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! :)