Sunday, November 27, 2011


hi friends!

i miss you guys.

just wanted to say that.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

October Photo Updates...

So... my blogging has been less than stellar lately. What can I say, I've been busy! I figured pictures are better than nothing. So... thanks to the amazing skills of my Samsung Epic camera, here we go.

First we have the Consulting Case Challenge, which is an overnight challenge wrapped around a business case.  In other words, you get a case at 7pm, work on it nonstop until 7am, and then give a presentation some time between 8am and noon, hoping not to let your lack of sleep and delirium overshadow what you've just worked on the past 12 hours. Below are pictures of my team at 3:00am & at 8:30am. We didn't win, but it was a fantastic experience. :)

Next we have the marketing trek to Dallas, where we visited the headquarters of Dr. Pepper Snapple, Yum! Brands, and Frito Lay. I wrote more about that here. Below we have my friend Arun and me at... well... I think you can figure it out. :)

But wait, there's more. I competed in two case challenges last week. The first, a Finance Challenge, started on Monday and ended on Friday. I was honored to be asked to be a teammate, considering my financial analysis skills are... ummm.... anyway. So, that was a whole lot of fun, and I really enjoyed my time with Yifan & Arpit.

Meanwhile, I had a case challenge for GE, in which my buddies Angie & Praveen & I came up with a program to generate sales of electric vehicles by college graduates. (This was much more up my alley!) The coolest part is that we presented the case to GE's chief marketing officer, and she selected our presentation as the best. A win!! (Finally!) Here we are...
Lastly, I've been trying to come up with a way to do some good at school rather than be so self-focused. So, I finally launched a speaking/communication group for my friends from Korea, Japan, Thailand, and China. We had our first meeting this morning and plan to keep going each week. The word has spread and we're already gaining members! :)
So, that's what I've been up to, school-wise. I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to see Sarah Silverman & Friends at the Paramount, I've decided I'm going to run the 3M Half Marathon, and Joe has invited my parents to come spend Thanksgiving with us.

Things are looking better in my world, I'm glad to say. And... I'll be all done with this semester in one month+three days anyway. Then I'll wonder what to do with myself! (I'm taking requests now!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Letter To Myself.

Dear Erin,
To start, congratulations on receiving your MBA! I know that there was a time during late October your first year that you were questioning your decision to go back to school. Way to stick with it, though. In the end, it was the best decision for you, and now you are all the better for it.

Remember when you had that horrible week where everything seemed to go wrong? You ran for positions and lost; you were less than enthusiastic about your grades; you were rejected from two interviews; you fell out of a chair in front of all your classmates; your bottle of water exploded on your laptop and killed it after doing 8 hours of homework; you had breakdowns, got better, and had more breakdowns; and then when Monday came around again, it just didn't seem any better.

But you got through it. You took advantage of being in classes where you already had previous knowledge; you realized the jobs you didn't get weren't ones meant for you anyway; you appreciated your friends and boyfriend and found endless support from them; you realized that one closed door meant you were closer to the one you were meant to walk through; and you realized that grades aren't everything and that the experience is what mattered.

I hope you look back at that time period and feel proud that you made it through, and you realize how far you've come. There will always be bad days and bad weeks, but you always persevere.  Don't forget that.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Full Circle

Tomorrow I start a new quarter-semester of classes.  Microeconomics, Marketing, Analysis of Markets, and Operations. Here's what's ironic.

When I was contemplating getting my MBA, I went and sat in on an Operations class. I took more notes than the students did. I kept thinking, "Wow! I could have used this with GMW! How cool!"

Well, tomorrow at 8:00am I will start that exact same class. Same professor & same classroom, even. Full circle, I tell you!

By the way, I survived finals. I don't believe my grades in finance or accounting will actually resemble the amount of knowledge I have accumulated in the subjects, but I am okay with that. (Hopefully recruiters will be too.) As of now, I only know my economics grade and I will say that I was pleasantly surprised... i.e. jumping around the house with glee. Statistics is a toss-up - we'll see! I certainly GET IT, but it will just depend on if I performed better on the test than my classmates. 

But overall, the first semester was a blast. Oh... I also was selected for the Marketing Fellows, which I start tomorrow as well! Good stuff....

On the agenda for Q2 - career fair this weekend, consulting case challenge, finance case challenge*, marketing case challenge, projects, clubs, running for officer positions, Dallas marketing trek, interview preps, internship searches, Brief & Meets...

Phew.... 8 more weeks and finals start all over again!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've come so close to crossing off everything on my to-do list for this quarter!!!! :) I know you guys are super jealous. But don't worry, there will be another one of these next quarter - so if you want to share in the fun, you know where to find me!

Checking In....

... or Procrasinating. Either way...

Tomorrow starts the last week of my first quarter of classes. Then come finals. Then it all starts over again on October 10th. Seriously, where did the first half 1st term go?  As I was explaining my plans for the upcoming week, my mom commented "I didn't realize this MBA thing was going to take over your life." Hahahaha.... I did!

So, before I take my finals and skew my thoughts on the past 1.5 months of school, I want to say a few things.
1) I am SO HAPPY that I decided to get my MBA. While I often wonder what took me so long, I also appreciate my past experiences when trying to relate what I've learned and understand why it is important. I'm also SO HAPPY I am getting my MBA at Texas. It is 100% where I need to be.
2) I do not like tests. Not one bit.They send me into a massive downward hate spiral of doom.
3) Before I thought I wanted to be a consultant, I was living easy street because most marketing positions don't require GPAs. But not consultants - they want to know everything. UGH. That being said, I will try my  hardest to get a consulting internship (especially with a few of my favorite firms), but if it doesn't work out, then I also know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE marketing too, and I would be equally happy working in a marketing position again.
4) I am meeting some ridiculously cool people. My facebook friend list has grown by nearly 200 people. I sadly don't get to see my old friends hardly at all, but at least the people I do see every day are great. (Old friends... I shall be free after 2nd quarter finals mid December!)
5) I often think "I could never go back to my previous job." It's strange to think that something so natural for me is not even an option anymore. I miss the people, but I certainly don't miss the job.
6) Joe is insanely patient with me. I've been the lamest girlfriend ever, but he never says a thing. Well he does say "E better be nice to E" a lot, but that's another story...
7) There isn't enough time in the day. I was feeling like there was all the time in the world on Friday, but now that it's Sunday night I'm starting to mildly panic again.
8) My favorite events so far are the networking events. If only they gave out grades for networking - I'd be a 4.0 student.  
9) Speaking of networking. At a career fair last week, I met someone who is married to a girl who knew me... because she was a freshman in BBYO when I was a senior, and I planned her intake convention.  I felt really old when I heard that.  To think he may have a say in whether I get a job, too.
10) Even though I'm stressed out a lot, and I am harder on myself than I have been in a long time, I'm still having the best time of my life. When I actually stop and realize that, I can't help but realize that everything is going to be okay.

So... with that, I am going to do a few more housekeeping things and get back to studying. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

MBA Update....

*Borrowing from the MBA Student Blog*

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the “Dallas Consulting Trek” put on by Career Management. (I was lucky since I was the last one off the waitlist who got to attend – this was a popular choice trek!)

The details:
  • 40 first-year MBAs make their way to Dallas to visit with 5 of the country’s top consulting companies
  • Thursday night: Welcoming reception with the consulting team of PwC
  • Friday: Wheels down (via a giant bus) at 7:15, where we headed to Bain & Company for breakfast, a presentation, and an office tour.  Next stop: Booz & Company for a presentation and office tour, complete with soaring views of downtown Dallas. Next stop: Boston Consulting Group for lunch, a presentation, and rotating roundtable discussions with their team.  Last stop: Deloitte Consulting for happy hour and an energetic group discussion. Final bus unload at 6:30pm.
By Friday night, I was exhausted.  The nonstop networking and information flow was intense! At the same time, I felt very excited because I found the companies so interesting… and places I could see myself working at.  The differences in each office were evident, and yet I liked aspects of all of them. I was most impressed with the caliber of people we interacted with – talk about SMART PEOPLE!

The timing was great for another reason, because on Saturday I received my MBA+ project offers. I decided to go with a marketing strategy project for Booz & Company – which was made even more exciting since I had just met my project contacts the previous day.

I’m constantly impressed with the opportunities that Career Management provides. In addition to our one hour weekly class where we are taught everything from research to resume writing to networking… They put on events like this so we can see first-hand what it’s like to work in a particular industry and at a particular company.

Laura, Sarah & me at Booz & Company

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back up for air...

I made it through midterms.  By "made it" I mean, I took them. Without going in to too much detail, I will offer up that one for question for my finance midterm, I answered with a drawn out sad face. Think I'll get partial credit for humor? (i.e. desperation?)

Luckily midterms are behind me, and I won't have to think about tests for another, oh, three weeks! Just projects, papers, studying, homework, interviewing, resumes, clubs, etc...  I'm not complaining, I promise. I'm getting my money's worth!! I just have to keep this in perspective... My former career was not based in finance, accounting, statistics, or economics. Bring on 2nd term courses! Marketing, my eye is on you!!

I was hoping to have something more interesting to say when I started this, but I think my brain is still fried.  Carry on!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


As much as I love school & learning... I really hate tests. Why do I have to validate how much (or exactly what) I have learned.

UGH. No likey. Not one bit. :(

Monday, September 05, 2011


Pssst! I am kind of obsessed with my BA II Plus calculator. I just figured out how to compute NPV & IRR, thanks to the help of someone on YouTube. I can't believe I'm going to write this, but here goes...

Studying is FUN!!! (Exams... not so much. But that's Future E's problem...)

Midterm Epiphany

I am ridiculously excited about the epiphany I just had while studying finance.

In capital budgeting, you determine the discount cash flows at cost of capital using the expected return of the project, which equals the Risk-free Interest Rate + Systematic Risk of the Project (Beta) x Risk Premium of Market Portfolio. You can analyze Beta to determine the risk, knowing that at 0 = the project is risk free, and at 1 = the company's risk equals the market's risk. 

Beta is also known as the slope in the regression equation... which I just learned about in statistics! Beta is a coefficient which can be analyzed through statistical methods!

What else goes in to capital budgeting? Things like depreciation, cost of goods sold, etc. Where do you determine how to account for these things? In accounting!!! Then  you have to determine things like interest rates and tax rates.  Where do those come from? Economics!!!

In case you haven't figured it out, my epiphany is that everything fits together!!!

For the first time in my schooling history, I feel like all of my classes are aligning. In theory, I knew an MBA would teach me the various aspects of business - but I didn't realize HOW MUCH everything ties together. Remember in high school, when we learned calculus and wondered, "why on earth will I ever need this?" I am happy to say that I have yet to say that about anything I've learned this semester. And with a 95% confidence interval (at Z=1.96), I should accept the null hypothesis that I will not say "why on earth will I ever need this" for the rest of my MBA.  (Hahaha, I crack myself up.)

Business school is awesome!!!!!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

You win points if...

You win points if you are one of my professors and you make Seinfeld references.

In finance, we've talked about Kramer and the bottle caps.

In accounting this morning, we talked about muffin bottoms.

Humor + Math = far more bearable classes. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I thought my extreme happiness deserved a visual. :) Mmmmm, turkey. 

I don't need flowers...

Monday got to me. I had a really frustrating annoying day - the type of day where I could have broken out in tears and/or kicked a door and/or stomped my feet while yelling "why am i here!?" Well, maybe not that dramatic... but I definitely was questioning my decision to return to school and definitely feeling like I was the stupidest person in the school.  Grumpasaurus much?

So... then comes Tuesday. I woke up early, headed to the gym to get some reading in, and found myself next to one of UT's marketing professors! We talked for a good half hour, and while I didn't get any reading done - I found myself reinvigorated about school.  I carried that feeling throughout the day... in fact, I even understood my statistics session. Did you read that correctly? I UNDERSTOOD it. It was a monumental class! My study group is rocking things, I'm feeling ahead of schedule, and I'm happy to be in school again. Phew. 

However... I have been slacking on the home front. One of my favorite things about school is my lunchbox. It's filled with breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the day. I love it. However, I didn't make my lunch this week and I certainly didn't feel like making it at 9pm when I returned home last night.

Enter my most awesome boyfriend... when I got home, he ran to the door saying "E! E! I have a surprise! Come here!" I walked to the kitchen, already smelling something wonderful, and found that he made me dinner and lunch for the rest of the week! WAHOO!!!!! YIPPEE!!!!! Honestly, it was the best thing he could have possibly done for me, and he didn't even know it! Or maybe he did... either way I was so happy and appreciative.

So... my point(s). I am feeling better about school again.  I am willing to compromise a good workout for great conversation. And... Joe is awesome.

Joe gets it! I don't need no stinking flowers. Just make me a batch of turkey and I'm happy as can be!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I miss...

I miss my improv classes.

I miss being totally silly for 3 hours one night a week with people I adore.  I knew I would probably have to let it go once I went back to school, but... I still really miss improv.

And with that, I now return to "reporting & analyzing inventory." Sigh.

Bippity bippity bop, anyone?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Sample Day...

yay for a cut & paste from the official student blog! Doing double duty... I feel so efficient! :)

It's been nearly two weeks, and I am happy to report that I'm finding routine.  It's a really busy routine that changes every day, but I'll take it! Curious what a first year MBA schedule looks like? Well wonder no more, lucky readers, because I will now share my Wednesday with you.

5:00am - some 101x rock wakes me up
5:15am - after pressing "snooze" 2 times, I get out of bed, pack lunch, pack backpack, pack gym bag, and head out the door
6:00am - arrive at the gym, where I try to read my finance book while balancing on the elliptical machine
7:30am - showered & finally awake, I head to school...

8:00am - arrive at McCombs, find my friends in the Carpenter Center, check emails, eat breakfast, start studying
9:00am - meet with my study group, plan out our group projects for the semester, start analyzing a financial case on Airbus
12:00pm - eat lunch in the Carpenter Center while reviewing the MBA Announce email, fill in Outlook calender with upcoming events

12:30pm - Managerial Economics with Dean Gilligan (today: class discussion on China case study)
2:00pm - head to the new Student Services Building for Starbucks, hang out with my Cohort friends
4:00pm - Financial Management with Dr Sialm (today: intro to capital budgeting)
5:45pm - Class is done! Head home, unwind with my dogs and eat dinner with Joe. Realize I'm talking in "b-school speak" and getting excited talking about China's reforms in the 80's & 90's. Feel dorky and happy at the same time.
8:00pm - Back to it! Revise my resume, start on economics paper, start finance homework, review statistics for tomorrow... and blog!
11:00pm - Perhaps sleep would be a good idea... I'm calling it a day!

When I say each day is different, here is the plan for tomorrow: I have accounting and statistics classes in the morning, and then I meet with my career adviser, attend the student organization fair, attend an MBA+ writing workshop, attend a "meet your mentor" event, and attend the Thursday night "Think & Drink."

Sounds fun, right? It is, trust me! It's a lot of work, but I find myself excited about every day at McCombs. That is a very very very good thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Business Joke of the Day

From my finance professor today...
"We all have a silent partner in every business endeavor... the government."

I don't know why that makes me laugh. But it does. Hehe.

And back to studying. ;)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Presenting... Joe's Kitchen!

Here it is! Here it is!!!! The first look at the fully remodeled kitchen, demonstrated with this before & after image:

Just to recap, we changed the flooring, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, paint color, appliances, and lighting while removing the popcorn ceiling, brickwork and soffets, and installing new water lines, gas lines, and electric.
Under and over cabinet lighting. (In the last kitchen, I would have been happy with just "lighting!")
Fancy wine area! Double Oven! Workspace! Wheee!!!
I'm so happy. :) I think it turned out beautifully and still sticks with the style of the rest of the house. I can't wait to get cooking! (Yes, yes, I mean I can't wait for Joe to get cooking. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011


Fridays = no classes!

In other words, Fridays = study study study study study ... blog ... study!!!

Here's my blog break to catch up on the week. 

I guess the most obvious thing is that I successfully finished my first week of the MBA program. I had a quiz in accounting, statistics homework due, an economics case to read, a start to my finance homework and a LOT of studying/reading to do. Some notes: First, even though they have posted the quiz grades for accounting, I haven't looked. I did this in undergrad too - not looking for a few days - and I intend to do it still. As of this point, I will assume I did fabulously and go about my business. :) Second, homework doesn't mean "answer these questions and go about your day." In reality homework means "spend between 5 & 10 hours deciphering what these questions are asking, trying to figure out the answer, conferring with your classmates, then either start from square one again or move on." Third, I am completely lost in my statistics class. I feel like I foreigner in that class, not understanding the language and struggling to figure it out. Ordinarily I would probably be less stressed about this except that I need to know stat to succeed in my future marketing classes. For what it's worth, at least the prof is entertaining. He's quirky as can be, which means I like him. :)  Fourth, I already feel far beyond and I'm chiding myself for not reading books and doing MBA math this summer. Bad move.

All that being said, I'm not *that* concerned since grades aren't the ultimate goal of this program. Passing? Yes. But being #1 - not so much. I've done a few social things, including the MBA Etiquette dinner at the Driskill, where I learned how to behave during a formal interview or business dinner. Here are some friends getting our etiquette on!

At Etiquette Dinner, I realized that I am officially a suit. When we walked into the Driskill, I saw a bunch of suits at the bar and walked right past before realizing that those were my people.  I looked down, saw my business professional attire, and returned to my clan.

I also attended Football 101 at the Stadium... and while I certainly didn't need to learn the basics of football, I still enjoyed the class (and the view!) 
I've found a study-partner-in-crime who fights homework problems with me, and I am grateful to him and his work ethic.  I've also decided to squat on his study group, which was particularly helpful in getting my stat homework completed.

I am proud to say that I've fared this week pretty well. I made it to the gym every morning before class. Taline & I decided to be our own personal trainers and have thus far held each other accountable to exercise. I love getting my workout done early, and then zipping from downtown to campus without traffic. I've also packed my food every day which is heavy, but saving me money and the worry of "what should I eat today?" Of course, now that I'm at home today I keep finding myself in the kitchen.  Doh.

And speaking of the kitchen - it's DONE!!!! I will post pictures soon. Yay for running water!!!!!

Okay, I must stop writing and go tackle accounting now. I must, I must, I must.

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of School!

It's hard to believe that today is my first official day of school. I've already been at McCombs for three out of the past four weeks participating in Boot Camp, Orientation, and Academic Intensive Week. I have found the past month to be extremely helpful in re-acclimating to b-school. When I walk through the building, I recognize my peers and advisers, know where the classrooms are, feel somewhat comfortable with routine, and can find seven places for fresh coffee within a quarter mile radius.

Academic Intensive was particularly helpful in getting a jumpstart in accounting, statistics, and finance. That being said, I had to miss two days to attend a funeral. When I returned, my friends presented me a beautiful sympathy card and worked to get me back to speed without a second thought. That kindness was something I will never forget when I think about the people at McCombs.

Tonight, my agenda includes studying for my first accounting quiz tomorrow, starting my first statistics homework, setting up an account on a mock-investment game for finance, reading over my MBA+ project proposal, and setting up meeting times with my study group. (Again, this was my first day of class! That "drinking from the firehouse" analogy gets used all the time for a reason!)

I should mention that I am loving my classes, even in spite of the aforementioned workload. I'm already learning so much, and I know I'm only just scratching the surface.  Again, it's all more confirmation that b-school was right for me!
I have a feeling views like this (pic taken in the Baltimore airport) will be my norm for the next two years.  That backpack will be getting some mileage!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lil' Bit

Too much loss this week.  
Rest in peace, Lil' Bit. I'm going to miss you sweet girl.


*From my reading at Grandpa's funeral Wednesday. Rest in peace, Grandpa.
My Grandpa Chester was an inspiration to all of us. I’m sure each and every one of you here today has something to share on how he touched your life.  I have been so touched to hear stories about him and listen to ways he impacted us all. Today I’d like to share a few gifts that my grandpa gave me to explain ways he impacted my own life.
First, Grandpa passed on his love of learning.  He was by far one of the smartest men I ever knew – and would always have an interesting story or fact up his sleeve about anything you could think of. Grandpa was always doing something to stay sharp and mentally active like telling puns, playing games, and solving the New York Times crossword puzzle in about 5 minutes. Also, my Grandpa clearly loved the library – I feel that the fact I belong to three library districts is a credit to him. 
Second, Grandpa taught me the value of being quiet.  When I was little, I used to think he wasn’t paying attention because he often didn’t say anything in conversation.  But as I got older, I realized that my Grandpa had a very special skill of speaking. He was a master of listening, and then when he spoke, his words were meaningful and everyone paid attention.  Again, I have Grandpa to thank for my appreciation of words and for an appreciation of listening.
Third, I have my grandpa to thank for one of the most important parts of my life – my dad.  Last November I was able to host Thanksgiving at my house in Austin. What I remember most about that trip was how similar my dad and grandpa were, and how much they loved one another. I see so much of my Grandpa in my dad... Both men who place great value on serving others and building relationships… both men who feel no need to earn recognition for their contributions… and both men who love their families wholeheartedly. The more I got to know my grandpa, the more I am honored to be part of the Whalen lineage.
Today, as I stand before his funeral, I am sad. But I am also happy that I have Grandpa Chester for a grandfather. I will forever value the gifts he gave me, and I aim to be like him – living life to the fullest, up to the very end.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Product Camp 7

After being at UT all week, one of the last places I wanted to go at 8:30am Saturday was... back to UT. But... Joe's brother John had long ago suggested I check out Product Camp, and since it was on a Saturday, and I had no other plans until 4, and since I really had no good excuse why I shouldn't go (sleeping in didn't qualify), I went.

As always, I'm glad I went. To start, this "camp" wasn't like many of the other conferences I've been to. First, it was free. Second, everyone voted on the sessions first thing in the morning and they modified the schedule to serve what the attendees wanted.  Third, it was not a sales/pitch event at all - just learning and networking.

I attended five sessions, ranging in topics from Opportunity Analysis, Product Strategy, and Requirements Definitions. I learned about sizing, segmenting, and forecasting markets, as well as tips to think outside the box in product marketing, and information on creating personas. Maybe I will learn all of this in b-school, but it's really interesting to learn these things as they are being practiced in the real world. Additionally, the networking was great as well.  I love being able to say I'm an MBA student! It's like the golden ticket of networking.

Some of my camp takeaways: by seeking out the presenter who interested me the most, I learned a lot about my marketing area of interest; by asking questions, I got opinions not only of the presenters but of successful product managers as well; by taking lots of notes, I actually remember what I learned!

I will definitely be going to more events as my schedule permits.  I can't understand why more people wouldn't take advantage of things like this!

 I promise I'm not sleeping here... this was a "brain opening" exercise. :)
 That's me at the left, taking vigorous notes. Yes, I am that dorky. And yes, I now know what TAM, SAM, and SOM are. So there!

McCombs MBA Orientation Week

A note: I have been selected as a student blogger for McCombs!! This means my blog posts will be doing double duty on two blogs. I now present my first post. :)

Ah... the feelings of going back to school. Excitement, anticipation, nerves, and of course the long stares into one's closet wondering, "What am I going to wear!?"  I experienced all of these feelings, including  the hope that my closet was stocked with enough business casual outfits to get me through the week,  on Monday morning of August 1st.  I arrived on campus around noon, met up with a friend I'd met at Boot Camp, toured Gregory Gym (wow - that pool!!), and hung out at the Student Services Building (SSB) with my new classmates. We were treated to a great welcome by our director, Tina Mabley, and then we headed back to business school (GSB) to meet our cohorts, or divided groups of ~65 students I would be sharing my core classes with.  First impression: I love my cohort! I loved hearing all of the backgrounds and aspirations of my classmates. I felt proud of my decision to return to McCombs - I was in great company.

That night was the opening banquet at DRK Royal Memorial Stadium.  (I went through the same closet experience as before, only this time wondering if I had enough business professional attire.) I was glad to bring my boyfriend so he could see what I would be experiencing through the program. We networked, enjoyed the stadium, and listened to some encouraging speeches.  Eric Hirst (Associate Dean) told us to take risks in business school, Erin Mulligan Nelson (McCombs alumn and CMO of Bazaarvoice) spoke of McCombs as a launchpad to change the world and encouraged us to find our purpose and be strategic and open.  Then Cindy Benton (Director of Student Services) and the UT undergraduate alum led the "Eyes of Texas." What a fun evening!

We spent the morning listening to presentations on the MBA program overview and briefings from faculty members from each business disciplines about their areas of concentration.  Personally, I was most excited when Dr. Srinivisan spoke about marketing - she was one of my favorite professors in undergrad - but all of the faculty members were engaging and compelling.  They were also quite funny as each professor plugged why their concentration was the best.  Next we attended an all-MBA-program lunch at the AT&T Conference Center, complete with a speech from UT's President Powers. I like that McCombs integrates students in all programs and encourages networking and camaraderie.  After lunch we heard from career services and then played an icebreaker game to find our study groups. My group is comprised of five people with different backgrounds, focuses, countries of origin, and interests - a great mix! Then the day ended with another first - homework for Wednesday!

The schedule said "Executive Challenge" from 7:30am - 7:00pm. The staff didn't waste any time getting us right into school-mode! My group of nine had to launch a new business, run the company through five quarters, and pitch the business to VC's at the end of the day. I will say that even though we were a bit confused at first, we got into the swing of things pretty quickly, developed strategies, and ended up doing pretty well. (I hope this is representative of the next two years!) While we didn't ultimately win, it was still an energizing and exciting challenge. 

The dress code - more business casual! Luckily I haven't run out of clothes yet.  The morning was filled with something called "Diversity Theater."  Like most of my classmates, I saw this on the schedule and thought "Really? This is going to be so boring." However, it was one of the most memorable parts of the week - complete with performances, engaging dialogue, and more empathetic views about diversity.  Hats off to the Orientation team on this one - it was really a remarkable program. That afternoon we had the option to attend up to four different career panels, complete with people working in those arenas talking about their professions.  I attended consulting, marketing, cleantech, and entrepreneurship. Honestly, I liked elements of every session, although if I had to guess I think entrepreneurship and marketing are still my preferred arenas.  We'll see in two years! We ended the day with an alumni/student happy hour. At this point, I was exhausted, excited, and happy all at once.

McCombs Outdoor Adventure Day! Finally, the dress code was shorts & my cohort t-shirt. The day was spent at McKinney Roughs Nature Park with activities including rafting, icebreakers, and good-old-Texas-BBQ. I truly enjoyed getting to meet even more new people while also realizing how many people I had already met.  It is amazing how quickly your network (and friendships) develop within one week of Orientation.

Some pieces of advice for incoming students:
  • Be prepared to answer the following questions: where are you from, where did you go to undergrad, what did you do before now, what do you hope to do upon graduation, and what is one interesting thing about yourself.  We had to answer these publicly in our cohorts, and I've been answering them nonstop all week.  
  • Get your wardrobe ready before Orientation.  Don't waste valuable time standing in front of your closet regretting the fact you didn't go shopping sooner.
  • Talk to everyone you can.  Don't worry about the need to "prove yourself" or "make a good impression. " We are all in the same boat and are genuinely interested in meeting people. Be a good listener.
  • Go to every event with an open mind. Like I said, Diversity Theater was one of my favorites! Go to as many career panels as possible even if you think you don't want to go into that field. Be open-minded and curious.
  • Befriend as many people from other countries as possible.  For me, meeting my classmates from China, Japan, and India has been one of the highlights of my experience thus far.  Volunteer to help them in any way possible. To my international classmates, I have immense respect for your courage and fortitude to come to a new country! (Yay for your first margaritas!!)

If I can sum up Orientation week in one thought, I would say that it confirmed my decision to come McCombs, and I am more excited than ever for this MBA journey.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Business Professional

Orientation is going swimmingly. I'm really enjoying learning more about the program and meeting my classmates. Last night I got to bring Joe to the opening banquet - awesome! I have a lot of thoughts I want to write down, but I'm already exhausted. Welcome to the life of the MBA student, I suppose! Tomorrow is our first day of case challenges, from about 7:30am to 7:00pm. Fun. :)

Monday, August 01, 2011

It's Starting!!!

I'm about to head to MBA Orientation!!!!!!

In true McCombs fashion, I'm in "business casual" today... and shall be in "business professional" at the opening banquet at the stadium. Joe gets to come too, and I'm so excited to bring him into my new world.

Yay for school!!! Yay for new chapters!!! (Yay for a strong cup of coffee this morning!!!)

Hook 'Em! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer House Progress

Random house pictures.... yippeeeeeeeee!!!

My desk is ready for some studying! It's now complete with a new laptop after my previous one literally blew up on Wednesday. (This is where I do my blogging, because I am sure you were just dying to know, right?)
Meanwhile the kitchen is still a work in progress, but so much closer to being complete. We have a new refrigerator in the middle of the living room! (Meredith - that magnet says "Yay Bacon!")
We also have countertops! And tile selections, which hopefully will be installed this week! (Note the piles of tiles we've been going through... this has not been easy!) Once we put the floor tile down, we can FINALLY install our appliances and the sink, hook everything up, and have a real kitchen again! We're mostly unpacked which has cleared up some space around the house. I'm really loving Joe's beer glass collection display & our wine area.

If you've wondered what you do when your kitchen is in transition for 3 months - here it is. We do all of our kitcheny stuff in the living room. Did I mention I am ready to be back in a real functioning house? :) I am so excited to have a range and an icemaker again!!!

Here's Lil' Bit trying to help with our remodel.
Joe is painting our new door right now - which is also an awesome new addition to the house. I love the fact that he is doing so much remodeling so we can enjoy it while we live here, instead of doing it right before he would rent or sell it.  

By the way, see what happens when I need to load pictures from my camera to my new computer? All kinds of non-important pictures reach my blog!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

improv metaphors

Last night I went to an improv elective about using physicality in performance.  In one exercise, we had to grab an object (left to our imagination) and as we interacted with it, it would grow bigger. I grabbed a bar bell, and as I tried to lift it, it got heavier and heavier and nearly unbearable. Then we were supposed to grab at another object. I reached down and grabbed a toad, which I fearfully dropped and tried to get away from, all as I struggled with the barbell.

Kinda strange, right? When I shared my objects and experience, the instructor told me it all made perfect sense. I thought I was getting weaker and more timid, but he said that I was getting stronger as I was able to hold more weight. Meanwhile, I had to challenge the tiny toad which was trying to thwart my efforts. Ahhhh... then I got it.

Gotta be careful of those tiny things that get in the way of ultimate success, especially when you're already proving your strength. 

And moments like that are why I like improv.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Annie & Lil' Bit

Even though it's nearly 6pm, the house has a calm, groggy feeling to it. On the awake team: me. On the nap team: Joe, Sam, June, Annie & Lil' Bit. I'm clearly missing something.

It has been a good day here. We are finally making more progress on the kitchen! Cabinet hardware and trim went in today. Tomorrow we get countertops. That means we will finally have a sink! Not that it will work, because that will come after we put the flooring down, then put the appliances in, then have the plumber do the final hook-ups... But regardless, there is progress around here!

Meanwhile, I spent the day immersed in MBA Math. I completed my first accounting homework and then spent nearly 6 hours reviewing more accounting. Here's the kicker - I realized just a few minutes ago that I didn't need to do that accounting section. So I basically just got a lot of extra accounting practice I didn't need. Which means I didn't get the economics, statistics, finance, and excel training I REALLY need. Oops. On the plus side, I got to share my desk with Annie, the more energetic of our foster pups. I can't complain. :)
I realized I still have an enormous amount left to do... and second down the list to studying is going shopping. Apparently one has to wear business clothes while in school. That is a problem considering my closet is full of workout clothes, 2 pairs of jeans, and lots of clothes I never wear that wouldn't even come close to meeting business casual standards. I am thinking that recruiters might not appreciate my "Thesaurus" t-shirt with a dinosaur-book-morph on it. UGH I hate shopping. I may push this task off until Sunday afternoon around 4pm.

That's all for now. Time to go wake everyone up. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Organized

I woke up naturally at 5:45am this morning with a decision... go the gym or see how productive I could be during my most alert time of day, which is the window from waking up to 7am-ish. I'm proud to say that I actually finished my macroeco book! You want to know about a country's balance of payments? Fiscal policy vs. monetary policy? Capital accounts vs. financial accounts? Well, you should probably ask someone skilled in economics. But for a basic overview... come to me! I can do it! :)

I'm not proud that I didn't make it to the gym all day.. Still need to figure out how to optimize my brainpower vs. willpower vs. zombiepower (which usually hits at about 2pm.)

I am glad to say that even without some gym-provided-endorphins, I was very productive today, even if I did not do any studying past 8:30am. I picked up my new friend Steph and we went to TOPS to look at used office furniture. I scored a fancy black leather executive chair, a file cabinet, and some new school supplies. After lunch, I came home and got to work organizing my room. Part of the project included going through mounds of paper that I have ignored for the past 2 years and organizing everything. I put my new cabinet to good use and now I'm set to start school in an organized mindset.

I then worked with my pal Jennifer on her resume & a website we are building together.  Before I knew it, it was 7:00 and I had not played with the puppies enough. So here I am. Blogging (and redesigning the layout - goodbye robots, hello longhorn!) instead of cracking open my Solid Footing accounting homework. I do what I can, right? :) Well, as much as I can with a puppy in my lap!

I will do math tonight. I will, I will, I will.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Post Boot Camp...

My first somewhat week of classes (i.e. Quantitative Boot Camp) is in the books. Here's a view of where I've been spending my days over the past week. I took this picture one morning when I arrived super early to get some stuff done before everyone else got there. I will definitely be spending a lot more time here over the next two years, so enjoy the visual. :)

Overall boot camp was great. I got a refresher in accounting, i.e. I tried to learn basic accounting.  I'm still not feeling quite so confident but I was glad to have had some guidance. Who loves adjusting journal entries?! I also got refreshers in excel and calculus. Oh calculus, how I adore (*hate*) thee. Then we had another professor lecture us on more business overview concepts, and again I was reminded that school was the right decision for me. However, the best part of boot camp was meeting some of my classmates, both in class and during the lunch breaks.  I finally attended a happy hour, and today I organized a group to tour Austin. Check out the social initiatives over here, right?

Boot camp made me realize I have a lot of work to accomplish in the next week. I believe MBA Math & I will be close friends this week.  However, I wasn't about to dive right in. This weekend was devoted to catching up with a few friends, going to another boot camp (luckily this one was physical and only one hour!), hanging in the pool, and playing with our foster puppies. YAY PUPPIES! We've got Annie & Little Bit, both 9 week old german shepherd puppies of differing sizes and energy, but each adorably cute. Honestly, I did try to study some but how could I really study with this cutie pie around to distract me?
Don't worry, I won't leave you with only one picture.

I love me some puppies. :)

Alright, off to hit the MacroEco book again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kicking things off...

At 7:45am on Monday morning, I walked down Inner Campus Loop to the back door of the McCombs School of Business. The last time I made that trek as a student was in December 2001... but it felt strangely familiar and strangely good. (Strangely odd that Jenna, my attached-at-the-hip-best-friend-undergrad-partner-in-crime wasn't there, but that's another story.)

Monday was the first day of Boot Camp, which is a week long MBA quantitative training program. (Glad we cleared that up... it is not a place for Das Boot to go play. Sorry boot!)  I walked into a room packed with students, each of us with our backpacks and school books and anticipatory expressions.  It was a bit overwhelming, but it was also very exciting.

Over the past two days, I've been reviewing accounting, learning quantitative tools and applied excel for data, markets and statistics, and listening to great lectures like "The Overview of the Business Environment and the Goals and Responsibilities of the Manager." There are many times when I feel like I need to participate in the class discussions, or ask a relevant question, or say something to converse with the professors. At first I was feeling quite stupid because I didn't know the answers to questions they would pose, but now I see that I AM HERE TO LEARN THE ANSWERS. (Took me a moment! Sheesh!) In other words, I am already learning a lot and I am loving it!

I do however feel like I'm in a strange place, having lived in Austin for 11 years and already establishing myself, my routine, my friends, and my lifestyle. While I'm being social enough during the day, I need to get out to the student activities and meet people. (No hibernating bear allowed for a while!) I realize that my education and my network go hand in hand, and I need to start building it ASAP! The people I have met so far are really amazing. I'm constantly impressed (and then further impressed) with each of them, and these experiences continue to confirm my decision to stay in Austin.

Next week I have my last week off, and then orientation starts on August 1st. I'm thinking of having a "good-bye" party before the semester starts, because I can already tell it's going to get crazy.

Did I mention I am loving it?

Pearl Harbor

I wasn't sure what to expect when Joe suggested going to Pearl Harbor.  I admittedly do not know more than the average person about WWII, with the exception of the Holocaust, so I said "sure" and figured if it was important to him, then it would be worth it. We got tickets to Oahu for the day, and arrived at Pearl Harbor by 8:30am. Everyone told us that we would be done in 2 hours. We left at 2:30, and we could have stayed all day.

I think rather than describe the experience, I will post some pictures (featuring the USS Missouri & the USS Arizona Memorial) and just say that this was far and away the best experience of the trip, and perhaps one of my most memorable experiences ever.