During my four years at Texas Christian University I cherished every moment as a Horned Frog. It went by way too fast, and soon enough I was trying to decide what to pursue after graduation. When looking for jobs, I realized my lack in basic business knowledge was glaringly lacking, and as an Economics major, I recognized the technical side of how business operates, but I did not understand the practical art of conducting business.
When I discovered the M.S. in Commerce program I saw it as the perfect supplement to my TCU education. It is teaching me the hard skills that I need, and in addition to core courses such as Strategy & Systems, the program allows me to focus on a specific track that fits my professional interest. The Business Analytics track immediately caught my interest because I wanted a stronger skill set in various computer programs and languages to compete in our increasingly digital world. Eventually, I decided to take a chance and enroll in the program without even visiting Virginia, and it’s one of the best decisions I have made.
Community and Sports
Starting graduate school is like starting freshmen year of college again. You become the new kid on the block, and you get to tell fun facts about yourself. For orientation, the McIntire School of Commerce welcomed us with open arms and scavenger hunts, and as a whole, our cohort bonded fairly quickly. It helps that we spend the majority of our days together. Our cohort of 116 incredible students from diverse backgrounds is divided into two sections of about 60 each. It is with our section that we take our core classes, and then we split off into our three tracks of 30-50 students each.
Unlike my undergraduate major which involved mainly working on problem sets, the course load at McIntire involves much more reading and discussion-based classes. The MSC program also heavily emphasizes team projects. Every student works within the same team of 5-6 people for every class, which allows teams to build and maintain their relationships throughout the semester. In addition to the cohorts and teams, the faculty and staff plays an important role by going beyond to help us succeed in our educational and career goals. Just like TCU, McIntire fosters a strong sense of community within its student body.
I’ve been excited to find that the college community at UVA seems to culminate into one thing: sports. Over the past four years, I have had the pleasure of watching TCU transform into a national presence in the college football world as we transitioned into the Big 12 conference, and as I think back upon my favorite memories as a Horned Frog, football comes to the front of the line. Horned Frog football became an integral part of my college and social experience, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
The electric excitement that I loved in TCU football, I found within the Cavalier basketball team as I attempt to learn new cheers and chants. Since both my schools are in different conferences, this also could not work out any better of me because I will not have a conflict of interests. I can fully commit to one school in each sport without feeling like I cheated on the other. I love college sports because it unites the community under one name and one mission. Sports further connects the community, and despite if we win or lose, I will always proud to call myself a Cavalier (or Horned Frog).
Campus and Global Emphasis
Both TCU and UVA have incredibly beautiful campuses with two very different feels. TCU is smaller, and features modern architecture and more flowers than we can count. UVA on the other hand has a population about twice the size of TCU but a campus five times as large. However, it never has come across as overwhelmingly large because all of the M.S. in Commerce classes are located in the same building, the McIntire School of Commerce, which is very centrally located, making it convenient for students to get to no matter where they choose to live. When I do wander around, UVA has an incredible history, the result of which is the beautiful Lawn and Rotunda, which we get to walk by everyday. It helps when the school is founded by the third president of the United States.
At TCU, I had the fortune of embarking on various study abroad opportunities that ranged across fourteen countries. TCU encourages and promotes study abroad opportunities to all students, and I knew I wanted to continue pursuing my love for travel. At the end of the M.S. in Commerce program, all students are required to participate in the Global Immersion Experience (GIE), which takes small group of students on business trips around the world such as Southeast Asia and Latin America. For me (and many other students), the global experience elevated this program above other graduate programs I was considering. McIntire creates an experience that combines my love to travel with my professional goals, and no matter where you go, the memories will last a lifetime.
Location and Opportunities
I hate to state the obvious, but as the name suggestions, Texas Christian University is in Texas and the University of Virginia happens to be in Virginia. Born and raised, I could not be more proud to call Texas home. From the Friday night lights to the open country road, Texas has much to offer. Although I grew up in a smaller town, I spent most of my college career in Fort Worth located in North Texas. Any true Horned Frog knows the fixtures that make the city great.
Although I love Texas, I wanted to spend some time in a different part of the United States, and to me, Virginia seemed as good as any other state. Little did I know that I would soon fall in love with the little city of Charlottesville. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers a variety of fun adventures just a short drive away. The entire region creates a great opportunity for hiking or spending time outdoors in general. My favorite aspect is the seasons, which I never actually experienced in Texas. Many wineries and breweries also dot the landscape if you prefer to sit while you enjoy your nature.
When I’m not on campus (or as a Cavalier will say “on Grounds”), I spend the majority of my time on the Corner or Downtown. Filled with various restaurants and nightlife, the Corner is located right next to campus just a few minute walk away from class and my apartment while Downtown has a more laid back and mature vibe. Charlottesville (in my opinion) is the perfect college town, and Washington D.C. is also a quick drive or train ride away. No matter what you do or interested in, Virginia offers something new for every Texan.
Because of where TCU was located, most of the job opportunities were in Texas, and as a result, the majority of my friends moved to Dallas after graduation. If you are looking to get out of Texas, UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce is a national recruiting school and acts as a great stepping stone to jobs throughout the country.
M.S. in Commerce’s Commerce Career Services (CCS) also does a tremendous job helping students find a career that’s a good fit. CCS is McIntire’s own dedicated career center within the building that hosts a variety of events including mock interviews, information sessions from prospective companies, and subscriptions to other resources. With its strong reputation, McIntire attracts a range of corporations, and everyone within our program has a wide variety of interests. I luckily had an offer going into the M.S. in Commerce program through my summer internship at Deloitte. Because I applied early, I could add the UVA program to my resume, which helped me stand out above other applicants during my internship search. I loved my experience with Deloitte so much that I accepted my offer to return full time to the Dallas after the program.
Would I do this program again? Definitely. I get to explore a whole new area of the country, learn from some of the best professors, and create new memories with new friends. I’m glad I took a chance to move 1200 miles away from everything I knew. Now when I look around, I see the world in a new light. A television advertisement no longer contains just cute puppies but also the core values and target demographic of their product. My Uber rides no longer just involve talking about the weather but also the potential, future partnership for the company with my Uber driver. The list can go on, but the best is yet to come. I still have almost a full semester left at the University of Virginia, and the opportunity to travel all over Latin America. I got lucky in my choice of programs, and there is not a thing I would change about my decision to come to McIntire.
As always, Go Frogs and Go Hoos.
-Written by Henry Mak, M.S. in Commerce 2017