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!

Beauty School Dropouts

Greetings friends!

As the semester winds down and finals approach, sometimes all you need to do is feed the soul. I just submitted my final case analysis for Managing Growing Companies and have two big presentations left. The first is for Brand Strategy where I’m presenting recommendations to Pepperidge Farm executives on how they should relaunch one of their cookie collections. The other presentation is for Digital Media Innovation where I will be pitching a tech start-up idea to a Venture Capital firm. However, we still find time to have a little fun here at Stern. Tomorrow, I am going to the debut concert of Beauty School Dropouts, the MBA cover band at Stern. Last year, a group of students started a cover band called MBA Jams and it has now become a new tradition to have a group of rocking students! Here’s a video of MBA Jam’s performance at Follies in the Spring.

Follies is NYU Stern’s night of skits, music, comedy, videos and general revelry. You can read more about the Beauty School Dropouts here.

Hope you enjoy MBA Jam’s performance and have a new soundtrack as you write your essays!


One Semester Down

So the first semester is shockingly coming to a close. I cannot fathom the fact that I’ve been in school for a whole semester. While I’ve enjoyed my whirlwind of experiences, it saddens me to think that I am a quarter of the way through my business school experience. I feel like I was sitting in Launch meeting all of my new friends just yesterday. Now, I’m faced with the harsh reality of finals and internship applications as time keeps ticking. Although this may be one of the less enjoyable aspects of business school, I find that I’ve learned a tremendous amount. As an undergraduate literature major, I’m learning more practical, applicable skills in the classroom for the first time. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade my reading, writing, and theorizing experience for anything, but I’m enjoying the contrast here at Stern. In many cases, I’m saddened that my time in the classroom with certain professors has come to an end. You might not think that topics like accounting, foundations of finance, and statistics could be interesting at an introductory level. Yet somehow, the professors I’ve had this semester have made us laugh and smile. I think the faculty is one of the distinguishing factors here. Although I expected great teaching in electives and upper level courses, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the outstanding professors I’ve had right out of the gate. Classes aside, I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about myself and how I function under new, stressful situations. I’ve found the challenge of having nearly every day completely booked enjoyable. I’ve experienced a range of group dynamics and learned how to navigate a wide range of personalities.  For the first time, I’ve learned how to study. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be more adaptable than I ever imagined. The past few months haven’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Meeting Gordon Brown

The last few days have been insanely hectic: summer internship applications, midterms, group projects and presentations, on top of the regular stream of recruiting events… Everything is piling up and it is almost impossible to juggle everything.

That said, life in b-school is not without its perks. Case in point: I had the privilege of meeting Gordon Brown on Monday! Yes, the Gordon Brown—as in, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom.

It was part of a series of events where our dean, Peter Henry, invites a thought leader to speak to us. Blocks 1 & 2 had Hugo Lindgren, Editor of the New York Times Magazine in September; blocks 3 & 4 had Ken Mehlman, Head of Global Public Affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in October. It was finally our turn. In an unexpected turn of events, our schedule was changed, and we got to meet Gordon Brown! I was sitting in the front row, so I was one of the lucky few who had the chance to chat with him for a few seconds before he addressed the whole room and started talking to us about the massive changes taking place in the world economy. He spoke about the importance of the relationship between education and innovation in determining whether a country will succeed or fail and how global cooperation is essential for the world economy to prosper, before turning to us for questions.

I do not want to state mundane observations like “he was really nice,” or “he was brilliant,” so I will just say that it was probably the single most fascinating experience I have had at Stern so far. Life is full of surprises.

The Internship: Navigating the Non-traditional Job Search

Although summer seems like a distant memory at this point in the semester, I wanted to take an opportunity to share a little bit about my summer internship experience and more specifically the path that led me there.  I spent this past summer working for a very small (read: I was employee #3!) fashion start-up here in NYC called Little Borrowed Dress, an online bridal boutique offering bridesmaid dresses for rent online.  The company was started by an LBS grad and after having my fair share of bridesmaids dresses taking up space in my closet, I immediately fell in love with the idea and knew this was a business I could totally get behind. This was by no means your traditional MBA internship in the regard that there was no structured program, no intern class and no set outline of what my summer would look like. There was also…no salary…(gasp!). After spending the six years prior to business school working for a large corporate retailer, this was exactly the experience I was looking for.  I absolutely loved everything about my summer and wouldn’t have traded any part of the invaluable experience for a paying, corporate internship!

I knew coming into Stern that I wanted the start-up experience to see what it was like in real time to be an entrepreneur running your own business and what it was like to work in that environment. Working in such a small environment, it is completely an all hands on deck mentality, so my role was not very clearly defined, although I spent a large part of my time strategizing new marketing initiatives for the brand, developing our social media presence and doing market research to learn as much as possible about our customers. One of the benefits of working in such a small company is that I was able to implement so many of my ideas in real time. If I came up with a cool email campaign idea, like sending out color inspiration images to customers who requested free fabric swatches, I was able to execute it by the end of the day. There were no layers to go through, no process that needed approving, it was truly up to me to make these decisions and act on them to see what stuck. I also had the benefit of attending every meeting with my boss, from investor pitches, to potential collaborators, etc.

As I am sure you will read in many of the posts on this blog, the recruiting process is a huge part of your time here are Stern and definitely occupies most of the first semester of your first year, especially if you are following a traditional path like consulting, banking, marketing, etc. However, as someone planning to go a non-traditional route, my experience was quite different. I spent the first semester going to some corporate presentations just to hear what they had to say, but really focused on developing my network and talking to as many people as possible to figure out what opportunities were out there for me in the world of start-ups. For those of you interested in pursuing opportunities at a start-up, here are my tips for finding your perfect internship:


Go to events for the industry you are interested in. While most of my classmates spent their first semester preparing for corporate presentations and attending meet and greets with the companies that came on campus, I went to as many events for the fashion & tech industries as I could. Through the clubs here on campus like EEX (The Entrepreneur’s Exchange) and the Luxury & Retail Club, as well as outside of Stern through groups like Meetup, I  was able to find out  about all sorts of events such as the Fashion Digital NY conference, the EEX Speaker Series, and Future of Fashion at The Projective Space. I took the opportunity to network and talk to people to get an idea of what kinds of start-ups they were working on, what they were looking for in interns, etc. This is definitely the hard part and something that put me waaaay outside of my comfort zone. But you just gotta do it.  It was at one of these events that I got to chatting with a woman who worked for a small e-commerce start-up herself, but had a friend who was starting a bridesmaid dress business and was looking for interns. After a few more conversations and a meeting with my future boss, my internship was secured.


Keep up with industry news and happenings. Read blogs, follow industry leaders on twitter and keep yourself informed with what is going on not only in the world of start-ups but also in the industry you are interested in. Some fabulous blogs about the NY start-up scene that I would recommend are Wakefield: Start-up Stories Daily, TechCrunch, and Mashable . Here is a list of some great blogs for entrepreneurs.


One thing start-ups look for when bringing new members onto their team is passion. They want someone who truly believes in the company vision and can add value to the organization. This is something you need to show, not tell.  After you have done your research, choose a few companies that you really love and start digging in. Show them you want to work there by doing some work up front before you get the internship offer. For example, research their current social media efforts and come up with suggestions on what they can improve or new campaigns they can launch. Spend time on their website navigating the user experience and come up with a plan for points that can be better executed. Research their competition to see what they are doing better and learn best practices. If you have some ideas to bring to the table when first meeting with your potential new boss, they will no doubt be wow’ed by your dedication and effort.

Until next time,