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.

01-01---Starbucks

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.

01-02---Blocksgiving

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:

01-03---Holidays-redact

Hello, My Name is…

Hey everyone,

My name is Jon, and I am a second-year full-time MBA student here at NYU Stern, and I am excited to begin blogging for you! I look forward to sharing my experiences as you continue to determine which MBA journey you want to pursue, as well as continually giving you insight into what it’s like to be Sternie.

First, a brief introduction! I am originally from Jamaica, but was raised in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. I decided to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), where I studied marketing. After graduating from UNC, I worked at a leading consumer packaged goods company for five years in their sales division as part of a management rotational program. Although I gained invaluable experience over those years, I knew my true passion was to pursue the function I studied in college. I also knew that I wanted to pair this functional interest with my lifelong passion for sports – I grew up as a competitive soccer player, and am genuinely intrigued with the business of sports.

So this brought me to Stern! Why? For a couple of reasons:

  1. I mainly targeted b-schools that had programs which touched the sports & entertainment fields, and NYU Stern has one of the leading Entertainment MBA programs in the country. Seeing as how sports typically falls into the “entertainment bucket”, I believed this would be a great opportunity for me to take advantage of a curriculum that was tailored to my interests.
  2. I knew that in order to break into sports, I also had to be in a city that afforded me ample networking opportunities. New York City is the central hub for this industry (as for many other industries), and attending an MBA program in such a location would open many doors for me. I have already had the chance to set up coffee chats with industry professionals at major sports leagues (at their World HQ), as well as conduct a student consulting project for Whistle Sports Network.  Opportunities like these would not be possible at other leading business schools, simply because of their locations.
  3. I also wanted to attend a school where I saw myself fitting into the culture. I targeted schools with small to medium class sizes, and atmospheres that fostered collaboration rather than intense competitiveness. I wanted to immerse myself in a community where students were genuinely interested in learning about their classmates and their life stories, as opposed to only what careers they’re seeking. I visited Stern and interacted with alumni a number of times before applying, and each time this sort of culture transcended through all touch points.

Now I am in my second year, with only one more semester left to go….noooo!!!! That said, I am in a very fortunate position in that I have already accepted a full-time offer to begin working for PepsiCo as an Associate Marketing Manager. I interned with PepsiCo last summer as a MBA Marketing Intern on the Gatorade brand. It was an amazing opportunity to work at the intersection of brand and sport – thus addressing exactly why I came back to pursue an MBA in the first place. So far, things are falling into place perfectly.

I can’t wait to continue sharing my experiences with you as I wrap up my “senior year”! Until my next post, I hope everyone enjoys the Thanksgiving holiday next week!

Signing off,

Jon

Personal Life Meets Stern

While many of my classmates spent their spring breaks in far off exotic locations, I decided to take a more localized, educational approach to my week off. As I may have mentioned in an earlier blog, I am in a distance relationship. Aside from my personal desire to remain as debt-free as possible (and not spend money on a vacation), I preferred to spend time with my boyfriend over the break and visit with some college friends in Washington, DC. As we toured the monuments and museums, I reflected on my choice to have a quieter spring break than many of my classmates. While I was admittedly somewhat jealous of their travels, I knew I’d made the right decision for myself – one my fellow Sternies had even encouraged me when I grappled with the choice. Again, my friends here serve as more than just classroom comrades. They are advisors and confidants.

One of the things that struck me most when I began at Stern was the number of people in committed relationships. We instantly found common ground and were able to openly share about the challenges of balancing our new lives in business school with our loved one. Make no mistake, it is challenging. There are tradeoffs for sure, but I have seen the way the Stern community is willing to adopt partners. I was concerned that my desire to sometimes spend time with my boyfriend over my classmates would cause a social stigma. Instead, I find that they encourage me to do so. My cohorts understand that business school, even without classes on Fridays, does not make it easy for my boyfriend and I to spend time together. As I agonized over how to spend my spring break, my friends listened and sympathized with my dilemma.

I know there are many horror stories about relationships going awry in business school, and trust me, some do. But if there is one thing that surprised me about Stern, it’s that my classmates, single or otherwise, support me far beyond the classroom and workspace. Given the big transition that business school is for any couple, I must say that Stern has made my relationship more manageable than I anticipated. Even the career counselors helped me determine my recruiting timeline so that I could plan our anniversary. Not to be sappy, but the support of the Stern community for my relationship warms my heart.

Inside the Stern Community

As the application process is just about winding down, we have had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many prospective students over the past few months.  I thought I would use this blog post to answer one of the most popular questions I have received from many of you and give you another peak into what makes NYU Stern such an awesome place to be.

Something that stands out about Stern and has made this experience truly incredible, surpassing all of my expectations of business school, is the Stern community. I can honestly say I have never met such a diverse group of brilliant, talented, friendly people! Shout out to my fellow classmates – YOU. GUYS.  ARE. AWESOME.

Everyone here at Stern is extremely collaborative, whether we are working together on a project for the Stern Consulting Corps, coming up with a new business idea for our Digital Strategy class project or studying together for a much dreaded accounting midterm.  Each day I continue to be impressed with my classmates’ desire to help one another out.  I have never once felt in competition with my classmates or that anyone was looking out for anything other than my very best interest. I have made friendships that I know will last a lifetime, expanded my network to an incredible group of people and really feel like Stern is a community that I will always be able to call home.

During the month of January while I was a first year I participated in Mock Madness, a recruiting even hosted by the GMA {Graduate Marketing Association}. Mock madness was a full week where my fellow classmates and I prepped each other for interviews, spending countless hours mock interviewing each other, sharing feedback and helping each other present their absolute best selves for their interviews. This is a shining example of how the Stern community truly pulls together in an “us against the world” mentality. Despite the fact that we were all interviewing for some of the same companies and the same internships, it never once felt like a competition.

This speaks not just to my fellow students but to the professors and faculty here at Stern as well. I have found that all of my professors are extremely accessible and their door is always open (as long as you can find their office) to help with questions about the class, share advice on projects or just generally chat about interesting issues. It is a rare thing to be in the presence of so many brilliant minds and I have made sure to take full advantage of the opportunity.

If you haven’t already, I would encourage all of you to come and visit us for a tour, class visit or just a casual chat with our Graduate Ambassadors as you will get a great feel for what the Stern community is really all about!

Until next time,

Kristin