5 Tips for Millennials Entering the “Real World”

I’m in this really unique position where I’m semi-sort-of entering the “Real World,” and it can be just as daunting as everyone makes it sound. Here are 5 things I’ve implemented into my life that have helped me adjust to adulting.

1. Buy a slow cooker. There are thousands of recipes online allowing you to cook a meal with minimal effort that Chef Ramsay would approve of. No more parents? No more meal plan? No problem.

2. Sign up for the Skimm’s daily newsletter. The Skimm does a great job of summarizing the news in an efficient yet humorous way. If you read something that you find interesting, you can always click on the hyperlinks that will take you to the actual article. This is a free and easy way to stay up to date and know just enough to be deadly in your daily conversations.

3. Take control of your finances. This begins with building a budget. It can be as simple as 50% for necessities, 10% for education, 10% for investing, 10% savings, 10% for giving, and 10% for play. You can even have your bank auto transfer funds from your checking account to your savings accounts to automize some of the work.


4. Build your credit. You can easily do this by paying for your gas on your credit card each month. If you don’t already have a credit card and want to start taking advantages of points, I would recommend this Chase one with no annual fee, and so would the Points Guy.  Pay off your balance as soon as the statement is posted, and watch your credit score go up, up, up! It may not seem all that important to build your credit score now, but it will be when you want to refinance loans or apply for a mortgage.


5. Make exercising a priority! There are incredible benefits to exercising such as better sleep, lower stress, and improved memory and thinking skills. You have time for this, and it is well worth the investment.


I know we are barely scratching the surface of adulting, and I’m still learning new things each and every day. What are some tips you have for millennials entering the “Real World?”


Residency in Bevo’s Backyard

I’m all moved into Austin and in week 5 of the residency part of the MBA Healthcare program! I’ll be living and working here for the next 7 months learning about the healthcare system within the walls of the HCA & St. David’s Healthcare System. So far, I’ve learned that people in healthcare speak a whole different language filled with tons of acronyms and medical terminology. However, what’s clear is that the people I work with are passionately driven to provide the most excellent patient care and experience.

I realized that SOO much happens behind the scenes of a patient encounter. Decisions have to be made about everything from physician contracts to the placement of lighting fixtures in the clinics. Every number and detail is meticulously measured and tracked. I could not be more excited for the opportunities to learn directly from the seasoned executives in our organization.

Living in Austin has been an adjustment as well. As a Sooner and a Bear, I receive quite the reaction when people discover my background.

*Pro Tip: To deflect any feelings of animosity, bring up your despise for the SEC.*

Besides being surrounded by countless Longhorn memorabilia and fans, Austin is a pretty cool and weird place. There is a lot to do and a lot to see. Here are some fun pictures from my time in Austin thus far!





Baylor Business Takes on Ancient Greece

Being in ancient Greece is one of the most incredible experiences. The country is filled with history at every turn, and the food is wonderful. This year was Baylor’s inaugural mission trip to Athens, and it combined both the faith-based side of missions while also empowering students to use their degrees to serve the nations.

Upon our arrival in Greece, we headed to the First Evangelical Church of Athens to worship with their congregation. Many of the songs that were a part of their service were Greek translations of English worship songs. It was one of the coolest things to hear people worshiping together in different languages, all at the same time!

As the service ended, I was reminded as to why we were in Greece: to use our gifts and talents to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thus, our 4-day adventure in the great city of Athens began.

My team was working as a group of business consultants for the church plant in the community of Glyfada. Glyfada is a southern suburb of Athens, and it is home to many business owners and leaders – making it the second most affluent population in the city. The streets of Glyfada are lively, but it is starkly juxtaposed by a tangible hopelessness that hovers over the people, just the same as in Athens. Beyond that, one of Greece’s largest refugee camps, housing more than 1,500 refugees, is just down the street in an abandoned airport terminal.


On our first day working, the church leaders took us to the old airport refugee camp, and it felt like a scene from a movie. There were little kids running around, and some – searching for some level of a normal childhood –  had even tied old t-shirts together across a bus stop to create a swing. A couple of men were on the balcony smoking cigarettes, and some women were sitting on the curb chatting.

Our group took a moment to pray for the refugees who were living in the area amidst the heavy burden of despair and hopelessness that these people were experiencing. Many of us arrived in Greece aware of the situation based on media, but being in the heart of it all and seeing the people with our own eyes made it a much stronger reality.

Many of the refugees thought that these camps would be a temporary area of residence, with the hope to move further north into Germany and other countries. However, most have been away from their homes for 8 months or more, and with European borders shutting down due to the volume of refugees, Greece has become a more permanent reality. At this point, the refugees are beginning to accept the fact that they may not get out of Greece anytime soon, so they are beginning to look for ways to integrate into the Greek culture that surrounds them.

On top of all of this, the economy in Greece has yet to recover from the economic crisis that occurred in 2009. The Greek people have been living in an economic crisis for years now, making an average salary of 500 euros and paying 450 euros for a one bedroom flat. Through our conversations, we discovered that people were generally distrusting of the government and, unfortunately, pessimistic about the future.

The Glyfada church recognizes the needs of the community, and Pastor Giorgos and his team want to become a place of hope for the city. In an effort to be a light in their city, they developed a vision for creating the Glyfada Business Centre, which would generate business opportunities and, hopefully, ignite the economy. We quickly bought into their vision and heart behind the mission and sought out how we could fit in and further their efforts.

Throughout the week, we spent our time developing mission statements, branding, and other resources that outlined the details behind starting a business incubator and training sessions for businesspeople. Our team went to local businesses and universities, interviewing citizens, to learn more about what the needs of the city were. We even had the opportunity to host a roundtable event to connect business leaders across industries – eventually leading to the desire for more frequent networking events. That was super exciting.


Ultimately, we left the church leaders with deliverables that included ideas for branding, outlines for business plans, and resources for developing a business curriculum. But more than anything, we wanted them to know that we believed in their vision and that we wanted to be long-term supporters of their efforts. As the week came to a close, we presented the church leaders with a signed Baylor flag as a symbol of our dedication to their mission. We are so excited to continue working with their team to meet the needs of the people in their community and see the hope and love of Jesus abound!

My Take-Aways From The Trip:

  1. God can use your unique gifts and talents to move the Kingdom forward in really special ways – especially if you work out His strength.

 In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the Body of Christ and spiritual gifting. In this experience, I saw that when one member of the body hurts, we all really do hurt –  whether we are aware of it or not. However, out of this pain is an opportunity for other members of the body to lean in, serve, and build up those who are hurting. The team that I was a part of had students and professors from all different backgrounds, each with a unique skill set, and each person was truly a vital part of our efforts. For me, it solidified that without all parts working effectively, the body can’t function at full capacity.


  1. God has blessed me with incredible opportunities for growth and development day-in and day-out.

It’s so easy for me to get bogged down by the never-ending amounts of homework and the strain of being in a constant state of midterms and finals. Each day, I’m learning that I often wish away the present to be in a future state, with the expectation that I would feel like I am doing more meaningful work.

After realizing this, I found this quote:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

I’m learning that there is so much value in spending time investing in sharpening and honing our skills and passions. I am back in class now and more engaged than ever, because I know the things I’m learning aren’t necessarily just for me but for the benefit of those that I may encounter.


  1. There are so many breathtaking sights, delicious cuisines, and fascinating people to meet and experience in the world.

The world is HUGE and full of so many adventures! I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to Greece and experience their one-of-a-kind culture. This wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity, support, and prayers of so many of you both before and during our trip – so thank you! This past week will go down as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.


Here as some more pictures from the trip!

Lots of Gelato!

On top of Mars Hill

Playing soccer with a group of unaccompanied minor refugees. We lost 12-4…

Eating lots of Gyros!

Me after all the Gyros! I put on a few of pounds. Sic ‘Em! 



A Beary Merry Christmas

Wowzas! A whole semester has just flown by, and I can’t believe it. My dad was right when he said, “The days may be long, but the months go by fast.” Many of us were in 17-20 credit hours this semester, but as we got in a rhythm it all felt very manageable. We had a couple of late nights and stressful moments, but we found time to play and to find joy in the little things.

You know how parents always have pictures of their kids on Santa’s lap and the little child is always either extremely excited or absolutely mortified? Well, I was deprived of this moment (or sheltered) and had always desired that magical moment where all your hopes and dreams are but a wish away. Baylor hosts an event called Christmas on 5th, where they decorate campus with Christmas trees, lights, nutcrackers, and ornaments while also providing entertainment through the form a petting zoo and carriage rides. It’s very lively and celebratory. While I was in the student union, I heard a student yell, “SANTA!! I KNOW HIM!!” (see Elf reference below) and at that moment I knew that today was the day that I would fulfill a childhood dream.

We tracked down Santa and Mrs. Claus and got in line at 9:29 p.m. right before they were closing down for Santa to get back to the north pole to make more presents; it was very clutch. After a couple of free cookies with icing, I got to see Santa!

img_6482Mission accomplished.

A week later on the last day of finals, one of my friends in the MBA program, Andrew, hosted  a Christmas Party/White Elephant Gift Exchange at his house. His house was in need of a Christmas tree and he somehow was able to convince our friends Janise, Karissa, and Amy to let him borrow their fully decorated tree in exchange for his help to undress the tree before everyone left for winter break. So we saran wrapped the tree and transported it all in one piece to his house. There were all sorts of goodies, hot chocolate, apple cider, chips and queso, and I couldn’t help but have a little bit of each thing. The Christmas party was a big hit and was the perfect way to end a semester full of adapting to changing circumstances and making the most of every moment.


Here’s Andrew and I with the tree!


A picture of some of the MBA students. (Notice the tree in the background)


We even set up a photobooth!


I learned a lot about finance, marketing, healthcare and other business topics this semester, but something I learned through experience and not from a textbook is that there is tremendous value in letting your inner child come alive and enjoying the moment with incredible friends and people you love. That’s a lesson that I’ll hold onto for the rest of my life. Merry Christmas everyone, and I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with you next year (2017)!



Adventures on Adventures

Wowzas it has been a wild couple of weeks! With these 5 week “mini-mester” courses, we are in a constant state of midterms and finals. We only have 5 more weeks until Christmas break, and I’ve already broken out the Michael Bublé Christmas album! I can’t wait to be home soon.

Since my last post, we’ve had some really exciting adventures. Last week we traveled to Houston where we spent time at the Transition Medical Conference. We heard from speakers on how providers and families can effectively transition patients from pediatric care to adult care . This conference was really exciting, because the issue of effective transfers spurs from the boom of healthcare innovations which have lengthened the life expectancy of many patients. After the conference, we got to take a tour of the Texas Children’s Hosptial, which is absolutely ginormous and still expanding. Here’s a picture of their Harry Potter life-size chess board!


The week before we went to Houston, Baylor hosted it’s Second Annual Robbin’s Case Competition. Our program invited 10 other university’s and their healthcare students to come dive into an extremely challenging case and present their ideas on how the hospital system should handle the matter at hand. Our class was charged with hosting the visiting schools and handling all of the technical issues. I learned a lot about the differences in each healthcare program, but I was also surprised by the similarity of them. It was really encouraging to hear why other students were pursuing a degree in healthcare, and it reaffirmed my belief that there is a lot more good in the world than evil. I’m continually humbled by the opportunity to pursue a greater cause and a purpose much grander than me.


Finally, one of the greatest joys of this season of my life is the men’s small group that I am a part of. I was searching for community when I first came to Baylor, and these guys choose to be my family away from home. We meet every Sunday evening at my to place to snack, catch up, and dive into the bible. We currently use this method called “Discovery Bible Study” and the conversations and discussions we’ve had have been extremely fruitful. (If you’re curious as to what this looks like, don’t hesitate to reach out!) However, the best part of the men’s group is that we do more than just meet once a week, we’re actually doing life together. One weekend we decided to get away from craziness of school and go cliff diving! So we drove our cars down to Austin and went camping at Pace Bend where we jumped off a 35 ft. cliff, ate smores, and shared stories over a bonfire. It was awesome. I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by great people, and that every day we’re growing closer to each other and the Lord.


Food, Football, and Free Bibles

I remember in undergrad when I would say, “School stinks but college is fun.”  This line of thinking insinuates that classes are boring, but what you get to do outside of class is a blast. However, in graduate school everything is honestly blast and a half. I’m not saying that it’s not hard by any means, but it is definitely enjoyable. I feel like my classes are relevant to what I will be doing in the future, and that makes it so much easier to be fully engaged and excited about learning. I could tell you about all of my classes and all that I’m learning, but you could just find that here. So, I’ll skip you the misery and fill you in on some of the incredible things I’ve gotten to experience outside of the classroom!


The Etiquette Dinner 


Yes, the cheesecake was as good as it looks in the picture! During this dinner, we received real-time feedback on our table manners and how to eat properly. Unfortunately, the days of finger food are limited for us. I got corrected two times that evening, once for placing my butter knife upside down and another time for not placing my fork across the plate correctly. Who knew there were so many rules!


The Bible Presentation with the Robbins 

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The two people you see above are Uncle Bill and Mary Jo Robbins, and they are absolutely incredible. With a quick Google search, you’ll discover that the healthcare program at Baylor is named in honor of them. Uncle Bill also has a sense of humor that is sure to catch you off guard! Mary Jo knew every single healthcare student’s name before she met us. She quickly greeted me with, “And you are John Pham right?” The directors of our program told us that she asks for everyone’s picture and name so that she can pray for us every night. Cue, the *awwws.* At the bible presentation, they presented us with our own Baylor bibles that had our names in calligraphy on the inside. It was a pretty special evening.


The Sky Suite 

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Processed with Snapseed.

Our program has also provided opportunities for us to network with healthcare executives at football games so that we can begin developing relationships with people who are currently in the industry. Did I mention there was also a buffet in the suite? The etiquette dinner is already coming in handy. Also, Baylor football is now 4-0 and ranked number 13 in the nation! Sic ‘Em!

It’s hard not to fall in love with this program and the people in it. I firmly believe that the Lord has guided my steps and that I am exactly where I need to be. We are only 5 weeks into the program, and there are so many more adventures ahead!

P.S. I am highly considering a mission trip to Athens over spring break with Baylor! More on that crazy adventure soon.



5 Things Greater Than Sliced Bread

The MBA programming is in full swing now! We spent the first week going through orientation where we added cool new friends and met some of our awesome professors. For the last two weeks we have all been learning how to adjust to the pace of graduate school while maintaining a social life and finding time to sleep. All of it has been pretty fun, but I wanted to share with you my top 5 favorite parts so far!


5) MBA Olympics

During orientation week, we heard from different people about ways to get plugged in, what to expect, and what’s expected of us. We even did a mini case competition about retailers. On the last day, our class went out to test our skills at a ropes course. My competitive side really came out here. My team was doing fantastic until we risked 2,100 points on the final bonus round and lost every single point. Bummer. Surprisingly though, we finished 4th! Here are some of my favorite pictures.


(We successfully swung a little bucket on the rope across the line!)

IMG_9597(These were our leadership pants)

IMG_9904(The A Team taking on the a-frame)

4) Scoots and Suits

So I live 3 blocks away from campus, which is about a 6-minute walk. My roommate Garrett bought a scooter. After a long discussion about how I thought it looked childish, he convinced me to spend my dollars buying a scooter instead of a $370 parking pass. My commute to campus has been decreased to only 2 minutes now (a 66% decrease)! We also started an exclusive club of semi awesome people who ride scooters to class, The Scooter Squad.


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(If you look closely, you can see our squad logo on the front of my scooter)

3) Exploring Waco

Waco may not sound like it has a lot to offer, but you’d be very surprised. I have found some pretty cool hidden gems! Here’s a picture a snagged while exploring one day. (More Waco secrets to come in another blog)

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(Gogh Waco)

2) The President’s Suite

Football season has begun, and we’ve got the hook up. The MBA program rented out the President’s Suite in the McLane Stadium for us to have some hors d’oeuvres and network. It was a pretty “suite” place to hang out and chat with administrators who really care about us.

FullSizeRender 3(Great Gatsby or John Pham?)


(Two of our tallest students, and our shortest professor, Dr. Norman)

1) Free Drinks

Baylor has provided us with a lot of free coffee and juice. We have actually had quite a few free meals too. As a poor graduate student, I really appreciate this gesture. The free food saves us time and money and allows for us to bond and invest in the people around us. So here’s to free food and priceless friendships.

IMG_6154(Two of my closest friends who are quickly becoming my brothers, Garrett and Austin)


The academic side of graduate school is definitely time intensive and challenging (more about my classes soon), but there have been fun experiences at the turn of every corner. The best part is that it’s all just beginning.






Shawshank To Shark Tank

The door beeped, clicked, and then it opened. We were instructed to walk within the painted yellow lines down the hallway because the prisoners were not allowed in the painted area. I felt a little uneasy as we walked by and were stared down by prisoners. There was no barrier between us and the prisoners. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into…am I about to get jumped?”

Back tracking to last week, I received an email from our administrators inviting us students to join them in their visit to prison through the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). PEP selects the top 500 men every year for the program from more than 10,000 candidates, and they put them through a 6-month mini MBA program. At the end of everything, the men will graduate and receive a Baylor Hankamer School of Business Entrepreneurship Certificate. We visited during a day that they call their “Pitch Day” where the prisoners in the program are able to practice pitching their business ideas in hopes of receiving funding (think Shark Tank).

We arrived at a door labeled PEP, and I could hear music blasting from the other side. To my surprise, we walked into a crowd of a prisoners who were all smiling, high-fiving, and cheering for us as we walked in. I had no idea what to think. There was a prisoner DJ’ing, one MC’ing, and another one taking pictures. This was a very lively environment. After some introductions, the group finally settled down and the session opened in prayer.


The room was divided into two sections: one with people in white prison suits and the other side with executives dressed in business suits. Then the MC said we were going to break the ice with a Lip Sync Battle. Yes, a Lip Sync Battle…in prison. They had preselected people already, and I was excited for some good entertainment Then the MC threw a curve ball. He announced that some Baylor students were visiting and that they wanted a volunteer. My classmates and the directors instantly pointed at me, and I was volun-told to go up (thanks Austin and John Hazel). I was paired up with a guy named Mario, and we decided to jam out to MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This. Mario did the worm and we won. 🙂


After we broke the ice, we shifted in to the “pitch” part of Pitch Day. I sat on a panel of 8 executives, who knew far more about business than I did. Sitting on the other side of the table and listening to the prisoners give their pitch, I felt like Mark Cuban but without the multi billionaire part. The prisoners painted their dreams of real estate businesses, trucking companies, mobile car washes, new restaurants, and even a new shopping cart checkout machine. It was truly inspiring.

Lately, I had felt like all I was doing was studying, and I had been praying for an opportunity where I would feel God use me to impact others. He gave me so much more. I left prison that day feeling like the prisoners had impacted me way more than I impacted them. They pushed each other, encouraged one another, and celebrated each other so well. Before that day, prisoners never crossed my mind. To me, they had committed a crime that went against our society’s ideals and were being justly punished. I honestly had very little compassion for prisoners. Watching CEO’s and other big time executives volunteer to take a day out of their busy lives to invest into strangers and provide them with hope for a better future was incredibly encouraging. There is something so special about unconditional love–the kind of love that doesn’t pick and choose who deserves to be loved.

It’s been about a week and a half since my visit, but as I write this blog post, I am overcome with so much joy. PEP is doing incredible things, and it’s thrilling. PEP gives MBA students the opportunity to become business plan advisors for the semester, and I’m stoked to join this life changing revolution.





Tour Guide For Life

Back during my undergrad days, I was a tour guide and lead over 150 tours for visiting students and their families. I LOVED it. I got to talk for an hour and a half, and I got to showcase a place I adored. It’s been a while since I’ve given a tour, and the tour guide inside of me is awakening. I’ve dedicated this blog as a virtual tour of the space where I spend 95% of my waking time. (Don’t worry – it shouldn’t take you an hour and a half to go on this virtual tour!)

Below is our business school’s logo!



The business school is only 1 year old, opening in June of 2015. Dean Maness (the dean of college of business) told me that they have been working on it since 2006. They were extremely successful, raising a $100 million for the 275,000-square-foot Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

Here’s are some pictures of the outside of this beauty.



The inside is even prettier.




I think the red and orange chairs look like Doritos!




Here are some more chairs. They’re so comfortable that you could take a nice afternoon nap on them.




Now that we’ve established some places where you can rest, how about a place where you can find some grub?!




You’re probably wondering what a classroom looks like right? Have no fear, that’s up next on the tour. Just keep scrolling.




“John, what’s your favorite part about the business school?”

The floating study rooms of course! Check it out.




Well, that’s the end of the tour my friends. I don’t take tips, but I have a tip for you! Find a school that looks this good, because it makes spending 95% of your waking time there really enjoyable.


Summer Loving

Summer 1 Breakdown:

Accounting 8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

Professor: Betsy Willis

Fun Facts: She loves to garden, and she loves her grandchildren. Her grandchildren call her “BB” because her maiden name was “Best.” Betsy Best. Alliteration at its finest.

What you learn: how to read, create, and analyze financial statements, and generally how to determine the financial health of a business

Statistics 9:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Professor: Jeremy McElroy

Fun Fact: He collects ultra rare comic books, and his favorite series is Watchmen. He is also a former Marine.

What you learn: how to use programs like Excel and JMP to effectively data crunch and give numbers meaning.


Having classes early in the morning is honestly really nice, especially when I get a free a cup of coffee from the graduate lounge! After classes ends, a couple of us students will knock out the day’s homework, leaving us with some reading for the evenings. I’ve also been able to squeeze in time to go play basketball at the Student Life Center (SLC), or what we call the “Slick” – more on that in a later blog post.

Picking up everything and leaving everyone I knew for grad school was definitely challenging. However, our class is already starting to bond and do fun stuff outside of the classroom together! This week, we went to a place called “The Backyard.” We listened to live music, played Giant Jenga, and watched the NBA finals, which was projected on the side of the building. (Still sad the Thunder aren’t in it anymore. I hope KD doesn’t leave.)


I also learned how to play Kan Jam, which is so much fun. I’ve always wanted to be able to slam dunk.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 5.28.43 PM

In a way, Baylor’s MBA program is sort of like Kan Jam. I am the Frisbee, unaware of my abilities. The professors are the “throwers,” because they empower me and give me direction. My classmates are the “deflectors” because they me push me closer to my goals. Okay, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch or silly, but this week I’m thankful for the community I am surrounded by, here in Waco, who are forming me into the person I am supposed to become.


– John Pham


P.S. My new best friend Justice just started a really awesome blog where you can find some more insight about Baylor’s MBA program with the bonus of his very own artwork!