Work hard. Play hard. I think this is a motto that most MBA students can identify with. While of course there is plenty of work and studying to accomplish in order to earn the degree, an MBA is likely the last time in your life you won’t have a morning commute and boss to report to – and you should take advantage! There are plenty of opportunities to unwind and have some fun throughout the MBA program at Stern, from the weekly Thursday night “Beer Blast”, to the Welcome Back Boat Cruise around Manhattan. But perhaps nothing can match the spring break treks led by some of the amazing affinity clubs at Stern. This year, we had options of heading to one of the following school-sponsored trip locations: Israel, Vietnam, Tanzania, New Zealand, Japan, Himalayas, and Patagonia. After working hard through the first half of the spring semester, the break finally arrived, and I and many of my classmates left New York City and jetted off to different corners of the world.
I attended the trek to Israel, and it exceeded even my lofty expectations. First off, it’s a great opportunity to meet other two-year MBA students. It can be easy to stay confined to your fellow Tech MBA students during your year at Stern, but between classes and events like these treks, there are ample opportunities to grow your network outside of 1-year classmates. After a long flight, we wasted no time in exploring and learning about the country. Throughout the trek, we were joined by a professional Israeli tour guide, who shared his knowledge about the thousands of years of history in the country. Some of the historical stops in the trip included: The Old City of Jerusalem, the Yad Va’Shem Holocaust Museum, a sunrise hike and tour of Masada (seen in the photo above), excursions through Caper Naum and Nazareth, and finally a tour through the old town of Jaffa. But it wasn’t all history – through visits to an Israeli Air Force base, and lectures from a former military Colonel as well as a business CEO, we were able to learn about all the forces shaping Israel and the Middle East today, and how we might want to keep them in mind as future global business leaders. And finally, what would be a successful spring break trip without some fun: from beach parties on the shores of the Dead Sea, to ATV rides through northern Israel, to nights out in world-famous Tel Aviv clubs, this trek offered something for everyone.
For now, it’s back to school and homework, but these last few months of the final semester will undoubtedly offer lots more opportunities for fun and chances to make even more lasting connections with classmates who will be part of your network for life.
Fall semester in the Tech MBA program comes with new classes and friends, endless fun club activities, and everybody’s favorite… recruiting season. Tech is different than more traditional business school paths like consulting and banking, in that the timeline of recruiting varies based on the companies you are targeting. If you are targeting medium-sized companies or startups, they usually can’t predict headcount too far in advance and do just-in-time recruiting that will happen during the spring semester. But if you are targeting Big Tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft or Google, then you will likely be applying and interviewing during the fall semester.
But preparation for interviews happens long before that, in fact, it will happen before you even step on campus. A few weeks before starting school in May, you’ll need to submit your resume to the Office of Career Development (OCD), who will go over it with a fine-toothed comb and provide feedback. Then over the summer, OCD conducts a number of helpful job search related workshops. Once the fall semester begins, you’ll start preparing in earnest for interviews.
Earlier this semester, the Stern Technology Association invited Lewis Lin to campus for a full day workshop on tech interviewing. If you aren’t familiar with Lewis Lin, he literally has written the book on interviewing for product jobs at big tech companies. It’s never too early to start preparing for interviews, so if you’re searching for reading recommendations, take a look at his books. The first half of the workshop focused on the types of roles that tech companies are looking to fill. The second half of the day went even more in-depth on product management, with lots of practice problems covered that you might receive during an actual interview.
While this workshop provided a solid foundation, there is no substitute for good old repetitive practice. To prepare even more, I partnered up with a few fellow Tech MBA classmates who were also recruiting this fall, and we spent hours lobbing practice questions at each other and providing feedback on answers. The Stern Technology Association provides guides on each company, so we were able to use that to tailor the practice problems based on the next interview. The last few weeks I have had multiple interviews at big tech companies, and all of this practice proved invaluable. The format (phone/virtual/in-person) and questions will change depending on the company, but with the right practice, you will feel confident in any interview situation.
Fall semester is here and with it comes for me one of the most looked forward to components of the Tech MBA curriculum: Tech Solutions. Without the benefit of a summer internship associated with a traditional two-year MBA, I knew I’d have to prioritize in-semester opportunities to gain work experience. Stern Solutions is woven into the curriculum of the Tech MBA, offering students a chance to work on projects that enable them to design, build and launch technological solutions to solve real-world problems.
Having gone through design thinking and analytical workshops over the summer, the fall aspect of Stern Solutions is focused on delivering an actual technical product that addresses a problem facing a company today. After ranking a list of 13 potential projects to work on, I was assigned to a group with a fellow Tech MBA student as well a two-year MBA student. We are working with Infosys, a global leader in technology services and consulting, to develop a solution that utilizes machine learning techniques like natural language processing to help financial analysts pinpoint investment opportunities. I know that’s a lot of tech and finance buzzwords rolled into one sentence, but I could not be more excited to work on this project.
After being assigned a group and a company contact, it’s really up to us to drive the project forward. Like most successful projects, it all starts with a kick-off meeting. Last week, the team and I traveled to Infosys’ office, a stunning location on the 79th floor of One World Trade Center. One of the big advantages of going to business school in the heart of NYC is that most world-renowned companies have an office no more than a few subway stops away. After taking the blazingly fast elevator up, we got started in a conference room overlooking the city. I’ll be honest, it was a little intimidating when 5 Infosys consultants, including a senior partner, joined us for the meeting, but I quickly realized how friendly they all were, not to mention eager to help.
We clarified project objectives, deliverables and timelines, as well met additional Infosys employees we could use as resources on the project. For a minute I forgot I was even in grad school! But the meeting soon ended, and we left with a stronger understanding of what the client is expecting. Over the course of the semester, we will have weekly check-ins with Infosys, as well sit-downs with Stern faculty advisors to ensure we are on track. This will no doubt be a challenging project, but I can already tell it will be one of the most useful and rewarding aspects of the Tech MBA program. Check back here later in the fall for an update on what we actually managed to build!