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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2022

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Reena Birch Fram, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2022

Age: 28
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of California, Santa Barbara, Political Science and German
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years, Cleantech

Why business school? Why now? 
Business school was not something that was on my radar until very recently. I came to UT in the fall of 2019 to begin the Masters of Public Affairs program at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. I had made the decision to go back to school to complete a master’s to dive deeper into policy mechanisms that drive clean energy development. Through my involvement with the campus energy club, I realized McCombs would be an amazing compliment to my public affairs program, helping me to understand how corporations and government entities can partner to bring about the energy transition.

Why Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Although I was already attending UT and had not considered other MBA programs, I would not have decided to seek an MBA if it weren’t for the students at McCombs. During my first year at UT, I met such driven and welcoming people in the Cleantech group at McCombs. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Texas is known for going big on most things, and that’s true of the energy sector, for both traditional and advanced energy technologies. The faculty expertise and networking opportunities with classmates and the business community in the clean energy space made the decision to attend an easy one.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2022?
I have a background in government and philanthropy, a less than traditional path for an MBA candidate. I have found this means I am learning so much from my new classmates about the private sector, and that I’m able to share in return areas they may be less familiar with. It is also helpful being a dual-degree and entering McCombs during my second year of graduate school. I have been able to connect first-year MBAs with the broader campus, and more importantly, reassure others that we will, in fact, survive finals!

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? 
Although I bike almost every day, I only learned to repair a flat tire this summer! Somehow, I had never had a tube pop as an adult and had, therefore, never needed to learn how. I am now a pro and carry an extra tube on every ride.

Post-MBA career interests? 
Finding innovative ways to bring about the energy transition in the most equitable and expedited manner.

Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
McCombs is an incredibly welcoming environment, and students and faculty are excited to meet you. Reach out to people that are focused on your area of interest and learn about their experience. Not only will they help guide your decision, but they will also be welcome faces when you start the program.

 –One thing you would change or do differently?       
Read more for fun and relax over the summer! The first semester of business school is extremely intensive and it is difficult to make the space to do things just for fun. Although I took time off before starting my public affairs program, I wish I had also had some downtime before the MBA began. And of course, I should have bought more sundresses! Summer in Austin is no joke.

–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Studying for and taking the GRE! There are more important things in life than standardized tests. Luckily, I had a great friend to study with after work at night that made the process more enjoyable.

What is your initial impression of Texas McCombs’ students/culture/community?
McCombs students are competitive but equally interested in seeing their classmates succeed. I feel so supported by my study group and classmates and know there is always someone there if I need help.

One thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you? 
The level of commitment from the career services team is astounding. Not only do they regularly host tailored events, but they also are available for one-on-ones, provide regular updates on exciting opportunities, and are constantly finding new ways to support our professional journey.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? 
Because I started the program in the middle of a pandemic, it has been difficult recognizing I’m missing out on social or professional networking I would have experienced in a normal year. In some ways, this has helped me to be more intentional about who I connect with and more proactive in reaching out to meet new people. Although not a typical MBA experience, I know we are all navigating the same challenges and we’ll be better prepared as leaders having gotten through this together.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Business school is all about connections, and I am loving meeting my new classmates and professors. Not only do they bring incredible experience, but I have also found incredible friends and know I will continue to be impressed by those that I have not yet met.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.