The Network that Never Sleeps

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As someone who is taking a non-traditional path with recruiting, a network is very important to me.  When I was deciding between schools and deciding on what I wanted to do after business school, part of the decision included looking at a school’s alumni.  Are these alumni at places I could see myself working at?  Are they career changers like myself?  Are they willing to take the time to speak with me as I search for my summer and full-time opportunities?  With Stern, the answer to these questions was always yes.

Despite the disparate nature being at a school that doesn’t have a strong sports team and with students living in different boros of New York City, Sternies still develop great relationships.  While in school, you develop relationships with your classmates (future alumni).  While taking experiential classes, alumni come back to mentor you on projects, speak to your classes and impart the knowledge they learned while they were at Stern, and even as they progress in their careers.  A LinkedIn message or an email also goes a long way with Stern alumni.  I have spoken to alumni at least once a week since I started at Stern.  The greatest thing about the network is the common bond – these people were in your shoes once.  They assure you that they were successful, they did fine, and at the end of the day, they have amazing jobs.  The alumni are here to help you, not hurt you, so it’s great to take advantage of such an important resource.

The Stern alumni not only speak with you, they connect you to others in their own personal network – Stern alumni from their year in business school or even contacts at the company you are interested in.  That means your Stern network is endless.  You have your class, the MBA2s, the incoming MBA1s and the additional Stern alumni.  That’s a lot of people.

Now, you may be thinking – sure, every school has alumni.

So, makes the Stern network so great and why are they so important?:

  • Stern alumni exist across a variety of industries, which comes with the vast number of specializations our school offers.  This is something that is unique to Stern.  The diversity of alumni experiences is evident (in the form of specializations or even the countries they work in).  I recently attended an event held by the Luxury and Retail Club featuring Madecasse, a chocolate company based out of New York, a product actually featured at Whole Foods – not something that I thought I would ever experience while at school.  How cool!
  • In addition to the diversity of Stern alumni, our classes are also taught by clinical professors who are experts in their field and who have other jobs in addition to teaching at Stern.  Some key clinical professors include Professor Thomai Serdari (Luxury Marketing) and Professor Scott Galloway (Brand Strategy).  These professors either own their own companies (in the case of Professor Galloway with L2, Inc.) or work with many companies on a day-to-day basis (in the case of Professor Serdari).  These professors are always willing to help.
  • Let’s not forget the additional alumni that full-time students tend to forget about.  NYU Stern also has the Langone program (our part-time program).  These part-time students are working whilst doing their MBA and work at companies that you could potentially work for.  This is an untapped network, and a very important one.
Being a student at Stern will expand your horizons and introduce you to people you never thought you would meet before.  This is the network that never sleeps!

 

The Stern Community

When I first made the decision to apply to business school, I considered several factors—reputation, location, faculty, and level of focus on my profession of choice. The quality of the student body was certainly a consideration, but a slightly lesser one, as I generally felt that no matter where I ended up going, I would meet like-minded driven individuals, form relationships, and grow to call them my good friends. Now just over a year into the NYU Stern MBA program, I realize this last factor has the greatest impact on one’s experience in business school, and feel I personally could not have made a better choice.

Beginning with the first day of the LAUNCH orientation program, I have continually been blown away by my peers. Each of them comes from such a fascinating and diverse background, both professionally and personally, and challenges me in a way I never thought possible. I find myself working to be more knowledgeable and educated on an array of topics, so as to contribute to our discussions and their experience in a valuable way.

Aside from their intellect though, my peers here are truly warm and generous individuals. Throughout the business school research process, I often heard at each program I visited, that its students regularly put others before themselves, and that they go to great lengths to help one another to be successful. Though at the time I assumed this was something quite generic all schools simply say, I have now had the opportunity to see this actually manifest itself here at Stern.

About a week into the start of my first semester, I was casually chatting with a new friend about plans for recruiting. Immediately upon expressing my interest, he stopped me to tell me he knew someone at a company I might want to learn more about and asked if I wanted him to make a connection. I was floored in that moment that someone I had met so recently was already so eager to help me.

More recently, I was working on a job application for my top choice company. I must have drafted my cover letter five separate times, but my nerves continued to get the best of me. I frantically texted another friend, who promptly calmed me down and instructed me to send my completed cover letter her way for a final once-over. This is something we all frequently do for one another of course, but to have a friend say she could drop everything she was doing on a couple hours notice meant so much in that moment of stress and panic.

These are just a few of the countless instances when I have felt supported by my friends in the Stern community. Being within the walls that make up NYU Stern has frequently pushed me outside of my comfort zone. However, I am finding that this is a place I now quite enjoy being, as I know I can count on the inspiring individuals I have met here to be right there with me.

Ally Week

Diversity is a difficult topic, whether it’s a matter of race, gender, or sexual preference.  Though organizations like Friendfactor have ranked Stern first in LGBTQ support out of all MBA programs, we know that there is still so much we can do to make sure that we are continuously building an inclusive community where everyone can feel safe learning and being who he/she/they are.

As a testament to that effort, this past week my hardworking classmates organized and hosted Stern’s second-ever Ally Week, which ran in conjunction with the sixth year of university-wide Ally Week programming and helped to spread awareness about diversity and allyship through the Stern community.  Though I’ve always believed in equal rights for all, even I had a bit of an awakening learning about the difficulties my classmates have endured in their lives and how they have still felt marginalized in their interactions with others.  As someone who tends to be a bit of a free agent when it comes to showing her support for things, the past week proved to me that there is a difference between believing in what is right and supporting what is right.  For me, I learned that it is not enough to be open-minded and kind, but rather that I must stand up for my peers and help them achieve the same quality of life that every human should be able to enjoy.

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“Trevor” director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski reads out loud and takes delight in the university’s definition of allyship.

The university defines allyship as “an active and consistent practice of unlearning and re-evaluating beliefs and actions, in which a person seeks to work in solidarity with a marginalized individual or group of people.”  Kicking off the week by asking the student body to “Pledge Your Allegiance,” the Stern Ally Week team put on a full week of programming:

On Monday, Google representatives joined us for lunch to host “Being Google-y: An Education in Allyship,” a presentation about the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts, followed by an interactive workshop co-led by Stern MBA1s.  In an abbreviated version of the day-long discussions Google facilitates with its employees and outside organizations, we broke out into groups to brainstorm answers to questions such as what mindset allies have and how allyship manifests itself in actions.  Each group then presented their answers to the room and answered questions from the “Naysayers,” who were tasked with voicing difficult but common objections to allyship that marginalized people often face.  Personally, I was able to walk out of the workshop feeling more confident about how to recognize offenses against allyship and more determined to tactfully address them.

On Tuesday, the Asian Business Society (ABS), Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS), Jewish Students Association (JSA), OutClass, Stern Women in Business (SWIB), Military Veterans Club (MVC), and Stern in Africa (SIA) each hosted Lunch Circles, small lunches led by student club leaders and each featuring a different topic of discussion around various diversity issues.  In the evening, ABS co-presented with the Asian American Federation “From Yellow Peril to Islamophobia: How Asian Stereotypes Impact Our Lives Today,” a panel moderated by Arun Venugopal, reporter and host of WNYC’s Micropolis, and featuring Deepa Iyer, racial justice activist, lawyer, and author of We Too Sing America; Kermit Roosevelt, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Allegiance; and Chris Kwok, civil rights activist and mediation supervisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Focusing on the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s, the panel related the prejudice and fear the Japanese-Americans faced then to what Muslim-Americans are facing today.  The panel also spoke about how the lack of attention to these issues, as well as the continued lack of knowledge about a group of people overall, can continue to propagate these prejudices until addressed.

"Trevor" director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski discusses the long-lasting impact of the film and how she managed to found a nonprofit. (Photo credit: Miles Styer)
“Trevor” director and NYU Tisch professor Peggy Rajski discusses the long-lasting impact of the film and how she managed to found a nonprofit. (Photo credit: Miles Styer)

On Wednesday, during lunch we gathered for a screening of Academy Award-winning short film “Trevor,” the story of a 13-year-old boy whose discovery of his sexuality leads him to contemplate suicide.  In the following Q&A, the film’s director (and NYU Tisch professor) Peggy Rajski explained why she decided to make the film, stating that as a straight female she still resonated with the alienation and mortification faced by the titular gay male protagonist (who first appeared in a one-man show created by the film’s writer James Lecense).  The success of the film alerted Peggy to the unaddressed needs of LGBTQ youth across the country, and consequently, in the three short months preceding the HBO premiere of her film, she and her producing partners set up the Trevor Lifeline, the nation’s first crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline for young LGBTQ people.  The hotline has since evolved into The Trevor Project, a nonprofit offering numerous intervention and prevention services to young LGBTQ youth, and Peggy cites the importance of the nonprofit in letting kids know that “someone is there for me” so that they can “get through and choose life.”  Afterwards, Jason Daniel Fair of The Trevor Project’s New York office took the stage to reiterate Peggy’s point and highlight the importance of allyship, citing the fact that for many LGBTQ youth, getting in touch with people who can help them can be exceptionally hard when their community acts in a way that prevents them from doing so.

On Thursday, the Ally Week team organized an “Ask Anything” Forum where everyone in the room had a safe space to ask any questions they had to representatives designated by AHBBS, Outclass, and SWIB to represent the black, gay, and female communities.  While I had to sit this one out for a class, a friend told me afterwards that although the purpose of the session was to remove judgment from the conversation, she could not help but notice how inherently hurtful some of the questions were, even though she knew that the people asking them had no intent of upsetting their fellow classmates.

Having fun planting and enjoying the beautiful weather. (Photo credit: Jamie Farris)
Having fun planting and enjoying the beautiful weather. (Photo credit: Jamie Farris)

Ally Week wrapped up with its Days of Service.  On Friday, a group of us did some weeding and planting for the Riverside Conservancy Park on the Upper West Side, and on Saturday, a group of Sternies met up for the New York Cares Spring Day of Service, joining thousands of other volunteers to clean up the city’s public outdoor spaces.

Again, we know there is still so much we can do to support diversity and allyship, but I can promise you that we at Stern are dedicated to seeing this effort through.

Block 2, I Love You

When you first start business school, you can’t necessarily comprehend the extent to which you will bond with your classmates and your blockmates in particular. It has now been five months since I first met this astonishingly diverse group of people, and I am reluctant to imagine what my life would have been like had Stern not brought us together in this one place at this one time.

Before school started, there were some self-organized gatherings. The air was warm, the days were still long, and the trees in nearby Washington Square Park were lush and green. Around the corner from Stern, 10 to 20 of us would meet up for Happy Hour and talk about what had become our pasts—where we grew up, where we last lived, what job we just quit (or still needed to quit).

I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker but was returning home from a three-year stint in Los Angeles, where I worked as a script reader, screenwriter, and director’s assistant. Many people had been living and working in the city in various occupations. Some grew up in the States, yet others were from places as far away as Taiwan and New Delhi—one had gotten off the plane just a day before, and his wife had yet to join him!

It wasn’t until LAUNCH when I met my block (Block 2!) in its entirety, all 67 of us. I was pleasantly surprised at how genuinely kind and down-to-earth everyone was (Stern definitely has the IQ+EQ thing down pat), but at that point, I still had no idea to what lengths we would go to befriend and support one another.

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On an average night.

Fast forward past midterms, during which my blockmates and I took over the Starbucks Lounge even more so than we usually do (see above) to study together. Fast forward past a brutal recruiting season, during which we’d check in on each other and post silly things in the group messenger app to keep morale up. Fast forward to “Blocksgiving,” when a random bunch of us (and a few partners) came together before the weekend was over, on the eve of dozens of summer internship application deadlines, to share a homemade meal with each other.

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At Stern no less.

Skip ahead to the last day of classes, when half of us celebrated by running down the street from Stern to our unofficial block watering hole and catching up with each other into the night. Then jump ahead one day, when we rallied together the next morning in a last-minute push to donate to Stern’s Toys for Tots Drive. I’m proud to say the effort was especially rewarding, for in addition to doing good, as the block with the highest participation we were awarded enough block points to clinch the Block Points Championship for the semester.

At this point I’m bragging, but how could I not? And don’t get me wrong—there are amazing people in the other five blocks too. But as I recall from Blocksgiving, sitting in a room at Stern with good company, laughing and trying not to choke on apple crumble and coconut cream pie, I thought to myself what I was thankful for, and my current situation came to mind.

I am thankful for Stern, for giving me the chance to challenge myself and to be among people who are brilliant in both heart and mind. I am thankful for my block for being the best block so thoughtful, supportive, fun, and hilarious, truly (I could go on about our beer receivables and sock puppies but I don’t think you’d get it, sorry!). And I am thankful for these moments, now memories, shared by the lot of us, a wonderful group that would have had little reason to ever come together had we not been given the opportunity that we have now.

And as we come back from break, we hope you had the:

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