Downtown New York – Why It Matters


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.

Alex Richards

About Alex Richards

Alex Richards is a Class of 2017 MBA student at Stern. He graduated from Colby College with a BA in History and Classical Civilization. Prior to Stern, Alex worked in a variety of legal, finance, and strategy roles at UBS in the wealth management division. At Stern, Alex is specializing in Management and Global Business, and is on the board of the Adventures Club, Government & Business Association, and Stern Opportunity. He loves the outdoors, independent film, and international travel. He can often be found trying out new sports like surfing and rugby.

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