Learn how Crystal Vastine's MBA program at TCU Neeley School of Business helped her successfully convert MBA internships into a 12-year career in marketing at AT&T! She shares her experience, and her advice for future applicants.
Name: Crystal Vastine
What do you think was your program's greatest asset?
The people. From my first interactions with Hoai Nguyen and Peggy Conway in admissions, I knew how genuine they were about identifying candidates that would add value to the education of those around them. The administration and professors are passionate about the success of their students personally and professionally. It comes through in the classroom and in the time they take to provide students with every opportunity to gain real world experience locally and globally. I graduated 12 years ago and it feels so recent because they have made it easy to stay engaged and create connections long after graduation.
How did your classmates influence your MBA experience?
Our cohort was small but so varied in their level of experience and background. It was invaluable to learn from actual challenges encountered by nurses, military veterans, teachers, executives and entrepreneurs. We spent countless hours teaching each other and providing direct feedback and advice along the way…sometimes unsolicited, but always needed! It’s hard not to develop lasting relationships in that environment.
Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?
Between my first and second year, I decided to take on two internships. At Bell Helicopter Textron I managed the integration of software to streamline processes from finance to manufacturing. And, of course, I didn’t miss the chance to operate the V-22 Osprey flight simulator! I had a completely different experience in Economic Development at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce where I created new project proposals, conducted research and gained behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to bring business to our area. What I most enjoyed in both roles was the ability to continue learning in a work environment. I’m fortunate to have found a career that feels like an extension of that education while contributing to the bottom line at the same time.
What resources and support did your school offer you through the career search?
TCU attracts a range of global companies that are integrated into the learning process. Beyond the typical information sessions, executives provide feedback on projects and presentations and engage students in real world case work. Through those interactions, I learned about AT&T’s Leadership Development Program which only selects a handful of schools to recruit from for their competitive program. TCU’s Career Services encouraged me to take on classes and internships that would round out my skillset and made sure that came through in my resume and interviews. I’m am now going on 12 years with AT&T and have held roles that range from managing a construction crew for the initial U-verse build in Texas to working on the marketing and technical aspects of mergers and acquisitions. My experiences at the Neeley school gave me the confidence to take on any role and know that I can excel in any environment.
Advice for Future Applicants
What was it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students returning for their MBA?
It was challenging to find the balance between class, coursework and socializing after being in a consulting job where on and off the clock were very clear. I had been very autonomous at work and jumped into a situation where teammates depended heavily on each other to organize schedules, collaborate on projects, and simply keep each other’s spirits up at times. It’s important not to retreat into old habits and to be open to accepting help from others.
What are some do’s and don’ts in the MBA preparation process?
Do think outside of the metrics of what you’ve accomplished in past roles. Consider how those experiences have influenced your skills and behavior.
Don’t be afraid to talk about past failures in a work environment. Not only does it demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to identify where you want to grow, it shows your willingness to accept feedback.