Students with their eyes set on Wall street at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business are prepped for high-flying careers through the Wall Street for McCombs (WSFM) Leadership Program.
Aimed at identifying and developing high-performing undergraduate business students to take on leadership roles in the financial services industry, a lot is expected of them, and a lot is given to them.
To qualify, students must not only show interest, knowledge, and passion for the industry, they must also display high academic achievement, and have taken on and excelled at leadership roles in student organizations or sport teams.
But what benefits do students actually receive? Students in the program not only have access to WSFM-only courses, they are also mentored by a current student who has been in the program longer than themselves and by someone from the New York for McCombs Council, have the opportunity to go on treks to New York City to meet with industry professionals and visit prestigious financial firms, and invited to several other networking opportunities that could well lead to a dream first job. In fact, almost 90 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 told Poets&Quants in a survey that their first job after graduating was in their desired job function, and about 80 percent said their first job was at their desired company.
The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas, hailed by many as the most livable city in the Lone Star State. In 2016, 151 people moved to Austin each day, according to LifeStorageBlog. The city ranked first on the list of Best Places to Live by U.S. News & World Report, as a place with rich history, also the Live Music Capital of the world with its dozens of music venues and local bands, and beautiful weather that never really gets too hot or too cold. The city came in fourth in the U.S. News list of Best Places to Retire, and is considered one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country.
CLOSE TO AUSTIN’S BOOMING DOWNTOWN
McCombs School of Business is just a 15-minute drive away from the downtown offices of KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Grant Thornton, and many other multinational companies. The area is also home to the Austin Convention Center, over 10 international hotel brands, and the Zilker Botanical Garden, Zilker Metropolitan Park, and Austin Nature & Science Center.
Students at McCombs can choose to major in Accounting, Finance, International Business, Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing, Science and Technology Management, and Supply Chain Management. The school also offers an Integrated Masters in Professional Accounting, where students can graduate with a Bachelor in Business Administration and Master in Professional Accounting in five years.
The school received 8,732 applications to join their four-year undergraduate degree program in Fall 2018, and admitted 1,901 students. The total full-time enrollment for all business majors in Fall 2018 was 4,752, and the acceptance rate for direct applicants was 22,8 percent, while the acceptance rate for transfers was 9.4 percent.
Of the 73 percent of incoming students who submitted their SAT scores, the average score was 1384, and the average ACT score for the 60 percent of students who reported their scores was 31.
The tuition rate at McCombs School of Business is $5,810 per semester for in-state students, and $20,628 for out-of-state students as of Fall 2018. This translates into an estimated four-year cost of about $46,480 for an in-state student, and $165,024 for an out-of-state student. Additional expenses on food, transportation, lodging, and supplies are estimated to add up to $66,432 for the student who lives on or off campus, and $37,568 for the commuter, over eight semesters, or four years.
McCombs School offers high-performing students with leadership skills a space in the Business Honors Program, which is modeled after case-based MBA programs, with small class sizes of about 30 students per class that are focused on discussion, presentation, group collaboration, and analytical exercises. The program consists of about 500 students and can be combined with any major from the business school, though some students prefer to pick a second major in Pre-Med, Math, Liberal Arts, or History.
George Chidac, Class of 2016, said that as part of the Business Honors Program, they focused heavily on case studies, internships, and real-world businesses, while simultaneously reading books and investigating businesses. Alongside the honors program, Chidac was also Finance major, and is currently self-employed.
There are plenty of other opportunities for students to gain hands-on learning while at McCombs, and 63 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 shared that they were involved in some kind of signature experience while at McCombs.
LEADERSHIP PROGRAM A HIT
One of the most popular signature programs at McCombs is the Leadership Program supported by Royal Dutch Shell, the oil and gas company. Students can join the two-year program as a freshman or sophomore, and begin working on working on their leadership competence by engaging in the program’s activities in line with each semester’s assigned theme.
At the beginning, students are to do work that explores the individual and discover themselves and their personal values. In the second semester, the activities they pick should guide them towards an organizational understanding and what effective teams look like. In their third semester, they will explore their responsibilities as a citizen of the community and being an engaged citizen, and finally they are to take their learning global to learn to create positive change in the world.
To fulfill the requirements of the program, students in the program can take classes related to leadership, ethics, personal development, social change and conflict management, attend full-day conferences or retreats on related topics, engage in a student organization at the university, write book reviews, attend lectures, volunteer in community service, take on internships, jobs or study abroad experiences.
Students looking for a shorter leadership development experience can join the LeaderShape Institute, where they explore leadership concepts and their abilities over six days packed with programming intended to make them leaders.
Another way students can build up a portfolio and add to their resume is by joining a student organization. Capital Community, formerly known as Austin Microfinance Group, is a nonprofit that teaches basic personal finance to underserved community, giving students an opportunity to hone their presentation skills and refine their knowledge while giving back to the community. Students can also join the 60-member McCombs Texas Stock Team where students not only learn about financial analysis and trading while receiving mentorship towards their dream careers through the clubs’ professional network including companies such as McKinsey, IBM, Dell, JP Morgan Chase, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Wells Fargo, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs. Over at the University Securities Investment Team, students are pushed to improve their financial skills through investment pitches, portfolio discussions, and regular lectures and symposiums.
Alumni Christin Urso told Poets&Quants that she found that the business program at McCombs emphasized experiential learning which she benefited much from.
“Our program emphasized a case-based education, so there was significant project work that included thorough quantitative analysis, building decks, and crafting realistic and actionable recommendations,” Urso, who is now an Account Manager at Atlas Edibles, said. “These activities, among others, gave me experience and reference materials that I could directly reference when similar asks came up in “real-world” experience.”
Almost 85 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they would recommend the program at McCombs to a close friend or colleague without hesitation, and almost 80 percent said that the program had prepared them well for the world of work.
The school shared that 86 percent of students from the Class of 2017 completed at least one business-specific internship before graduation, and 91 percent of students from the Class of 2018 did the same.
OPPORTUNITIES LOCAL AND ABROAD
For McCombs students looking to take their business education worldwide, the undergraduate degree program has partnerships in over 25 countries, covering Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Oceania.
Students can choose to go on an exchange program during the fall, spring, or summer semesters at any one of the school’s 31 partner universities, or go on a summer faculty-led program. Countries that students can visit include Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, Thailand, Spain, France, Norway, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, or Mexico.
Nicole Nagel, an alumnus from the Class of 2016, said that she was part of a global supply chain study abroad program, where they “followed Target’s supply chain backwards”. They started at a store in Austin, before moving to a distribution center in Midlothian, then the Port of Long Beach, Target’s nearby de-consolidation center, and finally a port in China and four factories that Target sourced their products from. The group also visited an air freight operation in Hong Kong.
Global supply chain study abroad program, where we followed Target’s supply chain backwards, starting at a store in Austin, then visiting a distribution center in Midlothian, Texas; then the Port of Long Beach and Target’s nearby de-consolidation center, and finally a port in China and 4 factories Target sources from. They also visited an air freight operation in Hong Kong, where the bulk of the program was located.
Cait Gillespie, a Supply Chain Management, said that she interned at a logistics company in Shenzhen, China, that became the main topic of conversation in many of her job interviews, spent her last semester at McCombs revising procurement case studies for a professor, and won second with her team in a Target case competition. In short, it seems there are no shortage of hand-on learning opportunities for students at McCombs.
NEARLY 100% OF ALL STUDENTS SEEKING EMPLOYMENT WERE EMPLOYED WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF GRADUATION
The school reported an incredible 99.63% employment rate out of those seeking employment in the lass of 2018 — higher than any school ever in the three year’s we’ve ranked schools and asked for the data. The number is even more impressive considering the size of UT-Austin’s undergraduate business program. Graduates in the Class of 2017 received an average salary of $62,298, and graduates in the Class of 2018 received an average salary of $67,347. Of the 50 percent of Class of 2017 students who received signing bonuses, the average amount was $6,649, and about 64 percent of Class of 2018 students received an average signing bonus of $7,410.
About 55 percent of alumni from the McCombs Class of 2016 said that the quality of teaching in business courses was outstanding, and over 60 percent said that their business school experience was life-changing. Over 80 percent of them said that their first job after graduating was in their desired job function, and about 80 percent said that their first job was in their desired company.
Alumni reported working at companies including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Target, Accenture, Lime Rock Partners, Chiron Financial, Facebook, Texas Instruments, Deloitte, JP Morgan Chase, and Ernst & Young.
What Alumni Say:
“We managed a tech project from user story creation to implementation, review, and maintenance for an external community client. It gave me an immense amount of understanding in project management, product development, client communication, resource and expectation management, and interpersonal relationships.” – Class of 2016 alum
“I interned at a logistics company in Shenzhen, China. It was the main topic of conversation in any of my job interviews. After that, I came back and spent last last semester revising procurement case studies for a professor. Additionally, I competed in a Target case competition through procurement (my team won 2nd).” – Class of 2016 alum
“Our program emphasized a case-based education, so there was significant project work that included thorough quantitative analysis, building decks, and crafting realistic and actionable recommendations. These activities, among others, gave me experience and reference materials that I could directly reference when similar asks came up in “real-world” experience.” – Class of 2016 alum
Where the Class of 2017 went to work:
Ernst & Young: 16
Sense Corp: 10
American Airlines: 8
Texas Instruments: 8