As a Graduate Ambassador of the Tech MBA at Stern, some of the most common questions I receive are related to who should apply to the program. Potential MBA candidates want to know what characteristics are the best fit for a focused MBA. They want to understand if it is too technical, if it requires a deep understanding of coding and data science, or the expected job for a graduate of the program. I will try to answer these questions throughout this short article.
The program is an MBA (Master in Business Administration), so it goes without saying that the focus is business and value creation. Nevertheless, it has another core: technology. The Tech MBA seeks to prepare its students to be set up for a rapidly changing world by using technology as a tool to innovate and solve big problems. The mandatory courses mix business fundamentals such as Finance, Marketing or Founding a Startup, with tech courses, such as Dealing with Data or Foundations of Mobile Networks. Additionally, the Experiential Learning approach is a group of activities and courses focused in finding solutions for real-world business problems. As a student, you can be part of the EFL (Endless Frontier Labs), which is an acceleration program for massively scalable startups; or the West Coast Immersion, in which we travel to visit and analyze several companies.
One of the things I value is how diverse the program is. Students come from varied careers such as consulting, software development, product management, entrepreneurship, or even banking. To be ready for the program, it is ideal to take a fast introductory course in coding, and another in financial math. Both are just a recommendation; all things you will need will be taught during the MBA.
Nowadays, most companies want to transform into tech firms and this trend will change the way of doing business in the following years. This makes the Tech MBA a powerful program for being ready to work in big companies, growing startups or developing new ventures. There are no restrictions to where a Tech MBA graduate can work, but the main focus is around Product Manager roles, Strategic roles or Consulting roles.
This is a very current program that is constantly updating to the technological changes that the world is facing. It is a dynamic and fun program to pursue big goals and grow professionally and personally.
You received your acceptance letter to Stern. Your heart is racing with excitement, you have butterflies in your stomach, and you are grinning from ear to ear. The next thing you know, you’ve received a handful of emails with directions to use different sites and mentions of different departments with different acronyms. Feeling overwhelmed? I sure was! Here’s a little study guide to help you navigate all of the amazing sites and resources that Stern has to offer. This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, rather a helpful place to get started.
NYU Stern Life
Stern Life is the best place to start after accepting your Stern offer. Leverage this site for all important announcements, events, action items, and access to resources before starting school. From Stern Life, you can keep up to date with forms to fill out, payments, technical setup and more.
Albert isn’t a site that you’ll be visiting everyday per say, yet when you use it, it is important! Some of the most common reasons why you’ll go to Albert:
Managing your school finances / financial aid
To check and manage your course schedule (e.g. add/drop classes)
View final grades and submit course evaluations
Access to other Stern sites and resources
Brightspace is the NYU Learning Management System (LMS), where all of your classes will be hosted. This is where your professors will upload their syllabi, add assignments, share resources and more. Familiarize yourself with how this site works as you’ll be using it a lot!
OCD: Office of Career Development
OCD will be your best friend as you navigate recruiting while at Stern. This department specializes in career development and support, covering a range of offerings such as resume reviews, mock interviews, recruitment strategy and more.
AA: Academic Advising and Affairs
Academic Advising and Affairs at Stern is the go-to department for support with your degree. This includes navigating specializations, credits, exploring electives and more. You can schedule 1-1 appointments with the AA team. Keep an eye out for scheduled events hosted by this department as well!
OSE: Office of Student Engagement
Access support and resources with regards to life outside of Stern through the Office of Student Engagement. The OSE team supports orientation, student orgs, housing and more. This department is super helpful when navigating your Stern experience beyond the classroom.
It’s popular knowledge that a big part of the MBA is networking. But that word sounds like work and isn’t well-suited to the reality of things. There is a more appropriate word: friendships! Over the next year or two of your MBA, you will share life with a group of amazing people coming from various backgrounds, yet all working towards similar goals. If you do things well, you’ll build deep, lasting friendships with a bunch of them because you spend time together. In this blog post, I want to share some ways that our cohort has bonded through student-led community events.
Bars and Restaurants These are classics. Don’t be shy to book a table somewhere and send a message in your “general” slack channel asking people if they want to join. I bet you that you’ll have to call back to increase your reservation to 20 seats.
Parks This is a go-to in NYC and a fun way to spend Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Our cohort always ends up in Central Park, but there are tons of other parks too. I recommend getting a Moolky, a wooden pin & skittles game, which you can play as a group. Last time, someone brought a portable cornhole game that was also fun to play 2 vs 2. Do not forget sunscreen, coolers, and hats! If you have a dog, there’s a specific patch of grass just north of the East 72nd Street entrance with lots of other dogs running around and playing together.
Workouts One of the highlights for me so far in the MBA has been running workouts for my classmates. We meet outside twice a week and sweat together for an hour. Then we usually go to brunch afterwards! Wednesdays are at the Houston st playground, and Saturdays are at Pier 46. Only one rule: you have to come to a workout to be added to the group chat! Don’t forget to take a group selfie post-workout! Open to all at any level, reach out to me if you want to join!
House/rooftop parties Rooftops are a huge commodity in NYC summers. Make yourself known if you have a rooftop or a bigger apartment than others!
Poker My classmates and I had a couple good games, both online and offline. I recommend keeping it inclusive to everyone and giving a chance to people who don’t know how to play to give it a try. If you want to play online you can use pokernow for free and have a simultaneous zoom session.
PPT night Our cohort has been running a powerpoint night every two months that has proven popular and a lot of fun. The premise is simple: 3 people volunteer to present to the group on a topic of their choice. The topics are completely up to the presenters and tend to be fun (or even ludicrous) in nature. Examples include origami, Whiteclaw, Australia’s Great Emu War, travelling to Chile, 90 Day Fiance, etc.
Escape the Zoom In this event attendees are separated into teams of ~4 and attempt to “escape the Zoom” by answering a series of ~8 riddles posted by the organizing team. Each team is sent to their own breakout room and given the first riddle. Once a team solves a riddle, one of the team members goes back to the main room and calls an organizer into their breakout room to deliver the answer. If correct, the team unlocks the next riddle. Hints are offered to teams after 10 minutes without a solution. The winning team is the first team to correctly solve all riddles!
Here’s a riddle to get you started:
Complete this logical sequence:
1 – E – 2 – O – 3 – E – 4 – R – 5 – E – 6 – …
a) S b) X c) Z
To see the answer, highlight this full line with your cursor: ANSWER is b) (SI)X
Trips Spending several days away together is usually an excellent way to get to know your classmates on a deeper level. And some may have the added benefit of discovering new parts of America. With everyone vaccinated and the slow easing of safety guidelines, trips might soon be part of the MBA experience again. There are as many destinations as you can think of. I’m recommending a local spot below:
Hunter Mountain In the winter, Hunter mountain is a must-do for skiing and snowboarding with slopes available for all level skiers. It’s just about 2.5 hours outside NYC. You’ll need to book your ski passes well in advance and book a chalet on Airbnb for the group. I recommend renting your gear on the way up to the station where the queue will be a lot smaller.
Thanks for the read, I hope this will be useful to brainstorm what to do after classes! Have fun and see you around the city!
So, you are finally about to start your MBA experience at Stern – it is exciting and a bit intimidating, but I am sure you are looking forward to beginning this life-changing journey! Last January, I was in the same situation as I was approaching the first classes; now after a few months, I want to share with you some advice that hopefully will help you best prepare and making the most out the Tech MBA experience at NYU Stern:
1. Take time off if you can
Before starting my focused MBA, I had heard many times that the Tech MBA was intense, but I wouldn’t have imagined it was going to be this intense! Classes are really fast paced and there is a fair amount of pre-work and group-work required for each class, so if you have the opportunity take a couple of weeks off, it’s worth it to arrive well-rested for the beginning of the first semester.
2. Adjust to NYC life
From finding and furnishing your apartment, to sorting out your finances (if you are an international student), there are many things to figure out when moving to NYC.
Here are a bunch useful links and apps that I found useful when I first moved here:
– NYU recommended resources for apartment search. I personally used Loftey, and they helped me find the apartment I wanted without paying any broker or extra fees. – Sometimes Ikea and other furniture shops have long delivery times, in this case I found second-hand furniture app quite useful. – The NYC restaurants scene is one of the most exciting – use Resy to discover new places and to search restaurants by availability for up to 20 people (quite useful to organize gatherings with your classmates!). – Last but not least, take advantage of being a student again: use Unidays to get discounts on restaurants and shops.
3. Map out your goals Between clubs, networking events, workshops, course electives, conferences, and entrepreneurial competitions, there are so many exciting opportunities at Stern that you might want to take part in – however, it’s really impossible to do everything! So lay out your plans and goals to help identify critical opportunities and stick with your priorities. Of course, your plan can change during this year, but having a set of goals you want to achieve will help you navigate among all the exciting activities happening around you.
4. Start socializing from day 1
You will be surrounded by an extraordinary cohort of students, all with different experiences and perspectives, so getting to know each other is not only fun, but it can help you better understand what you want to do post-MBA. Building meaningful connections with your cohort is one of the most valuable aspects of this experience. So don’t hesitate to organize after-class drinks, dinners and trips together from day one – time goes really fast!
Outside of your cohort, make sure you leverage clubs as a way to connect with the wider Stern community – CampusGroup will be your go-to resource to join clubs and discover events!
Ok, so you’ve got your Stern admission letter and your F1 visa and you’re finally ready to move to New York City! Since you’ve never met anyone from New York who didn’t think this was the best city on earth, you’re feeling pretty good about the move. But if you are still wondering what to expect, this post is for you. It covers what I’ve learned in my first 3 months here as a Frenchman, tips on how to successfully transition as a non-American, and odd things I’ve noticed.
A bit about me-
My name is Luc, I grew up near Paris, lived for a year in Houston before college, studied for 3 years in Montreal for my bachelor’s, and I had been working in Shanghai for 9 years prior to coming to Stern. My background is entrepreneurship: 8 years of early stage tech startups, 5 as founder/ceo, followed by some consulting. My experience with NYC was close to none before I moved here 4 months ago.
Units are usually available right away so you can find an apartment in the 2 weeks leading up to your move-in date (it took me 5 days). There are a few online platforms recommended by NYU when it comes to looking for an apartment. If you’re going to use Facebook housing groups, I recommend doing background checks before you sign anything (I dodged a scammer on a Facebook group by doing a reverse Google image search of the photos on the listing). It showed me that the NYC apartment I had selected was also listed in Paris … no wonder the “landlord” didn’t want to turn on her video when we talked!
In my case, StreetEasy got me there and I recommend using this instead. Word of caution if, like me, you are booking your apartment after a virtual visit: video tours are not the same as in person. You cannot control what is shown or get an accurate sense of the size, the view, the noise, etc. So ask if you can commit for only 3 months with the option to extend at the same rate for the rest of the year. The market has gone way down since COVID, so the landlord might agree. My apartment ended up having zero natural light and I was glad to have the option to move out after 3 months. Note that most listed apartments are not furnished, but if you message the agents on the website they might have other unlisted apartments available that are furnished, or have available furniture in storage to give you. In my case, the agent provided me with a bed and a sofa free of charge and I bought the other cheaper furniture on my own. Another option is to rent furniture: you can get a good bed and sofa for as low as $100/month if signing for 12 months (e.g. livefeather.com, cort.com, casaone.com and others).
Where to live-
There are a lot of differing opinions on the topic. A lot of my classmates live in the West Village and everyone loves it. It feels a bit more European and there are a lot of good spots, but it’s a bit pricey. The East Village and Lower East Side are great options as well (I live on the border of the two). The area is a bit more grungy in my opinion, but has lots of great bars and restaurants. If you don’t mind the commute I’m a big fan of Brooklyn (Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Greenpoint, Williamsburg): I like the smaller buildings, the sense of community I get walking its streets, and the welcoming and unpretentious vibe. I also have a classmate who lives in Jersey City right across the river with a beautiful view of the Hudson River, and it takes him just 20 minutes to get to campus.
Once you have your place you’re going to have to figure out a data plan, internet, utilities, and a bank.
Phone plan: Assuming you already have a phone, the best value I found is AT&T’s 12-month prepaid plan, at $25/month + tax for 8GB of data. There’s a catch though: it’s available only online and you need to already have a US phone number to order… your US number…. I was tricked into paying for a 1 month plan at a physical store just so I could order the prepaid 12-month plan online. If I were to do it again, I would get a temporary Skype US number and use that to order instead.
Internet: In theory there are two options, Verizon FiOS and Spectrum. But they cover different areas of NYC so you end up being forced to subscribe to the available supplier for your apartment. You can use your NYU email to get 2 months free with Spectrum, but then it’s $55/month for wifi for the first year and $70 after that. Although I’m told you can call back at the end of the year to get the ‘new customer’ discount again.
Utilities: Another monopoly. I hope your activation on ConEdison’s website goes smoothly as they’re difficult to reach via phone. Your landlord or agent should tell you what you need to do for utilities.
Bank: I pre-opened an HSBC account from abroad (not available in some countries like China so you’ll have to check) and then applied in-person for their credit card when I arrived. You’ll want to get a credit card because it allows you to build your credit history (without which it’ll be hard to finance anything in the US), and because it’s the only type of card that works in all situations, 100% of the time (for some reason my debit cards are a hit or miss). Until I had my credit card, I used Revolut, which offers free payments and free currency conversions. Note that if you’re using an international card and the POS machine or ATM asks for a zip code, enter 00000.
Most people I’ve met like to walk. If that‘s the case for you, you’ll have a great time here. I don’t like walking much, so I’ve explored different options:
Metro & buses: $2.75 a ride, but you can transfer for free (e.g. metro to bus). There’s no need to buy MetroCards as you can tap your credit card to enter the station. Public transportation will take you anywhere, but it will take time: I find that I tend to have to wait for the next train or bus, and there’s still walking to be done when you arrive at your destination.
Revel: $1 unlock fee + $0.49 per minute. I love Revel as I used to ride an electric moped every day in Shanghai. These are particularly fast and good. The downside is that it’s relatively expensive (my rides have been $8-10) and you might spend a few minutes looking for a legal spot to park. They accept international driving licenses. The mopeds have a phone holder built-in which is super convenient for using google map. I heard that Revel is starting to rent out electric bicycles for $100 a month as well.
Citi Bike: $3.50 a ride. Good if you can find an electric one, bad if you can’t: the bikes are super heavy and slow. You can book those directly from the Lyft app, too. I’m told that there are subscription plans available if you like City Bike.
Uber/Lyft: More comfortable and expensive. Good to get back home after a night out.
My personal recommendation: Buy an electric scooter or electric longboard for as low as $350 (or a bicycle). My longboard takes me to most places in 10 minutes. I can take it on the metro or on top of a Revel if I’m going far so it combines well with other forms of transportation. You can even ride across the bridges to Brooklyn. Getting a scooter is both safer and more comfortable than skateboarding because the roads in NYC are quite bad (rough pavement with bumps, iron railings, and holes), especially the bike lanes! Then use Revel when it’s nice out!
Odd things I’ve noticed- Dogs: (NYC) Americans love dogs. I mean LOVE dogs. I mean you’ll go to some dinners where people will spend a full hour talking about their dogs. If you’re taking a class on Zoom and someone’s dog enters the field of view, the class will stop until classmates and instructors are done commenting on how cute that dog is (and yes, all of the dogs are cute).
Prices: Don’t trust them. All the prices you’re given here are deflated. You’ll need to add taxes, and tips if it’s food or drinks. A typical restaurant bill is 30% higher than previously stated. You might need a calculator to figure out the tip, usually 18-20% of the pre-tax amount given.
Messaging apps:Not everyone uses the same messaging app. Most people have iPhones and use iMessage so they may not use WhatsApp. Regular SMS, Facebook messenger, Signal, and Discord might also be used to communicate with different people. This was odd to me given how everyone uses WeChat in China no matter what phone they have.
Cash: It’s still a thing here. Even coins. Actually, your laundry might not be inside your apartment, so you’ll need to go to your bank to get lots and lots of quarters to operate the machines in your building or at your nearest laundromat. Many smaller businesses refuse credit cards until you reach a certain $ minimum, and I haven’t seen mobile payments being used here yet.
Note that as a result, it takes a lot of time to pay at a restaurant. So instead everyone paying, what happens is 1) only 1 person at the table pays for everyone (yay, credit card points!). 2) Another person usually volunteers to divide up the amounts, goes back home and uses a spreadsheet to proportionally divide the tax and tip, and texts everyone how much they owe. Then 3) you’ll have to download Venmo and link it to your US bank account to pay that first person back. Teamwork.
I hope this was helpful to get you situated in NYC and that you’re excited; this is going to be a fun ride. Please reach out to me with any questions at email@example.com.
Only three months into the Tech MBA program at NYU Stern, my classes have already played a large role in impacting my future career as a professional and leader.
Our Spring semester was packed with many business core classes such as Accounting, Economics, Business Communication, and Leadership. Among all of these great classes, Leadership in Organization (LiO) – the opening class of the MBA, taught by Professor Petitt – specifically stood out. Not only because it was a very engaging class, but also because it’s centered on a topic that all of us can relate to. No matter what point of your career you are at, no matter if you are in a tech, creative or strategy team, Leadership will be the key to unlock your success at its maximum potential as well as the success of your organization. And, a bit more surprisingly, this course also taught me that strong leadership skills are critical to helping your personal relationships flourish.
But first, let me start by addressing the most common question that people ask themselves (including me) when approaching a Leadership class: “Can I really learn Leadership in a classroom?” The answer is rooted in the notion of leadership itself. Leadership is the ability to create change in a given environment; this could be your organization, your team or your family/friends. We are all naturally capable of creating change by making decisions; if you think about it, you make hundreds of decisions everyday, with various degrees of risk. This course provided me with the right tools to analyze difficult situations and opportunities to act and to make difficult decisions to achieve the best outcomes for a set goal. And when I say making difficult decisions, I literally mean decisions that impact your actual life – not a business case, not a simulation. So yes, you can learn Leadership in a this classroom!
So what was so good about this course?
– Content: human, social and organizational aspects of leadership Throughout our six intensive sessions, we have explored all the different dimensions and aspects of leadership, from individual motivations to group dynamics inside and outside the organization, touching on cultural differences in business interactions and ethical dilemmas. We covered a wide range of interesting topics, yet went deep enough to be able to embed these learnings into our professional lives.
– Methodology: pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone The greatest aspect of this course was the “experiential” component that enabled us to test our leadership skills in many different situations – I won’t spoil anything here, but get ready to push your limits and face some challenging situations! And – bonus point – while doing so, you will get to know your classmates better and also have fun!
– Outcome: increased self-knowledge Because of the way the course was structured, through each session and each assignment we had the opportunity to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leadership and take actions to improve some of the key areas that are critical to become a good leader. I learnt about the theory and the frameworks, but most importantly I learnt more about myself, how to recognize my biases and how to overcome them, as well as how to leverage my current skills to improve my leadership style.
Mix all the above points with the enthusiasm and humor of Professor Petitt, and you will get all the ingredients for a memorable, game-changing class!
I’ve always heard people say that one of the biggest takeaways from business school is the community and network you create. In fact, the community of Sternies is one of the main reasons why I ended up at Stern for my MBA. Prior to starting the program, I was so excited to meet my classmates, learn from their experiences, and build an amazing community. Though, given the current state of the world, I was nervous about how all of that would work with a hybrid learning model.
It’s true that the experience looks a bit different from what I had first expected while going through the application process. As the program was first getting started, it was certainly daunting to create connections and make friends with brand new classmates in a virtual environment. This wasn’t just a new experience for me, but it was a new experience for all of us. As soon as we all embraced that this year would be a bit different but we were all in it together, we were able to make just as meaningful of connections through screens as we would have in person.
So how did we create a community in a virtual environment? Follow these tips and tricks to learn how:
Find a platform where everyone can stay connected: Our cohort has been loving Slack. Having a platform where the entire class is connected offers opportunities for us to chat throughout the day, share resources, celebrate one another and more. We’ve created different channels for us to discuss different topics that we’re interested in like tech, gaming, popular tv shows, and fitness.
Turn your camera on (if you can!): If you are able to, consider keeping your camera on while in class or participating in group events. Of course, there are different reasons why we need to keep your camera off, but if you are able to, having your camera on helps create that in-person experience. Using video offers the ability to see reactions, body language, and emotions. The use of video can make that virtual zoom feel that much more like real life.
Leverage the chat function and emojis: The chat function on video conferencing sites adds an additional layer of communication and connection with classmates. It’s another place where you can engage with your peers and learn more about each other along the way. The emojis allow you to acknowledge different moments without having to unmute. You can show that you agree, that you have something to contribute, applaud a classmate and more just with emojis.
Don’t just use Zoom for class – host virtual gatherings as well: Zoom isn’t just a great mechanism for class, it’s also a great way to build connections with your peers. With Zoom, you can host coffee chats, game nights, get togethers, open mics and more. It allows us to get together safely beyond just that classroom environment.
Bring elements of your personal life into the camera (if you feel comfortable!): It always brings the class joy when we get little glimpses of each others’ lives via Zoom. Whenever a cat decides to come on screen or a loved one makes a cameo, you can see large smiles across the grid of faces on Zoom. Getting that little glimpse of people’s lives is a reminder that we’re all Zooming from home during a challenging time — and we’re all in it together.
What a beautiful sight! I took this picture outside of the Kaufman Management Center on my first official day of classes as a member of the Tech MBA Class of 2022. It feels surreal to say out loud seeing as I submitted my application to Stern in November of 2019. An unforeseen global pandemic and a 7-month program delay later, I finally arrived on campus this past January as a full-time student. While it seems long ago that I was wading through the MBA admissions process and deciding on the right program for me, this past year has given me a unique opportunity to “sit” with my decision before attending school. I hope that by sharing my application experience and why I ultimately chose Stern’s Tech MBA program, I can provide some clarity to those thinking about pursuing their MBA and whether Stern would be a good fit.
A Little Bit About Me –
After graduating from Villanova University in 2015 I spent 5 years as a Technology Consultant with Deloitte Digital in their Philadelphia office. There, I specialized in digital transformation project delivery for our public sector customers. I gained a lot of valuable experience during my time with Deloitte and got to see first-hand the powerful role that technology can play in driving positive human impact (namely the underserved constituent populations that our solutions supported). I developed a curiosity for human-centered design and started to feel the urge for change. Consulting was the only world that I knew, and I wanted to seek new opportunities that would allow me to use my skills to design and deliver the very solutions I was implementing as a consultant, from inside the organization. To do so required me to improve my admittedly narrow technology skillset and my business acumen. An MBA seemed like just the change I was looking for.
Why the NYU Stern Tech MBA –
Fast forward. One of my first classes at Stern was Leadership with Nate Pettit (a class I highly recommend). During class, we talked about leading through change, specifically the importance of appealing to both emotion and logic. Both are required to affect change, much like a vector requires intensity and direction. Lightbulb! This is a perfect metaphor to illustrate how I arrived at choosing NYU’s Tech MBA as the next change in my career.
Appealing to Logic –
During my MBA pursuit, I thought a lot about the direction of my career. This isn’t to say that I had my target company and role pre-determined but understanding where I was headed directionally helped me narrow my MBA program search. As I mentioned, I plan to stay in a technology or tech-adjacent industry. Roles in Product Management appeal to me and align well with my previous work experience. I knew that I was not using the MBA to make a huge pivot in my career but to accelerate it.
Therefore, the format of the Focused Tech MBA program made a lot of sense. Firstly, the one-year accelerated program had clear cost benefits. Getting an MBA is a big investment, and I felt that the one-year format was the more ROI-conscious choice given where my career was headed. I was also very sensitive to the fact that the pace of technological change is very fast. Being out of the workforce for too long in the tech industry would require a steeper learning curve post-MBA. The one-year format allowed me to minimize that risk.
The program’s focused curriculum provided an opportunity to build my technology acumen in a city with a finger on the pulse of the tech ecosystem. In New York, NYU has access to some of the largest and most innovative technology companies in the world. Whether learning through experiential opportunities alongside NYC-based companies or from faculty who come directly from the industry, getting that kind of exposure and experience in and out of the classroom would help me develop a unique point of view before heading back into the workforce. It crossed my mind that with a one-year accelerated program, one of the key differences from a traditional 2-year MBA is the lack of a built-in internship during the summer. I felt, however, that the experiential learning opportunities in our Tech MBA program were more than sufficient. From a logical perspective, the Tech MBA program seemed like a great format to maximize my MBA experience and align well with my career aspirations.
Appealing to Emotion –
If the structure and benefits of the Tech MBA program provided the logical appeal for my decision, then the community at NYU appealed to my emotion. What really impressed me during my Stern application process was the emphasis on strong EQ. This is one of Stern’s values that you read about online and hear about from current students. It sounds cliché, but it is one of the biggest contributors to building a strong sense of community at Stern. I saw it first-hand in every interaction throughout my application process; whether I was talking to an alumnus, a current student, or a representative from the admissions office, everyone was welcoming and spoke to the collaborative and inclusive culture that exists at NYU. Classmates are willing to go the extra mile for each other and Stern alumni are eager to help current Sternies in any way that they can. In addition, the breadth of Academic Advising and Career Development resources at our disposal provide individualized attention to maximize your time in school and get you where you want to be after graduation. This made me feel confident that if I inevitably stumbled at any point throughout the year, NYU would be there to lift me up. The Tech MBA program, specifically, is a smaller cohort of people that come from all walks of life and careers. The size of the program lends itself to building strong and lasting relationships and offers an opportunity to learn from each other.
What was equally impactful for me was Stern’s call to action for students centered around change – “Dare It, Dream It, Drive It.” This really stuck with me. I felt that NYU recognized how powerful change can be to grow and encouraged students to embrace it. I felt that there would be no better place to embark on the biggest change in my professional career. NYU was exactly the place I was looking for: a community that understood the power of change.
I am happy to report that the past two months in the program have exceeded my expectations. I am being challenged academically, getting to know my incredible classmates, and learning from some of the best professors I have had in the classroom. I know that I made the right decision to choose Stern and that I am headed in the right direction.
It’s hard to believe the year is coming to an end. We’ve got just a couple weeks remaining to wrap up spring semester courses before we’ll emerge as the latest class of Stern MBA graduates. As you consider applying to the Tech MBA program – or if you’ve already been admitted – I will offer you some utilitarian (and quite frankly, kind of boring) advice, but advice that I hope will be as helpful to you as it has been for me.
My advice to you — prospective or incoming Stern MBA — is to make a list of knowledge, experiences, and things that you want out of your time at NYU. For me, it’s fun to look back on now, but my list was a helpful tool that provided me with strong footing when I was presented with the many diverging paths and opportunities available to students here at Stern. From classes you want to take, knowledge gaps you want to plug, or extracurricular and professional experiences you want to have, going through this exercise helped me set goals and provided structure to ensure I was making the most of my time on campus. Amidst the new and promising opportunities available to me, referring back to my list was a helpful way to check in with myself on whether or not I was staying true to my reasons for coming back to business school. In many cases, it helped me recalibrate my focus, and in others, it allowed me to reflect and sometimes change my mind, indicating both personal and professional growth, which is what pursuing graduate education is all about.
To give you an example of my list in action, it was a few months ago in October 2019 and Stern had entered the course selection period for the upcoming spring. As I went through the course catalog in search of electives I wanted to take, I identified more classes than I had room for in my schedule. I conducted a ton of research through talking with other students, reviewing syllabi, and reading course reviews, but to no avail on any narrowing decisions. I was considering an intense finance class, higher-level strategy courses, a pricing strategy class, a few interesting entertainment and media courses (just for fun), and more. I clearly couldn’t take all of them, so I decided to refer back to the list I created prior to arriving on campus because I remembered that it included knowledge gaps I wanted to fill through my Stern coursework.
Upon review, one of the items on that list was to learn strategies for pricing a product—in my previous work experiences I had never priced a product or service from scratch, and I knew there were many strategies and techniques to do so. My list became the tiebreaker in my elective selection, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I have learned so much while taking the pricing class in which I enrolled, well beyond anything I could have initially imagined. The professor, Masakazu Ishihara, is amazing not only because he’s an expert in his field, but also because despite our classes going remote, he’s been incredibly dedicated to making each class session engaging and interactive. Also, the classwork and projects have been some of the most practical applications of the concepts we’ve learned that can be used across many industries. It’s become my favorite course this semester, and I feel well equipped to re-enter the workforce and apply this new knowledge.
The point I’m trying to make here is not to tell you to take a pricing class or model your list after mine, since that might not make sense in the context of your reasons for pursuing your MBA. But whether your list includes traveling to a new country, working with one of Stern’s professors, meeting a business leader at a campus event, or simply just speaking up more frequently in class, I think you’ll find that creating this list is a helpful exercise in keeping you on track toward your goals—it’s helped me achieve mine, and it’s a reassuring feeling in the last few weeks wrapping up my great experience here at Stern.
In my first blog post, as the fall semester kicked off, I wrote about some of the things I wish I could have told myself going into the summer term for the Andre Koo Tech MBA. Now that we’re here in the spring semester – I thought I may share some thoughts that, if I had a time machine, I might share with myself as the fall semester got underway!
The Fun Is Just Beginning The summer term is an amazing roller coaster with so much going on – new environment, new classes, new life-long friends. It feels hard to imagine things could move any faster, but when the fall semester kicks off, a whole new world opens up. The academic workload shifts to reflect a traditional semester-based structure, the larger two-year MBA community returns to campus, all the programming from student groups ramps back up, social events spring up, formal recruiting gets kicked off, and on and on and on…
It’s not any “busier” per se, but it’s a whole new set of events and experiences that you need to account for. I return to one of my favorite reflections from a Sternie in the Tech MBA class before mine: “It’s the hardest you’re going to work, but the most fun you’re ever going to have.” That held true over the summer (I mentioned it in my first blog post too), and it certainly remains true in the fall. You will have the most amazing opportunities open up, and they happen very quickly, so be ready!
Vice Dean JP Eggers mentioned once that the MBA experience – and particularly a focused program like ours – is a “year-long exercise in prioritization” and that certainly rings true. The more you can be aware of that fact, and stay proactive in how you manage your activities, will be paramount.
Lean Into As Much As You Can The amount of student-run clubs that kick off in the fall is amazing, and I highly recommend taking the time to experience as many of them as you can! For me personally, attending events by Stern Speaks and Stern Listens have been incredible, and have really highlighted the amazing levels of EQ in the NYU family. I was also blown away by the amount of programming that was held for allies of certain communities such as Outclass, SWIB, AHBBS, and others. And, of course, there is Stern Social, which brings students together once a week for drinks and laughs. I am happy I had the chance to experience as much as I did during the fall, and I wish I had done more!
Focus With Flexibility The recruiting season arrives quickly, and the summer months are valuable in helping clarify what sorts of opportunities are in line with your post-Stern goals. When things get “real,” and the cover letters and resumes start flowing, it’s really important to stay focused on what type of work/job/opportunity matters most to you, and then remain flexible in how or where those opportunities surface. Between the amazing staff in the Office of Career Development, your MBA network, in-semester internships, and classes with an experiential component (that connect you with real companies and real projects for said company) there are dozens of different ways to find your “dream job.” Maintain focus on the finish line, but stay flexible on how you arrive there.
This past year has flown by, and it’s hard to believe we’re already almost halfway through our final semester at Stern, and graduation is only a few short months away. The January West Coast Tech Immersion was a great way to kick it off too.
Over winter break, we spent two weeks in Seattle and San Francisco exploring the tech space there, visiting all kinds of companies. It was a wonderful opportunity to get a better understanding of each company’s role in the tech ecosystem, and how they were leveraging it to drive innovation within their organization. It was also great to connect with Stern alumni at each of these companies and learning about their experiences in their roles and living in each of these cities.
We kicked the trip off in Seattle with a visit to Amazon, where we toured their campus and learned about their most innovative projects. It was interesting to learn about these initiatives, and to connect with Stern alums currently working there, and hear about the different projects they were working on, and how much they enjoyed living in Seattle.
Another highlight of the Seattle portion of the trip was visiting Microsoft’s campus in Redmond. Like Amazon, we spent the day touring the campus and later talking to Microsoft senior management about their latest projects. We also had the opportunity to meet Jeff Teper in person, Corporate VP at Microsoft, NYU Stern alum, and member of the Tech MBA Advisory Board.
The rest of the week was definitely packed with more visits and meetings with Boeing’s Horizon X division, the Create 33 entrepreneurship center, networking event with Stern alums, and catching up and reconnecting with classmates about their winter breaks and all the places they traveled before arriving in Seattle.
After an action-packed week in Seattle, we all flew to San Francisco, where another busy week awaited us. We started off with a corporate visit to Salesforce downtown and met with representatives who shared what services the company provided, and success stories of some of their clients. The next day, we visited Oracle and PayPal, explored their offices, and learned about how they help their clients, and what new projects they’ve been working on. Given my specific interest in fintech, I was particularly excited about visiting PayPal and learned so much about the company during the visit.
Our last day in San Francisco couldn’t have been better. We first met with David Ko, President and COO of Rally Health and also a member of the Tech MBA Advisory Board, and learned about his experience as a startup founder and his career trajectory. His story was truly inspiring and we all thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet him and connect with him. We then visited Google’s offices, another company visit many of us were very much looking forward to. There, we met with Google employees from many different divisions, from AdWords to Waymo, and learned firsthand about their different projects and how they fit within the larger organization.
Overall, the Tech Immersion Trek was a great trip and provided an incredible opportunity to explore these cities, learn more about the different companies we visited, and reconnect with fellow classmates. It is definitely one of the highlights of the program for me so far, and I loved every minute of it!
I can’t believe the summer semester has already ended and we’ve begun fall classes! These past few months have definitely been a blur and so much has been going on. While we’ve had many challenging classes, we have also had so many opportunities to explore New York, get to know our classmates better (and create lifelong friendships), and explore the tech space throughout the summer.
One of my favorite parts about our summer classes was the tech immersion. This class was more practical than our other classes and included company visits, workshops and presentations from industry experts, and our immersion project (which this year was in partnership with Verizon). In the tech immersion, we had the opportunity to visit and network with companies such as Union Square Ventures, Deloitte Digital, Uber, JPMorgan, and Nestio, and to learn from and connect with experts on topics such as cyber security, data visualization, UX/UI and many more. I am so thankful to have had these incredible opportunities to learn and connect with experts and professionals in these spaces and learn from each of them.
I learned more about topics I hadn’t had much exposure to before Stern, and that helped me discover different companies and potential opportunities that I perhaps wouldn’t have considered before. These company visits and workshops with experts were invaluable resources to better understand the industry, an incredible opportunity to connect with industry leaders and to connect what we learn in the classroom to the real world and to see what the broader NYC tech sector was like, and each company’s role or position within it.
It was amazing to have the opportunity to explore how these companies are leading innovation and creating value, and understand how companies such as Deloitte, Uber, and Verizon are leveraging AI, 5G, machine learning, big data and more to create business value, provide better products and services, automate processes, and generate valuable insights to generate efficiencies, increase productivity, and contribute to an organization and the tech ecosystem in general.
The workshops and presentations by experts were also tremendously valuable, because even if you weren’t particularly interested in the topic beforehand, the sessions were so compelling and insightful that everyone certainly got a lot of use from each of them. Furthermore, they were on varied topics from UX/UI and data visualization, to cybersecurity and ethics in tech. While you may not specifically work in any of these areas upon graduating, they are all extremely relevant and important areas in tech that will undoubtedly affect each one of us personally and professionally, no matter what industry or role you end up in.
This is just a glimpse of what the summer was like for Tech MBAs, there’s so much more to it! I learned more than I ever thought I even could during the summer, and am excited to see what the fall semester will bring!
The summer at Stern as a Tech MBA was one of the most action-packed, wonderfully hectic, and fulfilling three months I’ve ever had. The Focused MBA experience includes an intense first semester academically, professionally, and socially. I thought I might share some insights on what my first 90 days were like both as a Sternie and as a New Yorker!
A quick snippet on my background for context…
I came to NYU by way of California – having spent the majority of my professional life working in strategy and general management for tech-centric companies in San Francisco (Silicon Valley) and Los Angeles (Silicon Beach). When it came time for me to research MBA options to further my career as a tech leader, it was clear that NYU was the perfect match. For me, part of what made Stern Tech MBA program so special was getting the chance to receive a world-class education in the heart of Manhattan with some of the most brilliant classmates I have ever met.
As you may imagine, starting a new chapter as an MBA Candidate — coupled with a cross-country move — comes with a lot of first-time experiences and learning moments. To that degree, here are a few things I learned during my summer semester that I hope helps others!
Finalize your living situation ASAP As someone coming from out of state, I simply underestimated how wild the apartment and roommate search process was moving out to New York. I did not begin my apartment search until a month before the summer term was set to begin, and it was trial-by-fire for me when it came to securing a place to call home before the summer semester began. It all worked out well in the end, as I settled in Brooklyn and have fallen in love with the borough, but I could have saved lots of time and energy by using the resources at my disposal. NYU has a multitude of great resources to help connect you with housing options and roommates, and they were crucial in helping get settled. I also have a brand new network of Tech MBAs who are all moving to the city with me, so coordinating with them was critical.
Get to know your professors! The Stern experience means being surrounded by high IQ/EQ individuals, and the professors are no different. I quickly realized that I was learning from world-class individuals both as professors and as professionals. I remember how surreal it felt taking a class with a professor in the morning, then seeing him that same day on MSNBC as a subject-matter expert on the future of ride-sharing services.
For me, Professor Pettit’s class on Leadership in Organizations and Professor Marciano’s class on Strategy were the highest-impact sessions, but the point is every professor is not only extremely accomplished, but ready/willing/excited to meet with you further to help you advance your career goals. Take them up on their offer to meet during office hours, it’s one of the best things I did.
Be proactive in your time management A Tech MBA in the class before mine said about her Stern experience, “it’s the hardest you’re going to work, but the most fun you’re ever going to have.” I can officially say that her perspective and insight is valid. Moving from the working world to an MBA program means getting involved with academics, leadership opportunities, professional development, recruiting, and your new Stern family simultaneously. Every activity in and of itself is amazing, and I learned quickly that I needed to be thoughtful about mapping out my days and weeks so that I could make room for all of it.
It was also VERY helpful to, essentially, have the entire Stern campus to ourselves as the two-year MBA students were out for the summer. That time not only allowed me to get my bearings with all the various MBA activities, but also gave our Tech MBA cohort the time and space to get to know each other extremely well. I’ve met a whole new set of lifelong friends, and proactive time management really helped me make the most of the summer with my new family.
One of my many reasons to choose the Tech MBA program was the immersive opportunities the program offered. Over the summer, I visited over ten companies ranging from the prominent Union Square Ventures and Deloitte Digital Consulting to the digital arm of the massive JPMorgan Chase and unicorn IPOs such as Uber. I also had the opportunity to chat with the founders of Handy and real estate startup Nestio and visit the NYU accelerators buzzing with innovation.
These immersive experiences have given me a better sense of the opportunities available to me at the intersection of business and technology, provided me with a network of alumni and professionals to seek guidance from and have given me a better understanding of which companies have cultures that aligned with my values.
The VC focused sessions were among my favorites, in particular, the one at the Union Square Ventures, a leading venture capital firm based in New York. We attended a speaker session, led by Albert Wenger, who is a partner at the firm. Dr. Wenger is a serial entrepreneur and was the president of del.icio.us, a USV backed bookmarking service and is also a board member of companies such as Twilio, MongoDB, and Clarifai. It was fascinating to listen to his experiences in the industry and about his thoughts on universal basic income. It was interesting to learn about USV’s thesis-driven investing and how their commitment has changed focus over the years from application layers of the internet and network effect companies to decentralized blockchain-focused technologies and brands that broaden access to knowledge, capital, and well-being. He explained about the network effects on the B2B side by discussing an interesting company in his portfolio, Sift Science, that uses machine learning to detect and prevent online fraud and abuse. Following that was a stimulating discussion about his book, “The World After Capital,” and how he envisions the potential of blockchain methodology and cryptocurrency to move money creation to the individual level to offer a universal basic income (UBI).
I came into this program not entirely knowing what to expect. I had anticipated that my interests would lie at the intersection of business and technology and was fully expecting my options to be limited to a few career opportunities. Now that I have embarked on this journey and after completing my first four months, I can confidently say that this program has opened my eyes to the multitude of opportunities that NYC and NYU can provide.
This summer, our schedules were packed with classes, meeting new people, industry treks, and evening events like happy hours, panel discussions, and receptions. As a Tech MBA student, a few of my main interests include entrepreneurship, startups, and early stage ventures. At NYU, there’s likely an event on campus that covers any one of these topics every week, but one of my favorites that kicked off summer was called B-School Disrupt.
B-School Disrupt showcases 10 entrepreneurs from NYU, Stanford GSB, and Harvard Business School, and each founder presents 2-3 minute pitches of their startup to the audience, as well as a panel of industry judges who ask questions and provide their perspectives. The event was followed by a networking reception that allowed attendees to connect with the companies.
I attended B-School Disrupt with 14 of my classmates, many of us with entrepreneurial aspirations of our own. In addition to the topics we discuss in the classroom and consulting with companies through Stern Solutions, it’s nice to hear about the businesses that students create and bring to life. A broad range of industries were represented and the startups were as different as they were interesting. People have some crazy ideas! For example, one startup created sustainable cleaning products that come in the form of a dissolvable tablet and reusable spray bottle, while another created a mobile app concierge service that returns your car for you at the airport. There was also a fashion retail brand that sourced its designs from artisans and designers in Africa.
Not only were the startups themselves diverse, but each entrepreneur had a different story. There were students who had just started their business, and others who had been working for years. Others worked full-time on their venture, while some juggled a different, full-time job and pursued their company part-time. I think I had a narrow definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur, but B-School Disrupt, along with the many other startup-related events and activities on campus, has helped expand that definition for me.
These definition-expanding experiences are built into the curriculum: it’s not uncommon for professors to invite founders and industry leaders to class who always share an inside look at their companies and offer students a chance for Q&A. I’ve also found that some of these definition-expanding experiences happen more organically through conversations with classmates who come from many different backgrounds, industries, or geographies. Outside the classroom, there’s a plethora of resources on campus to take advantage of: the $300K Entrepreneurs Challenge, one-on-one coaching at the W. R. Berkley Innovation Labs or the Leslie eLab, and more. NYU has resources for entrepreneurial students and alumni regardless of what stage their company is at. As someone who has benefited from these resources in just a few months, I’d encourage any prospective student who is interested in entrepreneurship to look into these opportunities. I think you’ll be surprised at how much support exists for students and their startup ideas, even if you have no background in entrepreneurship at all. It’s definitely one of my favorite things about NYU and the Tech MBA program, and certainly something I’m planning to continue exploring!
We made it (barring us passing all of our finals per Dean Raghu at the graduation ceremony 😊)!
It is still a little bit hard for me to wrap my hear around the fact that just a little over a year ago, I was still working full time and living in a different state, barely knowing any of the 30 people whom I would call family now. At a recent conversation with the next class of Tech MBAs (yes they have already started their amazing 1-year journey), I got asked a question: do you think this has been a life-transforming year?
The answer is absolutely yes.
Over the year, I kept getting asked why I wanted to do an MBA after a PhD. I have said the answer enough times that I distilled it to this: because I not only want to know how to solve a problem, but also what problems to solve. With this degree, I definitely feel more comfortable defining and justifying problems worth solving. My way of thinking about a problem or situation has been slowly transformed over the year: from delving straight into numbers looking for one ‘true’ answer, to factoring in interests of and impacts on all stakeholders finding the best solution from all possible ones.
Before our orientation, one of the action items was to write a vision statement for May 2019, imagining what we would consider as success at the end of this year. I imagined along three dimensions – academically, professionally and personally. Today, I can proudly say I achieved most of what I set out to accomplish. One thing I am most proud of is the personal growth I had by constantly challenging myself. As an introvert, I didn’t like speaking in class or talking to strangers but at the end of the year I am contributing frequently in class and comfortable starting a conversation in networking sessions. As a number cruncher and non-native English speaker, I didn’t read a lot in English and my writing wasn’t as polished. During this year, I probably read more cases, articles and textbooks, and wrote more papers for classes than I did for my entire physics education. As a type A personality, I wanted to spend as much time as possible to perfect each task but with so many activities pulling me in all directions this year I learned the skill of time management and got comfortable with ‘good enough’ and setting my boundaries.
As I get ready to start my job at IBM post-graduation, what I will miss the most is the Stern community: all the professors – who all are so eager to help and invite us to stay in touch for the rest of our career, all the staff members from OCD, OSE and Admission – who always support us and cheer for us along our journey, all the administrators – whose doors are always open whenever we have any feedback to share, and mostly all my fellow tech MBAs, focused MBAs and Sternies – who made this year so much more special and memorable. What bonded us so strongly will stay with us for life: those late night and weekend meetings for a class project or case competition; those happy hours after a company visit, an exam or just a class; those trips we took together, near or far; those impromptu conversations just to cheer each other up while we were overwhelmed with recruiting and school; that night of Karaoke in San Francisco at the end of the Tech MBA west coast immersion trip; all the tears we shed and laughter we had. The MBA was a journey but also just the beginning, the beginning to many many life-long friendships.
Now, as a proud member of the over half million NYU alumni and over 100,000 Stern alumni, I can’t wait to see everyone at our reunion – be it one-month reunion or 20-year reunion – and hear all the wonderful stories we get to write in the next chapter of our lives.
I moved to New York just over a year ago to join the inaugural Andre Koo Tech MBA class of 2019. Now, with graduation just three short weeks away, I’d like to write some final thoughts about the first year of this innovative program. If you’ll be joining the next class, have only started your application, or are just exploring your MBA options, I hope these notes are helpful:
Plan Your Specializations
Stern offers over two dozen specializations and the Tech MBA degree naturally lines up with two: Product Management and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. While these specializations satisfy most students that attend Stern’s Tech MBA program, you may want to take advantage of the school’s world-renowned finance faculty and tack on a Finance or FinTech specialization to your degree instead. If so, remember that you’ll likely need to take an extra class or two by taking advantage of the free credit overload policy, and you will also need to plan your fall and spring semester schedules more carefully. While the degree is already “specialized” in tech as a whole, these additional specializations add signaling power to your resume that demonstrate your knowledge in specific disciplines.
Understand the Tech Recruiting Cycle
During the first (summer) semester, there aren’t very many students on campus. Undergraduates are on their summer vacations, incoming MBA2s are working hard at their internships, and MBA1s are still packing their bags to move to New York. It’s a quiet time for job hunting and recruiting. However, when the fall semester begins, everything changes. Part of that change involves the exhilarating, but competitive, recruiting cycle. MBA2s are recruiting for full-time positions, MBA1s are recruiting for internships, and some Tech MBAs students are still figuring out what they want to do. Believe it or not, just three months in, it’s time to recruit for a full-time job.
Many large tech firms, like Amazon and Microsoft, recruit in the fall. Larger companies have defined MBA recruiting cycles and will be on campus early. However, these tech firms are in the minority. Most tech recruiting takes place in the spring, so don’t fret if you don’t land a full-time job in the fall – there just aren’t that many.
Prep for Interviews with Classmates
After you go through a few rounds of interviews, you’ll realize that the people who conduct first-round interviews are no different than you or I. That being the case, your fellow students provide great interview practice. Before, during, and even after recruiting is complete, you should be working with your classmates to nail down solid answers to common questions, practicing product management cases, and soliciting resume and cover letter feedback. If you’re wondering why you would still want to be doing this after you’ve finished recruiting, it’s to help your other classmates who may still be hunting.
Negotiate Your Start Date
Once you do receive a full-time job offer, don’t be afraid to ask for a later (or earlier) start date. It may be very beneficial to take some time to recharge between school and work. This will allow you to walk in on your first day ready to tackle the new challenges that await you. New employers would prefer that you bring your best self to work, not your burnt-out self. Completing an MBA in 12 months is no small task and giving yourself time to reflect between the degree and your new career will be essential for long-term success.
I know it’s cliché, but the year really does go by in a blink of an eye. Make sure you take full advantage of being a student again. There are discounted student tickets flying around, events in the city that would conflict with a traditional 9 to 5 job, and an energy at NYU that embraces learning, failure, and everything in between.
If you’ve made the plunge and are attending Stern or any other MBA program, remember how privileged you are to be in an environment that fosters learning and is focused on helping you grow. Then, make the most of it!
At the end of March when I looked at my calendar for April, I said to myself: “Whoa, April is going to fly by so quickly with all these events!” And just like that, here I am sitting at the end of this month realizing the semester is only couple weeks away from ending. I guess having a jam-packed schedule was the manifestation of realizing that I don’t have much time left and wanting to take advantage of being at this wonderful community as much as I still can.
After all the events in April (which I will tell you more about), I really wished I could have two years at Stern so I can do them all again. So if you are a one-year student at Stern like me, please make sure you take the opportunity to participate in the ONLY chance you have! And for the lucky two-year Sternies, you gotta start early so you can have twice the fun 😊
So here are a few of the events happening at Stern in the spring:
Well, this is actually a year-long event – every week or two, on Thursday afternoon right before the beer-blast (another year-long event, but I won’t talk too much about it here, you will have to do more research yourself 😉), we have this closed-door event featuring two MBA students telling stories about who they are not what they do. After going to many of them, I finally mustered the courage to be a speaker and share my own story at the beginning of April. It was kinda scary going into it – public speaking in front of a big crowd, sharing a personal story I barely told anyone at Stern and being vulnerable in front of an audience – and the weeks of formulating and practicing the story can be an emotional toll. But after the Speaks I am very glad I did it: I was able to build a deeper much relationship with many of my fellow Sternies. Did I mention I did this together with another amazing person from the Tech MBA program? Eliza-Eve and I were able to support each other through the preparation process. Right before my turn, she squeezed my hand firmly and with just that, I knew I was ready. So make sure you mark this on your calendar, support your fellow Sternies, and be a speaker if you are brave.
The Stern Speaks I presented in was actually part of the Women’s Week at Stern. Stern Women in Business (SWIB) put many events during this week, from self-care workshops to work out sessions, from ally lunch to salary negotiation workshop, from female founders panel to community volunteer trek. At the end of this week celebrating women at Stern, was the annual SWIB conference. This year the theme of the conference was “through her eyes: navigating the jungle gym”. We had many passionate and brilliant women leaders talking to us about how they managed their career and made a positive impact, including Trish Donnelley from Urban Outfitters Group, Colleen Taylor from Mastercard, and Annie Edwards from Daily Mail General Trust. The event ended with a network cocktail party with all attendees – prospective students, current students and alumni – and we had a blast!
This was an event different from all of the rest that I am mentioning here – as the name suggests, it was a weekend for admitted students to preview what Stern life is like. As a chair of the torch committee, I was able to participate all of the events and meet many of the future Sternies including 30 focused MBAs! One consistent theme I heard from all the graduating MBAs speaking or volunteering at the weekend was: “we are really jealous of you”. I guess this speaks volume about how much we enjoyed our time at Stern being part of the community. As our time at Stern draws close to finish, we know how great of a time lies ahead of the incoming class of MBAs and we really wish we got to relive it again. I sure hope we showed all the prospective students what it feels like to be a Sternie and got them excited about being part of the family!
This is a multi-cultural event that I have been looking forward to since I submitted my Stern application. As an enthusiast for ethnic dances and a foodie, nothing excites me more than a spring event where more than 35 countries showcase their food and/or traditional performing arts. Under the big tent in Gould plaza right in front of Stern, you get to sample bite sized servings for two hours (don’t let that ‘bite size’ thing trick you, after 30 of them you will feel so full you could roll on the ground) while also cheering for fellow Sternies doing some acts you don’t usually get to see. This is probably one of the best attended events at Stern and definitely one of my favorites!
If you think the amount of Stern talent outside of B-school is amazing with Passport day, wait till you see Follies. Follies is Stern’s annual theatrical production mixing digital shorts and musical theater. The entire show is produced by the members of the Stern Follies club – from scripting the play to coming up with the jokes, from choreographing the dances to filming the shorts, including all cast and crews. This year the show, titled Beauty and the B-school, ran in the Skirball theater on April 26th in front of 600 people. I made my contribution by being part of the stage crews. It was such a humbling experience to see all the passion and effort from all the cast members. They are all MBA students with a ton of other things going on in their life, but they stayed many late nights to rehearse so that they can put the best show forward for our friends and families. Now looking back, I wish I had realized how much fun it is to work on this production and join the 8-month journey way earlier starting last fall. Focused MBAs only get one chance to experience everything and I am super thankful I get to take part in this in some way!
On March 28, NYU hosted their fourth annual “One Day” fundraising campaign. The University collectively raised over 4,000 matched gifts and the MBA class of 2019 made dozens of contributions to their annual class gift. As a student that has benefited remarkably from NYU’s Tech MBA program with a shiny new job offer, I felt compelled to give back. While I was determining how my gift would be spent, I was reminded of the sheer size of NYU and the academic resources available outside of Stern. Between recruiting, club events, and classes, it’s easy to simply stay inside of the business school and maintain a packed schedule. However, NYU is much more than just Stern, and I want to highlight some classes and opportunities available outside of the business school in this blog post.
There are a couple of core technology classes that are required as part of the Tech MBA program: Foundations of Networks and DevOps & Agile Methodologies. These two classes are graduate level computer science courses taught at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. If you’re not already familiar with Courant, I highly recommend making a quick Google search to learn about the high-caliber faculty that make it such a competitive graduate school for applied math, computer science, and information systems. If you’re joining the Tech MBA program with a lighter technical background, these classes will be challenging. Nevertheless, the full-time and adjunct faculty at Courant understand they are teaching a variety of skill sets among business students and your more technical classmates will be invaluable throughout the year.
Stern also offers a credit overload program. The credit overload policy at Stern allows full-time MBA students to take up to 3 additional credits. This can be completed as one 3-credit class in one semester or split over the fall and spring semester with two 1.5-credit classes. If you take full advantage of the credit overload system, you will graduate with a total of 54 credits, just 6 credits shy of a two-year MBA from Stern. This is an incredible value considering the Tech MBA takes only 12 months to complete.
These additional credits allow you to take various elective classes, and some are offered outside of Stern. I have taken advantage of this and will be venturing down to the NYU School of Law during my final semester. The class is called, “Negotiating Complex Transactions with Lawyers and Business Professionals” and is comprised of both law and business students. Combining the two sets of students from the different graduate schools offers new learning opportunities, debates, and conversations to take place, in addition to new networking opportunities.
In addition to classes outside of Stern, there is a university-wide event calendar that posts concerts, lectures, exhibits, games, and more happening on or around campus. I hope that if you attend NYU, you make the most out of your time by exploring everything that the greater university has to offer.
Work hard. Play hard. I think this is a motto that most MBA students can identify with. While of course there is plenty of work and studying to accomplish in order to earn the degree, an MBA is likely the last time in your life you won’t have a morning commute and boss to report to – and you should take advantage! There are plenty of opportunities to unwind and have some fun throughout the MBA program at Stern, from the weekly Thursday night “Beer Blast”, to the Welcome Back Boat Cruise around Manhattan. But perhaps nothing can match the spring break treks led by some of the amazing affinity clubs at Stern. This year, we had options of heading to one of the following school-sponsored trip locations: Israel, Vietnam, Tanzania, New Zealand, Japan, Himalayas, and Patagonia. After working hard through the first half of the spring semester, the break finally arrived, and I and many of my classmates left New York City and jetted off to different corners of the world.
I attended the trek to Israel, and it exceeded even my lofty expectations. First off, it’s a great opportunity to meet other two-year MBA students. It can be easy to stay confined to your fellow Tech MBA students during your year at Stern, but between classes and events like these treks, there are ample opportunities to grow your network outside of 1-year classmates. After a long flight, we wasted no time in exploring and learning about the country. Throughout the trek, we were joined by a professional Israeli tour guide, who shared his knowledge about the thousands of years of history in the country. Some of the historical stops in the trip included: The Old City of Jerusalem, the Yad Va’Shem Holocaust Museum, a sunrise hike and tour of Masada (seen in the photo above), excursions through Caper Naum and Nazareth, and finally a tour through the old town of Jaffa. But it wasn’t all history – through visits to an Israeli Air Force base, and lectures from a former military Colonel as well as a business CEO, we were able to learn about all the forces shaping Israel and the Middle East today, and how we might want to keep them in mind as future global business leaders. And finally, what would be a successful spring break trip without some fun: from beach parties on the shores of the Dead Sea, to ATV rides through northern Israel, to nights out in world-famous Tel Aviv clubs, this trek offered something for everyone.
For now, it’s back to school and homework, but these last few months of the final semester will undoubtedly offer lots more opportunities for fun and chances to make even more lasting connections with classmates who will be part of your network for life.
On February 4th of 2019, we all got back to Stern with a strange feeling, this was to be our last semester and we wanted to make the most of it.
We came back even more united than before thanks to the two weeks of the West Coast immersion trip that we took in January. During this immersion, all the students of the NYU Tech MBA went to Seattle and San Francisco to meet with companies and leaders in the tech industry for three main reasons :
Understand the tech ecosystem of the west coast
Speak about business and tech challenges of today
Discuss the future of tech.
The diversity in company visits was amazing. To give you a sample we had the opportunity to visit the Boeing factory, the Tableau office, and we met with leading VCs of the valley who talked about their portfolio. And that is just a small sample of the meetings we had that week.
We all felt impressed by the time every person spent with us – everyone seemed genuinely ready and pleased to share their journey, their challenges, and even asked our opinion on their business or tech questions.
During the trip we didn’t only learn about tech and business, we also learned about each other – the 31 students of the inaugural Tech MBA class. Because when you spend two weeks, 24/7 with people, you learn more than just what’s at the surface. We got to understand the challenges, fears, life goals and values of our classmates, and we all, as a team, worked on trying to make this trip the best for each other. We made introductions to people we knew and made sure everyone had the chance to speak during networking time and corporate presentations. With empathy and compassion, we made the best out of the trip. We all felt that these two weeks were very special, and it was very hard to say goodbye.
So, here I am in my last semester. This is my third Masters degree, so clearly I have said that sentence a lot, but it never felt stronger than on that day facing Stern. For me, this semester is about getting to know as many classmates as I can. I gave myself the challenge to create a strong network with the MBA1s and MBA2s and try to learn as much as I can. So I picked classes that were not tech focused, and I have to say that I love it. I have a class in brand strategy where we have been working with cosmetic and kitchen tools brands, and it is super fun for me to get out from the tech-focused program and expand my horizons in what takes to create a business.
This semester will pass at light speed, but I know that we will make sure to enjoy the time together as a team, as a class and to get the best out of it.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I want to take the chance to highlight a few female professors I have had Stern. They are not only just teachers to me but also mentors and role models. They inspire me to keep learning, dreaming and charging forward.
I had professor Sonia Marciano for my strategy business core class in the summer. Still adapting to the business mindset at that point, I was completely blown away by Sonia’s class. She is super smart and down-to-earth. She has a witty and straightforward way of explaining concepts – they all seemed so common-sense and obvious yet I would have never thought of them from those angles on my own. Many of the things she taught us not only apply to business situations, but also to daily life situations, too.
First, focus your time and energy on things that are high weight and high variation. She used the example of her daughter’s sock puppet assignment in her English literature class (hence the term ‘sock-puppeting’) – if the outcome between spending 2 hours and 20 hours on this assignment is 2%, it’s probably worth spending the 18 hours on things that will have a bigger impact on grades. This was definitely a life saver in business school where there are so many things competing for our time and we have to be strategic about how to spend our time.
Second, leverage your strength and be big in a dimension. In business, this carefully chosen strategic position allows a firm to enjoy a monopolistic position in an industry. On a personal level, I pivoted my job searching strategy from looking for product manager position in tech companies (which I have little background in) to looking for strategy position with heavy data analytics component. I received way more response after I changed my job searching strategy and ultimately landed an internal strategy consulting position at IBM.
Professor Anjolein Schmeits was our finance professor at the end of the summer. She is very passionate about teaching and cares deeply about her students. That reflects in how energetic she always was in class despite the fact she was teaching 9 hours in a day. Finance is a very quantitative subject and the lecture can get very dry if not thought out properly. With Anjolein’s class, you never noticed that 3 hours went by. All the concepts were explained in an easily digestible way. Her structure was logical and emphasized not only the what and how but also the why. I definitely wished we could’ve had more class time with her!
Professor Amy Webb is teaching one of the most unique electives at Stern – Predicting the Future of Technology. This class goes through her unique framework of strategic foresight regarding to technology trends – CIPHER – explained in detail in her book “The Signals are Talking”. Amy has an amazing talent of telling stories so her class is always engaging and thought provoking. The ‘moment of trends’ exercise we did at the beginning of every class started my habit of keeping a pulse of news in the technology industry, from announcements of new products to PR of tech companies to mergers & acquisitions in the industry. We were able to apply her methodology in each class on current trends we care about – like what we might do once we graduate. These in-class exercises are what she would do with her executive clients. Did I mention she brought delicious gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free treats to every class? Also, check out her TED talk on how she found her soul mate using on-line dating platform, the story is being turned into a movie now.
There are so many more amazing female professors at Stern who were essential to my experience this past year. Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to all my fellows at Stern Women in Business (SWIB) and all the male allies. We recently hosted an event titled “Shattering the Glass Ceiling” featuring an incredible panel of executive women. Happy international women’s day!
The second year of Tech MBAs is currently being recruited and if you are one of the lucky candidates that got admitted, first of all, congratulations! I have received quite a few questions from admitted students who are planning for the year ahead. Below I will try to answer the most commonly asked questions:
How do I best prepare myself for the year ahead?
If you have the opportunity, I would try to take some time off in between resigning from your job and starting the program. Not only is there plenty to organize if you are moving to New York, but also mentally I think it is beneficial to take some time to switch from employee to student mode. Finally, make sure to make time now for your friends and family!
How do I find a place to live in New York?
There are two options: student housing or the regular housing market. While the student housing is very close to campus, the Stern graduate housing has similar pricing as regular housing while being shared, so most students decide to find something on their own. Students from our class live all over the city: in Manhattan, Brooklyn and also New Jersey. Where you want to live depends mostly on your personal preferences and budget. The rental market cycle in New York is later than most other cities and typically viewings are two to four weeks before the rental start period. If you prefer to share, some of my classmates met at one of the admitted student events and decided to live together!
How do I make the most out of the year?
It is a bit cliché, but I personally believe that if you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. Therefore, before the start of the program, take a moment to sit down and write out your goals. These can be academic, social, career and personal. An optional way to do it is to imagine yourself at graduation and write what you will have achieved. As the year progresses, look back at this document from time to time. This will allow you to stay focused on your goals, as the year will go by so fast.
I’m an international student, what should I do in preparation?
Besides the visa process, moving internationally is a bit more challenging. Firstly, finances: Open an American bank account as quickly as possible as this is often required for housing (often this needs to be done from within the US, with the exception of HSBC). I found TransferWise very useful to transfer foreign currency to my US bank account with low fees. Set up Venmo with your US bank account, which you will use it often to transfer small amounts to classmates etc. Secondly, phone plan: I remember that I received a SIM card from Mint mobile in my international student packet from Stern, which provides good value. Third, housing: You most likely need an US co-signer for renting an apartment. If you don’t have one, there are companies that will be a co-signer for you (for a fee) such as TheGuarantors. I also find that larger real estate companies like Two Trees are easier in the process of renting out to international students than individual land lords. These companies don’t require international students to pay a couple months of rent upfront which many individual landlords do.
Can I work during the year?
As an international student on an F1 visa you can only work on campus. There are several job possibilities, although all require an application process: teaching assistant (supporting professors) graduate ambassador for the admissions office, or support on an undergraduate trek. If you are eligible to work in the US you can of course also do internships during the semester. Whether the workload is manageable is a personal question. I have classmates who work 5-10 hours a week with no problem and classmates who say they would not manage that. Typically, the first summer semester is very intense, but the fall and spring semesters have a bit more flexibility as those semesters you will not have class on Fridays.
If you have any more questions that are not answered above, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you’re admitted and decide to join Stern’s Tech MBA cohort, you should be careful not to only focus on mingling with your close classmates. Instead, find ways to reach out to the broader MBA community. While I’m not disregarding the importance of developing sustainable relationships within the Tech MBA class, the nature of the program will offer plenty of opportunities to do so by default. That being the case, here are five ways that I’ve made the most out of the Stern community by networking with other students in the various MBA programs. Remember, Stern has several other MBA programs including but not limited to the full-time program, fashion and luxury specialized program, part-time evening classes, and dual degree students.
1. General Interest Clubs
Most clubs are open to any MBA students and if there is a common interest, you can bet there is a club created for it. There are even a few leadership opportunities for Tech MBA students specifically in some of the technology-oriented clubs. Here is a list of all of the clubs that Stern has to offer.
2. Case Competitions
Several case competitions will float through your email inbox throughout your year at Stern. Case competitions are a great way to put your new business school knowledge to work while collaborating with other students at Stern. Most competitions even have a pretty substantial monetary reward! If you’re not familiar with case competitions, check out this Poets & Quants article on them.
3. Alumni Networking Events
Before mentioning alumni events, I feel as though I should mention is this first: don’t target recruiting events strictly as a way to network with your classmates. Recruiting events are designed to help students learn about companies, not students. Similarly, the pressure and competitive mindset of certain industries may make recruiting events high-stakes and stressful for attendees. On the contrary, alumni events are set up specifically for networking and meeting current and former students. Most alumni who come to these events have open arms and ears and are looking forward to meeting you. You can see a list of upcoming alumni events here.
4. Elective Classes
When the fall semester rolls around, Tech MBA students are viewed as second-year MBA students from a registration perspective. That means your classmates in electives will be composed of students from the full-time program who have known each other for at least a year. Make an effort to form class groups with students outside of your Tech MBA cohort and sit next to people you haven’t met yet. Here is a full list of elective classes.
5. Happy Hours & Social Events
Finally, the obvious one. Happy hours and social outings are often held at the end of the week, which happens to be Thursday in business school. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, your classmates will happily welcome you to these events. One of the most notable events is Beer Blast, which takes place every Thursday night, often following another great event called Stern Speaks. These events attract students from every program and are a great way to connect after a long week of classes.
I hope these five ideas help you make the most out of your year at Stern. It will fly by, so make sure to take advantage of as much as you can while you’re here!
When in business school, people often think of network as the group of people you are connected with socially and professionally. And one might naturally think of interpersonal communication skills as the foundations of network. The Foundations of Network I am about to write about today, however, is something completely different.
This is actually one of our tech core class, taught by Professor Lakshmi Subramanian from Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The network in discussion in this class is the network of computers – PCs, mobile phones, routers, servers, cloud and many other devices connected through the internet. The participants of this class include us (the Tech MBAs) and the students from the Courant Computing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MS-CEI) program, whom we already know very well through some of the business core classes we took together in the summer.
Taking such a class within the computer science school might seem too technical and irrelevant for MBA students – after all, we are unlikely to be creating the network architecture or writing lines of software codes for the companies we will be working for in the future. But having a high-level understanding of various pieces of the very network that is so essential to our productivity nowadays can be hugely beneficial to understanding the risk and opportunities behind a product or business. On a practical level, some high-tech companies are known for asking MBA candidates questions like ‘what happens behind the scene when you type the address of the website in your web-browser?’.
Professor Subramanian has done a great job this semester at explaining many engineering concepts to non-technical audiences and covering a wide range of topics that are highly relevant to current landscape in the tech industry. We started with the foundation of the internet – communication protocols between devices of different complexity, location or form, to how data packets are routed through the internet, to how a web page is downloaded through the http protocol onto our browsers, to how signals are sent over the wireless and cellular network, to cloud computing services, to more advanced topics like 5G network and data center architecture.
As the capstone of this class, we are supposed to submit a project at the end of the semester – either build (code) a functioning product or write an in-depth case study about something related to the content covered in class. Our class is roughly split half and half between ‘build’ and ‘case study’ projects. It is very exciting to see what my classmates have come up with for their projects: interactive ads for mobile games, google phi case study, finger print authenticated QR code for login, Amazon data center in Chile case study, multi-user web-based games, case studies on mesh network and many, many more. Don’t be surprised if you see some of our apps pushed to app stores or case studies published in the near future!
This class seemed a bit odd at the beginning but it has quickly become one of my favorite classes. Tech core classes like this class provide us with a unique opportunity to get exposure to the intersection of tech and business from the perspective of the tech side. Last, I want to give a shout-out to our Teaching Assistant Talal Ahmad, who is a PhD student in Professor Subramanian’s lab researching on mobile networking and mobile systems. Besides the fact that he is passionate and empathetic toward his students, he has also done amazing things with his research like deploying software-defined network base stations in Ghana. Talal is graduating soon – can’t wait to hear his new adventures!
Fall semester in the Tech MBA program comes with new classes and friends, endless fun club activities, and everybody’s favorite… recruiting season. Tech is different than more traditional business school paths like consulting and banking, in that the timeline of recruiting varies based on the companies you are targeting. If you are targeting medium-sized companies or startups, they usually can’t predict headcount too far in advance and do just-in-time recruiting that will happen during the spring semester. But if you are targeting Big Tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft or Google, then you will likely be applying and interviewing during the fall semester.
But preparation for interviews happens long before that, in fact, it will happen before you even step on campus. A few weeks before starting school in May, you’ll need to submit your resume to the Office of Career Development (OCD), who will go over it with a fine-toothed comb and provide feedback. Then over the summer, OCD conducts a number of helpful job search related workshops. Once the fall semester begins, you’ll start preparing in earnest for interviews.
Earlier this semester, the Stern Technology Association invited Lewis Lin to campus for a full day workshop on tech interviewing. If you aren’t familiar with Lewis Lin, he literally has written the book on interviewing for product jobs at big tech companies. It’s never too early to start preparing for interviews, so if you’re searching for reading recommendations, take a look at his books. The first half of the workshop focused on the types of roles that tech companies are looking to fill. The second half of the day went even more in-depth on product management, with lots of practice problems covered that you might receive during an actual interview.
While this workshop provided a solid foundation, there is no substitute for good old repetitive practice. To prepare even more, I partnered up with a few fellow Tech MBA classmates who were also recruiting this fall, and we spent hours lobbing practice questions at each other and providing feedback on answers. The Stern Technology Association provides guides on each company, so we were able to use that to tailor the practice problems based on the next interview. The last few weeks I have had multiple interviews at big tech companies, and all of this practice proved invaluable. The format (phone/virtual/in-person) and questions will change depending on the company, but with the right practice, you will feel confident in any interview situation.
I get a lot of questions from prospective students around clubs, and rightly so, you are not only coming for Stern for your studies, the clubs are just as important for your experience! The clubs are also a great way to meet the other MBA students, help you networking with potential employers, learn something new, and of course have a lot of fun. There are three types of clubs: professional clubs, affinity clubs and what I would call “other” clubs.
These are clubs that focus on career related events. There are many professional clubs at Stern, below the ones most relevant for Tech MBA students.
For Tech-MBA students the Stern Technology Association (STA) is invaluable. For example, they organized a lunch where the MBA 2ndyears who had just done an internship at a tech firm told us about their experiences. This was very valuable for us to get an insider perspective on what each company was like and we got a lot of job hunt advice. Another workshop I really liked was on Product Management and given by Lewis Lin, a PM “guru” and author of several books on the topic.
Entrepreneurship & Start-up Association (ESA) is another interesting club. The club focuses both on students interested in starting their own start-up, students looking to join a start-up after graduation and on students interested in venture capital. I find the club valuable for pointing out start-up competitions in the city as well as all events related to entrepreneurship that are organized by the university, not just Stern.
The final club I want to mention is the Management Consulting Organization – a great resource for practicing case interviews and networking with consulting firms.
Other professional clubs are in areas including emerging markets, entertainment media and sports, FinTech, government and business, marketing, luxury & retail, social impact and sustainability, energy & infrastructure, healthcare, private equity and real estate.
The affinity clubs are either based by region, such as the Asian Business Society, these clubs are for students from that region and students interested in the region. The Latin American Business Association is known for the best parties, whereas the Stern in Africa club organized the most popular spring break trek this year. Then there are also non-region-based affinity clubs such as the Military Veterans Club and OutClass, Stern’s LGTBQ community. I am a member of the European Business Society, which always serves the best food and Stern Women in Business, one of the largest clubs at Stern.
Then there are clubs for almost everything else: any type of sports, theatre, eating, drinking, public speaking etc. In total there are more than 40 Stern clubs, so something for everyone. And if there is a club that you are missing, start one!
For me personally the clubs are my greatest source of FOMO, as I am a member of too many of them that almost every evening I have choice of several events to join. I guess it is a nice problem to have 🙂 . If you would like to know more about any of these clubs, send me an email at email@example.com and I would be happy to answer your question or bring you in touch with the clubs.
Every week I have the opportunity to speak with prospective applicants about the Tech MBA program. Here are the top five questions that people ask:
1. How “Tech” do I need to be to complete this program?
I’m not a developer and don’t have an engineering background. My background has varied extensively. I’ve worked on teams with engineers, marketers, designers, and entrepreneurs in tech and non-tech companies. Ideally, you have a passion for technology and industry experience is a plus.
You will be required to learn basic Python as part of your early coursework and would be much better off if you spend some time to learn it on your own before joining your classmates on campus. There are several free resources to do so, my favorite is Codecademy. If you do arrive on campus without knowing Python, expect to spend some evening and weekends figuring it out – it’s not the end of the world, but I’d rather be out with friends on a rooftop in Brooklyn on a summer evening. If learning Python on your own time sounds daunting to you, the two-year MBA may be a better option.
Keep in mind, your application is reviewed holistically by the admissions committee and they will be able to determine if your technical prowess aligns with the Tech MBA class profile.
2. What is “tech” about the Tech MBA?
The Tech MBA is first and foremost an MBA. In essence, it is an accelerated business degree with a focus in technology. The degree contains a tech core that was designed with the Department of Computer Science at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and features technical classes that will teach you about networks, DevOps, and software engineering at a high level. On the business side, you will learn about technical product management and skills such as leveraging big data and business analytics. The tech classes don’t exist to teach you specific skills and technologies, but instead teach you how to think about technology, how it will change over time, how to harness it, and how to speak the language. Apart from that, we also partake in traditional business courses ranging from leadership to corporate finance and economics.
3. What is the recruiting process like when you’re finding a job?
I should start by saying that as a Tech MBA student, you can recruit for the exact same roles as the traditional two-year students. You will be in the same corporate presentations, application pools, and networking events. That being the case, your status as a Tech MBA student will resonate differently with different firms. I have interviewed with tech companies and “Big 4” consulting firms and based on the response of my interviewers, the Tech MBA has only made my candidacy stronger. It’s a great talking point and shows that you are serious about your interests and know your strengths. Many firms are seeking more technical candidates and view the Tech MBA as a key option to source top talent. Some industries and firms strongly prefer a two-year MBA, especially in finance, so make sure your career goals align with your MBA journey. Remember, companies are seeking qualified MBAs with a strong business acumen and EQ – that’s ultimately why they come to Stern.
4. Why did you pick the Tech MBA over the traditional two-year program?
As you may have read above, I have a passion for tech and knew that I wanted to work for a large tech company. Based on my goals, the Tech MBA was the best option for me and offered a really efficient way to get a top-ranked MBA in a shorter amount of time. Many of my colleagues in the two-year program are pivoting their careers – they may be changing industries entirely, exploring all of their options, or just taking the additional time to take electives and figure out what is best for them. I also have always been a “Type A” person and appreciated an efficient option to achieve my goals.
5. What do I lose by not completing an internship as part of my MBA?
I consider internships an opportunity to “test drive” a specific company or role, specifically by experiencing something that you’ve never done before. Many of the two-year MBA summer interns receive full-time offers to return upon graduation, however, many students also restart the recruiting process entirely. There are a handful of jobs that require a summer internship prior to receiving full-time offers, so do your research and reflect if an internship is something from which you would benefit. As a part of the Tech MBA curriculum, you will take an experiential learning course called, “Stern Solutions” during the fall semester. You will have the opportunity to work with a company for the duration of the semester and many of my classmates have seen this as a minor internship role. Some other classmates also intern with companies during the fall or spring semester if they have the time. Once you decide how important completing an internship is for you as part of your own MBA experience, it will help you narrow down your application choices. For me and my classmates in the Tech MBA, not completing an internship during our program has never been an issue.
I hope these questions and answers were useful! Please feel free to reach out to me and the other graduate ambassadors for Stern’s MBA programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this blog I hope to give you a little insight in what it is like to be in the Stern Tech MBA by providing an overview of my recent week in the program during October 2019.
The week started with one of my electives, Foundations of Entrepreneurship. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of venture capital funding and what considerations to make before reaching out to VC’s. Then we had our Data class where we discussed the different ways of doing data analysis, by Python or SQL.
I held early afternoon held office hours at the Berkeley Innovation Lab (one of my on-campus jobs) where I provide advice to the teams participating in the NYU Stern 300K Entrepreneurs Challenge. This is one of my favorite activities, and I provided the teams some UX research advice which is part of the next challenge.
I ended the day with giving a tour of the school and answering questions of prospective students for the Admissions office (my other on-campus job). There were some really enthusiastic students that are going to apply for next year’s class. A good start to the week!
In the morning I had an interview with a recruiter. Unfortunately, the role was very different from what I expected and am looking for, so I decided not to continue, but it was good to find this out early. In the afternoon, there was an on-campus career fair where I met with the recruiters of some large and small tech companies which was useful as I added some new companies to my “interesting potential employers for after graduation” list.
At the end of the day, I had a ‘Networking’ class, which is super interesting. We discussed in technical detail how the internet really works, and the professor has a talent for explaining very technical concepts in a way that we all understand.
In the early afternoon I did an ‘Introduction to Python’ course organized by the NYU library to increase my Python skills a little bit. I did not have any coding experience before coming to Stern, and my advice to prospective students is to do some self-study before you start at Stern so that you can hit the ground running.
Afterwards, I met with my group for our ‘Technology Solutions’ class, where we do a semester long project for a company. Our company Nestio, is a real estate software start-up and my group met to discuss what to present to them in the next meeting.
In the evening I attended a corporate presentation from a large Tech firm, which was helpful and also fun as there were Stern alums talking about their journey from Stern MBA to their current position.
The day ended late with drinks and food with the European Business Society, a Stern Club for European students and anyone interested in Europe.
In the morning, I had my other elective, ‘Collaboration, Conflict and Negotiation’, which is one of the courses that I will use most in the rest of my career. We practice negotiation techniques and styles by doing live negotiations in class. In the afternoon, we had our ‘Tech Solutions’ class which is a combination of the project I described prior as well as cases and guest speakers. During class we discussed a case about LinkedIn and how it built its corporate culture (very inspiring!)
In the evening we had our Tech Product Management course from a really good professor who currently still works as a Product Manager for a technology company. He lectures on all responsibilities of a Tech PM and at the same time we apply what we have learned in a new tech product of our choosing. We all gratefully soak in the knowledge.
Thank goodness for Friday! On Fridays there are no classes at Stern. It was a very good but also exhausting week. In the morning I participated in a yoga class for charity organized by one of my classmates. This was some very welcome relaxation. Afterwards I had the meeting with Nestio, where my group and I discussed next steps for the semester long project.
In the afternoon I had a Google Hangout meeting with an alum who had a very similar background to me, coming from consulting and now working as a Product Manager at Google. It was great to hear from him about how Stern helped him make this switch and more about his day-to-day job activities. The great thing about Stern is that you not only have a great network of more than 800 students on campus, but also the whole alumni network who are more than happy to meet with you when you reach out to them.
All in all, a good week, and I will spend the weekend preparing for the classes and assignments for next week and doing some sports. Good to know for prospective students about the new 1-year MBA, is that it really is a 7-day a week commitment, but one that is extremely rewarding!
One of the biggest advantages of pursuing an MBA in New York City is to get the opportunity to attend events and meet industry professionals from a variety of fields. One of the technology entrepreneurship events that I attended was a cross between a TED Talk and an open mic night. The event provided an excellent networking opportunity within NYC healthcare tech industry, differing opinions about tech in healthcare from the two featured speakers, and the chance to learn from the audience members. I was drawn to this event because speakers were encouraged to share learnings from their entrepreneurial journey rather than pitching about their company.
Go early to events.
I arrived about 30 mins early and interacted with the CEO of the company that organized the event. I learned that the company hosts such events every quarter where they attract health-tech entrepreneurs. I met an MBA student who also works as a Pharmacist. He shared that pharmacies use machine learning tools to predict and fill prescriptions in the pharmacy. I also met with a founder of a health tech marketing organization who works with other healthcare companies to market their products.
After initial networking conversations, it was time to hear from the two featured speakers. The first speaker kicked off the session and focused on the importance of new tech advances to provide health care using online platforms. This contrasted with the second speaker who did not fully embrace the importance of tech in healthcare and instead highlighted that best healthcare means providing better care and not the tech tools that aid in providing that care.
During early stages of a new product idea, surround yourself with optimistic people.
Some of the learnings from this talk were – it is difficult to find and convince a co-founder to team up with, rally people around your idea especially in the early days. Your idea won’t be stolen so start socializing it now! He also emphasized that ideas are fragile at the start, so it is better to surround yourself with optimistic people first; make your idea look real by creating wireframes even if you don’t have a real product yet; use that as your Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and this will make your idea look real. Additionally, it will trick others and yourself into believing it. He further noted that even if you’re launching in a few months, start signing up people early and start putting thoughts into writing to help streamline your thought process. He shared that the MVP for his company was just 3 slides with rendered website images to make it look real. His key takeaway was your idea should have a big finish and easy start while making your idea appeal to diverse stakeholders such as in engineering, marketing, and finance, because, then more people would have fine-tuned the idea using their professional expertise.
Listen and appreciate differing viewpoints.
The second speaker was a physician and a founder of a modern sports medicine clinic. Throughout the talk, he strongly emphasized that in the healthcare industry clinical care and customer experience are more relevant than the technology behind it. During his talk, I also learned about new Apple medical record API. He equated learning about machine learning and AI in healthcare to learning about rocket science by villagers – which in his opinion is not that useful. I did not completely agree with his opinion, but I appreciated listening to his viewpoint. It was good to hear a different perspective which was not in line with every other opinion I hear around me.
After the two featured speakers, there was an open mic session where audience members could share their entrepreneurial learnings.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this event especially meeting and hearing from the entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry. Differing opinions about the use of tech by two featured speakers made the event really stand out for me. It also gave me the opportunity to learn about a completely different industry.
Fall semester is here and with it comes for me one of the most looked forward to components of the Tech MBA curriculum: Tech Solutions. Without the benefit of a summer internship associated with a traditional two-year MBA, I knew I’d have to prioritize in-semester opportunities to gain work experience. Stern Solutions is woven into the curriculum of the Tech MBA, offering students a chance to work on projects that enable them to design, build and launch technological solutions to solve real-world problems.
Having gone through design thinking and analytical workshops over the summer, the fall aspect of Stern Solutions is focused on delivering an actual technical product that addresses a problem facing a company today. After ranking a list of 13 potential projects to work on, I was assigned to a group with a fellow Tech MBA student as well a two-year MBA student. We are working with Infosys, a global leader in technology services and consulting, to develop a solution that utilizes machine learning techniques like natural language processing to help financial analysts pinpoint investment opportunities. I know that’s a lot of tech and finance buzzwords rolled into one sentence, but I could not be more excited to work on this project.
After being assigned a group and a company contact, it’s really up to us to drive the project forward. Like most successful projects, it all starts with a kick-off meeting. Last week, the team and I traveled to Infosys’ office, a stunning location on the 79th floor of One World Trade Center. One of the big advantages of going to business school in the heart of NYC is that most world-renowned companies have an office no more than a few subway stops away. After taking the blazingly fast elevator up, we got started in a conference room overlooking the city. I’ll be honest, it was a little intimidating when 5 Infosys consultants, including a senior partner, joined us for the meeting, but I quickly realized how friendly they all were, not to mention eager to help.
We clarified project objectives, deliverables and timelines, as well met additional Infosys employees we could use as resources on the project. For a minute I forgot I was even in grad school! But the meeting soon ended, and we left with a stronger understanding of what the client is expecting. Over the course of the semester, we will have weekly check-ins with Infosys, as well sit-downs with Stern faculty advisors to ensure we are on track. This will no doubt be a challenging project, but I can already tell it will be one of the most useful and rewarding aspects of the Tech MBA program. Check back here later in the fall for an update on what we actually managed to build!
Fall is the official kickoff of the recruiting season for MBA2s and us focused MBAs in the TechMBA program. You will constantly bump into fellow Sternies in the Kauffman center who are dressed up in formal attire attending various events put up by the Office of Career Development (OCD): corporate presentations, career fair, coffee chats, workshops and campus interviews. At this point in the fall semester, we have been focusing on events that help us get to know the potential employers and build a good relationship with them. These are great opportunities to talk to as many companies as possible and learn what they actually do which might be very different from what you thought they do. Through these events, I confirmed my interest in some companies, crossed some companies off of my target list, and added many companies that I never knew I would be excited about.
As I am getting started with job applications and interviews now, I am greatly thankful for all the preparation work we did over the summer, mainly through OCD’s IGNITE program. IGNITE is a series of workshops and online modules designed to build job searching skills such as resume writing, networking, developing pitches, building a LinkedIn profile and interviewing. As one of my classmates put it: “I always dreaded attending the IGNITE workshops but I walked away from each one learning so much!” These workshops usually start with a short presentation going over the background and techniques in the relevant topic followed by an interactive practice session. The round-table practices provide an intimate and safe environment for us to practice our communication skills and provide real-time constructive feedback from classmates and career coaches. Through hearing our classmate’s responses and stories it not only helps us in building a strong bond but also provides additional thoughts for us to consider on our own career development.
Another important component of the recruiting preparation is the individual coaching sessions with an OCD career coach. These are 30-minutes sessions dedicated to a specific topic we want to talk about related to the recruiting process, including resume feedback, cover letter feedback, pitch refinement, career goals and personal strength review, job search strategy etc. All the career coaches at OCD are knowledgeable, passionate and personable. If you are more comfortable in a one-on-one setting and want to seek more personalized feedback, definitely take advantage of these coaching appointments!
Lastly, every alumni and career coach I have talked to emphasized the importance of networking in the process of job searching or career development in general. I have heard repeatedly ‘use your student card and ask for coffee chats. You will be surprised how many people will respond to your request. It might seem a bit intimidating at the beginning, but sometimes you just have to try it and the response I’ve got so far is overwhelmingly positive. To search for potential networking candidates, I have asked for help from OCD career coaches, utilized LinkedIn alumni functionality, and cold-contacted people I have met through industry events I attended. You will be surprised how willing people are to help and to share their stories!
We returned to campus after a two-week break and it’s clear that Stern has a renewed sense of energy. Over the summer, the students on campus were limited to the one-year focused MBAs, which consisted of my Tech MBA colleagues and the Fashion and Luxury MBA cohort. While we spent most days in class or doing homework, we became close with the other focused program students and managed to fit in plenty of socializing between courses. As the fall rolled around, the campus began bustling. However, it’s cooling down outside and commuting in the city is much more enjoyable.
Our first day back on campus was met with an influx of second-year MBA students returning from their internships, first-year MBA students part of the traditional 2 year program, part-time students from the Langone program, and even some lingering undergraduates who found themselves roaming the halls of the MBA classrooms. While it may be slightly harder to find a quiet study spot in the student lounges, the combined energy of all of the students on campus together truly captures the experience of an MBA. During our first week, club kickoff meetings and social events started immediately, along with corporate recruiting.
Over the summer I applied to be a VP of the Stern Technology Association, a professional club with a focus on technology. The club helps students with or without tech backgrounds learn about the benefits of having an MBA in the tech world and offers several unique immersion treks and recruitment opportunities for all of its members. I was interviewed by the current club leaders and am now the proud Co-VP of Academics and Collaboration along with another student from the Tech MBA program. In addition to the club’s scheduled programming, we are focusing on integrating the Tech MBA students with the rest of the club to share knowledge on interviews, casing, and general preparation for recruiting. The diverse backgrounds of both Tech MBA students combined with the traditional MBA students allow for a unique blend of knowledge that everyone can learn from.
Speaking of recruiting, I’ve been attending my first corporate presentations hosted by the Office of Career Development, or OCD, as you may hear it called around campus. Companies spend about an hour introducing themselves speaking about their culture, working styles, and development opportunities available to MBA students. Following the presentations, the events are typically opened up for casual networking to learn more about specific opportunities or your own compatibility with the firm. If you are interested, be aware that the application deadlines come quickly, and then interview invitations are sent out. Traditional industries such as finance and consulting typically recruit in the fall semester, while tech-oriented jobs wait until spring to come on campus.
While the summer was spent focusing on academics without the distractions of clubs and recruiting, networking with the additional students has been another way to learn about what career paths are available to us. They are also receptive and friendly to the one-year focused MBA students and are happy to see the specialized programs in place. There are new opportunities for the entire academic community to come together and be a part of a more inclusive, diverse network at Stern and even more to do.
Somehow the summer semester is done and I’m ⅓ of the way through the Tech MBA. I’m about to leave NYC to travel for a week or two, and I still can’t believe it! A lot has changed in the past 3 months – I finished 10 classes, many career development and other sessions, and I got married in the middle of it (to a Stern alum, no less)! While it’s a lot to keep track of, I want to use this post to reflect on three things that stood out to me from this summer:
1. The experiential learning was exactly as claimed…an experience.
I feel incredibly grateful that we got to visit a wide variety of companies every Friday – from consulting and established banks to startups and VC funds. While I loved many of the visits, I also saw a few companies for whom I’d never want to work. However, even in the case of the ones I didn’t fall in love with, I really appreciated the opportunity to see their inner workings and start to understand *why* I didn’t want to work there. I can’t say I’ve quite yet honed in on what I want to do after the program, but I feel like I have a much, much better understanding of what to look for. Additionally, each visit provided perspective that made our classes and the business world in general make more sense, which brings me to #2…
2. I feel like I’ve gained significant knowledge and perspective in the last 3 months that helps make the world make sense.
I feel like I have an entirely refreshed perspective on how business works and what drives the economy. In the process of getting through the entire MBA core in 3 months, we compressed econ, finance, strategy, marketing, and many other classes into a small amount of time. This meant that I was forced to synthesize a lot in a short timeframe, but that also forced me to draw connections between the classes, our experiential learning, and what I see and read about in the world around me. All of a sudden, news articles involving financial markets and business strategy make a whole lot more sense.
I knew coming in that finance has long been a specialty at Stern (and I was a little intimidated by that), but I was blown away by the quality of my intro to finance course. All in all, I shouldn’t have worried at all about this summer, but there’s a lot coming this fall.
3. The unknown of this fall is exciting and a little bit scary, but the community we’ve built so is reassuring
The dynamics of school are going to change a lot in two weeks when the fall semester starts. There will be more than 10 times the number of students at Stern, and clubs and recruiting will get into full swing. While I can’t wait to meet more students who will be my classmates for the next two semesters, it’s definitely a change from our small tight-knit groups we’ve had this summer. That said, the community we built in our program shows me that we will continue to support each other, and if the broader Stern community is anything like what we built within the Tech MBA, we have a lot to look forward to.
There’s a lot more to say about the summer, but those are some top-of-mind thoughts. I’m looking forward to a couple weeks off, some travel, and getting into the swing of fall semester!
As part of our summer curriculum, we have the NYC Tech Immersion class, which is a blend of guest lectures, company visits and Stern solution group project. “What does this have to do with the title of this blog?”, you might have asked. Well, Marcus and the trading game were my favorite sessions during our visit to Goldman Sachs in Jersey City on Friday August 3rd as part of our class.
Before the visit I didn’t quite know what to expect besides the fact that GS is in the finance industry and that this was going to be one of the longer company visits (4 hours). Our afternoon started with a welcome note from Andrew Trout, the managing director of Human Capital Management, giving an overview of engineering at GS: 25% of the total global workforce and the mantra “challenge the status quo”. Then Sinead Strain from the FICC technology team talked to us about Marquee – the digital storefront for Goldman’s security division, and all the valuable lessons learned through the process of building Marquee, such as figuring out the proper business model, understanding the user persona and focusing on KPIs while creating the product.
Next we had Regina Lerit from the digital finance technology team talking to us about Marcus – their consumer banking product launched just a few years ago. Regina shared the growth story of Marcus with us, from the initial customer research, to the ideation and development of its MVP – personal loan platform, to its growth strategy. She even quizzed us about the name ‘Marcus’ and explained why this name was chosen. My favorite part of Regina’s presentation though, was how she explained the traditional waterfall vs. the agile framework of project development. She used our classmates sitting at a table as an example of multiple participants on the team and described the workflow of how they would improve the design of a water bottle had they been using waterfall vs agile methodology. The explanation was very clear and easily relatable. I think I am going to use the same way to explain the two frameworks in the future.
By this time, our class started to be a bit tired from all the presentations on a Friday afternoon: just in time for some highly interactive and fun activity – the trading game. Facilitated by two young and brilliant traders at GS, each group sitting at the table got to collectively decide the asset allocation among 4 stocks, the position we want to take (long vs short) and the opportunity to re-balance the allocation each quarter based on the macro-economic news and firm-specific news given in the simulated game. This got us all ignited and we even got to name our own team. From Fine-Ants, to Goldman Stacks, we got very creative. We had to discuss, calculate and decide how much we wanted to invest in each stock. We love to talk and our recent accounting and finance classes prepped us well. We had a lot of heated discussion on what the economic news meant, whether we should go long or short a company and how much to invest in each company. In the end every team was able to beat the average market return and the Goldman Stacks team made a whopping 60+% return over the course of 4 quarters (they had a CFA on their team so the other teams were playing with a competitive disadvantage)! This was before we learned the portfolio theory and importance of diversification in our finance class. I imagine our investment decisions will be different now.
The visit concluded with a Q&A panel with a few Stern Alumni on their experience at GS and a networking session with the panel. Everyone had a great time and we of course didn’t waste the amazing skyline view of Manhattan from Jersey City! (Photo credit: Isabel Izquierdo)
Everyone told me that my classmates would be one of the best parts of business school. While I was already very excited to be moving to New York and to make new friends, I have been blown away by everyone’s warmth and friendliness. Since our Tech MBA program in small (only 32 of us this year!) we all seemed to know each other by day 2. Additionally, we’re lucky to be spending the summer at Stern with students in the Fashion & Luxury MBA program, so we are able to meet, work with, and make friends with another group of individuals who have fairly different professional backgrounds from our own.
While our class tends to go to happy hour once or twice a week (the neighborhood around the campus has numerous options) here are few other ways I’ve gotten to meet my classmates outside of Kaufman Management Center:
Finding new lunch spots: Exploration of the restaurants in the neighborhood is a great way to start appreciating our location and getting to know people. With the growing LunchTech scene (yes, I might coin that term), we seem to find new sign up deals every week from some new app that offers us $3 lunches. We are likely destroying that young startup’s customer acquisition costs, but eating good food along the way!
Biking, running, and other outdoor pursuits: While it’s 92° outside today in NYC, and I won’t be setting foot outside besides to get to and from the subway, I’ve spent several Saturday mornings on long bike rides with classmates. As someone from New England, I was skeptical of NYC biking and outdoors, but it turns out there are some great ways to quickly bike out of the city onto beautiful back roads, and great running paths along the rivers. These adventures have provided a break from the noise of the city, and continue to be a great way to get to know my classmates – what better way to do it than while you’re all wearing spandex biking gear?
Dumpling tours: Yes, an actual class activity. It turns out that the leader of NYC’s top dumpling tour is a classmate. He’s a highly rated AirBnB experiences guide, and knows all the spots to hit in Chinatown. We’re lucky to have such diversely skilled classmates.
This year is flying by. I’m a solid 3 weeks into the Tech MBA at Stern, and it’s time for finals! It’s crazy to think that I’m already almost done with two of my classes.
Since classes are on my mind, I’ll use this first post to talk a bit about my initial impressions of the academic experience at Stern in the Tech MBA. Though I was thrilled to be coming back to school, I spent the months leading up to May dreading the idea of sitting in a lecture hall. At work I was that annoying coworker who would get up and start pacing around conference rooms 10 minutes into a meeting. How on earth would I sit still for hours of classes? Luckily, it turns out my fears were unfounded. Here are a few aspects of the program that have helped:
The classes are highly interactive – but not in a scary way. It was easy to let my mind wander during undergrad differential equations class. I can’t do that at Stern. The professors expect active participation, but not the type where you’re just regurgitating numbers or facts – they want us to share our experiences and opinions. Given the diversity of our class, this allows us to all draw from our range of backgrounds, experiences, and failures. This leads to reason #1 why I’ve been able to sit still in Stern classes: They are engaging and participatory in a way that makes you want to jump into the conversation.
Second, I quickly learned that our course content is highly relevant and thoughtful. In an era when issues such as workplace gender discrimination and corporate ethics are far from solved, I am glad to see us facing some of these issues head on. When I saw a class called “Leadership” on my schedule, I figured I was in for a lot of fluff. The first time Professor Nate Pettit opened his mouth however, I instantly knew my assumption was wrong. We don’t talk about how to give the punchiest PowerPoint presentation – instead, we focus on issues like barriers to communication, cultivating positive culture, leading effective change, and how to have difficult conversations (yes, he makes you practice!).
So that leads to reason #2 why I can sit through classes: the professors are astoundingly thoughtful about why material is important to creating strong leaders, and focus on content that resonates with our past experiences and future aspirations.
Lastly, Stern is an oasis away from a deluge of work emails. I am taking notes on paper for the first time in probably 10 years. I still can’t read my own handwriting, but putting away the laptop, putting my iPhone on do not disturb, and focusing on all the things that will further me professionally brings me to reason #3 I can sit through classes: I’m never going to get this opportunity again, and so far the program is filling the exact gaps I came here to address.
While you might be able to find the official class profile on the Stern website, or this article about a couple members from the inaugural one-year specialized MBA classes, you are probably still wondering, who are they?
Well, it’s hard to describe ‘us’ in a universal way. We are a pretty global group: out of the 32 of us, we have 8 different nationalities and speak at least 11 different languages (I mean, natural languages like English or Spanish, although I am sure if you count the computer languages we know, it’s going to be at least that many plus 10 more as well). Although most of us had work experience before joining Stern, our professional experience can’t be more diverse: we have consultants, bankers, data scientists, software engineers, accountants, product managers, entrepreneurs, career coaches, game designers, relationship managers, talent agents…. The list goes on and I hope you get the gist 😉
You might have noticed from the list above that some of us come from technical backgrounds and some of us come from business backgrounds. One thing we have in common, though, is that we all have a passion for the tech industry. Worried about your rusty math skills? Stern offers math prep course for this program. Don’t know what “pandas” mean besides the cute animals in China? Dealing with Data, a tech core class built into the summer curriculum, will walk you through that (Stern does assume you have some basic programming knowledge coming to the class and will send many coding prep resources prior to the orientation). Plus there are class projects which promotes even more learning from your classmates with more technical backgrounds.
Don’t think the techies will be able to just fly through this program either (which I think is a good thing, otherwise why pay the tuition to learn something you already know?) The summer is loaded with business core classes such as Leadership, Marketing, Strategy and Economics (click here for a more comprehensive description of the curriculum). For introverts coming from STEM backgrounds like me, walking into the first class was a bit intimidating not knowing what to expect. The minute Professor Pettit, our leadership professor, opened the class with a question, our business-versed classmates started to chime in on the case study. It took me a while to warm up to the atmosphere but eventually I started to feed off from the energy in the classroom: everyone has something to contribute and we are very supportive of each other, even when we disagree. Three weeks into the program, I may still be a bit reluctant to raise my hand when Professor Foudy asks for volunteers in his Economics class, but I am a lot more comfortable to raise my hand if I have some ideas I would like to contribute than I was when the program first started.
Summer has been pretty quiet at Stern while all the 2 year MBAs are interning and we have pretty hefty course load (18 credits!). Nevertheless, you might still catch us hitting the happy hour scene with our Fashion & Luxury MBA friends (we agreed on ‘flux’ for their short name) around campus. We are hard to miss. If you see 40 people with Stern backpacks walking into a bar near Washington square park, all happily chatting with each other, occasionally taking a selfie or group pictures, that’s us! Networking is an important aspect of the MBA experience, right? 😊
Hopefully that gives you a bit of idea about who we are and what we have been up to so far. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our wonderful AdComs or us student bloggers!
Why do an MBA? That is the question everyone I met in the last year has asked me: I am 32 years old (so older than most of the MBA candidates), I have two Masters Degrees from good French universities, and I had a job that I was passionate about.
My only answer: because I want more! Not more money like most people seem to think, but more experiences, more options, more adventures. Because YES ! Having an MBA open doors, especially in the US market. I started to realize it when I was applying for jobs in the US market and in every single description of the jobs I was interested in, was the mention: “ MBA a plus.”
But I also knew that I did not want to do a regular MBA. I did not want to be away from the professional world for two years. I was at the age and had the professional experience where I could apply for part-time EMBAs, but I wanted the experience of the full-time program. Moreover, I knew that I wanted to work in the Tech industry, and the Tech world is moving so fast that it forces you to be flexible and to adapt. So I started to look online at MBA options, and I found that a one year MBA program was just created by Stern. That was just a perfect fit.
And what is more exciting than being part of the inaugural class of the NYU Tech MBA? Being the first class gives you the opportunity to shape the model for future generations. It is also fascinating to be an agent of change because one-year-MBAs are a new offer created by business schools to answer the demands of companies and students alike. I can say that I feel as though I am a part of a startup experience and that’ s exciting!
I just fell in love with the NYU Tech MBA program. It gave me the option to get a degree from one of the best business schools worldwide, live in my favorite city in the world and be part of one of the leading innovative programs the MBA world has seen in the last decade.
So I decided to do it! But what I did not realize was how hard it would be to get in. I was used to being an excellent student in France. I was the class president every year with great grades … but facing the GMAT and this entirely new way to think (especially the multiple choice questions) was more than challenging! But I did it, and I won’t share with you how many times I took the GMAT but let’s just say that at the end the employee center knew my name.
So when I received the acceptation Letter from NYU, I was ecstatic!
Little to say that it was just the beginning of an intense journey: getting my student visa, moving across the country (I lived in San Francisco), and leaving my job were challenging tasks, but the help I received from the NYU Offices made it almost effortless.
And so on May 10th, 2018, the day before the International Student Orientation day, I was excited to begin my MBA journey and to meet my classmates. At the same time, I was nervous about getting back to school, meeting my classmates and this whole new world in front of me. However, after 5 minutes in the classroom, I already made five jokes with the others students in my class, we all laughed, and I felt at home.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here… we kicked off our NYC Immersion summer project with Citi Ventures. Over the next few weeks, our cohort will be split out into small groups to brainstorm solutions to some of the city’s biggest problems. While we won’t be able to implement our solutions as part of our coursework in the next few weeks, the goal is to use design thinking methods to identify relevant problems and start quantifying them. Once we have identified a problem we would like to pursue, we will explore tackling it from a holistic, tech perspective and distill the business risks and opportunities into a presentation.
We met with thought leaders in the “smart city” space to help us identify unforeseen challenges in our ideas and to talk through current efforts underway that may help or hinder our work. New York, like any major metropolitan area, is full of opportunities for improvement. Cities are controlled by local governments and are often slower to implement major technology improvements primarily due to their heavy focus on tight budgets. My group was directed to focus on the government as our primary “customer.” That being the case, we’re exploring the ways in which we can create sustainable solutions that last for many years and are easy to sell to stakeholders with clear, quantifiable results.
The idea of a “smart city” sounds new and trendy, especially with projects in the works like Google’s Sidewalk Labs, however, cities have been undergoing massive technological improvements for generations. Nevertheless, this is the first time in modern history we’ve been able to combine the efforts of urban innovation with the internet. We are at a turning point in time when we can collect vast amounts of data, even if we don’t know what we’re going to do with it quite yet. This data includes metrics on the basics such as temperature, humidity, and air pollution, but also expands to micro levels including street-level noise and light pollution, traffic flows, and consumer behavior. Collecting this type of data today will allow data scientists in the short-term future to analyze this data to predict future trends, along with what kind of impact we can have on it. Successfully predicting the human impact on city-wide efforts allows us to focus our efforts on the most pressing tasks at hand.
As part of our NYC Immersion summer project, we are exploring some of the ways in which major cities are starting this process and how it will shape the future of business. While the primary consumers and collectors of this data are inherently municipal and public governments, the private sector is beginning to fund projects in the effort to solve societal problems with innovative, tech solutions while building positive brand associations. We are trusting companies to use this data to help solve everyday problems that ultimately benefit society and it will be fascinating to see how this plays out as new solutions are built.
My group is excited to kick off this phase of the summer project and we will be finalizing a version-controlled project charter this week. We have approximately 5 weeks left in the summer semester to complete this project and are looking forward to presenting our proposal to professors, business leaders, and team members at Citi Ventures.
Back in early June when Professor Anne-Laure Fayard introduced the concept of ethnographicresearch in her design thinking workshop for our NYC immersion class, was the first time I had even ever heard of the word. With English not being my first language, I had to look up what that word meant. I wasn’t the only one in my class new to the term either. So we had a great conversation with Professor Fayard on what it means, how it is typically done, and most importantly, why we should do it. First of all, here is my interpretation of ethnographic research:
“Popularized by anthropologists, ethnographic research is a qualitative method to study people’s behavior in their own real-life environment.”
In the business setting, ethnographic research is typically used to study customer needs and customer behavior. Over the last two and half months, we have heard so many times the importance of product-market fit. Whether in marketing class, strategy class, in speaking with entrepreneurs we met during our visits to various start-up incubators, or during the kick-off of our summer stern solution project, time and time again, we heard the number one reason a start-up or new product fails is that no customer wants to buy it. We have heard stories of hugely successful products coming from customer research, far from what the business originally intended, such as Swiffer sweeper (can you imagine the original product in-mind was a new floor cleaning detergent?). We have also heard stories of failed products due to the disconnect between customer needs and product such as PlayPump (a pump to be deployed in Africa that harnesses the energy of children playing on a carousel and uses it to pump water out of the ground).
How do we conduct ethnographic research then? There are two typical ways: ethnographic observation and ethnographic interviews. For the observation, one would go in the ‘field’ or an organization and watch people’s natural behavior in the environment. During our design thinking workshop, our group decided to address the walk-ability aspect of mobility in NYC as a smart city. The observation entailed us going to Astor place near Stern, watching how pedestrians navigated the subway exits, sidewalks or intersections, and summarizing common pattern of people’s behavior in their ‘natural’ state. We generated two insights from the observation. First, when people are lost at the subway station exit, they just follow the crowd without checking signs or maps for the proper route. Second, when pedestrians run into unexpected constructions they tend to cross the street in the middle of a block to avoid the construction. As it turned out in our ethnographic research, the top pain point for pedestrians in NYC is not uneven pavement, not accessibility for strollers or wheelchairs at the intersection, but construction ! None of our team members anticipated that in our brainstorming session!
The other type of ethnographic research is through interviews. This is definitely more challenging from our experience as we needed to find random users who are willing to talk to us. For our entrepreneurship class assignment, we had to interview twitter users, persuade them to download the twitter app if they didn’t have it installed on their phone already, and ask for permission to take a video of the phone or computer screen as they interacted with the app or the website. Since classmates are not allowed to be a study subject (that would be too easy!), my teammate Jim and I took a field trip to the World Trade Center and tried to find random strangers to participate in our interview. About 50% of the people said straight out loud they don’t want to talk to us. I was surprised this wasn’t higher, but I guess the student card helped (more on that later). About 30% of the people were willing to talk to us about their social media usage but not willing to download the app or let us video them using it, and the rest, about 20% became our amazing interviewees for the class project. Through listening to their description of how they use twitter and observing their body languages, we were able to see some patterns of how twitter is or is not meeting the needs of users. Stay tuned for our finished class presentation on this topic!
It’s been a remarkably busy summer and it’s continuing to fly by. Summer in New York is certainly toasty, but we were lucky enough to get a 4-day weekend to cool off. A colleague in the Tech MBA program recently posted the following update on LinkedIn that really put things in perspective:
As of today, we have completed 6 weeks of Stern’s 1-year Tech MBA. During this time, we completed 5 courses, 30 assignments, 5 group projects, 5 immersions, 5 presentations and countless readings.
The volume of work that we’re completing over the summer semester is not trivial. We’re cruising through 18 credits and learning about several subjects including finance, leadership, strategy, big data, and economics. While we’re only scratching the surface of some of these subjects, the fall and spring semesters offer the opportunity to dive deeper into disciplines and specializations that we’re passionate about. I’m really enjoying this high-speed approach to learning. The classes are long, and the homework stream is constant, but it’s amazing what Stern professors can compress into six or twelve 3-hour classes when they are asked to.
We’ll be switching to a more “normal” grad school schedule once the fall semester begins. This means that classes will be taught through the entire semester and the pace of each class will be less accelerated. That being the case, other on- and off-campus activities will start gaining steam. The 2-year students will be back on campus from their internships (or just starting school at Stern) so the social outings are set to increase tenfold. Clubs will be packed with new members and the student government will be back together coordinating events. In addition to this, recruiting for specific industries begins in the fall and I’ll be seeing more of my classmates in their best interview attire between classes.
A large part of business school at Stern is spent meeting and networking with the NYU community including other students, alumni, and professors. While I was searching for the perfect MBA program, a constant theme was the quality of the network that I would have access to. I knew Stern had a large network, but I didn’t understand just how welcoming it would be. Connecting with the NYU community is encouraged regardless of who you’re reaching out to. From the first day of orientation it’s embedded into the culture that we are a strong community that supports each other during our time at Stern and long after we graduate. Apart from forming friendly connections within our cohort, we’re encouraged to reach out to Sternies who may be able to help us learn more about where we want to be or what we want to do, whether they are students in the other programs or recent alumni at our target companies.
Before I started at Stern, I was reluctant to actively network. I did what was required to thrive in my career, but rarely stepped out of my comfort zone. I felt somewhat awkward reaching out to people in a strictly professional manner, sometimes secretly hoping they could help me further my career. I assumed that if done incorrectly that it would come off as desperate, inauthentic, or self-promoting. My assumptions were quickly challenged – everyone I’ve reached out to has been thrilled to help me navigate the next year and upcoming recruiting season.
What I have learned is that networking is ultimately a two-way street. When I put myself in the shoes of a prospective mentor or if I were called upon to help a student, I would happily do so. Many working professionals enjoy sharing their experiences and relish helping students avoid making mistakes that they may have made. Often times, the advice they have to offer can only be given by someone who has lived through a specific unique experience. They will likely also be curious about what we are learning at Stern and how the landscape of MBAs is changing in real time.
Networking is a major piece of the business school experience and a large network offers opportunity. However, filtering through a large list of contacts to find the right mentors is up to you. Once you have identified who you would like to meet, whether it be through a school’s database or LinkedIn, reaching out to them in a clear and professional manner to ensure that you can create a mutually beneficial relationship is the next step. I’ve already made several connections through NYU and plan to continue to do so until graduation and beyond.
NYU Stern might not strike you as a business school with a strong component in Entrepreneurship. A month into our Tech MBA program, we were astonished by the amount of resources available on campus for entrepreneurship – it felt a bit overwhelming at some time, in a good way though. Last month we visited the Digital Future Lab in Brooklyn and the Leslie E-lab right next door to Stern. The creativity, collaboration and synergy flowing at these places are amazing.
First, let me tell you a little bit more about these two labs. Digital Future Lab is one of the four future labs started by NYU Tandon school of engineering, the City of New York, NYSERDA, and the New York Economic Development Corporation. With the funding from the city and state government, digital future lab is external facing – helping companies in the NY community by leveraging the resources at NYU. This incubator has various programs that help start-up companies to secure funding and grow to about the size of 50 employees. On the other hand, Leslie E-lab is the internal facing NYU entrepreneur hub – helping current NYU students and faculties across all NYU schools to bring their ideas to real life. The E-lab offers a wide variety of opportunities to foster entrepreneurship and cross-disciplinary collaboration, including startup schools, NYU entrepreneur festival, Healthcare Makerthon, 1-on-1 coaching and mentoring, Startup Sprints and Summer Launchpad, just to name a few.
During our visits to the two labs we met with Craig Wilson, the General Manager of the Digital Future Lab, and Frank Rimalovski, the Executive Director of the Leslie E-lab, together with several founders at these two labs. Through our discussion with these panelists, one important lesson for every start-up or even product development in an established company is the importance of initial customer research. Apparently 75% of the venture capital backed start-up companies ended up failing, mostly because they built something which customers can not benefit from. This tied closely to the design thinking workshop we did with Professor Anne-Laure Fayard a week ago. We got to do some exercise with customer research ourselves during the workshop. There were many assumptions we made during our brain storming session that turned out to be wrong after interviewing potential customers. Extensive customer research at the beginning of a project is something I will definitely apply to our summer project and my future career!
Another thing mentioned repeatedly during the visits was how difficult it is for start-ups to hire the right employee. It is very time consuming and costly to find the right talent. On the flip side, to be able to work at a start-up, you must be very passionate about the mission of the company and be clear about what you can offer the founder: building the product, bringing in funding, or saving time for the founder. If founding a company is not the kind of entrepreneurship experience you desired, maybe joining a start-up as an early member is another way to explore the start-up scene. To foster this match making between early companies and passionate entrepreneurs, there is a bulletin board at Leslie E-lab with postings from companies needing talent or individuals looking to join a start-up. Make sure you check it out next time you pass through the E-lab, just like some of my Tech MBA classmates did!
I have been in the NYC Tech MBA inaugural class for almost a month, and it has been a tremendous and intense discovery.
However going back to school turned out to be harder than expected. When I envisioned my MBA experience, I anticipated the classes but not the homework, and the time constraints. It is not my first time experiencing the “going back to school effect” as, in between my 2 Masters Degrees in France, I worked for a year, and I decided to go back to school to obtain an academic degree in the area I am passionate about, International Business.
However, it is the first time in 10 years that I have left the work environment altogether, and it is a massive switch in my life. The first, and obvious consequence, is that I do not have a paycheck waiting for me at the end of the month. It is changing the way I organize my life, and I cut back a huge part of not highly necessary activities …. like eating out every day of the week. We actually have an essential portion of the students that are making their lunch every day!
Second, I knew that going back to school would be a shock in term of work schedule and theoretical learning, and I have to say that the shock is stronger than expected. I am very excited to learn and go to school every day, but the capacity to be focused without any screen in front of me for 3 hours is a new and challenging experience. I also used to travel a lot in my job, so I sometimes miss the feeling of being in hundreds of places at the same time.
But the most important point is that I forgot what means to learn every day about subjects in which I am not always familiar. In our first month, the entire class had to take five classes as part of our business core curriculum. Among other courses we had:
18 hours of leadership where we learned seemingly simple but in reality very difficult things like how to be an effective listener
18 hours of economics where we studied the structures of supply and demand as well as offer and price setting
24 hours of Dealing with Data where we mastered SQL, Python, as well as had an introduction to API and data visualization.
It is dense and intense, it makes us think, and it forces us to change the way we used to work. We need to adapt to different people, from different backgrounds in a short period. It is a compelling experience that will change the way I work, and change the way I see the world.
Moreover, I can reflect on several situations I went through when I worked, and I can always think about the actual use I could use for every class.
It makes it more comfortable that we are a small class (32), and it feels that Stern is only for us this summer. The buildings are almost empty, so we feel a sense of ownership, and it allows us to take time to discover the place. And everyone in the academic offices and administration are highly supportive to help us navigate this new chapter in our life!
When I first started exploring my MBA options, the Tech MBA at Stern stood out to me for a variety of reasons. One of the most prominent reasons was the immersion courses that take place in New York and Silicon Valley. We’ve only completed four full weeks of classes and have already had the opportunity to meet with several key players in the New York Tech ecosystem. (We’ve also finished two classes already, time is flying!)
Every Friday we sit down with business leaders and learn about their place in the tech industry. Our class gets to see a day in the life at prominent consulting firms, incubators, tech companies, and the like. Business leaders invite our class to their offices and present to us about the work that they do and the clients they work for. After each visit, I find myself having conversations with my classmates about which career paths feel the most desirable for us and if our post-graduation goals have changed. Oftentimes, even if our current goals are aligned with our original business school intentions, the new perspectives on tech in New York are invaluable in exploring what other opportunities may exist. An MBA from Stern is an impressive credential to add to a resume and meeting industry leaders has proven that new doors are being opened for all of us.
Our first visit was to General Catalyst, a venture capital firm that invests in tech companies. Our second visit was to Deloitte Digital, the firm’s digital arm. The third was an exercise in Design Thinking with Anne-Laure Fayard, a professor from the Tandon School of Engineering where we explored methods of design thinking and ended the day with prototypes of solutions to improve the lives of commuters in New York. Finally, just last Friday, we learned about how many entrepreneurial resources there are for Stern students who are planning on starting a venture during or after their MBA.
The opportunity to ask questions about what it’s like to work inside and outside of these firms and how they integrate within the city’s environment is a great way to go beyond the classroom. Seeing our lessons from classes put into practice by forward-thinking companies connects our academic experiences with the real world. The more we explore and network our way through the city, the more we find NYU connections and opportunities. Somehow, it’s like NYU has found a way to integrate themselves within every part of the city, they’re everywhere!
Participating in this immersion-style course as part of the Tech MBA has provided our class with opportunities to learn about the New York tech ecosystem, network with industry experts and leaders, and explore different career opportunities in the New York area and beyond. Throughout the rest of the summer, we’ll be starting our work with Citi Ventures to continue to innovate and build new solutions for the city’s challenges. All of these opportunities were strictly available to us thanks to our location in the city, and I’m happier than ever to be here.