Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Lauren Vague, University of Texas (McCombs)

Lauren Vague

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“I try to work hard, play hard, love people well, and rest well.”

Hometown: Wilmington, DE

Fun Fact About Yourself: I used to work as a tour guide on the double decker tour buses in Philadelphia.  It was a great job, and if you’re ever going to Philadelphia, feel free to hit me up for a recommendation!

Undergraduate School and Major: Eastern University, Criminal Justice

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: West Catholic Preparatory High School, Director of Advancement

What makes Austin such a great place to earn an MBA?  I picked the University of Texas for several reasons, but I really wanted to live somewhere that was a great city as well as a great school. Even though getting an MBA is incredibly time-consuming, I still wanted to consider my experience holistically and living somewhere that I would love in addition to going to school somewhere I loved was a high priority. No better city than Austin! It’s hard to find somewhere that somehow feels cosmopolitan and like a neighborhood all at once, and that’s what makes Austin so great!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Texas McCombs’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It’s hard to pick just one part of the programming that led to my choice because I love it all so much!  I think that being able to get into electives early on in my coursework was very important to me, because I want to be able to explore varied classes and opportunities in my time here.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Texas McCombs? I am very excited for the MBA+ projects and excited for the MBA soccer games! The MBA+ projects are a great way to get experience quickly with highly reputable companies and I’m glad that we can do that so early on in our time here. It especially helps non-traditional students like me to get business experience for our resumes.

What has been your first impression of the McCombs MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best McCombs story so far. The biggest reason I picked McCombs is because I felt like they were really the only program I thought was telling the truth when they said they were collaborative.  Of course, most (if not all) of us are competitive and type A (hello, we’re getting our MBAs), but I wanted to be somewhere where we are people first, and students second. I am so thrilled to say that my impression of McCombs as a collaborative and supportive environment has been 100% confirmed since the second I arrived.

There are too many good stories to choose from!  Everyone is incredibly kind and helpful and it shows in everything they do. I think the fact that a lot of us were carpooling to school already week one sums it up!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At my last job, I was a fundraiser for an inner-city Catholic high school. The school is this incredibly amazing place, and it’s been around for 100+ years. After working in the Advancement department for two years, I was promoted to run it. In my first year leading the department, we raised the highest total amount of money ever raised in a year at the school. Even though that was a huge accomplishment, the best part is that a few students used to come into my office to eat their lunch every day. As an administrator at a school, you don’t get to interact with the students as much as most other people. Being directly connected to the students I was raising money on behalf of made me better at my job and a better person. Oh and of course they kept me updated on TikTok trends.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? While I was thinking about getting my MBA, my world started to revolve almost completely around my application, whether it was studying or writing my essays, so my recommendation is to find anything else to focus on when you have time! Something that I would recommend specifically to prospective MBAs when you’re not trying to distract yourself from the application process is the podcast ‘Dear HBR’.  They haven’t made new episodes in a couple of years, but it helped me to learn to think more critically about what I wanted to do professionally and how I wanted to do it!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Texas McCombs’ MBA program? Be yourself. It is cliché, but it’s the best advice I can give. I was so worried about my application because I am not a traditional MBA student, nor do I have a business background. While I was working on my application and during my interview, I reminded myself over-and-over again to just be me. Not only was it the right thing to do, but it’s a huge confidence boost and a wonderful feeling to get into an MBA program “just” being yourself. It’s also a help to me now as I’m working through challenging coursework. I can tell myself that being me got me here and all I have to do now is keep it up!

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