Aafiya Jamal is currently an MBA Candidate in the Tech MBA Program at the NYU Stern School of Business. She recently moved to New York City from Dallas, Texas. Prior to Stern, Aafiya worked in technology consulting and supported clients in the financial services space, from traditional, global banking institutions to FinTech companies. Outside of the classroom, Aafiya serves as one of the Cohort Leaders for the Tech MBA and is involved in the Stern Technology Association and Stern Women in Business.
As you are exposed to different areas of technology during the Tech MBA, you will likely find yourself wanting to learn more about specific roles, domains, and companies. Networking is a great way for you to understand what a professional’s career journey looks like, what a specific company’s culture looks like from within, and what kinds of skills employers are looking for. These are examples of types of questions I had and can tell you the steps that I took to effectively network during my time in the Tech MBA:
Find a Mentor
- Firstly, I would highly recommend that you find a mentor to have career-related dialogues with during your time at Stern. I was fortunate enough to have formed a connection with a Tech MBA alum fairly early on and formally asked her to be my mentor for the duration of the one year program. We met in-person on a quarterly basis (while exploring some cute coffee shops in the city), where I would typically share what my career interests were and how they were changing based on what I was getting exposed to in the program. She would almost always connect me to someone in her network as a result of our conversations. These 1:1s also served as an accountability point for me to share what concrete steps I was taking to land my next career opportunity.
Build Your Connections
- There are many ways for you to form connections outside of the cohort. First, I would suggest that you maintain and / or re-kindle connections within your existing network. It is a great way to keep your current relationships warm, which can open doors to additional connections and employment opportunities. People move roles and companies all the time and individuals in your existing network may end up pursuing something that you’re interested in. Secondly, I highly recommend that you take advantage of Stern’s robust alumni network. I have found that Sternies are willing to connect, share their experiences with you, and almost always offer you a referral at their company, which can come in handy during recruiting season. You can easily get the conversation going by reaching out to a professional interest via LinkedIn.
- Finally, I cannot stress the importance of starting to build your network early during your time in business school – especially if you are recruiting for specialized roles in the industry. Fall is when I had the most time at Stern, and I aimed to have at least 1 coffee chat or catch up on the books each week. This may seem like a lot, but definitely becomes easier to incorporate within your schedule over time. As a result, I felt like I had my bearings straight when I began to recruit in the Spring, knowing that I had a strong and supportive network.
Networking can often get a “bad rep,” but is an important habit to develop, particularly during your time at Stern, which can have long-term benefits. You can re-kindle existing relationships, while developing new professional connections, by using the Stern brand. I wish you the best of luck – happy networking!