Tiffaine Stephens is a current MBA2 who spent her summer internship at PepsiCo. Tiffaine serves as the Co-President of Stern Women in Business (SWiB). She is specializing in Marketing, Entertainment/Media/Technology, and Entrepreneurship.
This semester has been my favorite thus far! I am constantly thanking the Spring 2019 Tiffaine for choosing classes that genuinely spark my interest and passion. My favorite class this semester is “Branding + Innovation: Consulting Lab” taught by Fran Gormley. I thought I understood branding before this class, but I was wrong. Our class has the opportunity to consult for Spotify (how crazy is this!). The same company I longed for last year is the same company I now have access to. Fran’s teaching style is unique and supportive. She is a reminder that to be successful you have to own who you are. Every Wednesday at 6 pm, I feel like I’m getting two lessons: one on branding and one on how to be fearless in my entrepreneurial endeavors.
While Branding feels more like home to me, I’m taking one stretch course that has definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone, “Corporate Finance” with Anthony Marciano. Long term, I know I want to be an entrepreneur so taking Corp Fin was an intentional decision. I knew that I would not leave as a finance expert, but with enough information to be “dangerous.” This class highlights the power of collaboration at Stern. Before our midterm, which we were all worried about, we got together for a half day and worked through problem sets together, taught each other, and celebrated once we finished.
The class that has been the most eye-opening is “Sustainable Food Business” with Hans Taparia, which is cross-listed with Steinhardt’s Food Studies program. Taking a class with students outside of Stern is an interesting experience – we tend to get caught up with a maniacal focus on the bottom line, whereas my classmates think of this lastly. Instead, they prioritize the societal impact of a business, which has pushed me to be more critical of my career plan.
Outside of class, my role as Co-President of Stern Women in Business (SWIB) has been keeping me quite busy. Everyday there’s a new set of challenges that have trained me to be agile but thoughtful in the way that I approach problem solving. I’m constantly learning how to flex my leadership + management style. The co-president structure at Stern gives you an immediate accountability partner and it’s helpful when trying to balance school, extra-curricular activities and life outside of Stern. Although we have a few months left in our term, I’ve gotten the most satisfaction from the small, but meaningful changes we’ve made to change the way our community thinks about gender equity in higher education.
Another leadership opportunity presented itself in the form of Co-VP of Marketing for a new special interest club on campus – CannaBusiness. I’ve been able to get back in touch with my creative and entrepreneurial side while learning about a growing industry that’s been stigmatized and riddled with injustice.
As the semester comes to a close, I’m getting ready to take it easy, connect with family and friends, and reflect on this semester and what I want the rest of the year to be like. At the start of January, I’ll be heading to DBi New Zealand with about 10 other Sternies for two weeks. Afterwards, I’ll be joining a group in Bali for a week to take advantage of the much needed time off!
So much has changed since the start of this program. I am proud of the personal growth that I’ve experienced. I am more self-aware, more solution-oriented, and more vulnerable than I’ve been in a while. Change can be made out to be this scary moment in your life, but Stern creates an atmosphere that encourages change. To describe my MBA experience, I would say “Change. CELEBRATE IT.” I’m looking forward to more celebrations, more growth, and more friendship in Spring 2020. Cheers!