Back from the Break & the Tech Trek

I can’t believe it’s only been a couple of days since school started. It feels like so much more, and I’m still trying to find my footing.

First thing’s first though! Before I get into what’s in store for me this semester, I want to tell you about my break.

After the finals, I stayed in the city for a few days, getting used to an eerily quiet life, and then finally went to Istanbul. I had to be back in New York in 10 days, and I’d been second-guessing myself: 10-hour flight, both ways, was it really worth it for just 10 days? Turns out it was; catching up with my family & friends after 5 months was exactly what I needed.

What I really want to talk about, though, is the EMTA Bay Area trek that I went on after I came back to the US. In case you haven’t heard of it, EMTA is the Entertainment, Media and Technology Association at Stern. Every year they organize a trek to the Bay Area to visit tech companies, and on the list this year were Zynga, Facebook, eBay/Paypal and Google.

We left for San Francisco on a Sunday, and that was an optional day for mock interviews with Stern alums who were working at our target companies. We spent most of that day trying to explore San Francisco: had lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, went to Ghirardelli Square for some hot chocolate, and wandered around San Francisco’s many hills. We then had a group dinner at Basil Canteen (amazing Thai food!) before finally calling it a night—we were too full and too tired to go out. Besides, we had an early morning the next day: company visits first to Zynga and then Facebook!

I should point out now that working for a tech company does seem to be all it’s cracked up to be. (Zynga, for instance, allows you to bring your dog to work—which perhaps is not all that surprising, considering that the company is named after co-founder Mark Pincus’s dog.) In fact, I’m going to go ahead and generalize a bit here; and of course, I’m not suggesting that this holds for all tech companies, but the ones that we saw typically have gyms, wellness centers, game rooms, free snacks throughout the day, and even dry cleaning! The workplace is fun and stimulating; and they want you to focus on your work, instead of the errands that you have to run, so they take care of it for you. Everything seems to be aimed at making your life easier, and maybe there is a trade-off, but even so, it would definitely be worth it!

Back to our itinerary—that first night, we had a mixer with Stern alumni in the area, and a handful of prospective students. It was a really nice way to wind down after the busy day, and get to know new people. Unfortunately, I had a phone interview the next morning, so once again, I had to call it a night somewhat early.

The next day we went to eBay/PayPal (where, following a fascinating presentation from the retail innovation team, we all received bags with the new logo!) and then had a happy hour with Stern alumni who work at LinkedIn. We had plenty of free time after the happy hour, and our itinerary included burgers at In-N-Out, cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, drinks at a speakeasy bar on Union Square, and then finally karaoke! This was our last night in San Francisco, so we really had to make the most of it.

The final day kicked off with a visit to Google. We had the chance to travel around the campus (which includes, among other things, a sand volleyball court), and then we had a panel with the Stern alumni who work there. Most of us were taking the flight back to New York that night, though some chose to stay in San Francisco for a couple of more days (cue jealousy).

I want to reiterate, yet again, that working for any of these companies seems like a dream come true. I can only speak for myself, of course, but they all have perks and/or quirks that I find very appealing: Facebook has conference rooms titled Alohamora and Avada Kedavra (self-professed Harry Potter geek here), and a real-life Facebook wall that encourages you to “write something.” Google has the statue of a dinosaur flocked by pink flamingos and google-colored bikes to help employees get around; eBay has a display of pez dispensers in the waiting area; and Zynga has the general feel of a playful gaming environment (you enter the office through a glowing tunnel). I’m sure we all had different takeaways and things that resonated with us, but the bottom line is that it’s very hard not to be impressed.

I’m so glad I was a part of this trek; not only was it amazing to actually visit these offices, it was also a great opportunity to bond with my fellow Sternies. I owe the EMTA team a huge thank you for that.

Back from Winter Break!

And….we are back! After a month of traveling in Southeast Asia with classmates, I am back at Stern for my final semester. I can’t believe how fast my MBA has flown by – I never want it to end!

In this first week, we are slowly getting back into the hang of things – going to classes, planning our Spring Graduate Marketing Association (GMA) events, and catching up with classmates and friends I hadn’t see over the break. Our break was absolutely incredible. We started off in Thailand, where we spent days (i.e., island hopped on Longtail boats, snorkeled, got massages every day, etc.) on some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, ate authentic dishes of my favorite cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoyed evenings with a cocktail in hand catching up with many of my favorite Stern classmates. Thailand was a perfect, relaxing way to start our vacation. From Thailand, we flew to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (the one featured in the film, Tomb Raider!) temples. Then we traveled to northern Vietnam (Hanoi) where we ate lots of Pho (of course!), saw a water puppet show, and visited the Hoa Lo Prison, where Vietnamese prisoners were held and tortured when the country was fighting for its independence from the French. From Hanoi, we set off to Halong Bay on an overnight cruise. In the bay, we walked through the caves and kayaked through the limestone pillars. We even learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls! Absolutely amazing experience. Then we flew to Hong Kong for two days, met up with 60 or so friends that were doing the DBi program there, and then headed to our final destination, Bali. Bali was incredible. From the Indonesian chicken curries to the beautiful sunsets and beaches, unique boutique shopping, monkey forests, days full of pampering and happening nightlife, it was a great way to end our month long journey in Asia. I can’t believe it’s over, but I’m looking forward to planning the next big trip, which will probably be Spring Break in the Caribbean or Mexico and then June or July in Eastern Europe.

That’s it for now, but later this week I’ll have more updates on my classes and what the semester will be looking like in terms of academics! Until next time…



My Last Long Winter Break

Hello, loyal readers. It’s been quite a while, but I am back to class now for the first time since mid-December. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but here’s the basic breakdown of how I spent my last winter break before my inevitable return to the real world.

December 19 – January 1
Since I’m from New Jersey, I didn’t have to travel around this time to see family or friends, which was really convenient. I spent a lot of this time celebrating the holidays with my family, class mates, friends from high school and college, and other awesome people. Since I had no work hanging over my head, I spent a good amount of time reading, catching up on shows on Netflix, and generally avoiding responsibility. Good times.

January 2 – 5
I spent a few days back at school, helping some of the MBA1s prepare for their interviews, which mostly took place during January. They kept themselves quite busy, researching companies, doing mock interviews, and practicing their behavioral interview questions. I spent the rest of my time preparing for my upcoming trip.

January 6 – 26
The aforementioned trip. As an MBA2, I also get January off from classes, just like the MBA1s do. Unlike most MBA1s, I did not need to spend my January getting ready for and then having interviews. Instead, I, like many of my classmates, took this opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia. A large contingent of Sternies took part in DBi Hong Kong and DBi Singapore, which were two week classes that took place in, you guessed it, Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively. I was not one of those Sternies. Instead, I traveled around Thailand and Indonesia (with a brief trip into Burma/Myanmar) with 6 of my classmates, while running into friends along the way (including fellow bloggers Kristin and Serena).  My trip ran the gamut from luxury hotels in Bangkok to sleeping in a small village in Northern Thailand, to a week in a beautiful villa in Seminyak, Bali. We laughed, we cried (maybe?), we surfed (with varying success), and we became much closer than we had been.

January 28 – February 1
All of us MBA2s came back to Stern for a week of professional responsibility. The program was redesigned this year by renowned moral psychologist and recent addition to the Stern faculty, Jonathan Haidt. He and Professor Bruce Buchanan brought in some great speakers for us, including Charles Ferguson (director of The Inside Job and author of Predator Nation), Walt Pavlo (white collar criminal and MBA graduate), Jacqueline Novogratz (founder of the Acumen Fund and pioneer of social microfinance), Conor Grennan (Stern MBA alumnus, bestselling author of Little Princes and founder of Next Generation Nepal), and Preet Bharara (U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). In between talks and Q&A sessions with these excellent presenters, we worked through major ethical issues that we could face in the workplace in classes of about 35 students. The real benefit of this class is getting students to understand the underlying social and organizational systems that impact individual behavior, and then working through ways to overcome those systems to do the right thing while inside of them and to change those systems for the better as future business leaders.

February 4 – Today
This was my first week back to real classes, and I’m really excited for the semester. I have a great schedule lined up, and you’ll hopefully be reading all about it as my final semester as a student (it pains me to write that) pushes forward.

Trip of a lifetime

Greetings friends!

Happy new year! Congratulations to all those who submitted for the second deadline and all those who are interviewing! The spring semester has quickly started and things are back in full swing! I just returned from a trip of a lifetime. Over the winter break, I took a class at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to learn about Doing Business in (DBI) Asia. The Dean of the business school at NUS is a former Stern professor so he has specially customized this class to complement the Stern curriculum and give us an in-depth understanding of doing business in Asia. It was an interesting balance of learning about mature and emerging markets. In addition to the class, we went on several corporate visits. We took a tour of the Singapore Airlines training facility and the Asia Pacific Brewery where they brew Tiger Beer, the national beer of Singapore. We also got to explore the big food culture of Singapore and eat the famous Chili Crab. Since Singapore is in a central location, I also traveled to Bali, Indonesia and Phuket, Thailand. Southeast Asia is a popular destination among second year students and I met up with classmates in each country. I had an amazing time and am sad that my business school career is ending this semester.

Until next time,

Round 2

It’s the start of my second semester and it’s hard to believe I’m back after a roughly six week hiatus. I enjoyed the long break and the opportunity to travel and reflect on my first semester. At the same time, I’m excited for what’s to come during this week alone. This Friday is the Stern Women in Business Conference. I attended this conference last year when I interviewed and it was a turning point for me in the decision process. I met so many bright, friendly, and enthusiastic women, I was convinced that Stern was the place for me. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store!

In addition, I will begin my Stern Consulting Corps project. This semester, I will be working with the Langone Medical Center on a project about integrated healthcare. As someone who works on an annual health and wellness fair in Harlem, NY and has a chronically ill parent, this opportunity resonated with me on a personal level. I am also excited because healthcare has always been an interest of mine, but I don’t necessarily see myself working in the industry (subject to change). This gives me a way to experience an industry which I might otherwise  have never gained exposure to. I’m looking forward to the possibility of helping people through this opportunity. I will be sure to report back on my experiences.

Lastly, I’m thrilled to be taking my first elective this semester – foundations of entrepreneurship! I took one class in undergrad where I was required to write a business plan. Since then, I have always been interested in the possibility of starting my own business. I have some ideas in the retail space that I plan to explore. I’m hopeful that this class will give me a good starting place to put my thoughts into action. Stay tuned for an exciting semester!

Doing Business in…

Greetings friends!

This semester has flown by! This will be my last post of 2012. I am heading to Southeast Asia in two weeks! I am taking a course called “Doing Business in Asia” which will be held at the National University of Singapore. The “Doing Business in” (DBi) program is a one to two week intensive course where Stern students travel to a partner school in another country. There are a lot of opportunities to travel abroad here at Stern. You can choose to study abroad for a semester or full-year. The DBi courses are a good alternative for those who want the study abroad experience but cannot commit to a longer period of time. This year, the Office of Student Engagement changed the DBi program so that students may take up to six credits of DBi classes because of the popularity of the program. You can learn more about the DBi program here.

At the end of the Spring 2012 semester, I traveled to Buenos Aires to take “Doing Business in Argentina” at the Universidad de Palermo. Professors from the Stern partner school taught us about a variety of subjects: the economic history of Argentina, human resources and recruiting talent in Argentina, marketing, finance, among others. We had the opportunity to meet representatives from Coca Cola and a few Argentine wineries. We also visited Fox Network Studios in Buenos Aires and learned about how companies use media to communicate with consumers. In between classes and corporate visits, we also toured Buenos Aires, visited the U.S. embassy, took tango lessons, ate lots of steaks and became wine connoisseurs. I had such an amazing time in Buenos Aires that I wanted to take advantage of the new DBi policy. I will try to pop my head in and write about my time in Singapore.

Happy holidays!

Wrapping up

Happy Friday! This will be my last blog entry of the semester, but I’ll back in February to share my experiences traveling all over Southeast Asia with Sternies! We are leaving in a week and traveling to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Bali. It’ll be an experience of a lifetime, and I’m so excited to experience it with my fellow classmates!

This week has been absolutely crazy. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I had presentations in three different classes. We finally presented in our brand strategy class, where we were working with a client that is trying to enter the coffeemaker category. Our group was amazing – six girls that are very passionate about marketing and COFFEE! We also presented for our Stern Consulting Corps project, where we worked with an organization to develop a positioning that strengthens the perception of the US to Chinese consumers.

Additionally, us second years heavily involved in the Graduate Marketing Association have been helping the MBA1’s with cover letters and applying for internships. I remember how hectic it was for me last year around this time, and we want to make sure this year’s class is as prepared as we were for interviews. Our class won’t be around to mock interview MBA1’s in January before the companies arrive on campus, so now is really our only time to provide insights on the process and what these companies are looking for in an ideal candidate. We actually put on a new event a few weeks ago called “So You Want to be a Marketer?” The event consisted of a panel for the first half, and the second half was a networking break-out session where students could talk to company representatives in marketing roles across different industries (i.e., beauty, start-ups, consumer packaged goods, technology, etc.). This event was focused on bringing in companies that don’t formally recruit on campus (i.e., Prophet, Mars, Foursquare, Revlon, etc.) but are of great interest to Stern students that want to pursue a career in marketing. The event was a huge success, and students found it very helpful to hear from senior level panelists sharing their experiences about their career paths.

Ok that is all folks. I hope that everyone reading this has a WONDERFUL holiday, and I look forward to sharing more in a month!



Yesterday was the last day of classes. We had 3 hours of Strategy with Sonia Marciano (who, by the way, is a legend) with coffee, cookies & cupcakes, and then it was over. My first final is on Monday, so I’m not freaking out quite yet, but I will get there…

What I feel at the moment is a little sad. Don’t get me wrong, we need a break, but I enjoyed my classes this semester, and as nerdy as it may sound, I’m actually going to miss school—that has more to do with the people than the classes, of course. The last four months went by in a blur, and somehow I enjoyed every single second.

The spring semester starts in February, but those of us who are recruiting for consulting have to be back by the first week of January, because we need to be whipped into shape for interviews, and that involves a lot of casing, in addition to the regular behavioral interview preparations. The process started months ago, but the interviews will take place in January, so we really have to up our game in those final weeks; and a part of me is happy that we will get to see each other sooner rather than later…

There are always a whirlwind of activities that we have to do, and it usually feels like we don’t have enough time to get through all of it, but that’s business school for you. The great part is that we have a great support system in place, whether it’s from fellow MBA1s, MBA2s, the Office of Career Development (OCD), or the professors.
For me, no matter how overwhelming it gets, knowing that I’m not in it alone is a huge relief.

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.

Time is Flying!

It’s December 6th already – I can’t believe it! This semester, my classes have mostly been project-based, so I haven’t had to take any exams, which I actually like better since it’s more hands-on. However, now that the semester is coming to an end, presentations have started, and it’s time to buckle down and put everything together.

While I am on the topic of classes, I will share a little bit about my Creativity class. It is taught by Kim Corfman, an incredible professor here at Stern who has taught courses on brand planning, marketing management, sales management, conflict and negotiation, group decision-making, and focus group moderating. In this particular class, we learn what “creativity” means and how to exercise it when trying to solve real business problems. We learn about different approaches we can use to stretch our brains and come up with ideas we wouldn’t have necessarily formulated before. Also, marketing consulting companies that specialize in innovation and design (i.e., IDEO, Fahrenheit 212, ?WhatIf!, etc.) have come in to talk to us about projects they’ve taken on, what approaches they use to spark innovation, and of course, job opportunities for the future.

Oh before I forget – the GMA marketing conference last Friday was a huge success! Peter McDonough and Dan Lubetzky were both very insightful on what marketing means and how brands stay relevant, differentiated, and sustainable in today’s changing business world. Some key quotes from our keynotes and panelists were:

1) “A brand is a promise and a great brand is a promise well kept.”

2) “80% of CEOs think their product is differentiated…only 8% of consumers agree.”

3) “Define your brand purpose. Create ideas, not ads. Lead, don’t chase, your consumer.”

4) “What your product does is important, but what it means is even more important.”

There are so many other insights that were shared with us throughout the day by keynote speakers, roundtablists, panelists, and our sponsoring companies. The conference was truly a great opportunity for students to network with companies (e.g., Facebook, Prophet, Church & Dwight, Google, FourSquare, Clark, etc.) that really understand what effective marketing is.

That’s it for now….until next week!