Four Reasons to Go on a Trek During your First Year

For Spring Break, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for a trek. My experience was nothing short of amazing although I am still recovering almost two weeks later. We started the trek by flying into Johannesburg and then traveling to Kruger National Park the next day. There we spent the next two days traveling in open vehicles through the safari, getting up close to elephants, zebras, and a few rhinos. We ended the Trek by spending four days in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Below are four reasons I think everyone should participate in a trek their first year.

Get to Know Your Classmates

Your first year, you probably won’t meet a lot of students outside of your assigned block. You spend the first semester taking classes, grabbing drinks, and working on group assignments (in that order) with people from your block. Treks are the perfect opportunity for you to mingle with people outside of your block. In addition to meeting other full time students, you also have the opportunity to mingle with Langone students. I met a lot of new people and we have already have a happy hour scheduled for our first mini reunion.allConvenience

Planning an international trip is stressful. It’s hard to figure out where to stay, what to do, and what to eat. Signing up for a trek is simple and convenient. After signing up for the trek through a lottery process, I only had to do two things to prepare for the trip: Make a vaccination appointment and pack my suitcase. meStep Outside Your Comfort Zone

Listen. I would never consider myself to be a “nature person”. There are people who plan vacations around hiking destinations and then there are people, like me, who plan their vacations around food and wine. The trek planners catered to both groups of people by making sure the agenda included activities that were a good mixture of adventure and recreation. As a result, I was automatically signed up for activities that I wouldn’t normally plan myself. For example, I never would have made time for a Safari if I planned the trip myself but it ended up being one of my favorite experiences.

penguin rock

FOMO

Since a lot of students go on a trek during Spring Break, every conversation for the next two weeks will be about treks after your return. You don’t want to be the person sitting in the corner not able to contribute to the conversation because you decided to stay home and catch up on class assignments. You only get the Stern experience once. Take advantage of the many opportunities that will come your way. Besides, there’s always time to study on the flight.

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An End and a Beginning

So it’s been a little while since my last post and much has happened since!

The trek to Bonobos was extremely informative. I learned a tremendous amount about the company’s unique business model and relaxed culture. I saw firsthand how a showroom can serve as a marketing and service tool for a business that is primarily online. Additionally, the finding of my consulting project presentation for the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Integrative Health went off to rave reviews. I believe our team presented the department with a solid marketing plan, great industry insights, and concrete next steps to improve how they operate. I then celebrated with my teammates with a little bubbly and some hors d’oeuvres. It was a great way to wrap up the semester.

Since then, I’ve started my internship at Quidsi, a newly acquired Amazon company, working in Retail. Although I’ve been there for less than 2 weeks, I already love it! The first week was orientation. Not only did I get to visit a fulfillment center, but I also got to listen in on several customer care calls. Both experiences were extremely informative and gave me a far greater understanding of the company and its operations. I look forward to seeing how this new knowledge influences the projects I work on. While I’ve only been working on my projects for a few days, I can tell it’s going to be a great summer. I’m working with some incredibly bright and passionate people. Plus, the company has an open, relaxed environment and I’ve already met with several people in senior leadership positions. Needless to say, I’m going to learn a lot. I look forward to sharing more with you!

BuzzFeed

If you’ve been expecting me to write about my spring break, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. As I have already mentioned, I was in New York over the break, so I don’t have any glamorous or exciting stories like a lot of my friends. I spent most of last week in a state of jealousy, looking at photos my friends have taken over the break, marveling at their adventures (white shark diving, among them!), and admiring their suntans.
Do not take that to mean that I did not enjoy the break though! It was relaxing; and of course, I was not the only Sternie “on the New York trek” as we called it, so I still had the opportunity to hang out with my friends and have fun!

What I really want to talk about though is our trip to the BuzzFeed office last Friday! It was organized by the EMTA, and we had the chance to hear from several people: including the CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti.

I assume a lot of you are familiar with BuzzFeed, and how unique it is in the sense that the website uses 3 different types of content on the same platform: entertainment/humor (what they started out with), branded content, and reported news. Apparently it gets 40 million unique visitors each month, which is quite impressive.

Jonah Peretti is also a co-founder of The Huffington Post, and he talked to us about how he got involved with these projects. He said he had always been interested in why and how people shared content: evolving from email forwards back in the day, to organized sharing through social portals such as Facebook and twitter.

What prompted him to start BuzzFeed was that he noticed a shift from search engines to social: in the past, most online content was based on what people searched for, but now it’s becoming a much more “human” space, and they’re making content for people, rather than search algorithms. He chatted with us for an hour, and then we also had the chance to hear from Aswini Anburajan (Director of Partnership Development), Jonathan Perelman (VP of Agency Strategy & Industry Development), and David Spiegel (Executive Director of Sales). David is actually a part-time MBA student at Stern, and he was the one who had the idea for the trek; another demonstration of how Sternies like to help each other out. I thought it was an amazing trek—I have always loved BuzzFeed, it was great to see their office, and hear about the work that they do.

Spring Break!

Hello friends,

Just one more day stands between me and a week off for Spring Break! It seems like this semester is literally FLYING by, how is it Spring Break already? I have some classes coming to an end in just two weeks and graduation is looming just around the corner. Two years is just not long enough!

I am pretty excited for my Spring Break plans this year. Unlike some of my other classmates who are jetting off to exotic locations like South Africa and Cost Rica, I am spending my break here in NYC working with my partner on the business we are starting-up. We are working on building an e-commerce retailer dedicated to the modern career girl, complete with styling and career advice. (You can check out the beginning of our site here www.workshopstyle.com). It will be great to have a full week of uninterrupted time for us to really make some progress and get down to business as we have quite a bit of work ahead of us before we are ready to launch! Although I will be taking a 2 day mini break to Miami, FL to get in some sunshine and hang out at Ultra Music Festival for the weekend first. Not too shabby.

One of the awesome parts about Stern is the club treks that take place over Spring Break. All of the clubs organize trips to different destinations around the world from Morocco to Brazil to Israel. Last year I joined the Emerging Markets Association(EMA) on the Peru trek which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The trip was unbelievable from white water rafting and mountain biking in Cuzco, to hiking the rain forest to the breathtaking sites of Machu Picchu. This year the EMA is heading to Vietnam and Cambodia and I am sure everyone going is in for a fabulous adventure.

Until next time!

Kristin

 

Waiting for the Break

Spring break is right around the corner, so this week is a little rough: 3 midterms and 2 papers in 4 days! But at least we have something to look forward to.

A lot of people are going on various club-organized treks in a couple of days: Thailand, Chile, South Africa, Japan, Peru, Cambodia… Unfortunately, I’m not one of them! I had other plans, which actually fell through at the last minute, so it looks like I’ll be in New York over the break. I feel bad about missing out on all of the fun, but I don’t really mind staying in the city, either—there are so many things I’ve been meaning to do, and haven’t had time for. Can you actually believe that I still haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge? This will be my opportunity to catch up on the touristy activities!

Now I just have to get through the rest of the week.

Being a Sternie

Hi All,

My name is Ashrae, and I am a first year student at Stern. I am really excited about sharing my experiences with all of you through this blog.

Let me start by giving you a brief background about myself. Prior to business school I worked as a Management Consultant in India. To move ahead in the industry I felt I needed to learn Finance, the language of business, and there was no better place than Stern to do it. I am a complete foodie and that was one of the things that really attracted me to New York. At Stern, I am specializing in Finance and Strategy. I am on the board of the Management Consulting Association, SCorp (our student government) and the South Asia Business Association.

It has been a good start to the Spring semester. I am off to Vermont next weekend on a Ski trip with my block. It is my first time skiing – one thing off my ‘Things to do before I die’ list. Also, I am leading the Spring Break trek to India in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to visit India with a bunch of Sternies. On the downside, I have mid-terms to cope with in the middle of all this. One of the best things about being in a community as collaborative as Stern is that even exam time is enjoyable and engaging.

Time to get back to books. Stay tuned for more.

Until next time,

Ashrae

From SE Asia to Napa!

Hello prospective MBA’ers! Happy 2013! This is my first post this year and so far 2013 is off to an amazing start. As many of my fellow students have posted about, I also spent much of January break traveling around South East Asia with Stern friends which was definitely the trip of a lifetime! I hopped around the islands of Thailand, Bangkok and Bali meeting up with different Sternies in each place. I’ve definitely caught the travel bug, since now just two weeks later I am blogging to you straight from a coach bus full of Sternies en route to Napa, CA. Each February the Cellar Club organizes a weekend long trek to Napa, California where we visit many of the amazing wineries the region has to offer. Just like many of the treks over Spring Break, the Cellar Trek is a great opportunity to visit a new place and hang out with your classmates outside from the walls of Stern. I am so excited for a weekend full of wine tasting, delicious food, warm weather and lots of bonding with 50 of my fellow MBA students. February is definitely not my favorite month in NYC and I was pretty pumped to leave the 30 degree snowy weather behind for a weekend of sunshine and high 70’s. Hope your application process is going well and we are excited to meet many of you when you visit us for a tour, class visit or interview!

Until next time,
Kristin

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.