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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2023

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texas mba class of 2023Claire Trammel, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2023

Age: 28
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of Texas at Austin, Communications
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Five years in SaaS Software Sales

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
After receiving my undergraduate degree, I was still uncertain as to what I wanted to do for my career. Initially, I started working in sales, and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Soon, though, it became obvious that it was not what would fulfill me long term. Nonetheless, I used that time to learn about business, leadership, and problem solving. Throughout the process, I also learned about myself, how I work with others, and what drives me.

By the start of 2020, I felt that I had built a solid foundation for my next chapter. I knew what I was looking to gain from an MBA, and I felt it would make a meaningful impact on my career trajectory. 

Why did you choose Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Three factors weighed heavily for me while I was determining which school to attend: Location, Academics, and Culture. My long-term career goals are to stay in Texas to be near family, so I wanted to attend a program that would allow me to foster professional connections nearby. Additionally, I wanted to be sure that I was in an academic environment where I could be successful. McCombs has a collaborative dynamic with smaller class sizes, and the variety of courses to choose from was very appealing. 

That said, I ultimately chose McCombs because of the people. This sounds cliché, but it was truly my deciding factor. I was accepted into other great programs, and as I was meeting potential classmates, I just kept coming back to the group from McCombs. Not only were they welcoming, friendly and fun, but I also felt they were the group that was going to challenge me most during my time as an MBA. These were the people that would make me a better business leader and person. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I do my best to find a learning opportunity in every situation, and I try to impress this mindset upon my fellow classmates. Whether it’s a difficult professor, a subpar interview, or a rejection from an organization you were excited about joining, there is always something to gain from the experience. This past week, one of my friends didn’t get asked to move forward in an interview he’d been preparing for. Even though moments like that are difficult, I reminded him that through the experience, he learned about where to improve for his next opportunity. 

In the MBA program, you are inevitably surrounded by an exceptional group of people. While I may not be the best at everything I try, I can certainly learn from one or more of my classmates in the process so as to better myself for the future. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I have a French Bulldog named Ham! 

Post-MBA career interests:
My Plan A is Consulting, and I’ve taken an interest in Leadership Development Programs as a likely Plan B. Both offer the opportunity to work with teams in various functional areas. However, Consulting offers a better opportunity to explore various industries, as well. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I took a supplementary undergraduate course to better prove my quantitative aptitude in my application. While I do not think this is necessary for everyone, it was very helpful in preparing me to be a student again, and it gave me more confidence that I could be successful once I started the program. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Once acceptances go out, enjoy the process. I spent too much time stressing over which school to pick, and not enough time enjoying the fact that I did it – I got in! The right school will make itself apparent. But if you’re struggling to decide between two awesome choices, take a step back and go with your gut. You likely can’t go wrong either way. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Studying for the GMAT was challenging, but the part that I would rather not relive is the moment that I got my scores back, and they weren’t what I felt I needed. It’s difficult seeing that you didn’t perform the way you had hoped, but I leaned on my family during that time. They motivated me to keep working at it and to try again. Celebrating with them when I finally got the score I was working towards was a major highlight of the application experience.

What is your initial impression of the Texas McCombs students/culture/community?
McCombs is a family from the moment you walk in the door. Though I was already living in Austin, my classmates can attest that the adjustment period was non-existent. I have never been around a more welcoming group of people that genuinely want one another to succeed. 

This is a collaborative community unlike any other. I’ve seen it since orientation, through the struggle of getting through the core curriculum, and throughout finals. After the first week of classes, one member of my study group set up a two-hour economics review session to help the rest of us catch up on unfamiliar material. During finals, one of our former accountants spent hours helping us to understand concepts that we were having trouble learning. People that you’ve never met are on your team and rooting for you. 

What is one thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you?
There are a lot of people still exploring career options. Coming into the program, I was under the impression that everyone had a plan, and that was the end of it. However, you aren’t expected to have it all figured out on day one. There are many outlets available to you from which to learn about different industries and career paths, and there are also forums to just learn about topics that interest you. You’ll figure out what is best for you as you go through the process.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The COVID-19 pandemic played a large role in shaping my priorities as I applied to schools. Like many others, I spent a large portion of the pandemic at my parents’ house. It was the first time since I left for college that we were all living under the same roof. I will forever look back on that time with them as a blessing. This, paired with the uncertainty of the future of the pandemic, caused me to place a higher emphasis on location and proximity to family. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I was most anxious about the core curriculum. I don’t come from a quantitative background, so the line-up of Accounting, Finance, Microeconomics, and Statistics was daunting. However, I got through it, as everyone does, with the help of some wonderful professors and classmates. It’s a time that you really lean on each other for support, and you quickly learn that it’s okay to ask for help if you’re struggling. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am so excited to study abroad! I’m signed up for McCombs’ May program in Copenhagen where I will spend a week studying sustainability practices. I didn’t have the opportunity to go abroad as an undergrad, so it was a must-do for me during the MBA. With the pandemic persisting, I wasn’t sure if it would end up being possible, so I’m very excited that it seems to be coming to fruition.  

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.