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Real Humans of Texas McCombs’ MBA Class of 2023

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texas mba class of 2023Allen “Reid” McManus, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2023

Age: 28
Hometown: Southfield, MI
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Michigan, Sociology
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): I worked in Account Management for 2.5 years and then transitioned to Federal Human Capital Consulting, which I worked in for 2.5 years. 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
While in undergrad, I didn’t find a passion for business until my junior year, and by that time it was too late to change my major. From that point on, I made the decision to pursue an MBA down the road. Luckily, during my junior and senior years, I lived next door to a group of MBA students, and they took me under their wing. I was able to ask questions and receive genuine answers about the benefits of an MBA. They also gave me advice on skillsets to learn as I began my first full-time position. As I progressed in my career and began to work with more managers and directors, I started to feel a knowledge gap I knew an MBA would fill. I felt that now was the perfect time because I had accomplished the goals I set for myself and felt that I couldn’t set new goals without an MBA. My preparation timeline aligned as well. Although unfortunate, the city lockdowns allowed me to focus on preparing for the GMAT and write my admissions essays. 

Why did you choose Texas McCombs? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Texas McCombs because the program felt like a natural fit. The advice I received when making my decision was to choose the best school for me, and McCombs truly felt like that program. I attended many of the admissions webinars, coffee chats, and spoke to multiple students. Every one of the conversations was sincere and it felt as if the individuals were genuinely invested in making sure I had all the necessary information for me to make the best decision for myself. Other factors that influenced my decision were location and track record of students entering the tech industry. Austin is also a great city to live in because of the wide range of activities to experience and the growth as more and more tech companies make Austin their HQ. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Connecting and supporting others! I have a non-traditional path into consulting and can help my classmates who may not have the typical background during their recruitment period. I’ve also built a strong network in the federal space and can orchestrate conversations to anyone who may be interested in working in public sector consulting. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I love attending concerts. I’ve attended over 30 major shows, and with the cancellation of touring last year, I felt as if I was missing a piece of myself. My favorite two shows I’ve attended are Childish Gambino’s tour in 2019 and Travis Scott’s Astroworld show in 2018. Austin is the live music capital of the world, so I look forward to adding shows to my list. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I am focusing on High-Technology Marketing and looking to transition into a Product Marketing position, but exploring whether I want to be within big tech or a midsized company. Another area of passion is entertainment, so I am looking into content partnership positions as well. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Reach out to current students in all the programs I was interested in. Students can give you specific details of the day-to-day life of the program and you can also get a feeling for the type of students the program admits. This way you can assess your “fit” within a program. They can also share his or her experience with recruiting and potential resources to utilize that may not be well known. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would embrace every moment of the application process. Yes, standardized testing can be difficult and may feel like an impossible barrier, and yes, continuously editing admission essays can be tedious. Each component of the application has its own difficulties, but they are all to achieve a major goal. If it were easy, then many more people would do it. If I had embraced each step, I feel that I would’ve taken an unnecessary stress off my shoulders. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would’ve skipped the GMAT. Preparation for the exam was difficult and caused some anxiety. I was able to get through it by studying far in advance so that I could tackle it piece by piece and work at a pace comfortable for me. To get through it, I reminded myself of the benefits my hard work would create. This mindset allowed me to stick to my study schedule until I achieved my desired score. 

What is your initial impression of the Texas McCombs students/culture/community?
From the first week of class, I recognized how collaborative Texas McCombs is. 1st-year students were helping each other in classes, students were connecting others to contacts in desired industries, and 2nd-year students took 1st-years under their wings to prepare us for all obstacles. The collaborative environment makes a significant difference to the dynamic of the program and is a feature that I believe sets the school apart from others. 

What is one thing you have learned about Texas McCombs that has surprised you?
I was surprised at how accommodating the program’s administration is to the students. One of the requests from students was to provide COVID-19 testing within our building so that students didn’t have to walk to the opposite side of campus. The administration heard us and now offers testing within our building. Other examples include adjusting events based on our schedule and feedback and permanently streaming class over zoom and uploading recordings for students who feel uncomfortable attending in-person because they have small children at home.  

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
The pandemic didn’t affect my admissions process, fortunately. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I was initially anxious about the core classes because I hadn’t taken a quantitative course since my sophomore year of undergrad. We just finished our core and are now taking classes that are more specific to our post-MBA interest. Now, I’m anxious about selecting the perfect assortment of elective courses. McCombs offers a ton of great courses from great professors, and I want to ensure I take all that will prepare me for my internship and full-time position, but also give me a well-rounded experience and allow me to explore other areas of business that spark my interest. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m most excited about getting involved in the clubs and organizations I researched during my application process. Specifically, the Black Graduate Business Association (BGBA) and Marketing Fellows. Both allow me to support spaces that I am passionate about. I’m looking forward to working with new people to drive each organization’s mission forward and bring new ideas to the table. 

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.