Jennifer Rice comes to NYU Stern with over six years of experience as a Design Director in sustainability and performance brands. After working as a designer for shoes and ready-to-wear at Zero + Maria Cornejo, she went on to start up her own consulting company in 2021, aligning new and established brands with partners across the east coast for brand development and production services. Jennifer is a Graduate Ambassador, AVP of Admissions for SISA, and admissions committee member for SWIB.
That’s really the only word I can really put here to encapsulate what I feel while writing this. It’s surreal for me to wrap up our class’s Blog Posts knowing we’re signing off as students and going forward as accomplished graduates of NYU Stern Fashion & Luxury MBA (FLUX) Class of 2023.
I mean, I still need to figure out what outfit I’m putting on under the NYU purple graduation gown for crying out loud… I’m not ready for this y’all!
But in all seriousness, this was a special class. Everytime I went to write this post, I would put it off, not because I’m trying to procrastinate, but because I think this really means our cohort’s time at Stern is coming to an end. And while I never imagined referring to myself as a “Sternie”…
This Sternie tears up like a cheeseball thinking about the past 12 months of my life. If you ask my undergrad or highschool peers, none of them would say I was a “rah rah” school spirit kind of girl, but this experience here at Stern and with these 22 other individuals has completely changed me. My theory is that when the environment around you lifts you up, time after time; a cohort who believes in you, and inspires you… you can’t help but feel immense pride and pleasure to call this MBA cohort “home.”
I could go on and tell you about my favorite experiences, my wisdom, and hacks to your google calendar so you make it to every coffee chat and class. But, I also realize you’ve heard from me quite a lot this year: I’ve written 4 of these blog posts, had dozens of coffee chats, and spoke in info sessions and AMAs. And everytime, you would find me rambling on and on about the wonderful experience here at Stern and how much I love my classmates.
But, I thought I’d give you all a break from me and the gift of some fresh voices this time. Instead of me telling you again about all about all these incredible classmates that made me so school spirited and passionate this past year, why don’t I just have them tell you about it themselves? Their wisdom and insights are better than anything I’ll ever be able to type here.
So without further ado, here’s my inspiring peers insights to what their last year has been like and what they’ve learned:
“As someone who moved to New York specifically for this program, I had a lot of apprehension around making friends. I assumed that, since many in the program had lived in New York for years and had their own established lives and groups, they wouldn’t have the time or energy to forge a friendship with someone new like me. My apprehensions were proven wrong day one, and continue to be proven wrong. The individuals in this program have shown me openness, vulnerability, and a willingness to connect that I had never experienced before. My classmates’ vulnerability and openness existed both outside and in the classroom, as many spoke up in our class discussions to share profound opinions that I possessed, too, but had never been brave enough to voice. I am walking away from Stern with a newfound confidence in myself and who I want to be, fueled by the friendships and connections I made this year. My classmates are the brightest, kindest people I know and I am so proud to be a part of their communities.”
“I wish the ones who believe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks could have followed me to school this year. Because, although I wouldn’t say my FLUX peers and I are old, I do know that every one of us learned. Before starting at Stern, I assumed that a specialized program would mean people in my classes would likely be into the same stuff I am. A benefit of the specialization that I didn’t anticipate is that because many of us are making career pivots, my cohort has approached classwork with a self-imposed rigor, genuineness, and willingness to fail. I’ve noticed that it takes a specific type of person to put their social life on hold and adopt a beginner’s mindset in the classroom. This year was hard! However, our small class was able to pool our resources and create the most incredible safety net. At every point this year I felt supported by my classmates. I feel truly that their success will be mine, too. Aside from accounting, econ, finance, and modeling, what I learned this year is that I am so much more capable of growth than I thought I was. I am so lucky to have gotten to witness the same transformations in my friends, too.”
“Do not underestimate the power of love in your cohort. You will be spending every school day, weekends, and even holidays with the group of people in this room. You will probably see them more than you see your family or significant others in the next year. You will laugh, cry, scream, and travel together. You will celebrate highs, lows, and milestones by each other’s side and you will lean on each other in your academic, professional, and personal lives… more than you know. As you pursue this advanced degree and inevitably stress about job placement, do not forget about the value of friendship and the 20 other people who are sharing this journey with you.”
“As I look back on my year with my cohort, I cannot fully articulate the gratitude I feel towards the twenty-three people that changed how I thought: about retail, but also about myself. It’s these twenty-three people that I grew with, learned from, and developed lifelong friendships; like a sponge, I absorbed a little bit of each of them – their interests, opinions, strengths – over the past twelve months.
The reality is you will never have the opportunity to be surrounded by a group of people who care about the future of retailing – be it fashion, luxury, apparel, or beauty – like those in your cohort. They will help you learn and grow and think in a way no other place or program will ever be able to offer. For that, I am forever grateful to this program, and to each and every person in my cohort.”
“I’m walking away from this year with an important takeaway: the more diverse the room, the better off you are. I have loved learning about our different cultures, different industries, and different viewpoints. We all have such varied and unique perspectives, and it’s made my experience richer and more valuable.”
“Since our cohort is small with diverse backgrounds and experiences, I learned a lot from each and every single person. I love how invested we are in each other’s success and have always tried our best to help wherever we can. I wouldn’t have done it any other way”
“I think my learning for the year is not to underestimate how much you can learn from your peers. I think over the course of the year we’ve had some incredible exposure to different professionals within the industry. We’ve had so many different people come in and explain to us what their job functions look like and what their industries look like. They would talk to us about different market trends and give us guidance on things we should be working on personally to try and make ourselves better professionals. But in addition to that, I feel like it’s been really incredible to see just how much our cohort has become sort of like an ecosystem of shared learning.
We’re all constantly trying to help each other. Throughout our recruiting processes and throughout just different hurdles we’ve all needed to overcome at some point, we saw each time our community came together and really tried to help each one of us and push things forward. We worked to make sure everyone’s individual goals and aspirations were achieved and honestly that’s not something that I really thought was going to come out of school. I was kind of expecting to go and pay for the education and receive lectures from different professionals that the school is providing us, but it’s been a really incredible experience to truly learn from each and everyone of our friends in our cohort.”
“Stern has a diverse range of students from different backgrounds and this advantage helped me learn from students around me with real life experiences from different industries, which broadened my horizon.”
“If you have an open mind, you will learn just as much (if not more) from your cohort as you will from your professors. Your peers have so much to offer. We all came from different backgrounds, industries, and functions, but we all have had the same patience and compassion for each other, and have lifted each other up since day 1. Given the intensity of this program, your cohort truly becomes your family and support system. Never underestimate the love and friendship that can come out of enduring high-pressure situations together. Lean into the tough times because they develop the strongest friendships — friendships that will develop into future networks.”
“The FLUX MBA is a time to go out of your comfort zone and focus on things that scare you and push yourself to do things that you would usually avoid. Stern is actually a really safe place for you to take those risks because everyone is so supportive. It might not seem like it on the outside, but I learned that many others shared the same fears that I had—like public speaking, for example. I was able to develop myself alongside a tight-knit, supportive group of individuals which allowed me to focus on my weaknesses and turn them into strengths.”
“Man what a year this has been? I can’t believe everything that has passed by. If I could pass along one takeaway, I would say it’s to be more open to spontaneity. Life is unexpected and there will always be something in your day that will make you stressed or anxious (especially in business school), but there will also be random moments (for me usually unplanned) that will bring you happiness and joy. Those unplanned moments are the ones that will maybe give you clarity and help push you out of your comfort zone. By being flexible and open to new people and experiences, you’ll have the opportunity to exchange information and it will eventually define who you are. You never know who you’ll meet or what conversations you’ll have, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s okay to take a break, enjoy the weather, grab a drink with classmates, or go shopping. You are in school and the structure will always be there if you need it. In fact, many times the structure can help you find new ways to connect. Take this time while you are in school to lean into those moments more and see how you might be inspired.”
“From the moment I received my acceptance letter to NYU Stern’s Fashion and Luxury MBA program, I knew that this would be a transformative experience. But as I walked into orientation on my first day, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of apprehension. Would the reality live up to my expectations?
Now, nearly a year later, I can confidently say that NYU Stern has exceeded all of my expectations. Not once did I look back. Not once did I question whether this was the right program for me. And not once did I question whether this program was worth my time and financial commitment. What made my time at NYU Stern so memorable were the people I met. My classmates were some of the most intelligent and inspiring individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. They challenged me, supported me, and encouraged me to be the best version of myself. And my professors at Stern were unmatched in their expertise and commitment to their craft.
I know that I am leaving a better person. I am more confident in my abilities, more knowledgeable about my industry, and more committed to making a positive impact. As I prepare to graduate from NYU Stern, I’ll be proud to say I left Stern, and Stern left me, better than I found it.”
This is Flux MBA Class of 2023 officially signing off.
We’ve absolutely loved getting to share our experiences and insights with you all and we sincerely welcome the Flux Class of 2024!!