Carina is a full-time MBA candidate in NYU Stern’s Andre Koo Tech MBA program, specializing in Product Management and Strategy. Prior to Stern, Carina lived in Boca Raton, FL and has 6 years of experience in account management at a hospitality tech company. Upon graduation, she wants to utilize her passion for great UX and years of customer-facing experience within the technology space to pursue a product management role.
Applying to business school can be daunting. There’s a lot to do between preparing for the GMAT/GRE, keeping track of the various application components, and juggling everyday life! You spend a lot of time in self-reflection: What are your goals? What have you accomplished professionally? What direction do you want your career to take? To help you kick off this journey, here are my top 10 tips for prospective candidates when applying to business school:
- Do Your Research
An MBA is an investment in your future self, it’s important that you take the time to do research about the program you are applying for to ensure that it’s the right fit for you. What electives interest you? What clubs would you be interested in joining? Does the program curriculum align with helping you achieve your post-MBA goals?
Take your time to walk through the Stern Tech MBA website to read about the specific components of the program, watch videos and check out resources like this blog to read about student experiences.
When doing my own research, the Tech MBA program stood out to me because it provided exactly what I was looking for: a one-year program in a city, a strong tech-focused curriculum, and resources that would help me develop the skills to transition into product management. For me, the reading about the tech-focused curriculum with classes like Tech Product Management and Dealing with Data combined with several experiential learning opportunities helped solidify that the Tech MBA made the most sense for me.
- Attend Admissions events
The Admissions team hosts a variety of events throughout the application season. One of my favorite events I attended was the mock application session. It helped me tremendously as I worked through the application and set a clear expectation as to what the AdCom was looking for! Another favorite was an event organized by the Stern Women In Business club – hearing the passion and excitement from the students about their time at Stern really helped solidify my decision to apply. Keep an eye out for Stern club-hosted events that align with your interests to get a feel for the student body at Stern.
Coffee Chats are another student-hosted event that provides you with the opportunity to hear about their experience and ask questions!
- Reflect on Your Why
Research and attending events helps you craft your “why” behind why you’re applying to NYU. But it’s also important to know why you want an MBA, why Stern, and why, specifically, a focused one-year program. This will not only help you with your essays, but your interview as well!
- Ask Questions
Based on your goals, your research and your why for business school – ask any dire questions you may have! Utilize Coffee Chats, Admissions events or even reach out to a current student. Clubs are also a great resource to learn more about the student experience. This all works towards helping you make an informed decision and crafting your message throughout your application.
I leveraged the Coffee Chats I attended to ask questions about students pursuing product management roles to see how they shaped their Stern experience. The students I talked to not only gave me ideas about clubs to join and electives to consider but also explained how specific required courses supported the building skills key to pursuing product management.
- Be Authentically You
You’ll see throughout Stern admissions events and the websites the mention of “EQ” – how you represent your emotional intelligence is so important and the best way to demonstrate that is to authentically represent yourself. The best essays and answers are the ones that truly represent who you are as a person – your passions, your goals, your experience, your personality. This is seen throughout your application components, but nothing can duplicate the uniqueness you demonstrated in your Pick 6 essay! Take the time to brainstorm how you can best represent this throughout your application and do not stress about what you think the admissions team wants to see!
- Your contribution to Stern
What clubs do you want to join and how do you see yourself getting involved? How can you leverage your previous experience and contribute to your class? The Stern community? What resources do you strive to utilize while at Stern? Community is such a large part of Stern, I can say with certainty that it is the greatest part of my experience so far.
The summer semester of the Tech MBA dives into the business core and technology core classes, it is intense, but it was also a time where the Tech MBA community leaned on each other to succeed. There was always a fellow Sternie willing to spend extra time talking through a topic if that meant their knowledge could help you develop a better understanding – I saw this throughout the summer as we jumped from classes like Dealing with Data to Finance. Outside of class, we are always arranging social gatherings. Moving to New York and starting business school was certainly a transition, but this community has tremendously impacted my experience so far!
- How will you benefit from your time at Stern?
Beyond an MBA degree in hand, how will the Tech MBA at Stern help you achieve your goals?
In the short time I have been at Stern, I’m already working toward goals I have set for myself: continue to build technical skills, explore areas of tech I’m unfamiliar with and prepare for recruiting for a product manager role. This summer, I continued developing SQL and Python skills during Dealing with Data, and I’m excited to take Data Visualization this fall to continue developing data-related skills. While the Fall semester has just started, the Stern Tech Association has already begun hosting helpful sessions like a knowledge management session about full-time recruiting for tech roles and highlighting job postings in their weekly newsletter.
- Organization is Key
Create a plan to ensure you have all required paperwork, letters of recommendation, essays and your application completed and submitted by or before the deadline you are aiming for! Choose a deadline and use that as your guide as you work to complete all application requirements. I personally found maintaining a Google Sheet and calendar alerts helped keep me on track! Make sure to ask your recommenders with plenty of time before the deadline so that they’re not rushed, and allow yourself plenty of time to write the best version of your essays.
- Ask for a second set of eyes
As I finalized my essays, one of the most helpful things I did was ask friends I trusted to read through them. This helped me catch anything I may have missed, and they provided good insight as well! As you work through this process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and a fresh perspective is so helpful! Whenever I got stuck, I found brainstorming with someone and talking it out helped as well. Lean on your community!
- Brag about yourself
This is your time to show everything that’s great about you! Show it off with pride and confidence.