Category Archives: It’s personal

Prayers to my Past

Perhaps this is not the venue for this note, but I felt it needed to be said. Japan, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

I lived and worked in Japan for the past 3 years before coming to TCU and it is a place within my heart that I hold dear. I am only glad that technology has provided a way for almost instantaneous assurance (or at least knowledge) of the status of family and friends. Such an earthquake still in stages of aftershock is a scary situation. I continued to keep everyone in my thoughts and shall try to provide support however I can.

That said, I feel even within that so much has come to light in the conversation with those involved.

1. Despite everything else, Facebook and Twitter are apparently some of the most reliable methods of letting people know you are okay. I watched my newsfeed closely for as many signs of assurance as I could find.

2. Despite everything else, Japan remains orderly within the disorder. I am glad that while there is danger, my friends have assured me the markets and food stores are not in a panic. The people remain graceful and polite in orderly lines and calm food stocking.

3. Building Codes Matter. A throwback to my architectural background, but I am glad that even with scandals several years back with fabricated data scandal, Japan has remained strict in following through to make sure building codes are met. Although there have been many lives lost, it could have been so much more.

The full implications of this incident may not unfold until much later, but I wish for the best and pray for my loved ones and the loved ones of others that are in Japan and those other coastal areas. Stay safe. You are in my thoughts.


annie nguyen


The Gateway Degree

The MBA degree is an interesting beast. Even more so when joined with other disciplines such as law or in my case education. It creates this miniature career gateway into a variety of disciplines and paths. This allows me to see the amount of work that MBAs are involved in, but more importantly it provides a course structure that works to synthesize multiple disciplines.

I recently finished (last week) a long day of group interviews with Education Pioneers, a non-profit organization that seeks MBA talent specifically to reinvigorate aspects of the education industry. The long process involved with job seeking is both painful and informative. In fact, the group interview, a situation I have not had before, was probably one of the most fascinating and telling experiences about the organization. It really gets you more involved in what you would actually be a part of with the company and lets both parties see more of what each side has to offer. Despite the icy trek to get there, it was completely worth it.

As the process continues for many of us in solidifying our summer internships (I of course have my fingers crossed for everyone) I can only hope that others have been able to get this sort of experience in his or her journey. Some of the reasons I came to TCU was because the career services center was able to demonstrate to me a breadth of opportunities that were tailored to my interests and talents. The reality of the MBA is that it is only partially about business; it is a unique key to understanding a range of industries that you care about. 


 annie nguyen

Hooray for new-found confidence

Mount Villarrica was just one of the beautiful things I saw in Chile.

To call it an “ah-ha” moment would be too cliché. It was more like an intuitive moment of confidence that I remember all too well from when I was finishing up my undergraduate studies. That feeling that I have made the correct decisions.

Actually, I’ve had a series of intuitive moments since the spring semester started at TCU. I wasn’t searching for confidence or any kind of sign of an academic breakthrough. It just kind of happened one day in Operations Management class or during a team meeting for my Frito Lay consulting project. Finally, I KNOW I can do this MBA thing.

See, last semester I wasn’t sure. I was trying really hard to keep up, both figuratively and literally. I was trying to learn team dynamics and a new schedule. I was trying to wrap my brain around new concepts and acronyms, and rekindle old math skills. My mind was still halfway in burned-out journalist mode and halfway in grad school mode. I couldn’t quite shake my past career experiences. I used them as a crutch often times.

Not anymore. After a “cleansing” winter break chock full of traveling – to California for Christmas and then Chile for a wonderful TCU study abroad trip – I entered the new semester with a new-found ease and clarity. It doesn’t matter if I’m 10 years older than most of my classmates; it doesn’t matter that I came from a non-business background. The first-semester lineup of core classes at TCU was tough, but each class gave me, and I assume most of my classmates, a wonderful foundation to build from.

Now, as the spring semester cruises along I’m retaining more information and connecting the “dots” of business topics and theories. My classes seem easier, or maybe I’m just better prepared. Most important, I’m confident my first-year courses and consulting project work will help me compete in the wide world of summer internship madness and later when I’m looking for a full-time job.

Speaking of consulting, I was lucky to land a spot on the Frito Lay team for the TCU Neeley & Associates program. Each spring for the past five years, first-year students have had the chance to work in teams of four on projects that have the potential to make a real difference for companies in the Fort Worth and Dallas areas. My team is tasked with developing a plan to help Frito Lay’s Munchies filled cracker brand grow in the next two or three years. This marketing/sales project is definitely helping me sharpened my Excel skills and is giving me valuable exposure to a major consumer goods company.

I’m aiming my internship search squarely at consumer goods companies – with a few exceptions. I have applied for marketing internships at Land O’Lakes, ConAgra, Hanes, and Fisher-Price. I’m more likely to get interviews for local companies Sabre, American Airlines, 7-Eleven and Warren Douglas. At least I hope so. I have also applied for media- or PR-based internships at CNN and Coca-Cola, in hopes that my journalism background might land me at least an interview. Only time will tell.

— Michele Machado

Classmates Become Family


As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in New Delhi, India while one of my classmates sleeps soundly. It is 11:30 p.m. and in the rooms on either side of me and down the hall are more classmates. Somewhere in Chile there is a group of TCU MBA students planning what they will do this evening or where they will have dinner. Another group of Neeley MBAs are likely just wrapping up lunch in the Dominican Republic. One of my classmates is on his honeymoon, another classmate is enjoying his first Christmas with a new baby, another is celebrating a recent engagement, and many are spending time with family they unintentionally neglected this semester. For three weeks we are spread out all over the world, but we remain close. We are already family. 

In August, as I arrived for the first day of pre-semester workshops, I never expected the next five months to go as they did. I was swapping a job for class, but other than that, nothing would change. I lived in DFW already. I had friends here. My family isn’t too far away — just a quick drive to Austin. 

The day before START workshop, my mother called me from the hospital. She was ill, but thought it was nothing. A few weeks later and still in the hospital, there were no answers. I continued to attend classes and had my mother moved to a hospital in Dallas where I could travel daily to stay with her. And so it was for months. Class, drive, hospital, drive, class, drive, hospital, drive… I found time to shower between classes and my classmates helped me stay on top of homework and reading.  

While my family was hurting and my friends were working, my Neeley MBA classmates and faculty supported me. One by one, I came to rely on them for help with the square root rule when I was zoned out during supply chain; for a recap of which fashion case study went with which class when I couldn’t keep them straight; for someone to laugh with for a few minutes before I got in the car to drive back to Dallas.  

I studied finance and signed off on blood cultures. I read cases while my mom was having brain surgery. I explained the 9x rule to the doctor who was telling me about the new MRI they were considering. I chatted with my mom about Taryn Swan while we watched Nickelodeon. I pored through statistical analysis on my mother’s symptoms. While I was doing my best to devote more time than I had to school and my mother, my mom just kept fighting… and she just kept getting worse. 

My mother passed away on October 28th.  The Neeley family — people I had only known a short time — kept me looking forward. Peggy, the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Neeley School, rushed to meet me at the hospital. Classmates surrounded me with love at my house. I had become so close to these people in such a short time.  

TCU’s Neeley MBA marketing materials tell us, “It’s more than business. It’s personal.” We’ve all heard it from schools and employers before. But, at TCU, they mean it.  I could not have asked to be surrounded by better people. I could never say enough to thank them for loving me. 

Now it is 11:57 p.m. in New Delhi. Tomorrow morning at 6:15 a.m. we depart for the Taj Mahal, a monument built out of love and mourning. I think of my TCU family with love and I thank them for helping me mourn. Visiting the Taj Mahal with just a few of my TCU family seems the perfect end to an imperfect year and a perfect tribute to a more than perfect mom. 

“Should the guilty seek asylum here, 

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, 

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; 

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made; 

To display thereby the creator’s glory.”

     -Emperor Shah Jahan

— Lacey Hammons

Interim interviews

So we’ve recently finished off a slew of interim finals and midterms and it has been an interesting experience. More interesting however has been the range of interim interviews occurring for everyone: informational, mock, and actual.

I just finished the day with a wonderful mock interview with CEO and all around nice guy Mr. Steve Dutton of Samaritan House in Fort Worth. Mainly based on behavioral interview style, it was more a long conversation about values, goals, and approaches toward those goals. Although I had met Mr. Dutton a few times before through networking events and information tours at Samaritan House, I enjoyed being able to truly talk with him during this time. I had actually been volunteering several times a week with adult tutoring at his company and was able to discuss the development of that project.

Still, I think a lot of the value in the mock interviews and overall process of career building at TCU has been the continued contact with a variety of work, personalities, and companies. Although my mock interview brought me into the area of Non-Profit, many of the companies (Frito-Lay, Victory Partners, Fidelity, and more) have provided a range of interview types in multiple areas for our MBAs.

The experience is something I find fascinating, more so because I’ve taken on the project of filming that experience in interviews with my colleagues, interviews with the employers, and advice and thoughts about the value from this experience.

One more week of mock interviewing for us and still more work ahead. I’ll be sure to post more when TCU posts an official edit of my filming (or when I get out a personal edit of the experience). October should certainly finish strong, but November appears to be looking quite booked.

Side Notes: Go Rangers!

annie nguyen

‘Skip’ Sessions

Not to be confused with skipping class, this really has everything to do with honoring a gauntlet challenge … metaphorically. So it all began that wonderfully exhaustive and ‘hit the ground’ START workshop week when our dearest admissions director, Peggy Conway, decided to say, “It’s not like you guys are going to be skipping down the hall every day yelling, ‘woohoo.'” Oh, I’ll take that bet.

Thus came the birth of what we have affectionately named our skip sessions. Every day that we have classes, I swing by Peggy’s office and skip in, naively optimistic about life. We then chat about the comings and goings of school (because this is secretly a front cover for my evil espionage) and magically create new projects for me to do. I often wonder if it’s a good idea for me to continue adding to my creative ADD as it is. Still, it provides me a personal satisfaction with keeping up with the challenge, and a bit of mentor nostalgia from my undergraduate ‘skip’ sessions with my dear friend and mentor Jeanne (Although that one did not required skipping).

Say what you will about my rainbows and sunshine outlook on academia, but these sessions are really just an illustration of the amount of personal attention students are able to access at TCU Neeley. The customization and communication of ideas and projects. Plus, the fact that I can honestly skip by every day must mean something is right there (Or that something is not right with my head, but we should save the question of my sanity for a different time).

Despite the massive workload and midterms and finals challenging our students, I like that there is always a chance to skip back and examine how things are developing. I certainly recommend my fellow colleague to participate in a skip session or two. It’s a wonderful way to unwind thoughts.

Topics You Can Ask Me More About: Morning Hugs, Study Habits, Renaissance Festival, Harry Potter Midnight Showing.

annie nguyen