One month in the program, time flies!

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!


The Tech MBA: An Immersive Experience

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.

Moving to New York

When I was researching which MBA programs I wanted to apply to, picking the right location was a top priority for me. I narrowed down my destinations to cities on the east coast and New York quickly became a strong contender. As I was starting my applications, NYU announced their new Tech MBA program. As I learned more about the program it was clear to me that it was the right fit for my professional goals. Since starting the program just three weeks ago, I’m glad to say my decision has been validated and I’m thankful to have been accepted. One of the best reasons to attend Stern is its prime location in New York and the growing tech ecosystem surrounding the school.

I had never lived in a city as large as New York but adjusting to the lifestyle was fairly straightforward. However, finding a place to live in New York is tough. The rental real estate market is competitive, and apartments move quickly. Many of my classmates used brokers to find a place to live, but I was determined to find an apartment without one. (This also saved me paying about a month’s rent to a realtor to unlock the door…) While searching for apartments, I was very impressed with Streeteasy and its ability to sort by “no-fee” listings. I ended up with a killer apartment in Washington Heights. The commute is a little bit longer than I’d like it to be, but the rent is a bargain, and the view of the George Washington Bridge is phenomenal.

If you ultimately choose Stern for your MBA, I highly recommend leaving your current job a few weeks early to adjust to life in New York. Depending on where you’re coming from and familiarity with the city, the adjustment can take a few weeks and you’ll need to learn where the closest places are to do laundry, shop for groceries, or catch the subway.

It would be an understatement to say I was pleasantly surprised with the inaugural Tech MBA class. We organized a quick meet up at an indoor beer garden before orientation began and got to know each other and learn about our past roles and future goals. A few days later during our formal orientation, I met some more of the smartest, most humble group of classmates I could have asked for. Stern prides itself for assessing emotional intelligence as part of their application process – and it shows. We also got to meet several current students in the full-time 2-year program and alumni who worked in our target industries, all within the first 48 hours of being in the same room. I can’t wait to see how the power of Stern’s network shapes my career in the future. The collaborative nature is ingrained on our first day of orientation and has a ripple effect throughout the entire school.

I’d be lying if I said reading textbooks and doing problem sets was “fun” in the traditional sense. The accelerated pace of the Tech MBA program will inundate you with plenty of pre-work to complete before each class begins and homework between classes. Each class has been twice a week, three hours each, and require your full presence and engagement. However, if you weren’t prepared to study hard and truly learn business concepts through immersion, you wouldn’t be considering Stern to begin with.

The flip side of this is great. While Sternies work hard, they play hard, too. Our class has organized plenty of outings since we arrive in New York, ranging from rooftop barbecues to happy hours after a long day (or week) of classes. We’ve also already visited a few big players in the New York tech industry, I’ll be sure to detail those experiences in my future blog posts – stay tuned!