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Winning the second consecutive National Energy Finance Challenge for the McCombs School of Business proves that the school has one of the best energy finance courses in the country, said members of the team that won this year’s title and $10,000 in prize money.

The seventh-annual challenge concluded last month and required five graduate students in the MBA program to present a finance plan for energy development to some of the energy industry’s most influential leaders. The McCombs students went up against 15 other top schools in the nation including Yale, Purdue and Columbia.

“We were really thrilled to win against a lineup of really tough competition,” said team member Chris Wolf. “It shows McCombs is one of the best in the nation.”

Wolf said the team, comprised of himself, John Shaddix, Jake Stroud, Sudamsh Bai Reddy and Ben Beyer, had one weekend to research a case written by Chevron. The team had to come up with a hypothetical finance plan that would not only develop an oil field in an impoverished African nation, but also finance social programs that would benefit citizens of the nation.

Wolf said the team knew they had submitted a good plan for the challenge, but understood winning would be difficult.

“We knew we had a good product and had worked really hard, but we also knew the talent of the other schools,” Wolf said. “We were pleasantly surprised to win at that level of competition.”

The challenge, which began seven years ago under the direction of the McCombs Energy Finance Group, a student organization, makes participants think critically about current issues facing the industry, said John Butler, clinical associate professor at the McCombs School’s Energy Management and Innovation Center.

“The idea is that Chevron, who writes the case every year, stops and looks around and focuses on real issues they are dealing with right now,” Butler said. “They make it into a case for our students.”

Butler said the event also gives leaders in the industry such as sponsors Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and EMIC a chance to meet with students.

Sudamsh Bai Reddy said he knew the competition would be stiff when they presented their plan for financing social programs to a hypothetical government, but he said he never expected the judges in the final round of competition to be so tough.

“They tried to show what happens in a real negotiation with a country’s government,” Bai Reddy said. “We started to present three or four slides but after we started they began questioning us like an actual negotiation.”

Beyer said the ability to interact with leading industry officials was a great part of the challenge.

“We presented to the CFO of Chevron and got to represent McCombs on a national stage,” Beyer said. “It was an honor. You don’t get to do that every day in the classroom.”

The College of Natural Sciences hosted a Career Fair at the Frank Erwin Center on Monday afternoon. The fair’s aim was to familiarize students with companies and their representatives in order to increase confidence for future job interviews.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Students donned ties and trousers and polished their resumes for the fall 2011 Natural Sciences Career Expo at the Frank Erwin Center on Monday. Inside, a wide range of employers, from small start-up companies to Facebook, Chevron, Apple and Microsoft, waited for job-seeking students.

“It’s really important to get practice interviewing with recruiters,” said Eric Uniacke of Chevron. “Students can really benefit from that.”

Booths from 152 employers covered two floors of the center, and between 700 and 900 students attended the fair, said senior administrative associate Suzette Ruedas. Ruedas said the fair was open to all UT students and alumni and employers offered everything from internships to full-time jobs.

“I’m hoping to see what jobs they’re trying to hire, what other opportunities are out there, and to see who’s reaching out to large universities,” said biology senior Jackson Dyre-Borowicz.

In addition to showing up and dressing the part, students were encouraged to go into the fair with some previous knowledge of the potential employers.

“To make the career fair work best for employers and students, students should do research to know what companies they want to speak to,” said Andrea McGowan, talent acquisitions advisor at Dell. “Just coming up and asking, ‘What jobs does Dell have for me?’ isn’t all that helpful.”

The high number of companies present and the opportunities offered highlighted the fact that even when unemployment rates are high, the area of natural sciences offers many profitable career options. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicists, natural science managers, dentists, doctors and surgeons are among the highest paid positions in 2011. Surgeons mark the top of the totem pole, generating annual salaries averaging approximately $225,390.

The opportunities in the field of natural sciences are not declining either, according to a study at Prospects, a British careers services company. According to the study, significant increases in jobs are expected for research, science and technology in 2012. Additionally, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported the average starting salary offers for those with a bachelor’s degree in health and related sciences was $39,490 in September 2010.

Students in the College of Natural Sciences can access the Career Design Center (formerly Natural Sciences Career Services) to help plan for their futures after graduation, as well as find internships while at UT. The center, under the direction of Karen Landolt, also includes health professions advising.

ScienceWorks, a new product of the Career Design Center, allows students to upload resumes, view job postings and obtain access to on-campus interviews.

“We want students to know that we’re still there to help you,” said health professions advisor Caleb Marsh. “We want to be a place where students can come for answers about graduate school, professional school and, most importantly, jobs.”  

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Sciences prove profitable at career expo