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.