Club Leadership at Stern

Chris Cognetta is an MBA2, specializing in Tech Product Management, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Brand Management. Prior to Stern, Chris worked at Charles Schwab. This summer, Chris interned at FTI Consulting and is currently re-recruiting for technology. Additionally, Chris is involved in SGov, Stern Technology Association, Gaming and eSports Management Society, Stern Follies, SpeechMasters, and European Business Society.

The September at the start of your MBA is an eventful time. Between the delightful chaos of meeting all the amazing people in your class and setting up appointments with the Office of Career Development, there’s this major series of events going on: club kickoffs and applications for leadership positions. Every club at Stern is going to host their first meeting, introducing you to the club before expressing the extra positions that you can apply for.

I personally was caught off guard by how many clubs there were and how many positions were available. As an MBA1, you typically get involved as an Assistant Vice President (AVP), where you work directly with the existing club Vice Presidents on their specific verticals, such as Finance or Communications. 

There’s lots of benefits to being an AVP in your first year:

  1. It’s a great networking opportunity
    Being an AVP puts you in direct contact with an MBA2 and you will work with that person(s) on a consistent basis. Working so often with each other allows a connection to form and gives you a great relationship with a future Stern Alumnus.
  2. You gain training and experience for the role if you choose to fill it as a VP next year (or Club President)
    My MBA1 year I served as an AVP of Finance for Stern Follies (a comedy organization that puts on shows and distributes funny memes about the MBA experience throughout the academic year). Being able to train under the existing VP and Presidents, I was able to understand how they do their job and it gave me confidence to fill the role of VP as an MBA2. I’ve now selected my AVP for this year in hopes he can fill the same role once I graduate!
  3. It shows leadership experience and is a resume boost
    A subtle, yet effective way to demonstrate your passion while recruiting is to have your club leadership positions on your resume. This highlights your interests and shows that you have solid leadership experience. For example, my friends who wanted to pivot into technology capitalized on their Stern Tech Association leadership positions to demonstrate their interest and skill in the technology space. 
  4. You help plan memorable MBA events!
    For me personally, there’s no greater feeling than when you spend hours and weeks planning an event that your classmates really enjoy. Being able to plan events like STA Tech Talks or the Stern Follies production were amazing feelings – they were so well received, provided benefit for my class, and introduced me to so many new people. Having my name out in the community helped me to build friendships and connections with people I didn’t know before.

As with most things in business school,  the Club Leadership process can be challenging and break you out of your comfort zone – trying to become an AVP can feel just as intimidating as a job interview. Some clubs will have you submit your resume, you are scheduled for an interview, and then you have to await the decision. It can hurt to get rejected from a position you were excited about. And in all honesty, that’s what happened to me. Almost every club leadership position I had applied for I was rejected my first year. I only served on one club board my MBA1 year. But that didn’t stop me and shouldn’t stop you either. I attended events, showed my passion, and come spring semester, I applied to fill vacant VP positions within various clubs, getting most of the positions I applied for (see the full list in my bio up top)!

It’s important to not get discouraged because there are always opportunities to get involved in club leadership positions: you can join in your MBA2 year, you can form your own club, or you can make friends with Club Leadership and offer to help in some capacity (such as running Study Groups for people who are recruiting).

Overall, being a leader in a club is an incredibly rewarding experience at Stern. In my case, it was an opportunity to meet new people and feel connected to the Stern community. Throughout your two years, you can choose how involved you want to be at Stern, but in my opinion, participating in the clubs is part of what has made my experience at Stern so special!