides is that they actually put on several events and workshops throughout the year, things that are somewhat career related and that are resources above and beyond what our Career Services already offers. So things like the Training the Street workshop. That is an annual workshop where they bring in people from Wall Street to teach our students modeling, shortcuts, tricks, and better ways to do evaluations. We have companies that come in and do “A Year in the Life of a CPG Marketer”, to give you more hands-on experience in understanding what it’s like to work in brand management, CPG. They do a Pitch Party event where you can go and pitch business ideas to local VCs, investors, and entrepreneurs. That is kind of a fun networking event where you get to pitch business ideas and win potential prizes and money. So they put on a lot of different things in addition to the Plus Projects that they provide as resources to our students.
Linda Abraham: I’d like to ask our audience a question. How many of you have submitted an application already? 41% of the people here today have submitted an application already. How many of you are still planning to apply in this application season? 16% are planning to apply this year. How many of you are doing research for next year? 5% are doing research. So we get some sense of where the audience is coming from.
Daniel writes, “I’m from Hyderabad. I’m interested to know more about the health care concentration that you had mentioned during the initial part of the webinar session. Can you elaborate more on this, and would it cover the pharmaceutical sector?”
Vicki Duran: The health care concentration is going to be somewhat focused on policy. Within that program, it’s really preparing you for the biotech, life science, and health care industries. There are a number of components and special classes not just within the Business School, but also within other areas of the University of Texas campus. So there are a number of different courses. Advanced Pharmaceutical Administration Contemporary Issues is one of the classes you can take. There is a Pharmacoeconomics course, a Budget and Finance in Health Care course, and a course on Theories and Critical Issues in Public Health. Some of the classes also have to do with the Law School and with law, so there is Health Law, and in health, a Health Innovation and Policy course. Some of the classes may be at the LBJ School of Public Affairs as well and focused more on the policy side. This is a new concentration that we are launching this fall with the incoming class so some things may change along the way in the next two years or be added to make it an even more robust concentration.
We have an opportunity for students to go to what is called the Washington Campus each year. This is a consortium of 17 business schools and UT is one of the 17. Students get to go to Washington D.C. in January, so this is during their winter break, and they hear from a number of guest speakers in different capacities within the US government there. They are hearing from members of Congress, executive branch officials, as well as from some people that are in business and the media. That ties in with the health care concentration.
With any concentration that we have here, we give our students what are called road maps. The road maps help them navigate through what classes they might choose to take, student organizations that we recommend they get involved in, trips or treks with Career Services that we think they should go on, and things like Washington Campus which I just mentioned. But at the end of the day, students really get to shape the program here and their experience here. 55% of the courses are electives for our students. So while you may be interested in health care, you may also have a passion for something else tied to one of our other concentration areas whether it’s corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, or something along those lines. So you have a lot of flexibility in taking different classes within the MBA program and making it your MBA experience.
Linda Abraham: Parul asks, “While researching about the college, I learned about the school’s impressive investment in facilities, curriculum, and new faculty. But on the other hand I’ve learned, “The recruitment is very Texas-centric, and employment outside of the state can be challenging.” How true is it? If yes, how is the college facing this challenge?”
Jaryn Creasy: From a student perspective, I definitely would say that I have plenty of classmates who spent their summers interning at Microsoft in Seattle or in NYC at JP Morgan or all across the United States. So while of course there are companies in Texas who come and recruit on campus, I would definitely not say that you are limited to only this area of opportunity for jobs. My example: I went to Minneapolis and worked for General Mills and am returning there full-time in the fall. So I would say that from a student perspective, that may be something that people may think coming to Texas, but I would definitely dispute it and say that is not true. And I think Jolene can provide some good statistics to back that up.
Jolene Ashcraft: The thing I wanted to say is that if you look at the statistics, there are a large percentage of our students who do accept full-time jobs in the Southwest region after graduation. But that is not for lack of opportunities in other geographic areas. A lot of that has to do with the fact that there are just great opportunities that those students are excited about and they choose to just stay in the Southwest. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the cost of living is a lot lower and you can really have a great quality of life in terms of the salary and the cost of living. But like Jaryn said, for those students who are interested in working outside of Texas, outside of the Southwest, whether that is on the West Coast or the Northeast, there are a lot of opportunities and you can find jobs wherever you are interested in going.
Vicki Duran: And I’d also like to add, if you look at our stats, especially for last year, you will see that there may be a higher percentage of people who stay in the Southwest. I think just the way the economy has been over the last couple of years, Texas has fared better than almost any other state in the United States as far as job opportunities and growth. And so a lot of the reason that such a high percentage of our students stayed here is because they had more opportunities. We did a study this fall with several of our peer schools -- Carnegie Mellon, Chicago Booth, Cornell, Harvard, Kelley Indiana, Michigan Ross, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Darden, Washington University and Wharton -- and when we looked at the average offer for students who graduated last May, three months after graduation, 93% of our students had full-time jobs against our peer school average of 85%. And the difference in the average salary is negligible. Our average base salary was $95, 3000 against the average peer school salary of $96, 000, so it’s a $700 difference there.
Linda Abraham: The tax structure and the cost of living are lower in Texas than in many other parts of the country.
Vicki Duran: That is true too. I want people on the call to know that yes, the banks from New York are still coming to recruit our students. The CPG firms -- Proctor & Gamble, General Mills, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay, Ernest & Julio Gallo, a lot of companies on the West Coast -- companies from all over are still coming to our campus recruiting students. Our strong alumni chapters are in NYC, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago; we have alums really all over the country. So if any of you have seen us on the road, and actually around the world with 35 alumni chapters, you will know that we have alumni that travel with us or meet us in those cities, and certainly help us with our recruiting efforts. So I think a lot of people come to Texas, fall in love with Texas, and don’t want to leave. That can be a challenge because we have recruiters coming from all over the country to recruit our students and not everybody wants to return to shoveling three feet of snow in the winter time, and they choose to stay where the cost of living is better, where the economy is very strong, where the housing market is very strong, and just the quality of life issue.
Linda Abraham: Kristin asks, “What areas have been particularly strong for MBA recruitment at UT?”
Jolene Ashcraft: If you look at our job placement stats, we always have a high percentage of students that take jobs in consulting and in marketing, but also in banking. So 14% of the class last year took full-time jobs in consulting, and 14% in investment banking brokerage and security. But then you will also see 20% in hi-tech, and there is a good percentage that goes into marketing. So it’s really a wide range. You see the traditional consulting, investment banking, marketing, and corporate finance types of jobs; probably the largest percentage of our students end up taking jobs in those after graduation.
Linda Abraham: Joseph asks, “Obviously this will vary depending on the classes one takes, but what is the daily class schedule like during the first year? And Anuya asks, “How heavy is the workload for the program?”
Jaryn Creasy: Your first semester is split into quarters, and that is all of your core classes. So you will take Statistics, Accounting, Finance, and Econ, all with a cohort of about 65 of your peers. That is a very strenuous part of the MBA experience. I’m sure everyone can understand why; you are learning a lot quickly, but it’s a really good foundation for how you will move throughout the next year and a half of the program.
After your first quarter, you will still have a couple of classes which are kind of dictated, part of the core that you will take; you’ll take Strategy. But then you really start getting to take the electives you are interested in. So that is where you start charting your own path – whether you want to follow a concentration roadmap like Vicki alluded to earlier, or whether you want to just take classes in lots of different areas. I am actually not pursuing a concentration. I’ve been someone who is interested in both marketing and entrepreneurship classes, but I also realize that finance is an area that I should probably get stronger in. So I’ve chosen classes that are of interest to me across all different concentrations. Regarding the second year class schedule and what daily life looks like, I have two classes on Mondays and Wednesdays and two classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So the workload gets a lot more manageable once you get out of those first semester core classes of your first year. But I think that would give a pretty good overview of what daily life and the workload are like going through the program.
Linda Abraham: Katie asks, “With growing interest nationwide in social enterprise, could you speak to opportunities available for McCombs students interested in areas like Impact Investing or Microfinance, both in terms of opportunities during the two years at UT and afterwards? For example, strengths of alumni network in these areas.”
Jolene Ashcraft: We have a lot of students who are interested in social enterprise and we do have a Social Enterprise concentration where there is specific coursework that is relevant to that concentration. The jobs vary, and we have a great active Chapter of Net Impact which is a national organization. But we have a great McCombs MBA chapter which really works to help link students who are interested in non-profit and social enterprise career opportunities. And it helps to really provide that as a resource and posts different job opportunities through the Net Impact website.
There are also classes outside of the Business School that you can take, in the LBJ School of Public Policy and the School of Social Work or Education, depending on what area of social enterprise and non-profit you are interested in taking. So the job opportunities vary depending on what you are specifically interested in going into, but they are out there. And there are a lot of MBAs who are interested in social enterprise positions, whether that is social responsibility within a big company or if it really is truly non-profit management or social enterprises, a lot of students are interested in that area. And we see more and more MBA opportunities for that area of concentration.
Vicki Duran: We have a Sustainable Business Summit that happens each year, and this involves a lot of interactive panel discussions and opportunities to network with industry leaders in that area. Also going back to Net Impact, our Net Impact president this past year received the President of the Year award at the Net Impact National Conference. So it is a very involved group.
With regard to alumni, we have over 16,000 MBA alumni around the world. As a student, you have access to the alumni database, and you can certainly go through that alumni database and do a search based on organizations that you might like to work for, and certainly reach out to our alums. I would say that our alumni are very proud of the program. They are very proud to be associated with it. And when a longhorn calls a longhorn, they typically answer. They are probably very happy to share their experiences with you and talk more about their careers in that specific area since leaving the program.
Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Vicki, Jolene, and Jaryn for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Vicki, Jolene, or Jaryn, please email them to TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including:
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