Reflections from Spring Semester

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. 

Days 1-90

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.