Building Community in the Early Stages of the Tech MBA Program

Derek WuDerek Wu is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Product Management. Prior to Stern, he was working as a Machine Learning Engineer at CapitalOne. Post-MBA, Derek plans to pursue technology strategy at a tech company, and stays involved at Stern through the Stern Technology Association, golfing and traveling.

The days leading up to orientation were full of excitement. I had just moved to New York from Northern Virginia, so I was not only exploring a brand new city, but also looking forward to meeting new people in my cohort. Even before the program started, it was easy to see that my new classmates were eager to make new friends and build a strong community within our cohort. 

From my experience in the program, there are two main things that helped our class come together as a community. First, everyone in the program is eager to learn and bought into the one year experience. That energy helped create a strong bond within our cohort as everyone had a similar goal and was invested in the class and each other everyday. 

Secondly, the Tech MBA summer is an intensive semester. Students take 19.5 credits and cover many fundamental topics such as accounting, finance, economics, strategy and others. This means we cover complex material very quickly and change classes every few weeks. As a diverse set of individuals, we all lean on each other’s expertise and work together to get through all of the classes. Each course spans about three weeks, so you run through material extremely quickly. It’s a truly unique experience that brings everyone together. Also, during the summer a majority of Stern students in other programs are away from campus, so it feels like you and your classmates have the whole campus to yourselves. In these long days, you’ll get the chance to collaborate closely with all your peers on group projects or problem sets. Soon you’ll be hanging out at the Matto coffee shop in between classes and sending each other the best finance or accounting memes. 

Looking back, I was nervous about starting my MBA. As a previous engineer, I was coming in with almost no experience in terms of business curriculum and knew no one in the city. Being together and basically being the only class of students on campus for the whole summer has really helped build community. As a Tech MBA cohort, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie due to our shared experience. During orientation NYU gave us name tags, but we didn’t need them after only a few days.  Now, only two short months later, we have weekly basketball games together, happy hours, Central Park picnics, and many more summer memories that tie us together as a community. I am so excited to see the way this community continues to grow even stronger over the rest of the year!

Derek with friends at a sports event

Derek Wu and friends at a basketball event

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