Crisis Simulation in the Leadership Development Program

“In the real world” is a phrase that you hear all too often as a student. Sure, you learn all of the theories and principles about Finance, or Marketing, or any other subject. But what does it actually look like in the real world?

This past semester, I had the opportunity to take many of the principles that are taught at Stern and apply it to a real world setting as part of the Leadership Development Program (LDP). One of the main reasons why I chose to pursue my MBA and specifically go to Stern was to have the opportunity to focus on learning principles of leadership which I will be able to apply to my future career. Naturally, I applied to be a part of LDP to make that a reality.

The first major programming for LDP was a crisis simulation, which put groups of students in a potential real-life scenario. In this scenario, we were given a real company, and each student would assume the role of a different executive. We were briefed with a developing crisis situation and placed in a “war room”. Over the course of the next 3 or 4 hours, the phone in the war room would ring and we would learn new information or be connected with new people, such as an ambassador to a foreign country, police chief, or news reporter. We were tasked to respond to everything coming in and communicate out our plan.

To some people, perhaps this exercise wouldn’t feel “real” enough, or they wouldn’t take it completely seriously. But in our war room, we were the company executives, and this was a real crisis that we were facing. Although our team didn’t win for the best overall response to the day’s action, it was still an incredible experience. The most important key to making this activity a success was the buy-in by everybody. This is why I have enjoyed my experience with LDP so far. Everyone in the program is committed to learning more about themselves and becoming a better leader.

One of the great things about Stern is that you don’t need to caveat what you learn by how it would be in the real world. The school gives you ample opportunity to know how everything does work in the real world. Whether it is the crisis simulation, experiential learning, guest speakers, or even the impressive resumes of our own professors, we are constantly exposed to learning about real applications of the many principles that are taught in the classroom. I know that these experiences will better prepare me to be a member of the Stern community, my internship this summer, and my career and life after Stern.

Post by Farah Karim

While we all come to business school to hone our analytical or quantitative skills, build upon the experiences we had while working or switch careers, another reason we come back to school is to learn from others. At Stern, I have had the opportunity and pleasure of taking classes taught by the most well-known professors in their respective fields: Aswath Damodaran, Scott Galloway and Charlie Murphy. I’ve learned Corporate Finance, Brand Strategy and all about Financial Services. I have also learned what it means to be an adult, what it means to live life and what it means to succeed in the real world. As Sternies, we want to succeed in our personal and professional lives. We want to become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. We want to be the next big leaders, following in the footsteps of the greatest.

But, how did they get there? I truly enjoyed attending every Charlie Murphy lecture last semester, especially because it taught me exactly what investment bankers do, something I did not understand before. My favorite Charlie Murphy lecture was our final class and the end to his last fall semester. Not only did we learn about the financial crisis and how the housing bubble burst, but we also learned Charlie Murphy’s top 10 life lessons. It was unforgettable, and my friend and I left the classroom still talking about how we can apply these life lessons in our careers.

I impart on you the wisdom that I have learned from Charlie Murphy:

  1. When you start work, differentiate yourself – “physical not digital”
  2. Have empathy
  3. Have humility
  4. Don’t have kids if all you care about is your career
  5. Live your life, not somebody else’s
  6. Take risks now
  7. Have a hobby
  8. When you start, work hard, but don’t take on more than you can
  9. Create your network
  10. Figure out how to spend more time with the CEO / people at that level

At Stern, you are constantly learning how to improve yourself personally and professionally. With exciting projects, exciting class topics and truly inspirational professors, the opportunities to grow yourself at Stern are endless. Stern really is an “education in possible.”

Reflections on First Semester

Reflections on First Semester

I chose Stern partly for the obvious reasons. It is a top MBA program that is well-respected and has a robust alumni base in my industry of focus. More, my wife and I relished the opportunity to move to New York and have a new adventure after calling Boston home for 8 years. However, it was the people I met during my interview on campus that really sold me on attending Stern. I vividly remember walking into KMC through the Bobst entrance and being warmly greeted by the security guard. After he let me in and wished me luck, I ran into multiple Sternies on my way to the admissions office all of whom went out of their way to welcome me to Stern, give me advice and wish me luck. From that moment, I knew Stern was the place for me.

Fast forward to August. I am fresh back from my honeymoon and ready to dive into LAUNCH. The days leading up to LAUNCH were filled with anticipation, excitement and nervousness. I was excited to begin my MBA journey and to meet my classmates, yet nervous about how I would get along with everyone and how I would fit in. About 10 minutes on campus, those nerves were replaced by a feeling of comfort and belonging. The feeling I had was the same as I experienced during the day of my interview.

After LAUNCH, first semester is a blur. Instead of days filled with team building events, workshops, and happy hours I now had class, recruiting events…and happy hours. Moreover, recruiting begins in earnest. Particularly for those of us recruiting in the fall, first semester is daunting. The best part about it is everyone is going through a similar experience and that shared…misery?….is something that helps further solidify relationships. Before I knew it, the first semester was over and it was onto winter break.

Returning to campus at the end of January (January and interview season can be a post all on its own) is a special experience. The feeling I had right before classes started was similar to the feeling I had at LAUNCH, except the nervousness was replaced with excitement. Seeing your friends after a month, hearing about their travels and interviews and time off over a beer (or two) is GREAT. Also, second semester is less structured than the first so I had the opportunity to craft my own schedule, get involved with different activities and meet more people than the fall.

Hopefully I have been able to convey that I have truly loved every moment of my Stern experience… even the recruiting and finals. The academic programs are top notch, the faculty and staff are the best around, and you cannot beat the location. However, it is the students that truly separate Stern from its peers. My initial intuition served me well, and if I had to make the decision all over again it is safe to say I would make the same one again.

Post from Shante Frazier

Over the winter break, I had the opportunity to explore three different countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, and Scotland. I went to Colombia for a wedding, Costa Rica for a Doing Business In (DBi) class, and Scotland for a Stern Signature project. Although packing for three different climates was a challenge (imagine boots, flip flops, sunglasses and thermals in one checked bag) I would not trade the experiences I gained from each trip for anything.  

My break began with me meeting up with classmates in Colombia. We flew to the country to celebrate the wedding of a classmate who I met during the Consortium’s orientation program. I always knew that the most valuable part of business school was the relationships you built but this trip solidified that fact. We spent a week laughing together, partying together, and crying tears of pure joy as we watched our friend marry his best friend. The trip was amazing and it made me realize how I lucky I was to find such a strong community Stern.

After leaving Colombia I flew to Costa Rica for a DBi class. The class, which focused on sustainable development, took place at the INCAE Business School. We had the opportunity to learn more about the rice and coffee industries through case studies and site visits. We also learned more about the tourism industry and the tough questions that come along with it. Overall, the trip was a great learning experience and a fun way to build new relationships with classmates outside of my social circle.

My last trip was to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. I went there for a Stern Signature Project, which is a program that pairs students with companies or organizations to help solve a problem. The company my team was assigned to work with was the Carloway Mill, one of the last three mills that produces Harris Tweed. My team was able to explore the island to see where the inspiration for the designs came from while interviewing key stakeholders. The town we stayed in had a population of 500, so it was completely different from our NYC experience. It was nice to be able to immerse ourselves in the culture so that we could have a better understanding of the mindset of the weavers and producers. The knowledge we took away from the trip was much more than we could have ever gained from a case study. We left excited about the relationships we had built and the ideas we had generated.

My classmates and I returned to classes and the halls were full of students exchanging stories about their Winter travels. Although I feel like I accomplished a lot during my 30-day winter break, my journey pales in comparison to the journeys of my classmates. It’s so exciting to hear about the diverse experiences and to see all the exciting things that everyone is working on. It’s clear that no one was truly “breaking” this winter.  

 

Summer Internship Series: Macquarie

EF_HeadshotEvan Foo is a rising MBA2 and interning at Macquarie this summer. He is specializing in Finance and Leadership & Change Management and is a member of the Asian Business Society, Graduate Finance Association, and the Stern Private Equity Club.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

Stern Transition
Growing up, I did not imagine I would one day be working in a bank. My journey has taken me from a budding entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, a venture capitalist for the Singapore government and a CEO of a wireless speaker business to becoming a student of finance at Stern and in Wall Street. Prior to Stern, I had developed a keen understanding of early stage business and finance, but wanted the complete picture of the corporate lifecycle, and resolved to learn firsthand Wall Street’s role in shaping global companies and markets.

With its reputed strength in finance and location in the heart of New York City, Stern provided the perfect opportunity to make this transition. Connecting these dots in my career led to my summer in investment banking with Macquarie being an ideal platform for continued development.

Choosing Macquarie
One of the first considerations when recruiting for investment banking is to understand the nuances of each firm, and where your fit lies. I was first attracted to Macquarie because of its unique merchant banking function, under the Principal Transactions Group (PTG). Macquarie not only provided transaction advice and debt financing, but could also use its balance sheet to make equity investments in companies. Macquarie thus offered the best of both worlds and slightly more. The stability and resources of a bulge bracket bank, the work experience of a boutique (through leaner deal teams) and the ability to forge unique relationships with clients and sponsors.

The second is to determine what you want from your summer experience. The leaner teams at Macquarie provided the hands-on experiences I was looking for. Being able to work directly with Managing Directors, build models and interact with clients were big draws for me. Having gotten along well with the bankers from the firm and demonstrated technical competency for the job, I was offered a summer associate role in the Financial Institutions Group (FIG). The managing director of the fintech team was from Stern, and I looked forward to working with him.

Macquarie Experience
Walking past the revolving doors for the first time, tales of endless summer work and play from predecessors set the foundation on which expectation was built. My peers comprised of former investment managers, bankers, models, and engineers, yet everyone started on a level playing field during the first week of training. Soon we would be caught up in the whirlwind of work, volunteering, baseball games, charity runs and summer outings to managing directors’ homes, all of which presented various aspects of life in the industry. Staffers (typically Vice Presidents in charge of assigning projects and managing work flow within a group) protected our time for such events that not only provided reprieve from work but also an opportunity to deepen relationships with colleagues outside the work environment. Playing soccer with colleagues before dipping into the pool on a hot summer day was a personal highlight. All in a day’s work.

Food menu from a summer party.
Food menu from a summer party.

The workspace was aptly called the bullpen, the arena where everyone sat, from analysts to managing directors. Observing first-hand how a managing director operates and manages clients daily was already a key learning point for me. My day-to-day responsibilities throughout the internship would evolve from due diligence and industry research to managing analysts, building financial models, and co-leading a cross-border buy-side deal. The buy-side transaction offered the deal experience I had so desired, as I was involved in a critical stage of the deal and worked directly with a managing director. Another project with the PTG team was a welcomed bonus and it provided additional exposure across groups.

Take-aways
Walking past the revolving doors for the last time, it was comforting to know my contributions were appreciated and recognized by my team. Our buy-side progressing to the final phase made all the hard work pay off. Make no mistake about it, investment banking is a demanding job, the people we work with and the contacts we can call on make all the difference. I am therefore very thankful for the support provided by the Stern banking community in my group, firm, cohort, and across Wall Street, that has helped define my recruiting process and summer experience. In the same way, I hope to pay it forward.

Summer Internship Series: Colgate-Palmolive

FA_HeadshotFrancois Anderson is a rising MBA2 and interning at Colgate-Palmolive this summer. He is specializing in Marketing and Strategy and is a member of the Graduate Marketing Association and Stern Speaks.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

This summer, I was an intern at Colgate-Palmolive, a global household and consumer products company that is headquartered in New York City. The NYC location was one of my main attractions to the company. Having lived in NYC for the past 9 years, this city has become my home. Though I am open to idea of moving for job opportunities, I am not ready to leave NYC. Therefore, an internship in the city was important to me. Beyond the company’s location, it was also important for me to work at a global company since the world in which we live is becoming more and more globalized. I got to know Colgate-Palmolive through corporate presentations, company visits, and conversations with several employees at the company. I loved the company’s emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. Most important, throughout the entire recruiting process with the company, I was convinced that it was the right fit for me. Therefore, I relished the opportunity to work at Colgate-Palmolive for the summer.

This summer, I worked specifically in Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals North America (COP), a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive whose mission is to drive active brand recommendations to grow consumer sales and drive sales for prescription and over-the-counter products, as well as in-office products. In this exciting mission for COP, I learned how to develop strategic plans that will help to drive the fluoride category and increase penetration in dental offices. I also learned how to put in place tactical initiatives that will help drive sales and prescription.

Francois & Michael

My main summer project was to ideate, develop, and implement the 5Ps strategy for PreviDent varnish in the US. Working with various cross-functional teams, I was tasked with developing a more comprehensive pricing scheme for our offerings and creating strategies for product innovation cross-category promotions to drive sales, specifically within pediatric offices. I also worked on developing new communication to be more appealing and relevant to pediatric patients. Finally, I created strategies to expand our distribution within and beyond dental offices.

I applied lessons from my MBA coursework to successfully execute my summer project. Classes that helped me prepare for my summer internship included Marketing, Strategy, Brand Strategy, and Marketing Planning and Strategy. Though this class list is not exhaustive, these classes helped me develop the critical and analytical skills and the overall confidence needed to be successful in my summer internship. They helped me frame issues and tasks within the context of the larger goals of the department and company, which helped to maintain a certain level of focus when developing strategies. Beyond coursework, GMA’s Mock Madness prepared me well, not only for the interview process, but also for the summer internship. Mock Madness is a week-long intensive interview prep series where students drill each other on interview questions and offer open and honest feedback on areas of improvement. The knowledge and skills I developed in Mock Madness enabled me to quickly understand what was required of me to be successful within the internship.

As I reflect upon the summer, I am happy to say that my internship experience was a successful one. My experience exceeded my expectations and I am happy to have interned at Colgate-Palmolive. I was also adequately prepared for the internship, thanks to my Stern coursework and GMA.

Summer Internship Series: Mastercard

Mark Lomedico HeadshotMark Lomedico is a rising MBA2 and interning at Mastercard this summer. He is specializing in Management, Management of Technology & Operations, and Finance and is a member of the Military Veterans Club, Stern Women in Business, and the Management Consulting Association.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

I first met Dean Peter Henry at the Stern Military Veterans Summit for prospective students in the Fall of 2015. On a Saturday in October, the Dean spent his personal time answering our questions and describing Stern’s unique qualities. I vividly remember him discussing the notion that doing well and doing good were not mutually exclusive and that Stern empowers its students to create value in business and society after graduation. It was with those words in mind that I was able to develop a recruiting philosophy to help guide my journey during the Fall of 2016.

Sometime in November, I took stock of my recruiting strategy. I was interested in the consulting and technology industries and had my eye on a few rotational management programs. While I never felt unsure of my chosen recruiting tracks, I wanted to evaluate my options and decide what companies to focus on most. Remembering Dean Henry’s words helped me take stock of what I held to be important and consequently I concluded the following: I wanted to work at a company where I could do interesting work and have the opportunity to make a difference in society. After that revelation, Mastercard quickly became my top choice.

Given that 85% of all consumer transactions involve cash or check, Mastercard stands to experience incredible growth given its focus on digital payments and its vision of a world beyond cash. I saw the company as a place where I could learn about payments, be innovative, and work in a dynamic industry. Furthermore, Mastercard has a large focus on global financial inclusion. Initiatives such as 2Kuze, prepaid debit cards for refugees, and the many identity inclusion programs significantly improve many peoples’ lives around the world. Having served in the U.S. Army, I wondered whether my career after business school would have a higher purpose and serve a cause greater than myself. Mastercard’s executive leadership emphasizes and champions these financial inclusion programs and I am proud to intern for a company that focuses on generating revenue and improving the societies in which it operates.

Currently I am interning in an account management division that services customers (i.e., banks) that issue Mastercard cards. My project is to examine ways to make account management more efficient and improve the overall customer experience. This has afforded me the opportunity to learn much about Mastercard’s core products, its main revenue drivers, and customer needs. Far from busywork, my project was created out of an observed need for strategic analysis to be put towards a real problem. Empowered with executive buy-in, I know my efforts are valued and matter.

Outside of the office, I have been fortunate to contribute to Mastercard’s success on the soccer field. We face off against companies in the surrounding Westchester area and through soccer I have been able to meet many new Mastercard employees and learn about what they do.

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As we approach the end of the summer, I have my sights set on Mastercard’s full-time rotational management program for MBA graduates. Created by the CFO, the Management Associates Program exposes participants to different business units during three six-month rotations. As Mastercard has many global offices, one rotation is at an international office such as Dubai, London, or Singapore, to name a few locations. Mastercard is full of intelligent people and exciting opportunities to create business value and to assist financially excluded segments of society. I am grateful for Stern’s relationship with Mastercard and the opportunity I was afforded to intern at the firm. I look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead of me and am thankful that Dean Henry’s perspective on the possibilities after graduation guided my recruiting efforts.

Summer Internship Series: QuintilesIMS

Daniel Villaveces headshot copyDaniel Villaveces is a rising MBA2 and interning at QuintilesIMS this summer. He is specializing in Entrepreneurship & Innovation and is a member of the Stern Healthcare Association, Stern Student Government, and the Management Consulting Association

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

People who’ve done their MBA often say it was a transformative experience for them and that they wish they could do it all over again. After having completed one year of school, and 70% of my summer internship, I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with them. I have learned more about myself in the last year or so than I have in any other year of my life. A large part of these lessons has come from applying to and doing my internship in consulting.

It all started with my dissatisfaction in my prior career in medicine. After I gathered the courage to switch careers, despite having a great opportunity in my old career, I was somewhat lost. I had devoted over 10 years of my life to learning and practicing medicine, and this was the first time I had even considered doing something else. After reaching out to my network, talking to others who had left medicine before me and reading way too many articles titled “7 things you should do before you switch careers,” I decided I wanted to be a management consultant. This path allowed me to have an impactful career while being exposed to and learning about different aspects of business, something that I felt a career in industry could not give me.

Better men than me have written about the process of getting an internship in consulting at Stern, so I will save you the details. I will only say that it is a long and arduous process that starts early in your first semester and ends well after first semester is long gone. (Pro tip: don’t come to school with the plan of figuring out what you want to do, start doing research about potential post-graduation careers, and how to get there, before you get to school). It is also a process that required me to be genuine and deliberate about my career choice, so it forced me to think long and hard about what matters most to me in life – and it is through that self-reflection that I ultimately learned the most valuable lessons.

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Even though the process was demanding (or perhaps because of it), it was extremely rewarding to see my efforts pay off when I was offered a position at QuintilesIMS doing healthcare consulting. The 7 weeks I have spent there have taught me many lessons. The first one is, as they say when you’re running a race, to trust your training. I have often amazed myself at how much I’ve learned in two semesters of business school, especially considering I had no prior business experience. The second is that you should see your internship as another huge learning experience. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know,” to ask questions and to meet as many people as you can. Ultimately, your internship is where you get to try out a career for 10 weeks, so you better make sure you put it to the test. After all the self-reflection you did prior to the MBA, you owe it to yourself.

I’d like to close by saying that there is obviously more to my MBA experience than I could fit into a blog post about my internship. If you want to know more about any of it (e.g. what is it like to be an international student? What are the best places to go running in the city? How to survive on 50c/day in NYC? What are the 7 things you should do before you switch careers?), please don’t hesitate to contact me this fall at mbaga@stern.nyu.edu. Until next time!

Summer Internship Series: Accenture Consulting

TJ_Headshot croppedTJ Herrle is a rising MBA2 and interning at Accenture Consulting this summer. He is specializing in Strategy and Leadership & Change Management and is a member of the Management Consulting Association, and Stern Student Government

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

When I began considering an MBA, I didn’t know what management consulting even was. I came from a non-traditional professional background, with a few years of government work experience and several years working internationally at startups. But with the help of an entire ecosystem of people and resources at Stern, I’m excited to say that I’m halfway through a very successful summer internship at Accenture Consulting.

This brings me to the two big questions I want to tackle. First, back to my pre-MBA days: What even is management consulting? And secondly, how did I make that pivot to end up at Accenture this summer?

The way I see it, management consulting is all about helping clients uncover and address their most critical business needs. It always starts with a problem. Maybe a client is losing market share to a new competitor in the industry. Perhaps a firm is looking to replace an older technology system with a better product. Whatever the case may be, clients hire management consultants to help them think through the problem, structure an approach, and develop a solution to achieve meaningful, quantifiable results.

Now to bring the high-level into some day-to-day takeaways for incoming MBA students considering entering this industry. For starters, you have to love working with people. From client-side meetings to late-night project team work sessions, consulting is an incredibly interactive field. If you thrive in that type of fast-paced, collaborative environment like I do, consulting might be a great fit. Next, you should be comfortable digesting large amounts of information and developing organized, synthesized output, usually in the form of a spreadsheet or a slide. You have to prioritize the information, and learn to make decisions without having all of the data you may want. Lastly, from a practical standpoint, you have to be OK with what can at times be a demanding schedule. It’s not uncommon to be on-the-road every week during any given project, or to have to put in extra hours when a deadline is approaching. That said, those demands can be incredibly rewarding in terms of both personal and professional development.

Now for my second big question: How did I make the pivot and end up at Accenture? It was a mix of leveraging the many great people and resources at Stern, and putting in a lot of hard work. From a resources standpoint at Stern I think of three big buckets. One is the Office of Career Development (OCD). They provide a series of skills workshops through the IGNITE program, and they host companies on-campus for corporate presentations where you learn about a firm and network with consultants. An OCD-sponsored Accenture corporate presentation is where I first connected with the firm. The second bucket is the student-led Management Consulting Association (MCA). MCA partners with consulting firms to host additional networking opportunities and workshops, with events such as lunch-and-learns and a weekly casing boot camp. The third bucket is yourself and your peers. Stern provides a clear starting point for how to pursue management consulting, but you must combine them with your own efforts to position yourself for success. For me, that meant spending many-a-Saturday afternoons practicing consulting cases with friends, as well as working independently on specific skills I needed to improve. If you haven’t yet heard about the collaborative community at Stern, let me make sure it’s on your radar. I can’t say enough positive things about the availability, helpfulness, and support offered by my classmates along my own recruitment journey, and I imagine many others share that same sentiment.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was wondering what management consulting even was, and now I’m halfway through my summer internship in that exact field. My time at Accenture has taught me a lot and I’m thrilled that I am exploring this path. If you’re considering making a change to enter management consulting, from where I sit, Stern is a great place for you to make it happen.

Summer Internship Series: Discovering Healthcare Brand Management

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Erin Guthrie is a rising MBA2 and interning at Johnson & Johnson this summer. She is specializing in Marketing and Strategy and is a member of the Graduate Marketing Association and the Stern Healthcare Association.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

I always thought I wanted to work in pharmaceutical marketing. I wrote my admissions essay to NYU Stern about securing an internship at a major healthcare company. I was laser focused on one goal, and then fall recruiting began.

Prior to Stern, I was an account manager at an international public relations firm, handling pharmaceutical and medical device accounts. I loved everything about my job, especially when I had the opportunity to work across other agencies to develop a well-rounded marketing campaign for our clients. I discovered my passion for uncovering insights and the fun of building marketing strategies to bring products to life. I knew healthcare marketing was for me and so I pursued an MBA with the intention of going into pharmaceutical brand management.

When fall recruiting began, I was exposed to the wide range of career opportunities NYU Stern unlocks for you. Beyond traditional healthcare opportunities, I sat in corporate presentations for fragrance companies, food and beverage, luxury and consumer packaged goods. In particular, I met with the CPG teams at large healthcare companies and saw how they bring over-the-counter products to market with creativity and reach far beyond the possibilities available in pharma.

My healthcare background, aligned with my love of marketing and creative thinking led me to lean into CPG recruiting. I applied and interviewed with a number of consumer healthcare companies and eventually secured an internship with Johnson & Johnson, as part of the brand management team for LISTERINE.

LISTERINE Summer Associates at the Facebook offices for a capabilities tour.
LISTERINE Summer Associates at the Facebook offices for a capabilities tour.

At J&J, I have expanded my marketing capabilities beyond what I thought was possible. I have been tasked with real business problems and will be expected to deliver strategic solutions that will be implemented across the brand. In such a competitive landscape, you’re constantly pushed to think outside the box and explore new ways of doing things.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson, like most CPG companies, has a structured internship program that incorporates training, mentorship and social events that work together to make your summer an enriching experience. The culture at J&J reminds me a lot of why I chose Stern: it is fiercely competitive and strives the be the best in the industry, but within the walls of the company, there is an overwhelming sense of support and collaboration to help everyone excel together.

I never thought my MBA experience would take me to building a digital strategy for mouthwash, but I am glad it did.

Fellow Summer Associates at an impromptu cookout in our apartment complex. All SAs live together in corporate housing.
Fellow Summer Associates at an impromptu cookout in our apartment complex. All SAs live together in corporate housing.

Summer Internship Series: Loop Capital Markets

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Oyinkansola Ayobiojo is a rising MBA2 and interning at Loop Capital Markets this summer. She is specializing in Finance, Strategy, and Global Business.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

My first three weeks interning at Loop Capital Markets have been great. I have the unique opportunity to sit on the equity capital markets (ECM) desk, which is in between the sales and trading (S&T), and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) groups. I spend about half of my day on projects for ECM and the other half on projects for the healthcare M&A team. My typical day starts at 7:30am with a research call where I listen to the traders discuss the global markets and research analysts discuss their specific companies as well as their rationale behind new reports and/or buy and sell ratings. Listening in on these calls has been an amazing learning opportunity and helps me to better understand the conversations I overhear the sales teams having with investors throughout the day.

On the ECM desk, my responsibilities include creating client materials and case studies on recent equity offerings, updating market data, as well as drafting selling points for equity issues that are about to launch. My team also has weekly calls with coverage investment bankers and research analysts to better understand how we can all work together to win new business and specifically, how the ECM team can position itself to pitch a company on upcoming equity offerings. On the healthcare M&A team, we advise biotechnology companies. I have been assisting the team with live private placements and buy side engagements. Getting up to speed on the biotechnology industry with absolutely no science background has been a bit challenging. However, knowing that these companies are developing treatments for life-threatening diseases has been motivating because I know that helping raise capital will positively impact lives in the future.

One of things I enjoy the most about working at Loop is the culture and the people. My experience at Loop has been unlike the horror stories I have heard about investment banking in the past. The people are very friendly and willing to answer any questions that I have. I work closely with the head of ECM and that has been instrumental to helping me better understand the IPO process. There is no “face time” and unnecessary long nights. All the interns are encouraged to work hard, but smart, and to learn about all aspects of the business, which is something that I will be focused on doing over the next seven weeks. My plan is to shadow some traders and to learn more about the public finance arm of Loop. Additionally, Loop’s lunch room is always stocked with healthy and organic fruits and snacks, which has helped me to stay on track health-wise. I also really love the firm’s location—it is downtown, right on Wall Street and across from the Seaport District! It is such a beautiful location and I typically try to take a 15-minute break to walk by the water!

Overall, I am happy with my decision to join Loop this summer in their New York office. I have been able to explore New York more this summer and was fortunate to attend the Toigo Foundation Annual Gala, where I got to hear Michelle Obama speak! The Toigo Foundation helps MBA students of diverse backgrounds break into the finance industry and then works with them to accelerate and develop their careers. The Foundation raised almost $300,000 at the gala and I am so fortunate to be a Toigo Fellow, and was even more surprised to see my face in front of the stage at the gala! The gala has been one of the highlights of my summer so far and I look forward to more amazing experiences this summer.

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Summer Internship Series: From the Military to Management Consulting

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Wes Going is a rising MBA2 and interning at L.E.K. Consulting this summer. He is specializing in Finance and Strategy and is a member of the Management Consulting Association, Military Veterans Club, and the Stern Management & Strategy Club.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.

In the past, I usually spent my summers on-board a destroyer overseas. This summer, I am working as a Summer Consultant in L.E.K. Consulting’s New York office. As I reflect on the past year, having left the Navy, completed my first year of business school and now working at my internship, it’s exciting to look back on the opportunities I’ve had while at Stern.

As someone applying to business school after spending my entire post-undergrad life in the military, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write for my admissions essay ‘life plan,’ much less what the different potential post-MBA career opportunities were. To research, I leveraged current and alumni networks, in particular the Vets Clubs, and was intrigued by strategy consulting. The opportunity to have high-level impact on businesses within ambiguous, dynamic, team-based environments sounded similar to the situations I faced in the Navy. I also didn’t, and still don’t, know ‘what I want to do when I grow up,’ so being able to postpone that decision while continuing to develop a broader business understanding across industries beyond business school was also appealing.

After starting school I needed to figure out what consulting really was, if I still wanted to pursue it, and ultimately how to land an internship. Having limited experience with consulting and the case interview, I leveraged four resources at Stern to get up to speed. The first was the coursework, which gave me a foundational understanding of business. In particular, this spring I experienced consulting hands-on through the Stern Consulting Corps, an experiential learning course, through which I worked on a five year growth strategy for a global luxury scotch brand. Secondly, I heavily participated in the activities of the Management Consulting Association (MCA). With the weekly Casing Bootcamps, weekly meetings with my MBA2 MCA mentor, and casing workshops taught by experienced consulting professionals, I gained confidence in my casing skills. Third, with the support of the Stern community, both current students and alumni, I practiced and tailored my casing skills over the first semester of school. Finally, the formal events set up by the Office of Career Development (OCD), from programs like IGNITE to the corporate events with consulting firms, I gained an understanding of the different types of consulting firms out there and which ones fit me best.

Leveraging these resources, I was offered an internship this summer with L.E.K. Consulting. As a Summer Consultant, I’ve enjoyed analyzing market features and growth strategies for a company in an industry in which I have limited experience. Daily, I find myself learning from, and challenged by, my team and the leaders at the firm to continue expanding my business understanding. My initial research of consulting has also proven to be true, both in terms of the opportunities to create real impact and in the length of some work days. Yet, I’ve also found work-life balance to be strongly emphasized, from spending a week in Cape Cod for internship orientation to having in-office massages on Fridays. Specifically at L.E.K., I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to lead an associate on my own dedicated work stream, and my wife and I appreciate L.E.K.’s minimal travel structure, both of which are not common in consulting.

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As I look back on the past year, it’s crazy to think what getting an MBA has made possible. Leaving the military without an MBA, I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in consulting, and probably wouldn’t have known such opportunities existed. Looking forward, I’m excited for what I’ll learn the rest of the summer and in my second year at Stern.

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Summer Internship Series: My Journey to American Express

image2Mansi S. Allison is a rising MBA2 and interning at American Express this summer. She is specializing in Finance and Strategy and is a member of Stern Women in Business.

NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship. 

The past year has brought about many firsts for me – starting business school and now beginning a 10-week summer internship with American Express. As a prospective student, I was always curious to learn about the summer between year one and year two. How do students secure internships? How do they know what they are interested in? What skills are required of MBA interns? I hope this post helps you to start thinking through some of these questions.

Prior to business school, I worked in strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte and later at an enterprise technology startup, where I led their Customer Success department. I knew that I wanted an MBA to round out my foundational business skills and pivot into corporate strategy or internal consulting. I was open to pursuing these roles in a variety of industries because the most important thing to me was the function. Accordingly, I cast a wide net in my initial search.

I found that the best way to explore different companies and careers was to meet with people, so I took a two-pronged approach. First, I made a list of people in my personal network who were currently employed by companies I was interested in. Second, I made sure to attend each on-campus event held by that company, whether it was a corporate presentation, coffee chat, or other event. By interacting with employees and asking thoughtful questions, I was able to learn a lot about each company’s priorities, initiatives, and plans for the future. Of course, I complemented all these meetings (“coffee chats,” as we call them in MBA lingo) with extensive solo research as well.

Preparing for MBA interviews was an intense and time-consuming—but ultimately rewarding—process. Stern’s winter break spans six weeks (from mid-December through the end of January), so I was lucky to have a big stretch of uninterrupted time to prepare for interviews without worrying about schoolwork. The biggest difference for me between interviewing for an MBA internship versus my previous jobs was the level of technical and company-specific knowledge you were expected to have in order to stand out. For example, how does the company make money? How is the industry currently being disrupted and how is the company responding to that? What key developments came out of the company’s latest earnings release?

After interviewing with a number of companies for strategy roles, I was thrilled to receive an offer from American Express to join their internal consulting team for a summer internship. As I write this, I’ve only been there a little over a week, but I am excited to apply the technical and theoretical skills I have learned in the classroom to problems in the real world. While it’s too soon to tell what challenges I will tackle this summer, I am confident that my first year at Stern has prepared me to have a fun and successful summer.

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A Sternspective on… Healthcare

This time I have with me my friend and fellow Graduate Ambassador Kyle Boutin, who is our resident Healthcare expert and Co-President of the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA).  Kyle and I got to know each other after teaming up with a handful of others to put together Preview Weekend for admitted students last Spring—and now we’re glad to be working together again as Graduate Ambassadors!  Kyle hails from outside Boston and was a research engineer for Reactive Innovations, a small chemical engineering research and development firm where he performed electrochemistry research for NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense.  Kyle interned at Pfizer this past summer as a Procurement Associate in their Worldwide Medical and R&D division, and he will be returning there full-time after graduation.

Here’s what he had to say:

Thanks for joining me, Kyle!  As someone interested in healthcare, what was attractive to you about Stern?

It was two large factors.  First, I wanted to build a strong foundation in finance, and Stern obviously has a strong finance curriculum.  I came to school wanting to learn the right way to develop business, and to do that I think understanding how your decisions flow through your financial statements is critical.  Even though I was interested more in strategy and operations than in corporate finance, I felt that having these strong finance skills would give me an edge when recruiting at pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech companies.

Second, when it comes to MBA recruiting, healthcare is a newer industry than consulting or investment banking.  Since the opportunities available to students in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are not necessarily acquired through on-campus recruiting, I wanted to be in a city that had as many recruiting opportunities as possible.  For that, there’s no better place in the world than New York City because it’s a hotbed for corporate recruiters.  There’s a lot of companies that thrive here—Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene, Stryker, Medtronic, Genentech, Amgen, and so on.  So you can find opportunities, on-campus and throughout the city, and I thought if I could have two bites at the apple, I would have a better shot at getting my dream job.

Susan Silbermann, President and General Manager of Pfizer Vaccines and a Stern alumna, addresses a packed room as the keynote speaker at Stern’s Healthcare Conference last October. (Photo credit: Stern Healthcare Association)
Susan Silbermann, President and General Manager of Pfizer Vaccines and a Stern alumna, addresses a packed room as the keynote speaker at Stern’s Healthcare Conference last October. (Photo credit: Stern Healthcare Association)

 

Can you elaborate on the sort of interactions that you and others at Stern have had with these companies?

MBA healthcare recruiting is pretty new, but I think the pharmaceutical companies are actually really involved, so we have a lot of them visiting us here on campus.  Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, the ones I named before, they’re all here and they all come to events.  It’s more structured for them.  As you go to more payer/provider, hospital administration, they post listings here, but hospitals still recruit MPHs and MPPs, so there’s competition there.  Private insurance companies are starting to become more popular because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations that have created competition for large public insurance companies, so they’re trying to infuse new talent, but they appear later on the recruiting timeline.  I say that medical device and biotech are a little between both in that you have some large cap companies that are able to compete with pharmaceutical companies, and then you have some smaller ones where you have to do a little bit more legwork because their ROI from recruiting on campus for maybe one position is just not worth it for them.  So they’ll post on a board, or they’ll go to recruiting events in the city.  And the Office of Career Development (OCD) is awesome in alerting you to these opportunities and keeping that information in their databases so that you can reach out to them, but you have to do the outreach so that you get on their radar.

Full disclosure: Kyle is also a Graduate Fellow for the Office of Career Development because he’s an all-star.  Care to comment on that, Kyle?

Only that it’s not true!  Everyone at Stern is as involved as I am.  It’s one on the things I love about Stern!

Spoken like a true Graduate Ambassador.  Back to healthcare, what was the recruiting process like for you?

I applied to 12 different firms—six on campus, six off.  I would say that’s a pretty common split for someone recruiting for healthcare outside of healthcare consulting.  If you’re doing consulting, you can do 100 percent on campus.  You can find plenty of good opportunities in strategy and operations, business development at Stern too.  Off campus, there are smaller companies that post on the job boards, smaller companies that reach out to the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA) that we post in our newsletter that require students to reach out.  If you’re looking for something at a smaller size healthcare company, we would probably have more people contacting SHA directly that we could direct your way.

How does the Stern Healthcare Association (SHA) play a role in students’ career development?

SHA can be a really good resource for students.  Something amazing about Stern is that we’re really collaborative and good about passing information and connections from MBA2s to MBA1s year over year.  I’m President of SHA, and one of my initiatives is for us to establish an alumni list, so we are tracking alumni from years back so we can get a better off-campus recruiting baseline. So if someone is interested in a position, we have several people to reach out to.

Another awesome thing we do is our healthcare conference.  Every year we have companies coming from all over to network at our conference.  Last year we were 175 people, and we’re going to break 200 this year, so we’re really increasing our presence in the industry through this platform.  We’re really putting ourselves at the forefront, and we’re really growing our membership.

The Technology, Big Data and Analytics Panel drew a large crowd and was just one of the event offerings at the conference, whose theme was “The Changing Face in Healthcare.” (Photo credit: Stern Healthcare Association)
The Technology, Big Data and Analytics Panel drew a large crowd and was just one of the event offerings at the conference, whose theme was “The Changing Face in Healthcare.” (Photo credit: Stern Healthcare Association)

Switching gears a little, what sort of classes are available for students interested in healthcare?

We’re actually making great headway in this.  We offer five electives in healthcare.  One that’s popular is Topics in Investments: Financial Analysis in Healthcare.  We’re also doing a new course this year called Healthcare Markets, which focuses on the economics of the healthcare industry, and I’m really excited about that one.  I’ve sat down with the professor of the course—he’s brilliant, and he’s done most of his research on pharmaceutical pricing and health insurance.  I think what he’s planning on doing is lecturing on the drivers in each industry in healthcare, because they’re vastly different, and he’ll also invite guest speakers to class.  There are two other courses called The Business of Health and Medical Care and Economic Transformation of Healthcare, which are industry overview courses, less in depth than Healthcare Markets, and then there’s a fifth course called Pharmaceutical Marketing (Innovation in Pharmaceutical/Bio Technology).  This one is more an “innovations in healthcare” course, but pharmaceutical marketing is so important to the topic because educating the public and raising awareness about innovation is essential to having the market accept the product and necessary for gaining market share.  Pharmaceutical marketing and innovation are highly linked.

Those are just Stern classes.  You’re also free to take 25 percent of your courses outside of Stern at other NYU schools.  For example, there are ACA policy courses you can take at the law school.  If you’re interested in payer/provider, the med school does a drug development class that some of our MD/MBAs have taken and said is interesting, and it’s more business-related than technical.  Lastly, Wagner [School of Public Service and Policy] has a very good healthcare program, and we partner with the Wagner healthcare network often.  Their dean is one of the chief architects of the ACA as well, and she set the curriculum for the healthcare management courses they offer. These courses focus more on hospital and payer/provider systems.

There you have it, from the resident expert on healthcare himself.  Thanks so much, Kyle!

Sternspective is a series of interviews with Sternies about the diverse paths they are taking in the classroom and beyond. Check out our previous posts about Stern Signature Projects and Marketing.

Four Reasons to Go on a Trek During your First Year

For Spring Break, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for a trek. My experience was nothing short of amazing although I am still recovering almost two weeks later. We started the trek by flying into Johannesburg and then traveling to Kruger National Park the next day. There we spent the next two days traveling in open vehicles through the safari, getting up close to elephants, zebras, and a few rhinos. We ended the Trek by spending four days in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Below are four reasons I think everyone should participate in a trek their first year.

Get to Know Your Classmates

Your first year, you probably won’t meet a lot of students outside of your assigned block. You spend the first semester taking classes, grabbing drinks, and working on group assignments (in that order) with people from your block. Treks are the perfect opportunity for you to mingle with people outside of your block. In addition to meeting other full time students, you also have the opportunity to mingle with Langone students. I met a lot of new people and we have already have a happy hour scheduled for our first mini reunion.allConvenience

Planning an international trip is stressful. It’s hard to figure out where to stay, what to do, and what to eat. Signing up for a trek is simple and convenient. After signing up for the trek through a lottery process, I only had to do two things to prepare for the trip: Make a vaccination appointment and pack my suitcase. meStep Outside Your Comfort Zone

Listen. I would never consider myself to be a “nature person”. There are people who plan vacations around hiking destinations and then there are people, like me, who plan their vacations around food and wine. The trek planners catered to both groups of people by making sure the agenda included activities that were a good mixture of adventure and recreation. As a result, I was automatically signed up for activities that I wouldn’t normally plan myself. For example, I never would have made time for a Safari if I planned the trip myself but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences.

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Since a lot of students go on a trek during Spring Break, every conversation for the next two weeks will be about treks after your return. You don’t want to be the person sitting in the corner not able to contribute to the conversation because you decided to stay home and catch up on class assignments. You only get the Stern experience once. Take advantage of the many opportunities that will come your way. Besides, there’s always time to study on the flight.

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The Network that Never Sleeps

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As someone who is taking a non-traditional path with recruiting, a network is very important to me.  When I was deciding between schools and deciding on what I wanted to do after business school, part of the decision included looking at a school’s alumni.  Are these alumni at places I could see myself working at?  Are they career changers like myself?  Are they willing to take the time to speak with me as I search for my summer and full-time opportunities?  With Stern, the answer to these questions was always yes.

Despite the disparate nature being at a school that doesn’t have a strong sports team and with students living in different boros of New York City, Sternies still develop great relationships.  While in school, you develop relationships with your classmates (future alumni).  While taking experiential classes, alumni come back to mentor you on projects, speak to your classes and impart the knowledge they learned while they were at Stern, and even as they progress in their careers.  A LinkedIn message or an email also goes a long way with Stern alumni.  I have spoken to alumni at least once a week since I started at Stern.  The greatest thing about the network is the common bond – these people were in your shoes once.  They assure you that they were successful, they did fine, and at the end of the day, they have amazing jobs.  The alumni are here to help you, not hurt you, so it’s great to take advantage of such an important resource.

The Stern alumni not only speak with you, they connect you to others in their own personal network – Stern alumni from their year in business school or even contacts at the company you are interested in.  That means your Stern network is endless.  You have your class, the MBA2s, the incoming MBA1s and the additional Stern alumni.  That’s a lot of people.

Now, you may be thinking – sure, every school has alumni.

So, makes the Stern network so great and why are they so important?:

  • Stern alumni exist across a variety of industries, which comes with the vast number of specializations our school offers.  This is something that is unique to Stern.  The diversity of alumni experiences is evident (in the form of specializations or even the countries they work in).  I recently attended an event held by the Luxury and Retail Club featuring Madecasse, a chocolate company based out of New York, a product actually featured at Whole Foods – not something that I thought I would ever experience while at school.  How cool!
  • In addition to the diversity of Stern alumni, our classes are also taught by clinical professors who are experts in their field and who have other jobs in addition to teaching at Stern.  Some key clinical professors include Professor Thomai Serdari (Luxury Marketing) and Professor Scott Galloway (Brand Strategy).  These professors either own their own companies (in the case of Professor Galloway with L2, Inc.) or work with many companies on a day-to-day basis (in the case of Professor Serdari).  These professors are always willing to help.
  • Let’s not forget the additional alumni that full-time students tend to forget about.  NYU Stern also has the Langone program (our part-time program).  These part-time students are working whilst doing their MBA and work at companies that you could potentially work for.  This is an untapped network, and a very important one.
Being a student at Stern will expand your horizons and introduce you to people you never thought you would meet before.  This is the network that never sleeps!

 

Introducing Fintech

Hi Guys!

Today, I want to talk to you guys about finance – specifically, Fintech.

As a humanities major, finance as an MBA student has always been a necessary evil. And yet, what I didn’t expect to find was that the disruption of financial technology proved endlessly fascinating to me. From introducing the concept of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, to the simple move to online and mobile banking, this was a space that is growing at tremendous speeds. Just between 2010 and 2015, investment in the industry increased tenfold, from less than $2 billion to nearly $20 billion.

Stern is probably most known for its financial prowess. We have some of the most lauded professors in the industry (Damodaran, Silber and Murphy to name a few), and our unique location in NYC places us only a couple subway stops from Wall Street. Therefore, it only made sense that administration took notice and understood the importance of this growing industry. This past school year, NYU Stern became the first top business school to offer a specialization in fintech.

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Dean Henry introducing Fintech to Stern

The value of a MBA degree in the fintech space has always been highly valued, as some of the biggest fintech giants such as SoFi, Commonbond, and Earnest were all co-founded by MBA graduates. However, until recently, MBA students were not provided to the academic and career support to keep up with the industry.  David Yermack, a finance professor as well as academic co-chair of the specialization believes that the key is to create a curriculum that “teach[es] what companies on the outside are hiring students to do.”

As part of the specialization, Stern has introduced eight new courses dedicated to fintech which ranges from understanding blockchains and digital currencies to personal finance and payments and risk management. (For specific courses, see here)

We also kicked off our first ever annual FinTech Conference last November. The conference included panels on marketplace investing vs. venture capital, beyond blockchain, and keynote speakers Ken Kroner (retired Senior Managing Director, BlackRock) and Dan Schulman (Stern MBA ’86 and current CEO, PayPal). You can find out more about the conference here.

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Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal and Stern alum speaking at the FinTech Conference with moderator Prof. Charlie Murphy

Furthermore, since the industry is dominated mostly by startups that are headquartered in NYC, we have also been able to organize multiple treks for company visits, as well as regularly source speakers from companies such as Venmo and Orchard Platform. Overall, the introduction of the specialization has signaled to companies that Stern students are not only interested and serious about this industry, but also possess the relevant skillset and knowledge.

As always, till next time!

The [Recruiting] Road Less Taken

From the moment I began my MBA, I was told that as a student who was recruiting for the Luxury Retail industry, I would face a slightly different recruiting cycle and process than many of my peers. The schedule is a bit less structured and most companies in the industry typically recruit on an as-needed basis. That said, the exciting opportunities generally present themselves a bit later in the school year. While this can understandably be a cause of stress for some, I appreciated having the facts upfront. It helped me to determine early on that this was a career path I was committed to pursuing, even though it would certainly require me to be patient and a little more creative with my job-hunting strategy.

Since then, there has never been a time when I’ve doubted the decision to continue on the path I’ve chosen. While this is definitely due in part to countless late night personal pep talks, it can also be largely attributed to the support I’ve felt here at Stern. Though fewer companies in my industry of choice come to campus for the traditional corporate presentations and other such events, Stern’s Office of Career Development taps into its Luxury Retail alumni network throughout the year in an effort to continuously provide students with a gateway into their target companies. I’ve attended breakfast events, during which I’ve had the chance to connect with some of our alumni in more intimate settings and I’ve been to career panels with Luxury Retail professionals who have been happy to share their experiences and are more than willing to answer all our questions.

Another valuable resource I’ve personally leaned on is the Luxury & Retail Club. Club members tirelessly reach out to companies to organize various types of events through which students can gain exposure to companies of interest. Past events have included corporate headquarter visits and tours, lunch & learns, and cocktail hours. Many of these events have led to continued conversations with company employees that ultimately resulted in internships and job offers. The club ensures it is exposing students to a wide array of retailers of varying sizes, growth stages, business models, specializing in different products.

Aside from all these formal internal resources though, what has perhaps been most helpful has been my own peer network at Stern. Simply having conversations with friends about my interests has helped lead me to interesting opportunities I would otherwise not have been aware of. Friends have connected me with other friends or simply passed along job descriptions they come across that they think may be in my wheelhouse. While we are all of course told that our networks will probably be one of the most valuable things we take away from the MBA experience, I think I underestimated just how much I would come to rely on mine. My peers here have proven to be my great asset; they provide encouragement, advice, introductions, and go above and beyond to do so. It is because of all the people and resources that make up my tremendous Stern support system that I feel confident I will be successful in pursuing my career path, as “unstructured” as it may be.

Experiential Learning in China

Back in January, I traveled with 35 of my classmates to Hong Kong for one of the handful of “Doing Business in…” (DBi) courses offered each semester.  With b-school lasting only a short two years, these one- or two-week courses are the most popular way for students to take advantage of Stern’s partnerships with international institutions and to expand their learning beyond the classroom and New York City.

Apart from a pre-departure meeting during the semester, the entire class takes place on location and consists of a balanced blend of classroom learning, corporate visits, and field trips to cultural sites.  For my DBi, Stern partnered with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), whose faculty, staff, and students welcomed us onto their campus with great hospitality.  In the classroom, we learned about current social issues in China and how they have been influenced by geography, history, culture, and politics.  We also examined the major opportunities and challenges that firms encounter, from the standpoints of both the foreign multinational companies, who tend to underestimate the costs of doing business in China, and the local Chinese companies, who are rising to compete against these corporate giants in the global market.

We were able to witness these successes and challenges in action at the companies we visited, which were chosen due to their relation to Hong Kong’s significant travel and tourism industry.  My personal favorite was a trip to the MTR, the private Hong Kong-based corporation that runs the highly efficient mass transit railway system in Hong Kong and—as we learned during our visit—in other parts of the world as well.  In addition to a quick tour of the control room at Kowloon Bay Station (where the MTR’s headquarters are located), we had the opportunity to hear directly from the Head of Operations, the Strategy and Planning Manager, and the Head of Town Planning about the MTR’s impressive operational achievements, profitable business models, and goals and aspirations moving forward and beyond Hong Kong.  The executives also discussed the difficulties they are encountering as they grow their operations, such as meeting customer demands, fighting market competition, and navigating the complications and regulatory webs of foreign places and their governments.

Some of these successes and challenges were echoed at the other companies too.  Uber invited us to their sleek new office, where we sat in their open kitchen and met with their regional head (who began at Uber as their first Hong Kong employee).  Over the course of 90 minutes, he excitedly shared with us the firm’s successes in Hong Kong, highlighting the uplifting impact Uber has had on the lives of their drivers and customers.  He also discussed the developments that have resulted from serving Hong Kong’s residents specifically—a service for the elderly called uberASSIST, as well as the city’s own UberEATS, whose incredible success in Hong Kong has inspired the firm to name each of its new meeting rooms after a food they deliver.  Their office mascot also proudly bears the logo:

We couldn’t help ourselves.
We couldn’t help ourselves.

In addition, a visit to Hong Kong’s flag carrier airline Cathay Pacific exposed us to the company’s approach to addressing shifts in consumer behaviors and fighting off increased competition in a highly regulated industry.  Moreover, on the tour of Cathay’s headquarters, led by the airline’s lovely flight managers, we had the opportunity to witness Cathay’s pre-flight crew procedures, sit in one of the pilot seats of a flight simulator, and lay back in the six pods that comprise the exclusive first class cabins of Cathay’s transoceanic planes (or in this case, a replica of one that is used for training).  Later in the week, a visit to Ocean Park granted us insights into how the beloved amusement park managed to leverage its local understanding of its customers to differentiate itself from Disneyland and fend off the foreign goliath’s arrival.  We were then set free into the park, where we observed various animals, raised our adrenaline on the array of rides, and took in aerial views of the park from the park’s signature cable cars, which also affords views of the South China Sea.

The future business leaders of tomorrow pose for a photo before running off to the panda exhibit.
The future business leaders of tomorrow pose for a photo before running off to the panda exhibit.

As if the corporate visits were not enlightening enough in themselves, so we could experience aspects of the local culture first-hand, Stern also arranged plenty of Cantonese-style meals and class trips to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Po Lin Monastery (where the Big Buddha statue sits).  Additionally, we had time on the weekend to explore on our own, giving us the chance to create even more memories with one another.  For example, I’ll personally never forget that a group of us hiked up [the very steep] Victoria Peak one day to take in the breathtaking views we were promised only to encounter the whims of the weather and smog instead.

There’s a gorgeous view of Hong Kong behind us somewhere.
There’s a gorgeous view of Hong Kong behind us somewhere.

Indeed, in addition to the satisfaction of visiting Asia for the first time and getting to do something that I wrote about wanting to do in my admissions essay, I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn so much through these unique experiences and to be able to share them with such wonderful classmates.  Whether we were touring a corporate headquarters or searching the streets for pork buns, I don’t think any of it would have been as exciting and memorable if my fellow Sternies were not by my side.

Studying Abroad Through Stern

Hi All!

After a 7-week winter break, it feels so good to be back in NYC, to be back at Stern finishing my final semester of business school (!!!?). I’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting back into the grind, and of course catching up with my amazing classmates, some who I haven’t seen in over half a year!

For those of you that don’t know, one of the many reasons I love Stern is just the incredible amount of opportunities it provides its students to work, study, and travel abroad. Whether it be through our short-term Stern Signature Projects (SSP) and Doing Business In…(DBi) programs, or our longer-term semester and half semester exchange programs, there are just a wealth of programs offered abroad. Every year, a good number of students decide to spend a full semester abroad, and here I’d like to introduce you to two of them.

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Exchange Buddies @ HKUST (photo from: Caspar Di Sun)

Kimberly (Kimi) Rodriguez and Caspar Di Sun are both second year MBA students with me who spent their last semester as an exchange student at London Business School (LBS) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) respectively.

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Welcome to London! (photo from: Kimberly Rodriguez)

V: Hi Guys! It’s so nice to have both of you back at Stern! Did you enjoy your time abroad?
K: Yes of course! London was amazing. I mean I love New York, it will always be exciting, but there’s just a completely different feel about London. It’s slightly slower than hectic NYC for one, and it is a bit more international- LBS itself has a 92% international student body!
C: Being originally from China, there’s just no place like home. I also have plans to move back to Hong Kong post-graduation, so it was great to be there, learn the city and create a network while still at school.

V: Can I ask what in particular made you decide to study abroad? And why you chose where you did in particular?
C: I believe studying abroad enriches and enhances my overall MBA education. Hong Kong is a gateway to doing business in China and China is not just a buzzword in today’s globalized economy but also a true battlefield in today’s business competition. HKUST is a world-renowned education institute. Hong Kong is one of the busiest metropolitan cities in the world. Hence, it was not a hard decision when I factoring those reasons together.
K: I am an international student, and one of the main reasons I came to Stern was that I have family and friends in New York. However, I came knowing that I also wanted try going somewhere that would force me out of my comfort zone, where I would be living somewhere completely new and get to meet an entirely new set of people. Furthermore, I understand the importance of planting seeds in different countries, of expanding my network geographically.

V: What would you say was your favorite thing about being abroad?
K: The ease of traveling within Europe. (see more of Kimi’s adventures here!)
C: Terrific friends I made from the world MBA community.

V: Would you ever go back to London/Hong Kong to visit or live?
C: I’m definitely moving to Hong Kong after graduation. And since I will be living in there, I would like to be the “friendly ghost” in Hong Kong for any Sternies on the exchange program in Hong Kong and will try be as helpful as I can when you need.
K: No plans at the moment, but definitely would be up to go back and visit!

V: Words of advice?
K: If you plan on recruiting in New York full-time in your second year, make sure that you understand the risks and opportunity costs of spending 25% of your MBA in another country. Ultimately though, I believe it was more than worth it.

And that’s it! Hope everyone enjoyed having these two amazing friends of mine drop-in as much as I did. Till next time!

The International Experience at Stern

I came to Stern exactly 14 months ago. Stern in many respects was a great next step for me – a chance to explore new careers, a chance to explore new subjects and learn about things I never imagined I would learn (aka Behavioral Finance). But most importantly, it was a chance to explore a completely different culture than mine.

I am from Delhi, India. I have never ventured far from home. My high school and undergrad school were 15 mins away from my home. Even my work was a manageable 40 minutes away so I never had a compulsion to move away. Coming to Stern, and by extension New York, was a giant next step in my life. It was the first time I have ever lived away from home. When I stepped off the plane and wandered around New York on my first day here, I was swept with two feelings – that of awe and a sweeping reservation about fitting in.

One fact that a cursory research will show you is that Stern has a very diverse student body. In fact, international students make up 30 – 37% of the class in any given year. Knowing that gave me assurance that I might be able to experience a new culture while still staying around people I am most familiar with.

In my first month here, I held a small dinner gathering for all the Indian students at my apartment. Fun fact: The smoke alarm went off seven times while I was cooking! NY apartments are not built for Indian cooking! Barring that mishap, that evening, I made new friends and started developing a sense of community here.

The most amazing thing about Stern is how every culture is embraced with open arms here. We had Passport Day in which students from 47 countries around the world participated! There was great joy, laughter and dance. A lot of people showed up and shared each other’s food and culture. It was just one of those many things that show Stern’s emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness.

Last semester, SABAS (South Asian Business Association of Stern) hosted a Diwali party. Over a 100 people attended that event, dancing, laughing, and sharing my culture. Last Diwali, I felt incredibly home sick and regretted missing out on all the festivities back home. This time around, as I was leaving the party at the end and walking towards the subway, I discovered a new feeling. A feeling of being right at home.

Winter Break Travels

One of the greatest aspects of Stern is the opportunity to travel with classmates on weekends, over the summer and during school breaks. Over winter break I had the opportunity to travel to Steamboat Springs on the Stern Ski Trip and to Las Vegas as part of the Operations in Vegas class. The ski trip was a fun vacation with friends to lay fresh tracks, eat good food and explore all Steamboat has to offer, but Ops in Vegas was really a once in a lifetime experience.
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(View from the gondola headed up the mountain in Steamboat)

I arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday one day before the class officially started with a few other MBA2s so that we could watch the first round of the NFL playoffs in a sportsbook and hike in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The class  kicked off on Sunday night with a nice welcome dinner and the warning that the next few days would be very intense. On Monday morning we had the opportunity to meet with a number of executives from Station Casinos including top executives in charge of the hotels, analytics, and marketing as well as the new COO of Ultimate Fighting Championship Lawrence Epstein. Most importantly, we had a lengthy conversation with Lorenzo Fertitta, a Stern alumni (1993) who recently sold the UFC to William Morris Endeavor, served as Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and also is the principal shareholder of Station Casinos with his brother Frank. To hear directly from Lorenzo about how he turned the UFC from a bankrupt company he purchased for $2 million into the massive media empire he just sold for $4.3 billion was an eye opening business lesson. Our day finished up with a cocktail party in one of the suites at Green Valley Ranch while Clemson stunned Alabama in the national championship game.
Red Rock Condensed
(Hiking Red Rock with fellow classmates Phil Bowman, Steve Seidel and Eric Goodman)

Tuesday continued with lectures including from the head of security for Station Casinos, and former Las Vegas Chief of Police, Bill Young at Green Valley Ranch before heading over to Light Nightclub at the Manadaly Bay hotel for a behind the scenes tour of what makes the club run. Our day finished with a bowling event in one of the private bowling rooms at Red Rock Casino.
Light Nightclub
(Massive video screen at Light welcoming us)

On Wednesday we went to downtown Las Vegas where we learned about the downtown revitalization project, got an inside look at Zappos, and toured the D Hotel. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from Zappos because they’re very secretive, but there were many pieces of amazing art downtown to try and draw more tourists to come off of the strip. Our night concluded with a trip to Light Nightclub to gather firsthand “research” and see Pusha T perform with Baauer.
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(Some of the awesome art downtown)

Thursday was the coolest day of the whole trip for me as we got to go behind the scenes at the Bellagio where we saw everything from the inside of the security room (no pictures allowed), to underneath the famous fountain, to the high-roller suites where the only way to get a room is to gamble millions of dollars in a weekend. We visited the employee level on the 2nd floor of the hotel where 8,000 employees visit every single day to get laundry, eat in the cafeterias, relax, go to the bank, and do so much more inside their mini-city. Our class saw how the Cirque du Soleil show O is performed as we went backstage, underneath the floor to the pool area, and finally to great seats in the audience to watch the performance.
Liquor Room

Friday focused on real estate as we saw Professor Chernoff’s commercial real estate development in Spanish Trails industrial park before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon lesson on poker from world-renowned poker professional Mike Sexton. For those who really love poker, it was truly a priceless experience to hear the keys to successful poker strategy from someone who has won millions of dollars and World Series of Poker titles. Our Friday finished with a goodbye dinner and drinks before everyone headed out.

In addition to the amazing speakers, behind the scenes look at some of Vegas’s most iconic landmarks, and company visits, we had a great time playing poker together, exploring everything Vegas has to offer and most importantly…. getting three credits closer to graduation!

When You Choose NYU Stern, You’re Choosing New York

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While studying up on Put-Call Parity or networking away during recruiting season, we tend to forget the beauty that is around us and one of the key reasons most of us chose to come to NYU Stern.  The infamous Frank Sinatra lyrics say it all “I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.”

There is always something going on.  For those of you applying to NYU Stern from outside of New York, I am excited for you to experience the city I’ve called home for the past ten years.  Here are a few of my favorite things about New York:

  • Broadway Shows
    • As an NYU student, you have access to Ticket Central, which provides discounted tickets for many broadway and off-broadway shows.  In addition to Ticket Central, an additional resource for buying tickets for shows is TKTS located in Times Square or South Street Seaport.  TKTS provides tickets for day of shows, where you can line up for tickets at 2PM daily.
  • Restaurant Week
    • While on a student budget, it’s very important to take advantage of Restaurant Week in New York City.  It’s the greatest time of the year (actually happens twice a year now) both in the winter and in the summer when restaurants around the city provide fixed prices menus for lunch and dinner.  That means you get an appetizer, main course and dessert for $29 (lunch) or $42 (dinner).  As a foodie this is my favorite time of the year!
  • Sample Sales
    • I love shopping, and I love getting great deals.  Being in New York, you often here about the infamous sample sales – people rushing around grabbing what they can and getting deals you wouldn’t even imagine about.  It isn’t always extremely crowded, but there will be lines and it will be worth it.  Think about it this way – recently, I got an $800 Helmut Lang blazer for $25.  If you’re interested in sample sales, make sure to follow Clothing Line and 260 Fifth for upcoming sales in New York.
  • Holiday Markets
    • My favorite time of the year is right after Thanksgiving in New York.  The infamous Rockefeller Tree goes up and the Holiday Markets open up across Union Square, Lincoln Center and Bryant Park.  There are food stalls, little trinkets, ornaments and great gifts for the holidays.  A lot of small vendors set up shop and the atmosphere and holiday spirit is a sight to see.  Grab a hot chocolate or hot cider while you’re at it!
  • Just Taking a Stroll 
    • Walking around campus or walking around New York City, I recommend just taking a look around.  Look up at the buildings, look at what people are wearing, even look at what the dogs are wearing.  This is New York City. Each part of the city has it’s own charm, it’s own personality.

When you come to NYU Stern, remember that you’re not just choosing the school, you’re choosing an amazing place to live for the next two years.

“And if I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere!  It’s up to you, New York, New York!”

Benefits of Applying to NYU Through the Consortium

Consortium

Around this time last year, I was preparing essays for business school applications. I applied to three schools through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and ranked NYU Stern as my top choice. There are clear benefits to applying through the Consortium such as the possibility of a full tuition scholarship and lower applications fees, but there are also less obvious benefits. Applying through the Consortium allowed me to earn an internship early and build strong relationships with some of my classmates prior to arriving on campus and also allowed me to extend my network to business schools beyond Stern.                               

The Obvious Benefits

Applying through the Consortium was the perfect opportunity for me. As a black woman, I have always served as an advocate for increasing diversity. The Consortium has a mission to increase the number of Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans in business schools and subsequently corporate management. Anyone who supports this mission can apply to NYU Stern through the Consortium. As mentioned earlier, benefits include a lower application fee and a chance to earn a full tuition fellowship. Additionally, the essays are typically shorter for the application (which admittedly could be an advantage or disadvantage).

Early Access to Recruiters and Job Opportunities

It is a requirement for everyone who applies through the Consortium to attend the Orientation Program. This 6-day event features students from all of the Consortium schools and recruiters from the companies who partner with the Consortium. The agenda is jammed pack with speaker events, panel discussions, interviews and happy hours.

During the Orientation Program, I interviewed with 7 companies (I don’t recommend this. Focus on 3 or 4 companies) and eventually accepted an Offer with Amazon in Seattle, WA. Accepting an offer before seeing all of the available opportunities may seem daunting to some people but for me it was a huge relief. Juggling recruiting, classes, and clubs is not an easy task. Accepting an offer allowed me to allocate more time towards clubs and classwork.

On Campus Family

During the required Orientation Program, I was able to meet a few of my future classmates. We helped each other prepare for interviews by conducting mock interviews and doing company research together. Attending the Orientation Program together allowed us to build a close relationship with each other before arriving on campus.

Now that we are on campus, we still spend a lot of time together. For example, this year, one of the Consortium fellows held a barbecue at her home in Harlem and another fellow hosted a game night in Brooklyn. The week before Thanksgiving, we met up for a mini Thanksgiving dinner.

The best example of our comradery occurred after the killing of Terence Crutcher. We all came together to figure out what we could do in response to the death of another unarmed black man. A simple text message turned into a schoolwide event after we invited the entire Stern community to come together to show solidarity for black lives. It was amazing to see our classmates come out and support an issue that is so important to so many of us.

Extended Network

The Consortium allowed me to connect with students from other business schools who I otherwise may have never met. Attending the Orientation Program allowed me to not only build relationships with other Sternies, but also fellows from other schools. It’s good to know students from other schools when you go to recruiting or networking events. These events can be awkward if you don’t know anyone so seeing a familiar face is always nice. I also already know two other consortium fellows who will be interning with me this summer in Seattle, WA.

Ciao Milan!

At the end of my spring semester as an MBA 1, I had the opportunity to travel to Milan, Italy with thirty other classmates. We were in the heart of the fashion capital of Europe for our one-week DBi course on Luxury Retail. I had been hearing about this DBi since I first applied to Stern, but the actual experience far exceeded all of my expectations.

The course was a mix of classroom lectures and experiential learning. I would say that the split was about 30/70, with the majority of our time spent visiting flagship retail stores, clothing factories, professional tailors, and other similar venues. You think you’ve shopped luxury before but 5th Avenue is nothing like Milan. In my opinion, comparing the two experiences could not have been more like day and night.

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The attention to detail and level of service at the Milan stores was unparalleled to anything I had ever previously encountered. Store employees strived to build a genuine long-term relationship with every customer that walked into the store; at Dolce & Gabbana, we were told this was because shoppers may stroll in and out on multiple occasions before committing to a purchase, and they wanted these customers to feel just as attended to as the regulars.

Aside from the experiential aspect of the DBi though, the lectures were equally as engaging. In spite of our long days walking around the city, each morning I was excited to hear what the professors at Bocconi University would be sharing with us that day. Their firsthand experiences in the industry, as well as their anecdotes about customer shopping habits, trends, and the economic status in Italy, kept us all hooked throughout our time in the classroom.

While the course itself was certainly fascinating and educational for me, I also really enjoyed the fact that I was traveling with so many classmates, many of whom I had not previously known prior to the trip. What’s interesting about the DBi is that since it’s an actual course, students lottery for it just as they do for all other courses at Stern. That said, it’s a great opportunity to meet both full-time and part-time students. I don’t have too many opportunities to interact with the latter so this was a unique situation in which we were able to get to know one another while exploring a new country together.

Whether you are an experienced jet setter or alternatively, just eager to get that first stamp on your passport, a DBi has something for everyone. In Milan in particular, I felt I received the perfect mix of academic, cultural, and social experiences that truly made it an enriching and unforgettable experience for me. Especially given my interest in the Luxury Retail industry, it has been by far my favorite course I’ve taken at Stern, and one I would highly recommend to other MBAs with similar professional interests.

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Consulting Resources at Stern

Hi Everyone!

 

It seems like just a few days ago that I was finishing up my summer internship at McKinsey and getting ready for classes to begin but here we are now almost done with the first semester… It is truly amazing how quickly time flies during business school.

McKinsey on a boat (small)
Myself and Stern classmates who also worked at the New York office of McKinsey on a sunset sailboat cruise around the Statue of Liberty after work one night.

Some of the most common questions I receive from prospective students considering Stern are about how to prepare for recruiting.  One of my favorite aspects of Stern is that everyone in the Stern community works incredibly hard to make sure you are prepared for interviews.  As someone heavily involved with the recruiting process for consulting, I thought it would be helpful to share a taste of what I am currently working on to give back to first year students.

 

In my official capacity as a career mentor with the Office of Career Development, I host many helpful events for students. Before school was really underway I worked with students during the IGNITE workshops to write, practice and perfect their 30 second elevator pitch to employers. I reviewed the resumes of 12 students who are recruiting for consulting, then met with them one-on-one to help them wordsmith their points to make the strongest skills stand out. Right now I am working with other MBA2’s to host sessions on recruiting topics like how to navigate the corporate presentations and what to do during informational interviews. Before interviews start in January I’ll work with another group of students one-on-one to do practice interviews so they will be completely ready when on-campus interviews begin.

 

As a board member of the Management Consulting Association, I co-lead MCA’s weekly casing bootcamp session with another MBA2 student Michelle. Bootcamp happens every Wednesday afternoon and we teach how to do the technical part of a consulting interview, the case, from start-to-finish. From the framework, to the conclusion, with all the brainstorming, charts, and math you will ever need in-between, the eight interactive weekly sessions will get anyone ready to crush their case interview. If the promise of succeeding in the interview isn’t enough, we also provide awesome snacks like empanadas, cookies, and cannolis, to get your brain moving.

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Students enjoying the last session of bootcamp with amazing Greek pastries.

 

Over 20 MBA2’s, including myself, help prepare first year students interested in consulting through MCA’s mentorship program. Every Tuesday morning I meet with five first years to help work through the topics from bootcamp in a smaller group setting as well as answer any questions about the recruiting process.  It is an opportunity for first years to get an honest perspective on tough questions like how to request an informational interview as well as a chance to get to know their classmates better. As the application deadline approaches I’ll review their cover letters, help fine tune resumes, and give one-on-one case coaching so they’ll be as prepared as possible for their interviews.

 

There are many more examples of peer-led preparation I work on including the two for one casing initiative, corporate case competitions, informal coffee chats, and much more. Stern is really an amazing community where everyone invests in the success of their peers; feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

The Journey So Far

One year ago today, I was where you are.  I was writing essays, studying for the GMAT in my spare time and avoided every single person that I knew.  I get it – no social life, but it was time I wanted to focus on myself.  After 4 years of working, I always knew that I wanted to go back to business school and I was going to do whatever it took.  As the year went by, the stress levels only got higher as I received waitlist after waitlist, but I’ll tell you, my persistence and determination to come back to school helped me.  I received acceptances up until July, hearing from NYU Stern last.  Dropping everything to stay in New York was the best decision I could have made, and getting the acceptance letter with the digital confetti was probably one of the happiest moments of my life.  I didn’t have to say goodbye to the place I call home and was getting the opportunity to pursue a career in Luxury Marketing, something that Stern especially is known for and something I would have had to give up going somewhere else.

Starting at Stern at the end of August was truly a dream come true.  From LAUNCH to today, there have been countless occasions where I’ve stopped to think about how lucky I am to be here, and how truly proud I am to be a Sternie.  One of my personal goals coming to business school, in addition to pursuing a career in Luxury Marketing, was to break out of my shell and be able to command a room.  Granted, I’m a social person, but I’m not a loud person, and in a career going forward, I want my voice to be heard, literally.  As you know, Stern divides the class into sections of ~65 that you take all of your core classes with.  These people become your first network, and your closest friends over the next two years.  In the first few weeks of class, I was making a speech in front of these 65 new classmates, explaining to them why I wanted to be their “Block Leader.”  I was elected to represent Block 6, a great way to know everyone in my block and a chance for me to pursue my own personal goal.
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Photo credit: Farah Karim
Another reason why I came to NYU was for the various experiential opportunities that the program allows.  I applied to and was accepted to the Luxury Retail Immersion, a chance to work on a consulting project for a small boutique retailer.  The project started about a week ago and goes up until December (only a few weeks).  I’ve had one meeting so far, but it was definitely the “aha!” moment I was looking for in business school.  This hands on learning is one of the reasons why I chose to come back to business school, and it’s definitely great to have that opportunity to follow your passion.
I’m a firm believer that it all works out in the end.  Regardless of the stress that you are going through now, there’s no doubt that you will also have the opportunity to make your dreams come true. With NYU, the opportunities are endless.  With Stern, your network is endless.  No matter what you’re looking to do, there’s a person somewhere that is doing exactly that.  The network, the brand will help take you places, and I am grateful for this experience.
Until next time!
Photo credit: Farah Karim
Photo credit: Farah Karim

The Stern Community

When I first made the decision to apply to business school, I considered several factors—reputation, location, faculty, and level of focus on my profession of choice. The quality of the student body was certainly a consideration, but a slightly lesser one, as I generally felt that no matter where I ended up going, I would meet like-minded driven individuals, form relationships, and grow to call them my good friends. Now just over a year into the NYU Stern MBA program, I realize this last factor has the greatest impact on one’s experience in business school, and feel I personally could not have made a better choice.

Beginning with the first day of the LAUNCH orientation program, I have continually been blown away by my peers. Each of them comes from such a fascinating and diverse background, both professionally and personally, and challenges me in a way I never thought possible. I find myself working to be more knowledgeable and educated on an array of topics, so as to contribute to our discussions and their experience in a valuable way.

Aside from their intellect though, my peers here are truly warm and generous individuals. Throughout the business school research process, I often heard at each program I visited, that its students regularly put others before themselves, and that they go to great lengths to help one another to be successful. Though at the time I assumed this was something quite generic all schools simply say, I have now had the opportunity to see this actually manifest itself here at Stern.

About a week into the start of my first semester, I was casually chatting with a new friend about plans for recruiting. Immediately upon expressing my interest, he stopped me to tell me he knew someone at a company I might want to learn more about and asked if I wanted him to make a connection. I was floored in that moment that someone I had met so recently was already so eager to help me.

More recently, I was working on a job application for my top choice company. I must have drafted my cover letter five separate times, but my nerves continued to get the best of me. I frantically texted another friend, who promptly calmed me down and instructed me to send my completed cover letter her way for a final once-over. This is something we all frequently do for one another of course, but to have a friend say she could drop everything she was doing on a couple hours notice meant so much in that moment of stress and panic.

These are just a few of the countless instances when I have felt supported by my friends in the Stern community. Being within the walls that make up NYU Stern has frequently pushed me outside of my comfort zone. However, I am finding that this is a place I now quite enjoy being, as I know I can count on the inspiring individuals I have met here to be right there with me.

A Sternspective on… Stern Signature Projects

Last Spring, Sarada Anne, one of my best friends at Stern, had the opportunity to take part in what she lauds as her favorite class to date.  Sarada is originally from Hyderabad, India.  She received her degree in industrial engineering and has a background in consulting and real estate.  This summer she interned in investment banking at Barclays, and she will be returning there for full-time.

Sarada and four other Sternies participated in one of the Stern Signature Projects (SSP) that have a specific focus on urbanization.  SSPs are organized around specific interests like human rights and film distribution.  They cover diverse topics, and the projects themselves tend to vary semester-to-semester.

This urbanization SSP took Sarada and her team to Ethiopia to help the city of Hawassa plan for a more sustainable future.  Though the NYU Stern Urbanization Project has worked with Hawassa on a number of urbanization initiatives before, Sarada and her SSP team were tasked with formulating a conservation plan for the lake amid rapid urban expansion and industrialization.  They worked closely with Patrick Lamson-Hall, an urban planner and research scholar at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project.  The Urbanization Project itself was founded by Professor Paul Romer, who recently went on leave from Stern to take on the role of Chief Economist at the World Bank.

Here’s what Sarada had to say: 

What attracted you to this project?

So I come from a real estate background, which is why the urbanization project was very interesting to me, because I was a private real estate developer.  In India at least, the residential projects that people are doing are far outpacing the initiatives that the government is taking to plan for infrastructure.  So that was one of the things that attracted me to the project.  The problem was very interesting.  I also wanted to take a class that let me work on a real world initiative and was unlike any school experience I’ve had before.  The team was also fantastic.  I didn’t know who my team would be going in, but the other students who the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) brought together were the most highly functional team I’ve worked with.  We all had very diverse backgrounds and skills, but maybe because of that it was smooth from day one, and they really helped make the project enjoyable. 

What was your impression of the issue at hand?

The national government is trying to build up the city, as it’s one of the cities identified for their development plan.  So it’s a small city now, but they have big growth plans.  That’s basically the problem for the urbanization project.  They do believe urbanization is a good thing—urban density, population density, brings a lot of amenities and all that good stuff—but at the same time, there’s a lake in the middle of the city, and they’re setting up industries like textiles, which has already affected the lake.  So if there’s more industrialization, the lake could suffer.  So that was the project.  Hawassa has to grow, so how can we do that and save the lake?

How much of your project was new compared to what was already being done?

Patrick has already been working with Hawassa.  He’s been there.  He knows the city.  So with his help, we didn’t have a lot of issues.  But this was a new prompt.  In the past, the Urbanization Project worked with the city government on multiple projects.  This [SSP project] was going to be the new big pitch that we were going to give the mayor of the city.  So we did a lot of research, and most of it was done here [at Stern] since we only had a week there [in Hawassa].  We had a basic idea in mind.  We knew what the lake was, what the issues were, so a lot of the brainstorming, a lot of the research, and the solution generation happened here.  That was maybe 70% of it.  Then it evolved when we were actually there.  We talked to the government officials and continued to learn more about what they wanted.  Then Patrick really helped us out with designing the boulevards, the lanes, the road systems, things like that.  Ultimately we were able to create a modern urban infrastructure plan that also incorporated elements of conservation.

The SSP group with the Mayor of Hawassa
The SSP group with the Mayor of Hawassa

Your proposal was for “Adare Park,” a linear park around the circumference of the lake that provided “ample urban greenspace for the city” and was “complete with a wide boulevard to facilitate future urbanization,” as well as buffer zones to “prevent erosion and help the lake’s ecology recuperate.”  What was it like presenting this to the mayor?

I was a little nervous.  We actually presented it to him in his office.  He was really quiet and was taking notes, and he had a lot of questions for us, but at the end he was very receptive.  His attitude was, “Yes, we want to do something for the city.  This is very important to us.”  Mind you, this is a small city in a developing country, and sustainability is one of their main issues.  So this was a very mature way of thinking.  I think that’s one of the reasons why we were working with a city like Hawassa, because they’re more aware of their path going forward, and the mayor started talking about how he wanted to work with us to do that.  So there wasn’t even a question of “I don’t know, let me think about it,” because the conversation immediately went on about funds, how we’re going to raise them, if we can form a public-private partnership, how Stern can help.  I was very surprised because there’s the difference in position between public officials and students, but he was very, very nice.  I also credit the Urbanization Project with building up that relationship and trust.

What did you like best about this experience?

I’ve never felt as invested in a project or course as I did with this project.  We went to this place where the lake—it gives its name to the city.  People chill there, people gather by it, there’s a lively fish market on the shore and an airport being built on the other side [of the lake]—the whole city revolves around the lake, and you get to impact it in a positive way.  On a project like this, you feel more ownership.  You can see that something you’re doing can actually be nice for someone.  It sounds cliché, but because of this, all of us were really invested, especially the week that we were there.  It was also just a very different experience.  On one day we went up to the mountain in the city, where you can get a 360-degree view, and Patrick was showing us the roads that were being laid, and the roads were the result of what Patrick and his team have done in the past.

What other resources at Stern did you use to help you accomplish this project?

OSE really helped us out, and not only in terms of getting the project done.  We decided a week before [we left] that we were going to go there the week after.  The five of us then had to coordinate, and OSE just hustled through everything, and we got everything booked in less than a week, from deciding to go to actually going.  So I think that they really helped us out.  It wasn’t necessary for us to visit, but we knew we wanted to go at some point, and we didn’t know at what point.  Should we go at the end to present [our plan]?  We were having troubles initially because we couldn’t really get in touch with the city government officials.  They were in touch for work, but on a day-to-day basis it was more difficult to reach them, so we actually had the most interaction with them once we went there.  This was an issue, but Patrick knew the lay of the land, so we were still able to get things moving.  Anyway, we knew we had to go there before the project was over, so we really had to hustle and get it done, and OSE really helped us out there.

How do you think this experience influences what you do moving forward?

I have a takeaway for students, which is that they should try to be part of things that may not necessarily fall in line with their immediate career goals—I’m going into finance, so I would have never done this if I had thought about that.  It’s too early to tell what influence it’s had in my life, but it’s definitely changed the way I look at the world.  It’s the best course that I’ve had at Stern, and when I think about my MBA and look back at my top experience this is what I’ll think about.

The SSP group stops for a photo op on the way from Hawassa to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.
The SSP group stops for a photo op on the way from Hawassa to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Sternspective is a new series of interviews with Sternies about the diverse paths they are taking in the classroom and beyond.  Check out our previous post about marketing here.

A Sternspective on… Marketing

It’s been a month since 13 of my fellow MBA2s and I started as MBA Admissions Graduate Ambassadors, and I must say that I’ve really been enjoying the experience of interacting with so many prospective students over e-mail, over the phone, and in person during our class visits, coffee chats, and tours.

As a Graduate Ambassador, I also have the privilege of fielding many of the questions and concerns applicants have while applying.  Because I’ve begun to notice some trends, here’s a new series of blog posts to help answer your questions.

This time I have with me Nevena Georgieva.  Nev and I met at LAUNCH, where we discovered that we were in the same block (Block 2!) and bonded over our liberal arts backgrounds.  Ever since then we’ve taken a handful of classes together, gone to many Beer Blasts together, and traveled as far as South Africa together.  Nev is originally from Bulgaria before she moved to the U.S. to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English.  Prior to Stern, Nev was Associate Digital Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House here in New York, where she worked on digital advertising and promotional content for the books of many celebrated authors, including Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami.  She interned at Bayer in brand management over the summer and will be returning there full-time after graduation.  Here’s what she had to say:

Thanks for joining me, Nev!  Let’s jump right in.  What do you think makes Stern a great place for marketing?

For me, it was all the great companies that recruit on campus.  As someone who recruited for CPG marketing, I was able to take advantage of all the companies that came for corporate presentations and interviewed us right here on campus.  A lot of these companies are sponsors of the Graduate Marketing Association (GMA)—Bayer, Colgate, Dannon, AmEx, Mars, J&J, and RB—and there are other awesome companies that recruit here, such as Phillips, Verizon, Hasbro, Pfizer, and more.  A lot of them are also in the tri-state area, so if you want to stick around post-Stern, this is a great place to be.

Getting an early start—a summer morning at Bayer, where Nevena and a handful of other Sternies interned. (Photo credit: Nevena Georgieva)
Getting an early start—a summer morning at Bayer, where Nevena and a handful of other Sternies interned. (Photo credit: Nevena Georgieva)

Can you elaborate on the opportunities available for non-CPG marketing?

At Stern we have the advantage of being at the center of New York City, so you can really easily recruit on campus but also on your own time.  There have been classmates of mine who have landed internships at places like ESPN, Spotify, Salesforce, and Interbrand.  Usually those opportunities are available in the Spring, so they come after the CPG marketing recruiting season in the Fall.  Through LinkedIn and the Office of Career Development (OCD) you can also get in touch with alumni and learn more about non-CPG marketing and other opportunities in NYC that interest you.

How else does being at Stern and in NYC work to one’s advantage?

As I mentioned, a lot of the CPG companies that are our sponsors come to multiple events on campus, but they also often have “Days in the Life” that are held at the companies’ offices.  So students get the opportunity to have an immersive day at the company and meet with alumni and senior marketing executives, learn about what CPG marketing is like at the company, and gauge whether the company would be a great fit for them.  And so the proximity to these companies is a great advantage because students can easily fit that into their schedules, instead of flying to different companies around the country.  The people at Stern have also been a great resource.  First-year MBAs can take advantage of the GMA’s mentorship program, which pairs first-years with second-years who have been through the process, and over the winter break in January I participated in what we call Mock Madness, which is a week of marathon-like interview prep [between classmates] that I highly recommend.

On that note, what has been your personal experience with these opportunities?

Last year, my mentor was instrumental in helping me translate the work experience on my resume into terms that CPG marketers would best understand.  Bayer also had a Day in the Life, and that’s one of the ways I knew that I really wanted to work there.  I was able to see the offices.  I was able to learn about specific marketing campaigns, what it’s like to work with advertising agencies, and I had a really excellent experience that led me to my internship with them.  Their Day in the Life was also a really great representation of my internship, so I really think it’s important that students have the opportunity to engage with companies as much as possible and attend as many events as possible to really get a sense of what the best fit for them would be.

How about the marketing classes at Stern?  Any that stand out to you?

Of course.  We have one of the best marketing professors in the country, Professor [Scott] Galloway, and he has a class [Brand Strategy] in which, as a group, you create and present a brand strategy for an existing company.  It was a really interactive experience, and a lot of groups went above and beyond in his class to engage with the rest of us during their presentations.  Some groups brought in their company’s products like yogurt and beer, and a group came in dressed in Athleta clothing provided by the company.  Also, I would say that this class was really great preparation for what I experienced during my summer.  It really helped me build these important strategic and analytical skills, and taught me how to think like a marketer, so I recommend the class.  Professor Galloway is also a really incredible speaker, which you might be able to experience by visiting the class.

Professor Russell Winer’s Spring 2016 core marketing classes invite Eataly’s Co-owner and CFO to Stern for a visit. Clockwise from top left: 1) Chef Mario Batali holds a Q&A with Professor Winer. 2) Eataly CFO Adam Saper talks with students about running New York City’s most popular “living market.” 3) Mr. Batali and Professor Winer chat with students before class. 4) Mr. Batali draws a packed Stern class for a discussion on restaurants, the food business, and how Eataly found success. (Photo credit: Keith Riegert for the Stern Opportunity—read more about the visit here.)
Professor Russell Winer’s Spring 2016 core marketing classes invite Eataly’s Co-owner and CFO to Stern for a visit. Clockwise from top left: 1) Chef Mario Batali holds a Q&A with Professor Winer. 2) Eataly CFO Adam Saper talks with students about running New York City’s most popular “living market.” 3) Mr. Batali and Professor Winer chat with students before class. 4) Mr. Batali draws a packed Stern class for a discussion on restaurants, the food business, and how Eataly found success. (Photo credit: Keith Riegert for the Stern Opportunity)

And have you found other classes at Stern helpful to your interests?

Absolutely.  CPG marketing is not really your traditional marketing job.  It’s very much about general management, so I would really recommend for students who are interested in marketing to take a number of classes in different areas, including finance, strategy, and management.  I really recommend classes like Leadership in Organizations taught by Professor [Dolly] Chugh, Strategy by Professor [Sonia] Marciano, Corporate Finance by Professor [Aswath] Damodaran, and Managing Growing Companies by Professor [Glenn] Okun.  Being in CPG marketing is really about being the CEO of a brand.  As a brand manager, you make decisions about your brand every day—pricing, advertising, retail decisions—and so you need to be well-rounded in your knowledge.  Stern helps with that.

I want to remind our prospectives that you can actually visit some of these classes by signing up for them on our Visit Stern page.  Meanwhile, I hear you have a conference coming up.

Yes!  So actually the GMA Conference [on November 11] is one of the best events that a prospective student can attend to learn about marketing at Stern and in general.  This year, I’m the Co-VP of Conference, so I’m in charge of organizing it.  If prospective students would like to attend, they can reach out to our VP of Admissions Megan Sirras (gma@stern.nyu.edu) and attend the conference for free.  There will be two amazing keynotes, so students can hear from VP of Strategy at Squarespace Andrew Bartholomew, who will be conversing with one of our amazing professors here at Stern, Luke Williams, Executive Director of the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab.  There’s also going to be a recruiting event for MBA1s, but running concurrently will be a “Beyond CPG Marketing” panel, where prospective students can learn about what the marketing function is like in industries outside of consumer packaged goods.  Prospective students can then participate in a networking lunch and talk to current students and alumni, so it’s a great networking opportunity for them.  In the afternoon, there will be multiple panels, where students can learn about topics like “The Rise of Visual Marketing” and “Digital Natives of Generation Z,” and there will be brand representation from companies such as GrubHub, Google, Uber, Facebook, POPSUGAR, Estee Lauder, and others.  This year we’re launching a new segment called “3×15,” where we really want to give attendees a sense of what it’s like to put together a marketing campaign, so we’ll have different case studies from different speakers: a Creative Director at Razorfish (a digital advertising agency), the founder of Baked by Melissa, and we’ll hear about multicultural marketing from Shabnam Rezeai, who’s the Co-Founder and President of Big Bad Boo Studios and Oznoz.com.  And then we’ll end with our afternoon keynote and networking reception where prospective students can continue to meet sponsors, alumni, and current students.

Thanks, Nev!  As a parting note, can you tell prospective students what to do if they wish to learn more about marketing at Stern?

I really encourage them to engage with the GMA in general.  So look for the GMA website, and you can contact Admissions VP Megan Sirras and schedule a phone call with her.  She can answer many of your questions about marketing at Stern and even connect you with other students who can talk to you about specific companies and their experiences at Stern.

And We’re Back!

The sun is shining.  The air is hot.  The open area in front of Stern that is Gould Plaza is once again a concrete quad where hundreds of students cross paths daily, colliding at will—conversations shared, smiles exchanged, waves projected from afar.

Through the familiar swoosh-swoosh of the revolving doors is a hive buzzing with activity.  Students run to and from class, meetings, and meet-ups. The first-years are rushing to their core classes and club kick-offs, as they feel the pressure to dive in and take in as much as the school has to offer (which can certainly feel like too much at times!).  The second-years happily reconnect after three months of time apart, before breaking away themselves, away to their elective classes, away to lead the club meetings for the first-years, away to find full-time jobs.

As a second-year, things are a bit different, of course.  I miss the ex-MBA2s who I looked up to as mentors.  I miss taking classes with my block.  I miss my dual-degree classmates who are off fulfilling requirements at their other NYU schools this semester.

Yet I love having another 400 people to meet and talk to.  I love being able to offer my time and experiences to them.  Even within my year, while our disparate schedules sometimes mean that my usual friends and I see each other less, I love that it is allowing me to continue to meet people who I had not yet had the chance to meet before.

Of course, it is a lovely feeling to be able to return to school with rich relationships already in place.  Just this summer, I had the chance to meet and become closer with dozens of Sternies.  If you’ve read my earlier post about the Cannes Film Festival class, you would know that I spent a week running around the French Riviera with 25 of my classmates, only five of whom I would say I knew well before the trip.  Then right before school started, along with 20 Sternies (and seven Stern Partners), I attended the wedding of one of my best friends at Stern (despite having met him only a year ago!).  In this case, almost all of us knew each other well already because we recruited with each other and/or are in the same block, but I still came away from that weekend feeling that I had taken part in something special with my classmates, something that will connect us for life.

08-01 - Wedding
Unofficial photo of the wedding of our dear friend Pranav and his amazing wife Jignya, whose gregariousness we joke makes her a better Sternie than he is (it’s true).

Indeed, every time I reflect on my network I’m amazed at how much it has grown, how quickly it continues to grow, and how strong and healthy it is.  I imagine that if one’s network were a wholly tangible thing, watching it grow would be like watching an oak tree grow from a sapling to maturity in two years.

And the growth continues.  So far, I’ve had the chance to interact with the MBA1s at LAUNCH (orientation), where I met about a fifth of the class at the Club Expo and another nine on their LAUNCH Day of Service.

MBA1s (and myself) volunteering at St. Peter’s Pantry for the NYC Food Bank, just one of the many options available to the first-years as part of the service portion of LAUNCH.
MBA1s (and myself) volunteering at St. Peter’s Pantry for the NYC Food Bank, just one of the many options available to the first-years as part of the service portion of LAUNCH.

Also, this past Saturday I had the chance to chat with even more first-years at our MBA1/MBA2 mixer.  While I was there, another MBA2 and I were especially delighted to run into the new MBA1 roommate of one of our dear friends, who was not present at the time.  We promptly sent said friend the following message:

To show our friend that her new MBA1 roommate (center) was being cooler than she.
To show our friend that her new MBA1 roommate (center) was being cooler than she.

 

And so we’re back!  A new year.  New connections.  New possibilities.

Come Visit Us!

Over the course of last semester, I was fortunate enough to meet a handful of prospective students and take them out to lunch at a couple of our many neighborhood haunts.  In case you didn’t know, having lunch is just one of the easy ways you can interact with current students on your visit.  While you can also go on a tour, attend a class, and sign-up for coffee chats, the lunches are excellent due to their casual environments and small group sizes, which in my experience have always led to enjoyable conversation among everyone.

On my visit as a prospective student, I managed to participate in the tour, class, and coffee chat all in one afternoon (I probably could have squeezed in the lunch too but admittedly didn’t know its value at the time).  I found the experience as a whole incredibly informative and highly useful when writing my admissions essays, but in general, for any school, I also think that being in a given environment can offer some powerful insights—say, an inexplicable sense of belonging or, more simply, a personal feeling of fit—which can be helpful in guiding your choices later down the road (or before you put in the time and effort to apply!).

ATTENDING A CLASS

I remember my visit relatively clearly. Shortly after arriving at the admissions office, a few other prospective students and I were escorted to a class by an MBA1.  There are a number of classes that you can choose from based on your interests and schedule (and availability—don’t forget to sign up ahead of time online!).  Having never taken an economics class before and wishing to sample the core curriculum, I chose to attend a Firms & Markets class taught by the amiable and dedicated Professor Larry White.  For those with more exposure to the traditional topics (or not!), I would certainly recommend trying to get into a class that really piques your interest, as Stern’s breadth of courses is truly remarkable.  (Note that the schedule of available classes to visit will be available in the Fall!)

PARTICIPATING IN A COFFEE CHAT

After the class visit, a few MBA2 Graduate Ambassadors escorted us downstairs to the Sosnoff Lounge to grab cups of coffee and then out to the lobby where we could converse among the usual goings-on of MBA life.  This was perhaps my favorite part of my visit, as I loved being around the movement and sounds of students gathering together to work or chat, and I easily pictured myself in their place.  Meanwhile, the other prospectives and I had the opportunity to hear these MBA2s share their backstories and to ask them any questions we wanted.  In particular, I remember connecting with one student who had a nontraditional background like myself, and I found my sense of belonging vindicated as he continued to share with me the opportunities Stern had allowed someone with his background to find and take.

TAKING A TOUR

My visit concluded with a tour of the building.  This part continued to be informative, as two of the Graduate Ambassadors not only took us through the various study areas scattered throughout the building but also continued to answer our questions and chat with us about student life and the valuable learning experiences they were having.  For example, one spoke highly of her Stern Signature Project, an experiential course where she was able to work closely with her professor and a small group of classmates to tackle a real-world issue. The other highlighted his fall internship with NBC, which was made possible not only because he was attending school in New York but because a fellow Sternie who had interviewed for the position had no qualms about sharing the job lead with him as well.

In sum, if it’s possible for you to visit the school ahead of applying, I definitely recommend you do.  Interacting with current students is the best way to get a sense of the community you’re trying to enter, and you never know who you’re going to meet along the way—the Graduate Ambassador I connected with gave me a lot of inspiration for my essays that I might not have had otherwise, Professor White became my genuinely affable Firms & Markets professor when I arrived in the Fall, and the then-MBA1 who escorted me to that class ended up being an MBA2 who would give me incredible advice during the throes of the investment banking recruitment process.

So come down to 44 West 4th Street in the Fall, and see if Stern might be a great fit for you!

Our backyard—Washington Square Park, taken April 2016. (Photo credit: Amit Chaube)
Our backyard—Washington Square Park, taken April 2016. (Photo credit: Amit Chaube)

The Journey So Far

I remember where I was two years ago—out in Los Angeles, still working, rather cheerless but resolved to make the changes in my life that I felt I needed to make.  By this point two years ago, I was slowly withdrawing from the industry that I had worked so hard and had been so fortunate to break into, and I registered on the official GMAT website on June 16, 2014.

It was not an easy decision for me to start quitting the things I was doing, and I spent the following year assuring myself that I was not giving up or selling out but pursuing things that were better suited for me.  I was not in the group of people who needed an MBA to continue forward in their job path; rather, I needed an MBA because I needed change (a sentiment that, I was relieved to discover later, was not uncommon among my peers).

July 2014—after spending a couple weeks on the East Coast having heart-to-hearts with family and friends, I returned to L.A. and got to work.  With my preference for structure, I signed up for GMAT prep classes, which I attended every Saturday morning that summer.  I also attended MBA fairs and school events, where I was able to meet admissions representatives and alumni and get a sense of the schools prior to making the larger commitments of visiting and applying.  Having started the application process in the summer, I did miss out on some diversity and field-specific pre-MBA opportunities, but I decided that I would not wait another year to apply, and I used my shortened timeframe as motivation for me to focus on achieving something that I knew was going to alter the course of my future.

I completed my GMAT course at the end of September.  Meanwhile, I finalized my list of target schools and visited them, taking advantage of diversity events if I could (for example, Stern hosts a terrific “Opening Doors for Women” breakfast every Fall).  Under this timeline that I had decided for myself at the start of the process, I took my GMAT as soon as I thought I would be ready (in my case, late October) so that I would have time to focus on my application essays and retake the exam if needed.  I applied to my list of schools in January, and after my interviews, I constantly had to remind myself that it was out of my hands until I got my first acceptance—I remember the wave of relief that washed over me when I received it, this letter that was my ticket to a new life.

July 2015—I had said my goodbyes to everyone I knew in L.A. and was driving across the country with my father.  With the move back to New York a reality, I remember feeling for the first time in a while that my future was as open as the road ahead of me.

July 2016—After a whirlwind year, I’m working at my internship and amused at the fact that my classmates were correct—I indeed have transferable skills, despite my constant half-joking that I would not given my creative past.  So far, I’m quite pleased with my internship at a media consulting agency, and along with that pleasure is my growing disbelief that I was lucky enough to land at a firm that really does seem to fit who I am and what I want to accomplish this summer.   Having spent the year wondering about how my non-traditional background would be perceived by employers (as I did when applying to b-schools), I never expected to find a firm that would simultaneously value my creative background and allow me to grow in the professional direction that I wanted. Yet it happened because a Stern alum at the firm thankfully saw potential in me, much like how Stern itself saw potential in me a year before.

I’m prone to reflection, so I often think about all of this and feel that it’s really quite bizarre how far I’ve come and how different my life is from then to now.  I’ve moved cities, met hundreds of new people, forged dozens of true friendships, and I no longer feel the ennui that I used to feel.  I’m so grateful for Stern, so grateful for my classmates, so grateful for the alums who got me my internship interviews—so grateful that they’ve all changed my life for the better.

On June 16, 2014, this was all just a dream, an imagination to serve as motivation for seeking change.  I never thought that two years later, in the process of earning my M.B.A., in this energetic city and at this wonderful school, I would actually live a life better than what I had hoped for.

With two of my best friends at Stern, taking joy in a photo a classmate sent us of his infant son (pictured here at 2-months-old).
With two of my best friends at Stern, taking joy in a photo a classmate sent us of his infant son (pictured here at 2-months-old).

At the Cannes Film Festival

For those interested in the entertainment business, the classic question that emerges is, “New York or L.A.?”  As a native New Yorker who started her career in Los Angeles, I do think that the answer varies for every individual, as these cities and the schools within them each offer different opportunities and demand different sacrifices (as with any place or profession for the most part).

I admit that I have a personal bias towards New York, but when I was looking at which schools to apply to in both cities, I knew that nothing compared to what Stern offered–and what I’m experiencing now–in “The Commerce & Craft of Cinema: Cannes Film Festival” course.

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival class.
The 2016 Cannes Film Festival class.

It’s been nonstop for my classmates and me since arriving in Cannes last weekend (I actually had to write this post as I was waiting for screenings to start!).  Led by the amiable Professors Al Lieberman and Sam Craig, my 25 classmates and I comprise the lucky 13th class to go to the annual Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious film festival in the world.  After receiving our official badges, we were free to take advantage of the festival however we felt best—binge-watching films, attending filmmaking panels, setting up meetings with producers and distributors.  Even while standing in line for things, some of my classmates have met filmmakers, film executives, and film patrons (including the co-founder and creative director of a beloved L.A. indie theater).

The premiere of “Un Certain Regard” film The Red Turtle, with revered producer Toshio Suzuki of famed Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli on stage.
The premiere of “Un Certain Regard” film The Red Turtle, with revered producer Toshio Suzuki of famed Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli on stage.
The International Village with dozens of countries’ pavilions—good places to meet, regroup, eat, learn, and converse.
The International Village with dozens of countries’ pavilions—good places to meet, regroup, eat, learn, and converse.

The class concludes with a paper that challenges us to analyze one of the films in competition, specifically discussing how it compares to the other films in the festival, what the effect of the festival has been on the film’s distribution path, and where we think the film will go from this point forward.  Prior to this, during the semester, my class was assigned group papers and projects designed to ensure that we were up-to-date with the current independent film landscape, and we were treated to guest speakers from the industry nearly every class.  My personal favorite: the gracious Andrew Karpen, who happens to be a Stern alum, and who was co-CEO of Focus Features (Dallas Buyers Club, Atonement, Brokeback Mountain) before he started his own New York-based distribution company, Bleecker Street Media (Captain Fantastic, Eye in the Sky, Beasts of No Nation).  As a longtime fan of Focus Features, meeting Andrew was a career dream come true and something that seemed like a longshot before I arrived at Stern and before our first Cannes class meeting, when I was surprised with the news that he was one of the class’s perennial speakers.

On our way to group dinners with the professors in Le Suquet, the Old Town of Cannes.
On our way to group dinners with the professors in Le Suquet, the Old Town of Cannes.

For my classmates and me, who are either coming from the entertainment industry or hoping to enter it, this entire experience has been invaluable and truly one-of-a-kind.  With a one-essay application process that requires only a demonstrated interest in the industry, there are both full-time and part-time students in our class, as well as MBA/MFAs and JD/MBAs.  The result is a nice mix of people who have been a pleasure to get to know or know better.

And getting on the red carpet with friends definitely serves as great inspiration for future career goals, goals that with my fellow Sternies beside me I believe are very possible.

A quick selfie before being ushered into the premiere of "En Compétition" film Personal Shopper, starring Kristen Stewart. (Photo credit: Ria Tobaccowala)
A quick selfie before being ushered into the premiere of “En Compétition” film Personal Shopper, starring Kristen Stewart. (Photo credit: Ria Tobaccowala)

Startups | Projects that were started in B-School

Hi everyone,

It has been a while since my last post. The semester is almost over and as I reflect on the last two years, I realize how much work we have put into it. Today I wanted to highlight 6 startups and projects that were started by my peers while in business school.

Lenore Champagne Beirne and Ronica Reddick met at Stern and they are both currently working on a project called the Little Bright Notebook. It is a project design tool for creators and innovators. They combined their experience in coaching, entrepreneurship, and creative work to build a notebook that helps you plan for your next big idea.

Little Bright

Leah Shisha and Isha Vij also met at Stern, and they decided to launch Caper: a company that plans and organizes bachelorette parties. They both realized that there was an opportunity to take the stress out of the planning and to create an amazing experience for the bride-to-be and her friends.

caperco3

Chris Shaw has decided to use his previous military experience to start an innovative leadership program, called CORE leader. His company offers different team building and leadership activities that can be tailored for your team.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.12.53 PM

Sarah Manning started Colabas, an ecommerce store. She started it in her ‘Social Problem Based Entrepreneurship class’, where she got a chance to visit India and to conduct on the ground market research. Her company curates and sells socially conscious jewelry, accessories, and décor products handmade in India. Some of the proceeds are also donated to charitable organizations.

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Juan Sebastian Cadavid started Grou (sounds like Grow), a marketplace for farmers in Latin America. The marketplace aggregates products from multiple farmers in order to provide the quantities that large buyers need. At the same time, it allows smallholder farmers to identify opportunities to sell their crops at fair prices.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.57.24 PM

Finally, Perryne Vyas Desai started TujaTravel, a travel service company. Her company helps individuals and groups organize their trips by helping them build their travel package. So far, Tuja Travel has organized trips in Tanzania, Costa Rica, Fiji, and Spain among others.

Tuja Travel

I hope you take a few minutes to check them out! I will be back soon with a personal post reflecting on these last 2 years.

Until next time,

Michaella

 

*Disclaimer: All the pictures on this post belong to the respective businesses.

Top 5 Pieces of Advice From My Stern Experience

I had a wild realization this morning on my subway ride to school: I only have two full weeks of classes remaining here at NYU Stern. Wow…..

As I sit here beginning to type my latest, and probably last, blog post, I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect back on quite possibly the best two years of my life. Business school has been a whirlwind of a journey, filled with a mixed bag of intellectual exploration, professional development, career advancement, network building, and yes, even the occasional academic stress. My time at Stern has truly opened my eyes to so many different possibilities, and knowing everything I know about the school and the experience now, I undoubtedly would do it all over again!

Furthermore, now that I have gone through this process, below is my Top 5 words of wisdom to potential b-school students and Sternie-hopefuls:

  1. It’s ok to not be 100% clear on what exactly you want do with your life post-business school before you hit submit on your application or fork over your enrollment deposit. You will not be alone! However, come the first day of orientation (or even the summer before) the onus is on you to place some serious thought, due diligence, and effort into learning how to transfer your passion into a career opportunity. The resources are out there for you – current students, alumni, professors, industry professionals, career services – but it is up to you to leverage them in finding the perfect opportunity.
  2. Don’t discount the intangibles of this experience. Obviously, your top priority should be on securing an opportunity that advances your career, but building close friendships and a strong network along the way is equally important. As you explore different schools, try to imagine yourself fitting in with the particular culture of that school. You will be surprised by how much time you spend at school, and amongst your peers, so the fit truly has to be there.
  3. Location, location, location! Choose a school that gives you increased networking opportunities because of its specific location. There are a number of fantastic business schools out there, but because of their location, students are limited more to the employers who come to them, as opposed to students being able to go to the employers. Specifically at Stern, for example, it is so easy for a student to take a 10 min cab ride or subway for three stops to visit a connection at a New York office during a lunch break. However, students in more remote locations either have to pay considerable amounts of money consistently to travel for networking, or rely on the standard on-campus corporate presentation and interview routine.
  4. Challenge yourself in areas where you are weak. See my previous post about my hesitations with taking finance courses!
  5. Have fun! A lot of business school students refer to these two years as “fun-cation”, myself included! Yes, times will get stressful with recruiting; yes, you will have to pull a late (or all)-nighter every now and then; yes, you may even question your decision once or twice. But at the end of the day, this will hopefully be an opportunity to expand your network with awesome people, get some traveling in, and attend a happy hour or two with new lifelong friends!

Best of luck!

Jon

Passport Day

Hi Everyone!

One of the main reasons that I decided to matriculate at Stern, and a factor that really sets Stern apart, is just how diverse our student body is and more importantly how we embrace that diversity.

But first, I should really start with a little background about myself.

I was born in Virginia (hence the name), but had left the country and moved abroad to Asia at a mere 6 months of age. My family moved frequently, and I as a result I spent 6 years of my childhood in China (where we are originally from), 11 in the Philippines, and the last one divided amongst several Central Asia countries, with a base in Uzbekistan.

Being a Third Cultural Kid, one of the main things that drew me to Stern was in fact how international our Full-Time MBA student population is, a fact that is evident both inside and out of the classroom. One particular event that really lets everyone celebrate their culture, background, and heritage is the annual Passport Day organized by the Stern Student Government (SGov). The event allows students to sign up to represent their country and showcase traditional cuisine, costumes, music and/or performances.

Countries Represented in the Full-Time MBA Program
Countries Represented in the Full-Time MBA Program

This year, 47 of the 63 countries had participated in Passport Day. We had amazing performances from a variety of countries, including dances from India, Azerbaijan, and Morocco. All the dances were choreographed and performed by students (here’s a performance of the India dance!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9EjAmZVUzE

Personally, a couple friends and I had decided to collaborate and do a combined South East Asia booth for the event. We represented three countries in the region, and had local delicacies from each, including Tea Leaf Salad from Burma/Myanmar, Lumpia from the Philippines, egg tarts from Singapore, and a combined mango coconut sticky rice dessert. The last in particular we all made as a group and was a huge hit!

The South East Asia's mango coconut sticky rice dessert!
The South East Asia’s mango coconut sticky rice dessert!

It was an impressive event and reminded me of why I chose to come to Stern, a place that is brimming with culture and collaboration and what amazing international people I get to have as my fellow classmates.

Ally Week

Diversity is a difficult topic, whether it’s a matter of race, gender, or sexual preference.  Though organizations like Friendfactor have ranked Stern first in LGBTQ support out of all MBA programs, we know that there is still so much we can do to make sure that we are continuously building an inclusive community where everyone can feel safe learning and being who he/she/they are.

As a testament to that effort, this past week my hardworking classmates organized and hosted Stern’s second-ever Ally Week, which ran in conjunction with the sixth year of university-wide Ally Week programming and helped to spread awareness about diversity and allyship through the Stern community.  Though I’ve always believed in equal rights for all, even I had a bit of an awakening learning about the difficulties my classmates have endured in their lives and how they have still felt marginalized in their interactions with others.  As someone who tends to be a bit of a free agent when it comes to showing her support for things, the past week proved to me that there is a difference between believing in what is right and supporting what is right.  For me, I learned that it is not enough to be open-minded and kind, but rather that I must stand up for my peers and help them achieve the same quality of life that every human should be able to enjoy.

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“Trevor” director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski reads out loud and takes delight in the university’s definition of allyship.

The university defines allyship as “an active and consistent practice of unlearning and re-evaluating beliefs and actions, in which a person seeks to work in solidarity with a marginalized individual or group of people.”  Kicking off the week by asking the student body to “Pledge Your Allegiance,” the Stern Ally Week team put on a full week of programming:

On Monday, Google representatives joined us for lunch to host “Being Google-y: An Education in Allyship,” a presentation about the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts, followed by an interactive workshop co-led by Stern MBA1s.  In an abbreviated version of the day-long discussions Google facilitates with its employees and outside organizations, we broke out into groups to brainstorm answers to questions such as what mindset allies have and how allyship manifests itself in actions.  Each group then presented their answers to the room and answered questions from the “Naysayers,” who were tasked with voicing difficult but common objections to allyship that marginalized people often face.  Personally, I was able to walk out of the workshop feeling more confident about how to recognize offenses against allyship and more determined to tactfully address them.

On Tuesday, the Asian Business Society (ABS), Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS), Jewish Students Association (JSA), OutClass, Stern Women in Business (SWIB), Military Veterans Club (MVC), and Stern in Africa (SIA) each hosted Lunch Circles, small lunches led by student club leaders and each featuring a different topic of discussion around various diversity issues.  In the evening, ABS co-presented with the Asian American Federation “From Yellow Peril to Islamophobia: How Asian Stereotypes Impact Our Lives Today,” a panel moderated by Arun Venugopal, reporter and host of WNYC’s Micropolis, and featuring Deepa Iyer, racial justice activist, lawyer, and author of We Too Sing America; Kermit Roosevelt, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Allegiance; and Chris Kwok, civil rights activist and mediation supervisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Focusing on the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, the panel related the prejudice and fear the Japanese-Americans faced then to what Muslim-Americans are facing today.  The panel also spoke about how the lack of attention to these issues, as well as the continued lack of knowledge about a group of people overall, can continue to propagate these prejudices until addressed.

"Trevor" director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski discusses the long-lasting impact of the film and how she managed to found a nonprofit. (Photo credit: Miles Styer)
“Trevor” director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski discusses the long-lasting impact of the film and how she managed to found a nonprofit. (Photo credit: Miles Styer)

On Wednesday, during lunch we gathered for a screening of Academy Award-winning short film “Trevor,” the story of a 13-year-old boy whose discovery of his sexuality leads him to contemplate suicide.  In the following Q&A, the film’s director (and NYU Tisch professor) Peggy Rajski explained why she decided to make the film, stating that as a straight female she still resonated with the alienation and mortification faced by the titular gay male protagonist (who first appeared in a one-man show created by the film’s writer James Lecense).  The success of the film alerted Peggy to the unaddressed needs of LGBTQ youth across the country, and consequently, in the three short months preceding the HBO premiere of her film, she and her producing partners set up the Trevor Lifeline, the nation’s first crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline for young LGBTQ people.  The hotline has since evolved into The Trevor Project, a nonprofit offering numerous intervention and prevention services to young LGBTQ youth, and Peggy cites the importance of the nonprofit in letting kids know that “someone is there for me” so that they can “get through and choose life.”  Afterwards, Jason Daniel Fair of The Trevor Project’s New York office took the stage to reiterate Peggy’s point and highlight the importance of allyship, citing the fact that for many LGBTQ youth, getting in touch with people who can help them can be exceptionally hard when their community acts in a way that prevents them from doing so.

On Thursday, the Ally Week team organized an “Ask Anything” Forum where everyone in the room had a safe space to ask any questions they had to representatives designated by AHBBS, Outclass, and SWIB to represent the black, gay, and female communities.  While I had to sit this one out for a class, a friend told me afterwards that although the purpose of the session was to remove judgment from the conversation, she could not help but notice how inherently hurtful some of the questions were, even though she knew that the people asking them had no intent of upsetting their fellow classmates.

Having fun planting and enjoying the beautiful weather. (Photo credit: Jamie Farris)
Having fun planting and enjoying the beautiful weather. (Photo credit: Jamie Farris)

Ally Week wrapped up with its Days of Service.  On Friday, a group of us did some weeding and planting for the Riverside Conservancy Park on the Upper West Side, and on Saturday, a group of Sternies met up for the New York Cares Spring Day of Service, joining thousands of other volunteers to clean up the city’s public outdoor spaces.

Again, we know there is still so much we can do to support diversity and allyship, but I can promise you that we at Stern are dedicated to seeing this effort through.

Facing My Fear of Finance

Hey everyone,

There are a number of MBA students across the country who feel uncomfortable or apprehensive about registering for certain academic subjects; typically, financial courses top that list. Needless to say, I was one of those students for the first 3/4 of my MBA journey. But then I had an epiphany of sorts, and decided to challenge myself in this daunting field. First, however, a bit of background.

I knew that finance was arguably my achilles heel when it came to subject matter comfortability. I had taken a couple of required finance courses in undergrad, and I admit that I was not the student receiving the highest accolades from my professors after each quiz or mid-term. So when I was considering applying to NYU Stern, the strength and popularity of its finance curriculum flat out scared me. Would I feel uncomfortable amongst the masses of future I-Bankers? Would I constantly be falling behind in said courses? I even told myself that I would only take the Foundations of Finance core course, which isn’t even required. But that would be it. I never saw myself working in a financial position or working on financial models, so why even bother to use course credits in a subject matter that would not be directly applicable to my future career endeavors?

And then my epiphany occurred sometime in late October or early November when we all had register for our last semester of classes. What was this epiphany? What was this blaring realization staring straight at me? It was that I had one more semester, one more shot, to make the most of an incredible and fortunate opportunity set before me. I had three and a half months before I graduated with an MBA – an MBA from a top school highly regarded for its finance program, nonetheless – and I had only taken ONE finance course! There was no way I could take pride in my degree and accomplishments without pushing myself to be at least a little more well-versed in this subject matter.

With that rude awakening, I put aside my fears and enrolled in two of our school’s most popular financial courses – Corporate Finance, taught by the legendary Aswath Damodaran, and Financial Services Industries, taught by former Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse Charles Murphy. I am halfway through the semester at this point, and I cannot believe I am saying this, but it so happens that these two classes have been some of my favorite while at Stern. Who would have thought?

This new-found interest is not to say that I am sitting in the center of the front row, and am making the highest scores on exams, or am now considering a major career change. But I can now comprehend with a better financial understanding top headlines in the Wall Street Journal; I now understand the relationships between Private Equity firms, Hedge Funds, and Investment Banks; I can now hold at least a basic conversation around financial events in networking scenarios. Above all else, it was naive of me to think that I wouldn’t touch finance at some point in my future career. It will happen, and I will now be prepared. I will at least be a little more knowledgable, and comfortable, when sitting at conference tables with finance managers.

So for those of you out there who are like me, and have apprehensions about a certain subject, whether its finance or not, I would highly recommend stepping outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself. You have an amazing opportunity within an MBA program, and it is what you make of it. For me, I want to graduate as a very well-rounded business leader, and in order to do that, I had to face my fears of that daunting subject that is finance.

Best of luck,
Jon

Why I Chose Stern

The timing of this post is not a coincidence.  There is plenty of discussion happening in school regarding the U.S. News & World Report rankings—what happened; why it happened; what the administration, faculty, and students can all do to address the situation.  I did not intend at all to write a post about it, but the other day I was inspired by some of my professors, who have privately voiced to us the efforts they pledge to make to ensure that we the students do not suffer as the result of one slight but unfortunate oversight.

Honestly I did not expect my professors to get involved, and when I was applying to Stern I definitely did not even think about how important it might be to have professors that do care about a situation that might adversely affect their students.  So I feel very fortunate.

I can tell you what I did think about though when pulling the trigger on which school to attend, why I had (and have) no regrets about leaving behind my past life and why I turned down a considerable scholarship at another top MBA program to go to the school that I saw as the best fit for me and the best fit for my future:

I chose Stern because I saw unparalleled opportunities.

THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN WHAT I WANT:

One of my professors today pointed out that Stern weirdly doesn’t advertise the number and diversity of the courses you have access to as a Stern student—so here I am to fix that.  Stern has over 200 electives and over 20 specializations.  This semester alone, about 140 electives are being offered, among which are nine “Doing Business in…” (DBi) courses (one- or two-week experiential study abroad courses that you can read more about in my classmates’ blog posts).  Check out more details in the graphic below:

2016-03-25
As of March 2016

You first need to get through your Core Classes (two “required core” classes plus five out of an available seven “menu core” classes) within your first year.  As someone who had no business background but who wanted flexibility and choice when it came to what I was learning, I appreciated the concept of the menu core.  Meanwhile, if you do have some experience and want to jump ahead, I can say that many of my friends were able to test out of their remaining requirements and take all electives by their second semester.

Straight out of my own admissions essay, what I loved about Stern is that when I visited the school I got “the sense that Sternies coexist happily with one another because each has been given the capacity to pursue his/her own personalized goals.”

THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WHERE I WANT:

We all know that networking is key, and so I knew I had to pick a school that would allow me the most touchpoints with the companies I’m interested in, whether through official events and/or alumni.  Geographical area was also a factor, but it was a preference for me rather than a necessity (though you seriously can’t beat the location, as my classmate Alex will tell you in his blog post, “Downtown New York – Why It Matters”).  Upon arriving at Stern, as I did with my classes I decided to take advantage of the slew of possibilities before me and expand upon my initial target interests.  I participated in investment banking recruiting with over 100 of my classmates, and I must admit that the access I had to people at these firms is not for the faint-hearted (I also need to mention that IB recruiting is as extreme as it gets, and that it was my choice to take on as much as I did):

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Investment Banking Recruiting: a very extreme example.

Including the case competition (at the very top), that’s 16 touchpoints with 11 different firms in one week (admittedly my busiest of the semester).  If this is what you want, regardless of industry, I really don’t know many other schools where you could do this.  And I can’t even tell you how many different people I met at these events, although many were alumni eager to recruit their own.

Indeed, lest the outdated belief that we’re “just a finance school” still persists, Stern alumni are active across all industries.  As an admitted student at Preview Weekend (which I highly recommend you attend if you can), I was impressed by the accomplishments of our alums and the sheer number of them who came back to campus to share their positive Stern experiences with us.  Personally, I felt that the best indicator of the quality of a school is how willing students and alumni are to give back and help each other succeed—and I haven’t been proven wrong yet.

THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH GREAT PEOPLE:

On that thought, while meeting those alums at Preview Weekend reaffirmed for me that I had chosen the right school, the Sternies I’ve met since then have only continued to surprise me with their magnanimity.  After Preview, but before I moved back to New York from Los Angeles, a friend introduced me to an “MBA3” who had just graduated and was moving out to L.A.  Unsure of what awaited me in the Fall, I requested a coffee chat, and he was more than happy to meet with me.  He also introduced me to two MBA2s, who were out in L.A. to intern for the summer.  Seven months later, when I lost out on a summer internship opportunity I really wanted, I contacted him again for general advice, and he responded immediately.  His busy schedule required him to reschedule our phone call about seven times, but each time he apologized profusely to me, telling me that he didn’t want me to get the impression that helping out a fellow Sternie wasn’t important to him.  When we finally did have the phone call, he gave me the most helpful, relevant advice I had received in my job-search process, something I had hoped for but couldn’t have possibly expected to receive when I was making my decision to attend Stern.

That may be an above-and-beyond example, but it isn’t too far off from the kind of support I’ve received since being at Stern.  As I mentioned in my first blog post, “Block 2, I Love You,” my classmates have only helped me be better than I would have been without them.  They’ve encouraged me and helped me prepare for interviews, they’ve kept me posted about events and opportunities, they’ve stayed up studying with me the night before an exam in the Starbucks Lounge, pushing me to get through a practice exam even as I was so physically exhausted from recruiting that I was nodding off at the table as they spoke to me.

So there you have it.  Opportunities I knew I wanted but didn’t know how or when I would take advantage of them.  To that point, as much as you think you know what you want when you’re applying and choosing to go to business school, it’s impossible to know exactly what you’re going to get.  Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but when you’re taking into account the slew of decision factors, know that making the “wrong” choice isn’t the end of the world, but making the right one, the best one, can introduce you to a world you never knew before.  When making your decision, ask yourself what really matters to you and your future, where you foresee yourself having the fewest or no regrets, and if possible, choose your best fit based on that.

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Camps Bay, Cape Town. A moment unimaginable—South Africa Spring Break Trek 2016. (Photo credit: Ria Tobaccowala)

Who Run the Stern? (Girls)

It was a Thursday evening a few weeks ago when I was standing at Stern’s weekly Beer Blast with a few of my female blockmates, sipping a nice lager and eating sushi courtesy of the Japan Business Association.

We were discussing how well our block was doing in club president elections but in particular how the women in our block were doing. Our two block captains had just been elected to Executive Vice President of Student Government (SGov) and Co-President of Stern Women in Business (SWIB), respectively. Another Block 2 woman had also been elected President of the Entrepreneurs Exchange (EEX), and since then, three more of us have been elected President of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Association (EMTA), Graduate Marketing Association (GMA), and Speechmasters.

Of course, male or female, we all support each other regardless of gender and individual interests, but it’s impossible to ignore the success of these women and to not celebrate it. Especially in honor of Women’s History Month, here are some highlights on how all of my fellow female classmates are stepping up and shaping Stern for future classes (i.e. you!):

1) Employment/Recruiting: As companies put more effort into recruiting women, Stern women are jumping in, winning positions, and expanding Stern’s network across all industries and functions. Here’s a sampling of where current female students have interned, will be interning, or will be going/returning for their full-time offers:

02-01---Employment

2) Club Leadership: Stern’s 40+ clubs are each run by a board consisting of President/Co-Presidents, Vice Presidents (VPs), and Associate Vice Presidents (AVPs). You already have an idea of how my class is doing regarding female leadership for next year, but here’s some data on what the club leadership looks like this year:

02-02---Leadership

Among these positions is the board of SWIB, which boasts 32 female leaders in itself. Meanwhile, I didn’t count other leadership at Stern, such as Block Captains, Spring Break Trek Leaders, and students on various committees. (Also not counted in the above data are a few clubs that did not self-report their boards online.)

3) Culture/Events: To celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday March 8, SWIB hosted GIRLS WHO BOSS, Stern’s first Women’s Week. Events to support gender equality kicked off with a keynote address by Gloria Feldt, Co-Founder and President of the women’s leadership nonprofit Take The Lead and former CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Gloria discussed her nonprofit and how to promote gender parity in the workforce.

Janice_Gloria
Power Lunch with Gloria Feldt, Monday, March 7, 2016

This event was followed by “Toast to International Women’s Day” at one of Stern students’ usual haunts (Tuesday, 3/8), “Pizza, Beer, and Banter: A Free Form Discussion on Male Allyship at Stern (Wednesday, 3/9), and “Let’s Get in Formation: Dance Class with Stern Steps,” also at Stern (Thursday 3/10).

And all this follows SWIB’s successful conference last month, which featured a keynote address from Susan L. Jurevics (Stern MBA ’96), CEO of Pottermore (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter expansion site), and panels featuring Stern alumnae who have gone on to become CEOs and SVPs across various industries.

4) Admissions: SWIB is also making a concerted effort to bring more women to Stern. Last Fall, SWIB played an integral role in the success of Opening Doors for Women, an event that Stern hosts for prospective female students. I had the pleasure of helping out at the event, where over a light breakfast I got to casually chat with a handful of diverse female prospectives and tune in to a panel of three Stern alumnae, who offered their wisdom on how their MBA programs at Stern (Full-time, Part-time, and Executive) have shaped them both professionally and personally.

As one can see, Stern women and our male allies are dedicated to working to make Stern an even more inclusive place for women than it already is, and it’s efforts like these that help foster the kind of environment that allows the entire class to succeed in school, in business, and beyond.

A Week In the Life Of…

Friday company visit to Mars Chocolate
Friday company visit to Mars Chocolate

The question that I get asked most often since I started my MBA at Stern was “So what’s a typical day like?”

Sadly, (as cliché as it may sound) there is no typical day here. My schedule seems to fluctuate from hour to hour, each one jammed packed with academics, recruiting, interning, club events, social life and of course sleep. Therefore, in an attempt to give a more holistic view of what it’s actually like to be a full-time MBA student at Stern, we’ll go over what a “typical” week looks like.

Monday
My week starts off typically with lots of groaning, a full breakfast, and coffee. Then at 10:30am, I make it to my first class, Corporate Finance, taught by one of Stern’s best, Professor Damodaran (PS. A few of is lectures are recorded and online for free, so you should all check him out). Afterwards, I typically catch up with friends over lunch regarding the weekend before heading to my next class, which is taught by another superb professor, Dolly Chugh: Leadership In Organizations.

I have a short break from 4:30-6pm, where you can find me either at a group meeting or catching up on emails while eating dinner. From 6 to 9pm, I have my last class of the day, Entertainment Media Industries, which also happens to be the core requirement class for the EMT specialization here at Stern. Mondays are my busiest days, so I’m always happy to be back home and in my bed at the end of it.

Tuesday
I don’t actually have class until 1:30pm on Tuesdays (Foundations of Finance with the amazing Professor Silber), but one of the great perks of Stern is its location and the endless opportunities that NYC brings. I’m interning this semester at an indie film distribution company, so I actually head to work first thing in the morning, then straight to class.

Before my 6-9pm night class, I have a good 3 hour break where I can attend club events (which are often training or info sessions), go on coffee chats, go to the gym, and even cram homework.

Wednesday
I’m back in Corporate Finance at 10:30am on Wednesdays, and then straight to work after class, where I’ll be for the rest of the day.

Thursday
I love Thursdays because I have nothing scheduled until class at 1:30pm! You’ll still typically find me on campus around 10am latest though, where I’ll be attending various group meetings, club and recruiting events.

Thursdays are also amazing because they are Beer Blast days. Beer Blast, for those unfamiliar, is a four hour open bar (beer and wine only) hosted a different club every week from 6-10pm in Stern, and is open to all full and part time MBA students. After class gets out for me at 6pm, that’s where we usually end up. After the week of classes, recruiting, and meetings, beer blast is the best way to unwind, catch-up and get to know your classmates better over some food and drinks.

Friday
Stern doesn’t have any classes on Fridays in order to accommodate all the other activities that we have going on. If there isn’t a student club hosting a conference that week, then there will be some sort of trek, company visit, symposium, and/or coffee chat set up. It’s also a great time to catch up on work, school and sleep. Personally, if I’m not at some sort of student club event or a trek, then I’d be at work Fridays.

Downtown New York – Why It Matters

Alex-wsq

In the fall of 2014, on the cusp of applying to business school, I found myself frequently mulling over the many options of each institution I was considering. At the time, I was feeling quite settled in my downtown Manhattan life, yet frequently daydreamed about reliving my undergrad days at a small, rural college.

Simply put, I was torn between the competing ideas of “going back to the woods,” keeping my new urban lifestyle, or splitting the difference via a school in a small-to-medium sized city.

Adding to my decision discord was the fact that while I had a decent idea of what I wanted to do after my MBA, I still had curiosity about certain industries that I wanted to at least dip my toes into during my two years of school.

Ultimately, I decided that coming to NYU, which offered the same kind of intimate community I cherished in undergrad, as well as the power of being in downtown New York, provided me the best path to scratch my proverbial professional itches.

A semester and a half in, all I can say is that if anything, I underestimated just how impactful being in downtown New York is. I remember one week, about halfway through the fall, that illustrated this quite fully.

At the time, I was deep into the consulting recruiting track but still exploring marketing, technology, and entertainment and media. My schedule was as follows:

  • Monday
    • 12pm-1pm: Consulting firm lunch & learn
    • 6pm-8pm: Consulting firm on-campus presentation
  • Tuesday
    • 12pm-1pm: Consulting firm lunch & learn
    • 5pm-7pm: Film studio corporate presentation
  • Wednesday
    • 12pm-1:30pm: Informational interview with a top online retailer
    • 6pm-9pm: Dinner and drinks with a friend in the movie business
  • Thursday
    • 6pm-9pm: Graduate Marketing Association’s “So You Want to be a Marketer?” information session and panel
  • Friday
    • 10am-11am: Trek to a major news organization’s headquarters
    • 12pm-2pm: Informational conversations at a top tech firm’s New York headquarters
    • 3pm-5pm: Coffee chats with consultants from top-tier firms

Now you might be thinking, “well, every school arranges treks to visit these companies, so what makes your schedule so special?”

To this, I’ll answer in two different ways. First, the remarkable thing is that I was able to attend all these sessions as part of my normal, everyday routine – no flights across the country, no train rides up and down the coast. The furthest I traveled out of my way the whole week was about 15 minutes by subway.

Second, not only was all this easy for me, but easy for these companies as well. If you choose to come to NYU, I think you’ll be amazed at just how often the same firms that are making headlines in the Wall Street Journal are here at Stern, whether they are sending someone to be on a panel, recruit students, or drop into a class.

So why does this matter? By being in downtown New York I had unprecedented access to companies, their employees, Stern alumni, events not-specific to business school students, and so on. Within a week, I was able to conclusively rule out all but two industries through this constant exposure and subsequently focus on what I now know concretely I can be passionate about.

Differentiating When It Matters Most

Hi Everyone! As you may or may not know, one of the great things about Stern is that all the clubs are student led and student run. As an MBA1, you have the opportunity to apply to AVP positions for a wide range of clubs and positions, which is amazing, as we can not only practice our leadership and managerial skills, but also have direct access to all the club’s resources! This year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the AVPs of Conference for the Graduate Marketing Association (GMA). Our annual conference was held late last year on November 6th and was a huge success!

Since our conference is pretty early in the school year, planning actually starts earlier during the spring/summer. My amazing VPs (Hi Debbie & Aileen!) had already booked a venue, set a theme, and reached out to speakers by the time we AVPs came on board to sort out the details and kinks.

Our lovely conference brochures!
Our lovely conference brochures! (Photo Credit: Nevena Georgieva)

The conference theme this year was “Engaging Consumers: Differentiating When It Matters Most.” Our keynote speakers included the marvelous Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions for Facebook, and the CEO & Co-Founder of Brooklyn Brewery, Steve Hindy. There were also panels focusing on digital branding, packaging, and 360 activation, with speakers ranging from Unilever to Google to Lancôme. Our afternoon sessions also featured a panel co-hosted by the Stern Women In Business group on campus, along with a MBA1 Mini Case event hosted by our sponsor companies.

It was definitely a lot to coordinate – we needed to secure speakers, market our event, create pamphlets…and all within a student org budget! My first assignment was to create an app for the event (go check it out! You can learn more about the conference and attendees here: https://attendify.com/app/k5m3i3) – which was definitely a new experience for me! There were times, especially closer to the conference, where I would put away my phone for half an hour only to come back with 35 new emails and 10 new action items. But in the end it was super worth it to see the conference go off without a hitch and to get positive feedback. Not to mention the preparation and event day were both excellent networking opportunities!

Goodie bags!!
Goodie bags!!

I had such a blast both planning and participating in this conference. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, the conference is open to public, so feel free to come by next year! Not to mention the GMA Conference is just one of many, many conferences and events held and run by students throughout the year, so there are tons of options to choose from.

Block 2, I Love You

When you first start business school, you can’t necessarily comprehend the extent to which you will bond with your classmates and your blockmates in particular. It has now been five months since I first met this astonishingly diverse group of people, and I am reluctant to imagine what my life would have been like had Stern not brought us together in this one place at this one time.

Before school started, there were some self-organized gatherings. The air was warm, the days were still long, and the trees in nearby Washington Square Park were lush and green. Around the corner from Stern, 10 to 20 of us would meet up for Happy Hour and talk about what had become our pasts—where we grew up, where we last lived, what job we just quit (or still needed to quit).

I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker but was returning home from a three-year stint in Los Angeles, where I worked as a script reader, screenwriter, and director’s assistant. Many people had been living and working in the city in various occupations. Some grew up in the States, yet others were from places as far away as Taiwan and New Delhi—one had gotten off the plane just a day before, and his wife had yet to join him!

It wasn’t until LAUNCH when I met my block (Block 2!) in its entirety, all 67 of us. I was pleasantly surprised at how genuinely kind and down-to-earth everyone was (Stern definitely has the IQ+EQ thing down pat), but at that point, I still had no idea to what lengths we would go to befriend and support one another.

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On an average night.

Fast forward past midterms, during which my blockmates and I took over the Starbucks Lounge even more so than we usually do (see above) to study together. Fast forward past a brutal recruiting season, during which we’d check in on each other and post silly things in the group messenger app to keep morale up. Fast forward to “Blocksgiving,” when a random bunch of us (and a few partners) came together before the weekend was over, on the eve of dozens of summer internship application deadlines, to share a homemade meal with each other.

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At Stern no less.

Skip ahead to the last day of classes, when half of us celebrated by running down the street from Stern to our unofficial block watering hole and catching up with each other into the night. Then jump ahead one day, when we rallied together the next morning in a last-minute push to donate to Stern’s Toys for Tots Drive. I’m proud to say the effort was especially rewarding, for in addition to doing good, as the block with the highest participation we were awarded enough block points to clinch the Block Points Championship for the semester.

At this point I’m bragging, but how could I not? And don’t get me wrong—there are amazing people in the other five blocks too. But as I recall from Blocksgiving, sitting in a room at Stern with good company, laughing and trying not to choke on apple crumble and coconut cream pie, I thought to myself what I was thankful for, and my current situation came to mind.

I am thankful for Stern, for giving me the chance to challenge myself and to be among people who are brilliant in both heart and mind. I am thankful for my block for being the best block so thoughtful, supportive, fun, and hilarious, truly (I could go on about our beer receivables and sock puppies but I don’t think you’d get it, sorry!). And I am thankful for these moments, now memories, shared by the lot of us, a wonderful group that would have had little reason to ever come together had we not been given the opportunity that we have now.

And as we come back from break, we hope you had the:

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Insights into the Winter Break of an MBA2

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Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I last posted, but it was for good reason…I was on my MBA2 winter break! The second-year winter break during business school is one of the best things ever. Really.

At Stern, like a number of b-schools, we get all of January off. A large majority of first-year students have to utilize this time for summer internship interviewing. Most MBA2s, on the other hand, take advantage of this “free month” to do a variety of things since most of us will probably never get this much time back. What is the most popular use of the time? Traveling!

I personally decided to travel to Southeast Asia (along with probably a third of our class). I started my journey by first enrolling in one of our Doing Business In… (DBi) programs for the first two weeks of January.  Our DBi programs are one (1.5 credits) or two-week (3 credits) study abroad immersion programs with partner schools that focus on teaching best practices for conducting business in a foreign country. I participated in the DBi Asia program, which was located in Singapore in partnership with the National University of Singapore. The course covered several interesting topics, including the value proposition paradigm as it relates to Asian markets, the many economical, political, and cultural roadblocks Western firms can expect to encounter if they try to expand to Indonesia, as well as group simulations that illustrated Asian negotiation customs. Outside of the classroom, our class had the opportunity to visit a number of Singaporean corporate sites, including the luxurious Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Airlines, and Yamato. We were also provided the opportunity to explore landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer and the famous Night Safari, as well as to get a taste for traditional Singaporean chili crab.

Stern students on DBi Singapore
Stern students on DBi Singapore

After my time in Singapore, I decided to continue my explorations to Bali, Phuket, Bangkok, Siem Reap, Myanmar, and Hanoi. It was one of the most culturally eye-opening experiences of my life, and it was fascinating to compare and contrast the different cultures throughout the region.

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Those 5 weeks of combined study and fun were the ideal way for me to spend my winter break, and I am forever fortunate for the opportunity. I hope this gave you a little bit of insight into how you can take advantage of the ample personal time between semesters in your second year of study! As I’m back on campus now, I promise not to take so long to write another post!

Cheers,

Jon

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On Being Different

During perhaps the most insightful of his lectures this semester, Professor Scott Galloway highlighted the importance of finding the characteristics that make us unique, and using them to our advantage.

Rephrasing his words, once we have found the reasons that differentiate us, we must cultivate them, find our “niche” and build our own brand. Now that my first semester of graduate school is coming to an end, I believe I have found one of Stern’s main sources of uniqueness.

Having grown up in a foreign country, I spent my younger years trying to do exactly the opposite of what the Professor suggested. I anguished over adjusting to norms and customs different from mine, in an effort to be just like everyone else around me. But the more I tried to blend in, the more I stood out.

I eventually gave up and decided to embrace the traits that made me different, even though my behavior, my beliefs and even my appearance made me an easy target for bullying, to which I grew accustomed.

But I never expected to find a place where I felt that I belonged, without sacrificing my uniqueness. However from the first time I visited Stern, I noticed the positive and welcoming attitude of the entire community towards diversity.

The students I had the opportunity to meet on that first occasion made me realize that at NYU, things such as coming from diverse backgrounds or having a different ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, are not seen as disadvantages. Rather they are welcomed and embraced.

My experiences here have reinforced that notion. Getting to know the amazingly talented people that make up my class and attending an array of extracurricular activities has shown me that one of Stern’s strongest traits is this openness to diversity and desire for inclusion.

The academics and student life at Stern are not just about learning to see the world from different perspectives, but about enriching everyone’s overall MBA experience.

First day of LAUNCH 2015.
From left: Candace Imani Munroe and Victoria Eloise Zunhiga.

 

Just a semester in, and already seeing the world through a new lens…

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My alarm clock jolted me awake at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, December 19th. Having completed the last exam of my first semester at Stern just a day earlier, I was feeling relieved to have a relaxing, if temporary, respite from the academic demands of business school. With tickets in hand to see a morning showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” I was ready to slip out of MBA mode and into the “home-for-the-holidays” state of mind.

A few minutes later, my friend Sam, who I was visiting up in Boston, poked his head into my room. “Hey man,” he said, “I’m heading to the gym before the movie – there’s some Special K cereal in the cupboard and K-Cups for the Keurig if you want anything – oh, and feel free to eat in the living room, Apple TV’s all hooked up.” He started to walk out the door then added, “also, I figure we can grab some Chipotle after Star Wars if you want.”

As Sam shut the door behind him, I sat there, surprised at the thoughts that came rushing into my head. While on the surface, our morning exchange might have seemed rather innocuous, for me, it was the first time I truly realized just how much Stern has changed my perceptions of the world. In the time it took Sam to utter a few quick sentences referencing everyday items and brands, my mind was making linkages back to all I had learned and experienced in one short semester.

Rather than just thinking about which flavor K-Cup I wanted to make, I was again pondering Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ acquisition of Keurig, as I had been just a few days earlier in Strategy. Mention of Special K cereal took be back to another case study on big companies like Kellogg contracting out excess production capacity to make store-brand cereal products for retail stores. And of course Apple, a company that, as Professor Scott Galloway eloquently puts it, has “moved down the torso” from the consumer’s head, to the heart, and beyond, to maximize margins while transforming from a tech company into a luxury brand.

I always believed that undergrad was where you “learned how to think,” and grad school was where you gained a specific set of technical skills. But my early morning exchange with Sam was revealing that at Stern, your way of thinking and perceiving evolves as well, and there is no such thing as “slipping out of MBA mode.” Where I once saw brands, products, and prices as a consumer, I was now seeing the fruition of behind the scenes business processes – strategic decisions, supply and demand analyses, complex pricing models, and the like – as an MBA.

Of course, as a result of my first semester, I can comfortably put together a CFFO, build a game theory decision tree, and analyze a regression. But more importantly, I can now see the world in a whole new light, and think in a way that would have never been possible without my Stern experience.

Explore. Expand. Experiment.

These three words were the theme for LAUNCH, Stern’s one-week orientation program for new full-time MBA students that happens every August. I was drawn to it, in part because I have been fond of alliterative phrases since middle school, but also because of what they represent. LAUNCH marked the beginning of a two-year period where I had permission to do all three of these. When else in life would I have the time, resources, and lack of constraints to explore, expand, and experiment like this?

Before Stern, I worked in the education sector, both at a university and a nonprofit. I enjoyed working with other educators, building youth programs, and contributing to teenagers’ personal development. But, like many of you, I knew that I wanted to build new skill sets that would take me even further in my career. I had spent a number of years watching other young people improve themselves through school, so returning to earn an MBA seemed like a great idea.

Stern’s message of educating for business and society resonated deeply with me, and I’m positive I found the right fit. Since coming to Stern, I have:

Explored. Having built my perspective on social impact within the education sector, I was excited to learn more about other social sector careers. Through Stern’s Social Enterprise Association, I have learned from alumni and industry experts about impact investing, corporate social responsibility, nonprofit consulting, and many other areas I hadn’t previously explored. In just a few weeks, I will have the chance to explore doing business in another part of the globe as I embark on my first DBi to Singapore (stay tuned for more on that). I can’t wait!

Expanded. We’ve all heard about the importance of networking to advance our careers. I knew business school might fast track this process, but I could not have anticipated just how my network would grow at Stern. I entered thinking I would gravitate towards peers with similar backgrounds. It only took a few weeks to form strong and genuine connections with peers pursuing finance, marketing, strategy, luxury retail, entrepreneurship, entertainment, and every other industry under the sun. Stern has expanded both the depth and breadth of my lifelong network.

Experimented. With a two-year time out from the working world, I knew this was the perfect time to try new things. At Stern, I have tried out consulting through experiential learning courses like Strategy with a Social Purpose and Stern’s Board Fellows Program. I have performed an original song in front of audience of my peers and attended my first fashion show. I visited companies like Jet Blue and the Metropolitan Opera House, and spent a day interviewing waffle truck operators, as I learned operations in the real world through Ops in NYC.

Stern has been transformative for me, and I hope these snapshots have given you a sense of my time here thus far. With just six months until graduation, I look forward to sharing more details about the rest of my time exploring, expanding, and experimenting while I still can.

Until next time,
Jamie

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Allow Me to Introduce … Part 3

Hey readers! Have you heard of CORE Leader? Did you know a current Sternie amongst us is the CEO and founder of this company?

62% of the Stern student body come to school to work in finance, management consulting, or marketing (official Stern statistics here). The remaining 38% pursue non-traditional industries such as non-profit, entertainment, or technology. But there are the special and very talented few that become entrepreneurs during their time at Stern. I am lucky and honored to not only know one of them, but also to call him a dear friend: Chris Shaw.

Chris Shaw Core Leader

Chris is a current full-time MBA2 and a US Army veteran. During his time in the Army, he was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina (just like me!) and is now CEO and founder of his own company.

Evelyn: Hi Chris! Thanks for sharing your story. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself and what you did before Stern?
Chris: I am from Old Chatham, NY, a small town near Albany and went to Cornell University for undergrad. Before Stern, I flew Kiowa Warrior Armed Reconnaissance helicopters in the US Army for eight years. I deployed to Afghanistan twice, where I mostly flew at night, staring into two round, green TV screens one inch from my eyes (AKA night vision) for about 1,000 hours of my life.

E: Wow! You’ve had an amazing military career. When did you realize you had the “entrepreneur bug”?
C: I actually wanted to start my own company before even applying to Stern. In fact, I didn’t know exactly what my business would be, but I knew that the skills from an MBA degree would help me reach that goal.

E: Can you tell the readers a little about your company, CORE Leader?
C: CORE Leader is a team building business. However, unlike most businesses in this category, we do not do “trust falls” or scavenger hunts. Instead, we teach a battle-tested form of dynamic problem solving and reinforce it with a mobile, military-style challenge course. Think “Tough Mudder” meets “Escape the Room”.

E: What are some of your favorite parts about being a CEO, founder, and entrepreneur?
C: I like that I can set my own priorities and focus entirely on what is important to me. I enjoy not only coming up with features of the brand and the product experience, but also testing out new ideas without seeking approval. Finally, I like the feeling of making a sale and knowing that I just made my business more valuable and financially stable.

E: I can only imagine how tough an entrepreneur’s journey is at the beginning. How has Stern supported you as an entrepreneur?
C: Stern has been instrumental to CORE’s success. Besides the knowledge I’ve gained through their classes, the Berkeley Center awarded me a $10,000 fellowship grant to support my work this summer. I couldn’t have asked for better support from the school.

E: What classes at Stern best prepared you for CORE Leader success?
C: I used lessons from every class I took at Stern while starting CORE. A few examples really stand out though. A combination of Accounting and Corporate Finance allowed me to put numbers to the business plan. Brand Strategy helped me understand my personal brand and how I could turn it into a highly differentiated business. Social Problem Based Entrepreneurship walked me through the development of a business plan, which resulted in a solid foundation for the getting the company off the ground.

E: If you had advice for an entrepreneur pursuing an MBA, what would you tell them?
C: Getting an MBA will definitely make you a better entrepreneur, no matter how deep your prior subject matter expertise in your venture’s industry. Every class you take will give you tools to make smarter business decisions as a founder.

E: Okay, time for my favorite part. Evelyn’s Quickfire Attack: KMC elevator or stairs?
C: Oh man. I’m the worst and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but… sometimes I take the elevator to the 2nd floor!

E: If you want to catch up with a friend: Sosnoff or 4th Floor Starbucks Lounge? (if neither – list where)
C: I like to hang out in the lobby after classes to catch up with people.

E: Finally, what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
C: Taking on all the risk and reaping the potential reward (or enduring the failure) of a new business. It is a hard path. It can be uncertain and lonely. If it is your calling – if, as Prof. Galloway says “you feel like you just have to do it” in spite of the inevitably bleak risk-adjusted reward possibility – then commit to it and go at it, full force. If you hesitate at all, you will find it very hard to do what it takes to really succeed.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Chris! Learn more about CORE Leader here.

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Mid-Semester Check in…

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This is how I ponder

It suddenly hit me that it is almost the end of the semester!  I am spending the bulk of my time at Columbia University, where I took advantage of one of the different experiential programs that Stern offers. I am taking a course on the public education sector in the US from K-12; it is divided into a seminar and a consulting project. One of the interesting parts is that it takes a multidisciplinary approach where I am studying with other MBAs, MPAs, Law, and Education students from different schools. It has been fascinating to see the different perspectives that we bring to the table, and to realize once again that this reflects the complexity of the “working world’’. The course focuses on the changes that are needed in public education, and I have learned a lot about organizational change and organizational design – concepts that can be transferred to any other company that I work for once I graduate.

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Up on the hill – mornings on the Columbia U. campus

In other news, a couple of weeks ago I had to choose my spring courses and it was one of those moments where I realized that this was it!  There is so much that I still have to learn, and so little time to do it.  This is my 2nd business degree, but I am only starting to scratch the surface. Being at Stern, working on different projects, interning, studying with my peers has been such an intellectually stimulating challenge. It also hit me that this is the last time I get to see my friends who are studying abroad next semester, and that now is the time to really make time for them. I am so excited to graduate, to go out into the world and to chart a path for myself. Yet, I would like to stay in this bubble a little longer. In Kinyarwanda they say: “akaryoshe ntigahora mwitama” – it literally translates into “the sweet doesn’t remain in your cheek” meaning that you cannot hold onto great times forever. I now understand the mixed emotions that the class of 2015 felt last fall.

To end on a happier note though, as I had mentioned in a previous post last year, I will be taking full advantage of the January break. I am going on a DBI in Israel, and after that I am planning on visiting a couple of countries with some of my closest friends.  I cannot wait!

Until next time,

Michaella

Hello, My Name is…

Hey everyone,

My name is Jon, and I am a second-year full-time MBA student here at NYU Stern, and I am excited to begin blogging for you! I look forward to sharing my experiences as you continue to determine which MBA journey you want to pursue, as well as continually giving you insight into what it’s like to be Sternie.

First, a brief introduction! I am originally from Jamaica, but was raised in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. I decided to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), where I studied marketing. After graduating from UNC, I worked at a leading consumer packaged goods company for five years in their sales division as part of a management rotational program. Although I gained invaluable experience over those years, I knew my true passion was to pursue the function I studied in college. I also knew that I wanted to pair this functional interest with my lifelong passion for sports – I grew up as a competitive soccer player, and am genuinely intrigued with the business of sports.

So this brought me to Stern! Why? For a couple of reasons:

  1. I mainly targeted b-schools that had programs which touched the sports & entertainment fields, and NYU Stern has one of the leading Entertainment MBA programs in the country. Seeing as how sports typically falls into the “entertainment bucket”, I believed this would be a great opportunity for me to take advantage of a curriculum that was tailored to my interests.
  2. I knew that in order to break into sports, I also had to be in a city that afforded me ample networking opportunities. New York City is the central hub for this industry (as for many other industries), and attending an MBA program in such a location would open many doors for me. I have already had the chance to set up coffee chats with industry professionals at major sports leagues (at their World HQ), as well as conduct a student consulting project for Whistle Sports Network.  Opportunities like these would not be possible at other leading business schools, simply because of their locations.
  3. I also wanted to attend a school where I saw myself fitting into the culture. I targeted schools with small to medium class sizes, and atmospheres that fostered collaboration rather than intense competitiveness. I wanted to immerse myself in a community where students were genuinely interested in learning about their classmates and their life stories, as opposed to only what careers they’re seeking. I visited Stern and interacted with alumni a number of times before applying, and each time this sort of culture transcended through all touch points.

Now I am in my second year, with only one more semester left to go….noooo!!!! That said, I am in a very fortunate position in that I have already accepted a full-time offer to begin working for PepsiCo as an Associate Marketing Manager. I interned with PepsiCo last summer as a MBA Marketing Intern on the Gatorade brand. It was an amazing opportunity to work at the intersection of brand and sport – thus addressing exactly why I came back to pursue an MBA in the first place. So far, things are falling into place perfectly.

I can’t wait to continue sharing my experiences with you as I wrap up my “senior year”! Until my next post, I hope everyone enjoys the Thanksgiving holiday next week!

Signing off,

Jon

Allow Me to Introduce … Part 2

In honor of Veterans Day this November, I am proud to announce that the Military Veterans Club at Stern will be holding the first ever “NYU Stern Veterans Week” this year. We will have a variety of events for the Stern community such as an MBA veterans Q&A panel where Sternies can ask us about our military experiences, a bootcamp workout session, and a guest speaker event featuring a retired two-star general officer.

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It was an easy decision that my second coffee chat in this blog should be with a fellow MBA veteran here at Stern. To give a fresh perspective to the Stern experience, I sat down with Todd Gardner from Lexington, North Carolina, US Army veteran, and full-time MBA1 student. Todd is currently recruiting for finance after spending the past seven years with the 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina (Airborne!).

Evelyn: Hi Todd! Can you tell the readers how you and I first met?
Todd: We initially met at Stern’s Veterans Summit Day for prospective students in 2014. It was a fantastic event!

E: As military vets, our backgrounds are usually quite different than some of our classmates’. What did you do before Stern?
T: Prior to coming to Stern, I was working in the Army as a Special Forces Engineer, also known as a Green Beret. Some highlights of my job were going on three deployments to Afghanistan, becoming the team expert on everything related to explosives, working with some of the most talented and driven individuals I’ve ever met, and frequently jumping out of airplanes and helicopters. Okay, I’m lying about that last one – I always mildly hated it. But other than that, it was truly a dream job.

E: Like many of the blog readers, you were probably considering a few different MBA programs when applying. When did you realize that Stern was the right choice for you?
T: I first visited Stern through the previously mentioned Veteran Summit Day, “A Day in the Life” at Stern organized by the current MBA veterans. The more that I interacted with everyone in the Stern community, the more I realized that Stern really believed in admitting well-rounded students. Stern checked all of the boxes for things I really valued in a business school experience.

E: I know you’re only into your first semester, but what is your favorite class at Stern so far?
T: Foundations of Finance, with Professor Silber, has been my most enjoyable (and probably toughest) class so far. It’s challenging, but interesting, and I think that he’s an outstanding and extremely engaging professor.

E: Now on to the really important questions … Where is your favorite place to grab lunch around Stern?
T: Coming from the South, I was extremely hesitant to move to NYC because of the depressing lack of Chick-fil-A’s in the city. As it turns out, the only one in the entire city is only two blocks away. So yeah, I guess that’s my favorite. (Editor’s note: As of Oct 3, the Chick-fil-A flagship in NYC opened in Midtown. See you in line, Todd!)

E: Complete this sentence “When I have 30 minutes free on campus I like to …”
T: You can usually find me in the school lobby, where it’s nice to run into friends and catch up for a bit between classes.

E: Quick fire question time! KMC elevator or stairs?
T: Stairs, but my cutoff is the 5th floor. If I’m going to the 6th floor or higher, I’m definitely riding the elevator.

E: If you want to catch up with a friend: Sosnoff or 4th Floor Starbucks Lounge? (if neither – list where)
T: Neither. Other people like grabbing coffee, I prefer to grab a beer. Luckily there are a few solid watering holes around Stern that have been great to catch up with friends as well as get some studying done.

E: With Veterans Day coming up, what does being a veteran at Stern mean to you?
T: It means two things to me. First, it’s being a part of a very tight-knit community that is extremely supportive and very diverse. The Stern veterans have such varied background and are some of the most well-rounded people I’ve met. It’s an honor to be a part of the Stern vets community. Second, many of my classmates had never personally known any military veterans, so it has been fun getting to share my military stories and experiences with them. 

Thanks for sharing your story, Todd! And Happy Veterans Day, everyone!

One Month In – Reflecting On My Summer Internship Experience

It has almost been a month since the semester begun and I am definitely overdue for a post.  This semester has been quite busy. Once again, I somehow ended up doing much more than I intended  – I am working as a Graduate Fellow for the Office of Career Development (OCD), planning the spring break trip for Stern in Africa, and taking an education practicum at Columbia Law that’s worth 12 credits – I feel like all of these deserve their own posts (more to come)!! Of course I love being busy and being active but as I sit in front of this computer, 10pm on a Sunday night, after a weekend trying to catch up so that I can start the week fresh – I know that I definitely need to learn the definition of work/life balance.

Today though, I want to talk about my summer internship! image1I spent my summer in San Francisco working for a tech company.  I was on the sales team, and had an account management role. Funny enough, it took me a couple of visits to our client’s office in San Jose for me to realize that I was in the famous Silicon Valley! You should have seen the smile on my face!!

11162191_10153934936592785_2710319689963526991_n I spent a lot of time recruiting last year, as I was trying to figure out what I would enjoy doing the most. I am a very curious person, and can see myself doing very different things.  Before accepting this offer though, I was hesitating between this and a startup. The startup was in New York, and I would have had an operations role.  This was a great opportunity to do work where I would have immediately seen the impact that I was having. However, I chose to accept the San Francisco offer for two reasons:

  1. The exposure: I was part of a program that was recruiting for African countries – which is where I want to end up eventually. This was a great opportunity for me to be able to learn more about what the company was doing, and to network with people on the ground.
  2. The role: I had never done sales as a role on its own, and wanted to see how it would feel, since that is what most multinational firms recruit for in Africa.  I had a great team, and enjoyed my projects.  Even though I would be successful in sales, I now know that I really do enjoy operations, and that I prefer working with clients on their strategy, operational improvements, implementations models, and such…

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Finally, I had never been to California. Since I am not planning on spending my life in the US (so far), I took the opportunity and played tourist. My sister visited me from Toronto, and we went to Napa. I also visited the Big Sur, Monterey, and went to LA. I loved that I had the time to go to the gym, cook, and explore the city with friends. Overall I loved my summer experience: I learned a lot, had impact on my team, and discovered a new region. I left feeling refreshed and I cannot wait to see what this year has in store 🙂

Allow Me to Introduce … Part 1

Hello everyone! September at NYU Stern means … navigating classes, corporate presentations, coffee chats, informational interviews all within the first few weeks of school. What is an MBA student to do during these exhausting and overwhelming times?

Everyone in business is familiar with the concept of a Board of Directors – a body of elected officials who oversee any major decisions of an organization. During my time at Stern, I’m a firm believer in the concept of nurturing a Personal Board of Directors – a group of friends that you can lean on during stressful times, share your excitement with when you get that first interview call-back, and someone to split that Lyft Line carpool fee with when going home after Beer Blast on Thursday nights.

I’d like to introduce everyone to Martin Lynch, a full-time MBA2 student at NYU Stern and one of my dear friends. Go grab a snack and join us in our coffee chat below!

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Above: A picture that perfectly captures my friendship with Martin

Evelyn: Hi Martin! So can you tell the readers how you and I first met?
Martin: We met on the first day of LAUNCH orientation last year. Gosh, it’s hard to picture a time when we didn’t know each other! I knew we had to be friends after seeing your masterpiece crayon drawings during one of the more creative team-building exercises on the second day of school.

E: You were such a great help during some of our group projects together last year. Can you tell me what has been your favorite class at Stern so far?
M: This is a toughie, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with Foundations of Finance with Professor William Silber. On the first day, I was so intimidated by the subject matter and some of his classroom policies. For example, if you’re one minute late, you won’t be allowed in! But by the end of the course, I was totally hypnotized by him, and, surprisingly, also by the theories of finance. He has the most expressive voice of any professor I’ve studied under and he is so dedicated to making sure his students are able to grasp even the most complex financial theories.

E: You’re always walking around the halls with a smile on your face. What’s been your favorite memory at Stern?
M: My favorite memory at Stern so far happened last year when I heard from the Stern administration that they would be installing eleven gender neutral restrooms in KMC. Rachel Hurnyak (Class of 2015) and I approached Neil Rader, NYU Stern Chief Operations Officer, and Janet Lyden, NYU Stern Associate Director, to see if installing one gender neutral bathroom was a possibility. Neil said, “If we’re going to do one, why don’t we do one on every floor?” The turnaround time on this project was remarkable. This experience reaffirmed all the reasons why I chose to come to Stern.

E: As a friend, I know better than to talk to you before you’ve had your coffee. Where is your favorite local coffee spot around Stern?
M: Box Kite Coffee on Avenue A and St. Marks Place. Coming straight from the mouth of a total coffee snob: the coffee there is just ridiculous…ridiculously good!

E: Complete this sentence “When I have 30 minutes free on campus I like to …”
M: Find my friends and shadow them! It’s very exciting how each individual at Stern has so many cool things going on. Whenever I have a free moment, I love to walk around campus and catch up with them. It usually ends up being 30 minutes of me saying, “Oh my gosh” “Whoa” “No way!”

E: Quickfire question time! Getting to class, do you take the school elevator or the stairs?
M: I will never understand how the elevators at KMC work, so I stick to the stairs. My glutes and quads are so thankful for the confusing elevators.

E: If you want to catch up with a friend: Sosnoff or 4th Floor Starbucks Lounge?
M: Neither! I love the alcove in the lobby. It is so much fun to catch up there and also squeeze in some high quality people watching.

E: If you need to study: Stern Quiet Room or Bobst Library?
M: Quiet room for sure. Bobst feels far too overwhelming!

E: Where did you intern this past summer? What did you like the most about it?
M: I interned at a food tech startup, Freshly (www.freshly.com). Prior to Stern, I had worked in larger-sized companies and it was so neat to be able to get exposure to a smaller, more entrepreneurial environment. Also, working at a food company meant a lot of food tastings! I’m now a budding food critic.

Hope everyone enjoyed meeting another fresh voice at Stern! Who will I pick next? What cool story will they have? Stay tuned for my next coffee chat series!

That’s a Wrap! Reflections From My Summer Internship

Happy summer, everyone! Wow, I can’t believe that it has been a year since I moved to New York City to attend NYU Stern. For those of you who have been following my blog posts, you know exactly how much my life has changed since then.

I just wrapped up my summer internship with Showtime Networks a few weeks ago. The company launched their first direct-to-consumer mobile app this summer, which I got to help with. What an incredible moment!

Showtime

Many companies have established summer internship programs for MBA interns and Showtime was no different. We had organized events such as a weekly speaker series, networking breakfasts, and intern summer projects on top of our daily work loads.

For my summer internship project, part of my final recommendation included making revenue projections which were calculated using frameworks that I had learned in my Stern classes. Professor Damodaran from Corporate Finance would be so proud!

Overall, the summer internship is a great way for MBA students to confirm whether or not they can picture themselves at a particular new company or industry. For some, it justifies their career decision and solidifies what they want to do after graduation. For others, their summer internships may have fallen short of expectations.  But NYU Stern and the trusty Office of Career Development will help students recruit again in the fall.

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry does not extend full-time job offers immediately following a summer internship like some of the traditional industries, so I will have to re-recruit in the spring prior to graduation. However, Showtime asked me to return for a part-time internship this fall. I was honored and happy to accept. Wish me luck this fall semester – it will be a busy one!