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.

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.

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.

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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!).


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!)


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.


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)

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.

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.


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:

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.”


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.


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)