Paying It Forward

Okay, I’m late to post this, I know, I’ve kept you all waiting and that isn’t fair. But I have a good excuse. These last few weeks have been crazy for us MBA2s, in a large part because of all of the programs that we’re taking part in to help out our MBA1 brethren. Since I’m part of the “consulting track,” I have been taking part in two big programs, both which have been keeping me more than busy. Specifically, I’ve been participating in Technical Mock Interviews, as a Career Coach for our Office of Career Development (OCD), as well as volunteering for a program called Pay It Forward.

Technical Mock Interviews are one of the big programs that the OCD Career Coaches take part in during the first semester. Basically, students go through one mock interview through OCD that is generally technical in nature and directly related to the path they intend to follow for their internship. Career Coaches are second year MBA students who are chosen for the role from a large applicant pool based on both their performance in their own interviews and their ability to coach others. The coaches are then trained to give appropriate feedback to students at each step of the coaching process.

For the consulting-focused, technical mock interviews are case interviews, and are meant to simulate what real interviews feel like. The interviews take place in OCD, where many actual first round interviews take place, and students come dressed for the interview and prepared for it to feel just like the real thing. In the interviews I run, I make sure the candidates know that until I say the interview is over, they should treat the mock interview just like they would a real one. This means that students get a good feel for the pressure of a real interview, and the coaches can give feedback based on what they expect interviewers to actually see. When they come in, I introduce myself, give a little of my background, and move right into the interview. When I’ve finished asking behavioral questions and the candidate has worked through the case, I give feedback on the content, delivery, and structure of the candidate’s performance, and provide them with strategies to work on their weaker areas.

While this is an excellent program to help support MBA1s, the Management Consulting Association does not believe that one mock interview is quite enough for students to get to where they need to be. That’s why we put together a program called Pay It Forward, where a larger set of MBA2s give mock cases to MBA1s over the month of December.

This content of the program is similar to the Technical Mock Interviews, but differs in a few key ways. First, we have a broader set of MBA2s involved, all of whom were successful in their own interviews, which means that we have a huge number of cases that first years can take part in. Second, as implied, students can sign up for multiple interviews. In fact, we have had such an amazing turnout by MBA2s who wanted to help that our supply for a while actually exceeded demand. That surprised me, and it may surprise you. Even as MBA1s get really deep into mock interviews in preparation for their real interviews in January, we had so many MBA2s offer so much help that the MBA1s simply could not match that supply.

To me, the big thing this speaks to is the collaborative community that Stern fosters. Most MBA2s don’t actually know most MBA1s yet, mainly because we haven’t taken any classes together yet. Even so, the MBA2s volunteer significant amounts of their time because they want to make sure that everyone at Stern is as prepared as they can be to get internships. Even though I’ve been here for over a year now, it’s this kind of demonstration of selflessness that reminds me why I chose Stern in the first place.