Derek 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!
Barak is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Tech Product Management, Leadership, and Change Management. Before Stern, Barak led a team of Product Managers at a FinTech firm in Tel Aviv, Israel where he helped the top financial institutions around the world to provide custom financial insights to their customers. At Stern, he is involved in the FinTech Club as the VP of Alumni Relationships and enjoys organizing pickup basketball games and swimming activities with his classmates.
As a new student in NYU Stern’s Tech MBA program, I recently relocated from Israel to New York in May, accompanied by my wife, our 2-year-old son, and our beloved dog. As I approach the end of my summer semester, I find myself eager to share valuable insights and tips that I’ve gathered throughout this semester. The goal of this post is to help future students and prospects make the most out of their time in the program.
A One-Year Tech-Focused MBA Program
The NYU Tech MBA program is exciting and innovative, lasting from May to May. In just half the time of a traditional two-year program, we achieve a full MBA degree through a unique approach. During the summer semester, we complete the core courses of the first year of the general MBA and seamlessly transition to the second year in the fall.
The Summer Semester: A Sprint to Success
The summer semester is divided into three intensive sprints, each lasting four weeks. Picture this: Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 4:30 PM (with a refreshing lunch break from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM), dedicated to immersive learning experiences. With 3-4 courses per sprint, we efficiently cover an expansive range of crucial business concepts, successfully completing the 11 core courses within a single semester.
Tailored courses for Tech leaders
As someone who thrives in high-pressure environments, this program has impressed me thoroughly so far. The opportunity to immerse ourselves in numerous fascinating courses in one semester, while also mastering the foundational principles of each subject, is simply extraordinary. The university’s creation of dedicated courses tailored for tech-enthusiastic business leaders ensures we receive precisely what we need. Additionally, the incorporation of pre-work, in-class practices, and post-class assignments and quizzes enriches our learning experience.
A Cohort of Family
The people in this program are its greatest asset. With an intimate group of approximately 50 students in the Tech MBA and 25 students in Fashion and Luxury, the quiet summer campus provides the ideal setting for us to come together and form strong bonds. Collaborating on group projects and rotating through different groups for each class allows us to truly know our classmates on a personal level. We don’t just feel like classmates; we’ve become one big family.
A short pencil is better than a long memory
The summer semester can be intense and overwhelming with multiple deadlines, but it’s manageable with the right tools. Stay on top of your game by utilizing effective tools like calendars, to-do lists, and time-blocking techniques. These organizational aids will keep you on track and ensure you never miss a deadline.
Prioritize one task at a time
Concentrate on the present importance and avoid getting overwhelmed with future concerns. Trying to handle everything simultaneously leads to accomplishing nothing. Identify high-priority tasks and tackle them first, maintaining control over essential assignments and preventing last-minute rushes.
Embrace the academic opportunities
Take full advantage of the academic opportunities that the program offers. With captivating classes, experienced industry-proficient professors, and motivated teaching fellows, make the most of these opportunities to learn from some of the best educators in the world.
Engage in Active Learning
Take an active role in class discussions, team projects, and case studies, as this will not only enhance your understanding but also enlighten your classmates. The class comprises a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds, and the beauty lies in how we enrich one another’s learning journey through shared experiences.
Avoid lagging in the material
As classes build upon previous concepts, make it a priority to keep up, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance if needed. Like a snowball effect, staying ahead ensures a smooth progression without overwhelming yourself
Your friends are your best resource
This is always true, but particularly during learning sessions. Embrace the diversity within your cohort to leverage each other’s prior experiences and enhance your understanding of the material. Never hesitate to seek assistance when needed, as everyone is eager to support one another. It’s also a wonderful chance to deepen your connections and get to know each other better.
Multiple Support Options are available
Bear in mind that you have access to various forms of assistance to aid you along the way. If you require help, don’t hesitate to contact the faculty for support. The university offers a range of resources, such as extra office hours with professors or teaching fellows, additional practice sessions, and personalized accommodations, all designed to ensure your academic success.
If you only get A’s, it means that you’re doing something wrong
This is the thought-provoking statement that one of our professors began his lecture with. While academic excellence is important, a fulfilling graduate degree encompasses more. Invest time in networking, coffee chats, socializing, sports, and other activities that contribute to your overall growth and enriching experience.
This year is too short to do anything other than enjoy the opportunity to live in one of the best cities in the world and embrace every aspect and moment of it!
AJ Albanese is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Strategy and Technology. Prior to Stern, AJ held sales and fundraising roles at for-profit and non-profit companies. Post-MBA, he plans to pursue consulting to help businesses achieve technological transformations. At Stern, he is a Tech MBA Cohort leader and enjoys playing ice hockey and cooking when not in class.
This week, MBA Admissions sat down with new Tech MBA student, AJ Albanese, to chat about the NYU Stern Tech MBA Orientation!
Tell us a little about the experience at Orientation. What did it include, and what was the best part?
Orientation was a great way to get introduced to Stern, my classmates and the community at NYU. It included keynote speakers from Estee Lauder and Microsoft, introductions to our program leads, and provided a lot of time to connect with our cohort. It was really focused on getting to know the MBA program and how the year would be structured for us, as well as answering any questions we had. The best part were the two social events we had after the on-campus sessions. It was amazing to get to talk with so many of my classmates and learn more about their backgrounds. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, so it was really cool to connect with everyone!
What did Orientation teach you about the Stern community?
Orientation taught me about how supportive and welcoming the Stern community is. The staff/faculty members and previous students were all so nice and were willing to help in any way. It felt like I got turned around and lost in the building when I would have to move rooms, and I could always find someone to kindly point me in the right direction! Dean Grennan talked a lot about the strength of the community at Stern – this became more apparent than ever as I got to know my new classmates and students in the graduating class.
What was it like making new friends at Orientation?
Like any first day of school, I was definitely nervous about meeting so many new people and worried about fitting in. Within minutes of getting to Orientation, I had been introduced to people and was immersed in easy conversation – everyone was so open and happy to be there. The social events after the on-campus sessions really helped as well. We went down to One World Trade for an event and were able to get to know my new friends on the train ride down there. Having already lived in the NYC area for 4 years, I found myself giving so many suggestions for things to do, restaurants to try and places to visit around here to the people that had just moved here. I’m excited to take my new friends to some of my favorite spots in the city!
What did Orientation make you most excited for in the coming year?
Orientation made me excited for the experiential learning opportunities at Stern and in our Tech MBA program. I am most looking forward to the experiential course known as “Stern Solutions,” where student teams get to partner with real companies to work on solving real business & technology challenges. I am also really excited to get to know my classmates even more. Everyone is awesome and this year is going to be great!
Omotoke is a recent Tech MBA graduate with specializations in Strategy & Business Analytics. Prior to Stern, Omotoke worked with KPMG as a Technology Assurance Consultant and is now looking to pursue Technology Risk & Strategy Consulting. At Stern, she was on the Board of the Association of Hispanic & Black Business Students and a member of the Management Consulting Association. Omotoke enjoys listening to good music and attending dance classes.
It’s graduation week as I write this, and nostalgia has begun to creep up on me. I have really enjoyed a great time since I arrived in New York from Nigeria a year ago to start my MBA. As I think back on the year-long experience that now feels like only a few weeks, these are tips I would give a prospective or newly admitted student.
1. Start your visa application immediately
Backstory– I got my admission offer in January 2022, but as of May 2022, one week from orientation, I was yet to secure a visa interview appointment – let alone a visa. Even though I already resigned from my job for school, it didn’t seem like I was going anywhere 😅.
By divine providence, in that final week, I was called to interview. I finally received the visa, one day behind the official resumption for International Students. I hurriedly packed and made the 20+ hour trip within the next two days. You can imagine the rollercoaster this was, yet the saddest part was having no time to say goodbye to all my loved ones in person.
There are not many things I could have done differently in my case; however, securing my admission in round 1 instead of round 2 probably may have saved me the headache. So, if that is what it will take for you to get your visa ahead of time, by all means apply in round 1.
Along the same lines, if you want your family or other guests present at graduation, start their visa applications very well ahead if they are from countries with long wait times. I started making arrangements for my parents’ graduation trip 3 months ahead and by then it was too late.
2. Ensure you’re capturing all the important expenses in your budget planning
No one forgets rent, food, entertainment, utilities etc. but two expenses I find can be easily omitted are: loan interest repayments and co-curricular/leisure travel expenses.
Private loans are often very helpful for international students to cover some of their cost of attendance; however, a common oversight is to not plan interest repayments into estimated monthly budgets. Some forget this expense and some assume that it would be trivial.
Depending on your loan amount and terms, it may not be trivial, and you may need to start making payments early on. Get your estimates and factor it into your monthly budget and estimated cost of living.
Next, travel! You need to have a budget for travel. There will be lots of travel opportunities for coursework and for leisure with your classmates; planning ahead for this will allow you to take on these great experiences without much pressure.
Additional tip: Request and review the school calendar for the year before starting the program to note the school holidays and make your own holiday plans.
3. Pack the right outfits
I wish someone whispered to me in the middle of my frantic packing, “Toke, you’re packing all the wrong clothes.”
I remember being unsure about how formal I would need to dress for classes and eventually settling for business based on my quick Google search. I brought in work clothes and a number of pumps…haha, but it only took a day or two to know the pumps were going back into the box.
There’s a lot of flexibility around the dress code for classes. You can be as formal as you would like but you’ll find most people dressed in smart casuals. There will be company visits, corporate presentations and interviews, for which you could be required to be more formally dressed.
Pack accordingly and whatever you do, make sure your shoes are “subway and walking friendly” because you can’t miss those.
4. Start preparing for recruiting from Day 1
Depending on your target, recruiting activities may kick off really early in the programme, with applications opening in June/July and interviews rolling in by August.
As part of your early preparation, my recommendation is to make a long list of companies (not three or five) within your target industry that do not have a permanent work authorization hiring requirement (if you are an International student within this category) and get the timing of their recruitment.
While many companies hire on a rolling basis, some have specific times of the year when they do MBA recruitment and missing that window could mean waiting another 6-12 months.
Making this list upfront helps you identify many prospects and pace your interview preparation. Stern has very helpful databases for this research on the Careers Portal gathered from previous years. The Careers team will be ready to help you when you arrive, but it’s nice to begin planning ahead anyway.
5. The communities really want to be helpful, ask for all the help you need
You’ve heard how fantastic the NYU clubs are 99 times already so I’ll try not to make it a hundred. The recommendation I have here is to join at least one, very early, before you travel down, if possible. You would be unable to register as an “official” member until the clubs open up for admissions in Fall but you could join the Whatsapp groups of some affinity clubs anytime after you accept your admission offer. Joining before you travel down will allow you leverage the community for the help you need with onboarding, settling in, temporary accommodation, renting, finding housemates, choosing courses and all the initial hard stuff.
So find a community, join, and ask for whatever help you need. Sternies are always willing.
As a final note, immerse yourself and enjoy the diversity of NYU and New York. You will do great.
Mariana Ruiz Allende is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Product Management, FinTech and Strategy. Prior to Stern, Mariana worked in the FinTech industry for more than 4 years in Mexico City. Post-MBA, she plans to continue her professional development as a Product Manager. At Stern, she is involved in the Stern Adventures Club, the Latin American Business Association and the Stern Softball team. She is currently working on a personal project that will use Machine learning Sentiment Analysis to provide help through a mental health approach.
Deciding where to go for your MBA is not an easy decision. In my case, the decision affected not only me, but also my husband.
Before the pandemic started, I knew I wanted an MBA. However, being all settled in Mexico, with my husband and me each thriving in our professional careers, having my family and friends close, and traveling a lot, it seemed like there was no real need for me to go through the MBA application process, which we all know is a lot of work. Everything seemed so well planned in my life, and I was happy living it that way; why would I consider changing it? Unfortunately – or fortunately- I am very ambitious and really wanted to have the experience of an MBA.
I talked to my husband about going for it, considering I wanted to have my experience abroad, and he was very supportive from the beginning. Honestly, we both knew it was a long shot to be accepted into a top school, but I knew I had to go for it. However, there were two considerations I needed to make this work. First, he would have to come with me, which was non-negotiable for me, and second, it would have to be in a place where he could continue to work, and as a barred lawyer, New York was the only option.
So yes, in my decision, there were more variables to consider. Nevertheless, those variables quickly reduced the scope of my options, and fortunately, the narrowed option was the best city in the world.
After narrowing it to New York, I researched all possible programs in the city, which were many more than I imagined; considering each School has multiple MBA programs, my options by then were between 6 and 10 different programs. To narrow this further, I reduced my scope to only 1 year programs – working in tech, I knew being out of the “being employed game” for a long time wouldn’t have worked for me, so this filter narrowed my options to 3. Although applying to three programs might seem like a good number, I soon fell in love with the tech-focused programs. I really liked the syllabus each one had, and coming from another business school, adding the technical courses made a lot more sense to my profile. Although there were some other one-year programs in the city, the tech focus for me was the cherry on top, which narrowed my number to two.
I reached out to people from both business schools. I spoke with at least ten people to get a sense of what their experience was, what they would recommend during the process, and to verify I clicked with their culture. I was shocked to see people actually answered my messages on LinkedIn without even knowing me.
When applying to Stern, I immediately stumbled upon the first challenge, which was a “change” in the application style the school has compared to the rest. The application had a twist since it was basically a mini-essay and a photo collage. The saying “less is more” is very applicable in this case. Less was more work since you need to be yourself, show what you bring to the table, show you are different and delightful, and show you can embrace change, all in two or three short deliverables.
My two cents to anyone in the application process are:
1) Talk to people from the school you are applying to. The insights you get with quick chats not only fuel your motivation but also help you show the qualities you share with the people you talk to.
2) Review your essays after clearing your head for a few days. After having more than 30 drafts on one of my essays, I can assure you the Mariana that started the process was not the same once I finished it. Yes, my last essay was a killer one compared to the classic cliché one I started with.
Lastly, embrace learning through this application and school selection process, be humble and not too harsh with yourself, and reach out to people to mentor you or cheer for you throughout this process. And in case you doubt yourself, I can tell you all the effort is worth it.
Steven is a recent Tech MBA graduate, specializing in Financial Instruments & Markets and Management of Technology & Operations. Prior to Stern, Steven was at Deloitte in tech consulting where he was implementing financial software to complete full-cycle digital transformations. At Stern, he was involved in OutClass and enjoys traveling with classmates.
Bringing My Authentic Self
Coming to the end of what I consider the most fulfilling year of my life, there are countless experiences that I am grateful for, and they all fall under the category of “Things I’m happiest I did in my year at Stern.” To begin, I have to give credit to bringing my authentic self to NYU. The community at NYU is exceptionally lively, and it thrives on intelligence and emotional intelligence (IQ/EQ). This was ultimately the reason I chose Stern. One of the defining characteristics of the Stern community is its embrace of diversity. Sternies recognize the value of different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, and it is this openness to diverse ideas and opinions that makes the community so special. For me, it was clear that showing others who I truly was would only enhance my experience at Stern, and this proved to be true. By being authentic and true to myself, I was able to connect with others on a deeper level and build meaningful relationships that will last beyond my time at Stern. Moreover, this experience allowed me to learn from my peers and gain a broader understanding of the world, which has been invaluable. I was able to immerse myself fully in everything that Stern has to offer by being open, honest, and having an open-mind to whatever came my way. By doing so, I have grown both professionally and personally and feel more confident in my abilities.
Worldwide Travel & Relationship Building
In addition to bringing my authentic self to NYU, one of the most enjoyable experiences I had during my time at Stern was taking part in numerous trips. Not only did they offer a welcome break from the rigors of academic life, but they also provided me with an opportunity to connect with my classmates on a more personal level. As a result, I have forged strong bonds with these individuals, and they have become my closest friends, whom I can count on without hesitation. Given my desire to build my network and establish relationships with like-minded individuals, I have made a concerted effort to cultivate and nurture these friendships, recognizing that they are a valuable asset both personally and professionally. By surrounding myself with individuals who share my goals, aspirations, and outlook on life, I have gained invaluable insights and perspectives that have helped me grow as a person and a business professional.
Another experience that brought me immense joy during my time at Stern was getting involved in professional and affinity clubs. As a VP in OutClass, AVP in Cellar, ally in Stern Women in Business (SWIB), and member of the Management Consulting Association (MCA), Private Equity & Venture Capital Club and Stern Adventures, I had the opportunity to connect with students from all programs, including the Two-year Full-time, Executive, and Part-time programs. This allowed me to broaden my network and make friends with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Among these clubs, my most fulfilling position was as VP of Careers and Conferences for OutClass, where I had the chance to contribute to the queer community and build a network of queer professionals who will be future leaders in the workforce. Through this role, I organized professional events for networking and connected classmates with employers who prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion. This experience not only allowed me to make a positive impact on the community but also sharpened my leadership and organizational skills, making it an integral part of my time at Stern.
Connecting with You!
Last, becoming a Graduate Ambassador was one of the most rewarding experiences during my time at Stern. Sharing my personal experiences with future Stern students has been particularly gratifying, and being a trusted source of advice for prospective students has been incredibly fulfilling. Witnessing students who I have mentored successfully gain admission to the program has been the ultimate reward, and knowing that I played a role in their decision to pursue a similar transformative experience as mine was truly exhilarating.
Bárbara Argeri is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Tech Product Management and Management of Tech and Operations. Prior to Stern, Bárbara worked as a Product Strategy Manager at Mercado Libre in Brazil. Post-MBA, she plans to work as a Tech Product Manager. At Stern, she is involved in several student associations such as Stern Technology Association, Stern Women in Business, Latin American Business Association and Management Consulting Association. During her free time, she enjoys strolling around New York searching for new places, and spending time with her friends.
Reflecting on Graduation
It’s hard to believe that I’m already reflecting on my year at Stern for this blog post. However, the exercise of looking back on everything I’ve experienced fills me with gratitude. Pursuing an MBA had been a goal of mine for a while, and after years of preparation, the feeling of accomplishment still hasn’t completely set in. That said, I can confidently say that my time at Stern has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
A Year in the Best City
One of the biggest draws of attending Stern was the opportunity to live in New York City. It had been a dream of mine for almost 20 years, and despite having high expectations, the city exceeded them. The sheer diversity of experiences is staggering, and after a year of exploring, my list of must-visit restaurants, bars, shows, and other attractions has only continued to grow. Professionally, being in New York has opened up countless doors, allowing me to visit a variety of offices and experience different company cultures firsthand.
Another reason why I chose the Tech MBA program was because it met my needs as a business school student. I was keen to refresh my undergraduate knowledge with a more mature perspective, learn from my experienced colleagues, and enroll in classes that would allow me to improve on certain areas. Looking back, I’m glad I made that choice. The program’s focus on data-oriented classes and discussions of disruptive innovation, as well as the mix of colleagues with both business and technical backgrounds, provided me with the academic and experiential learning I was hoping for.
Participation in Clubs
Through my involvement in four student associations at Stern, the Stern Technology Association, the Latin American Business Association, Stern Women in Business, and the Management Consulting Association, I had the opportunity to connect with MBA students from other programs. As a leader within the Stern Technology Association, I was able to coordinate visits to the offices of two tech companies in New York, providing students with a unique opportunity to gain insights into the inner workings of these organizations, learn about their operations, and network with their employees.
Lastly, one of the most enriching aspects of the MBA has been the friendships I’ve formed. I knew coming in that I would make lifelong friends, but I never expected our cohort to be such an amazing group of people. The experiences we’ve shared together are ones I never could have imagined. We went to upstate New York to enjoy the 4th of July by the lakes, had a blast at a Brazilian bar with a live band, danced at an Indian brunch, celebrated Chinese New Year at a Chinese restaurant, had several potluck dinners with food from all over the world… Those are experiences I would hardly have had had I not come to an MBA, and the ones I’ll never forget.
To those considering pursuing an MBA or starting one soon, my advice is simple but genuine: make the most of the experience, because it truly goes by fast. Engage in student associations, spend time with friends, visit companies, try different foods, and take classes that interest you. At the end of the day, your MBA experience is what you make of it, and it’s up to you to ensure that it’s as remarkable as it can be.
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!
Alina Vrsaljko is a current Tech MBA student at Stern. Within Stern, she is part of the Stern Women in Business Club‘s board. Before starting her MBA, Alina gained professional experience in Digital Strategy Consulting at McKinsey in Europe and in multiple roles at Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Germany and Singapore. She holds a BSc in Business Informatics and a MSc in Management.
45% minorities, 9% LGBTQ+, 57% international students and 55% women – those are not target scores from exemplary studies on what ideal diverse teams should look like, but those are the actual numbers of the Tech MBA at NYU Stern. When I met my classmates for the first time, I was amazed by the number of strong women in the program. This was not at all what any of us had expected when signing up for a Tech focused MBA, but we LOVED it – both male and female classmates. In the picture below, you can see a small part of our amazing group of women in the Tech MBA.
Being the only one
Coming from a Tech industry background, I’ve gotten used to being the “only one”-the only woman in the room. And even though my colleagues and clients meant well, there were certain situations where I could feel the impact of what it means to be the only person of a certain group in the room. And this did not just happen to me – a recent Women in the Workplace Study by McKinsey and LeanIn.org shows that “32% of women in technical and engineering roles are often the only woman in the room at work” (2022). This is one of the reasons why I believe the makeup of this year’s Tech MBA is so special and important – the more we normalize women thriving in Tech, the easier it’ll be for young women to imagine themselves in those roles.
Why is this even relevant?
Throughout my career, one big factor I’ve considered when deciding on a next career move was around female empowerment – will this decision help me advance further and will this have an impact on women in the industry? Maybe that’s also why I specifically picked the Tech industry as an 18-year-old girl to start off my career. I believe it’s time that all of us start making a difference. Especially in Tech but also in leadership in general, women are still heavily underrepresented – in the US, still only 1 in 4 CEOs is female and even only 1 in 20 CEO’s is a black woman (LeanIn, McKinsey, 2022). Thus, I believe us as MBAs, and hopefully all future leaders, need to push further for equality to achieve the equal world we aim to live in. Another reason for focusing on gender equality is that diverse teams make better decisions (Harvard Business Review, 2016) – no matter whether that’s in business or politics. Additionally, especially in Tech, having diverse representation will matter even more than ever. With Artificial Intelligence solutions on the rise and tech firms not having a diverse employee body, those new algorithms are full of unconscious biases that will need to be resolved (Forbes, 2020). Thus, I am proud to be part of an MBA program that is educating so many women in Tech, sets us up with the tools to excel in the industry, and educates allies who are aware of gender equality issues and who will actively create an impact in this field.
When thinking about how to thrive as a woman in Tech throughout your MBA experience, there’s three main areas to leverage:
1. Role models: I can’t stress enough the importance of strong role models for your career development – I am still thankful to all the amazing role models in my previous positions who I am still in touch with. NYU Stern will also help by connecting you with strong, successful women – I was lucky enough to have met a few of them at multiple events hosted by NYU Stern, from Elizabeth Elting (see picture below) who was listed on FORBES’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, to Rama Akkiraju, who is leading NVIDIA’s AI/ML efforts after being responsible for IBM Watson for the past few years.
Those women are living proof that it is possible to break glass ceilings in all kinds of industries, and an MBA at NYU Stern allows you to connect with and learn from them. Additional events to connect with women are now also happening all over New York – and for every industry. Especially for Women’s History Month, companies like Google and Amazon have held great events around women in tech that were free to join for students.
2. Network within Student Community: Besides external speakers, who often can act as inspiration, the Student Community at NYU Stern is full of strong and ambitious women to network with. Starting from the Fall, Tech MBA students will get to interact with all full-time students and there are multiple opportunities to engage with fellow students. For example, I’m part of the Stern Women in Business Club’s Board for Alumni Relations. This involved connecting with a lot of female MBA alumni, and allowed me to network within the SWIB community to further build out my network. Of course, the small class size of the Tech MBA and the close connection to the smaller sized Fashion and Luxury MBA also allowed to create a close-knit network already in the summer. I’m sure I’ll carry my network of strong NYU women throughout my career and can’t wait to see what all of them will accomplish.
3. Allies: Finally, a concept that is gaining much more popularity is involving allies that do not identify as women. The great part about women’s engagement within NYU is that non-women identifying students are also asked to participate in a range of events. There are specific events like “Bring your Ally to Work” where all students discuss issues that women in the workplace have experienced to raise the awareness of discrimination, or “Real Meals” where an ally hosts a dinner at their place and invites women to listen and learn more about what discrimination currently still looks like. Additionally, our SWIB conference this year is also centered around the topic of Active Allyship. NYU Stern promotes a policy of equality that can only be achieved by working together and aiming as one for a more equal world and I’m proud to be a part of this effort.
Steven is a current Tech MBA student, specializing in Financial Instruments & Markets and Management of Technology & Operations. Prior to Stern, Steven was at Deloitte in tech consulting where he was implementing financial software to complete full cycle digital transformations. At Stern, he is involved in OutClass and enjoys connecting with classmates.
Club involvement has been a significant part of my experience at Stern. I am currently a Vice President for Careers and Conferences in OutClass, an Assistant Vice President for Resources in Cellar, an ally in Stern Women in Business, and a member of the Management Consulting Association, Private Equity and Venture Capital Cluband Stern Adventures. The first thing to note is that a lot of these clubs have lifetime membership. The professional clubs offer an abundant amount of important information including job opportunities, networking and trainings that can be leveraged in the future. I highly suggest joining any clubs that you have an interest in so that you can utilize these invaluable resources.
The club that I am most involved with is OutClass, our LGBTQIA+ affinity group. In my leadership position, I have been heavily involved with connecting employers that are recruiting for diversity and inclusion initiatives to queer MBA candidates, and have organized multiple firm-sponsored queer networking events including cross club collaborations. OutClass has been one of the most important clubs that I have been involved with and has significantly enhanced my experience at Stern. This club has allowed me to meet classmates from all the different MBA programs (EMBA, Part-Time Langone MBA and Full 2-Year MBA) outside of the focused MBAs. I have also built a community in OutClass that has been instrumental in some of my deepest connections at Stern. I have seen firsthand how within this community, everyone really strives to help each other out to achieve the utmost success. With this group we have attended professional conferences such as ROMBA in Washington, D.C. (Stern had the highest representation of queer students out of any graduate school!), happy hours, group workout sessions, dinners, mixers with other schools and alumni, marched in New York Pride and have so much more to come, including a trip to Miami.
As for professional clubs, these clubs help students with securing summer internships and full time offers. They offer bootcamps, casing prep and competitions and a wealth of learning opportunities. The goal of professional clubs is to help students prosper in whatever field they are recruiting for. In most of these clubs, MBA2s will lead sessions and help the other cohorts by sharing their experiences going through the same processes in the previous year, and giving advice on how to prepare for or learn about an industry. Overall, the interview preparation, job opportunities and connections that these clubs provide is outstanding.
A particularly special event that I went to recently was the kickoff for ‘Allyship in Stern Women In Business’ (SWIB). Coming from the tech sector, where women are disproportionately represented, it was incredible to see that my Tech MBA cohort was the largest representation. Everyone went around to state their various reasons of why they showed up as an ally, and it was impressive to see why everyone supported more women in leadership positions and how they would support these initiatives when they returned to the workforce.
Overall, I would recommend joining any and every club that you have any interest in. Both professional and social clubs offer a magnitude of knowledge, fun, connections and networks. These affiliations will last a lifetime and you never know when you will want to leverage any aspect from the membership. You will always be able to decide what events you will want to attend or how much you obtain from the relationship, but you will not have the opportunities unless you get involved.