Community within the Tech MBA

Alina 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. 

 

How quickly can you bond with 54 other Tech MBAs? Well, apparently it only takes days after meeting them. The first time I got in touch with my classmates was even before the official start of the program. One bold classmate decided to invite all of us over to her building for a party which turned out to be one of the first nights we bonded as a class (see picture below).

Now, the community within our Tech MBA can be described as especially close. Our class profile is made up of 55 individuals with different backgrounds, from over 15 different countries, with between 1-15 years of work experience, different personality types from very introverted to especially extroverted, and with an age difference of more than 12 years between our youngest and oldest class members. Still, we have similar values – we truly embrace Stern’s emphasis on community which is one of the essential reasons why our class climate is especially welcoming and friendly. 

To me, the community within the MBA class was an important factor in deciding on a grad school. I came to New York as an international student from Germany with only a very small network in the city. Especially when leaving family and friends behind on a different continent, the strong bond within a class was particularly critical for me. The Tech MBA at NYU Stern was the perfect choice as the MBA community was there for me from Day One. A few highlights have been finding roommates on our class Slack channel, apartment search hacks and personally curated restaurant / bar lists shared with the class from our NYC-based classmates (New Yorker’s equivalent to gold), and finally, that we got to know each other through our Slack channel even before the start of the program. 

As we are a small cohort of 55 students, it is possible to get to know your classmates quickly. Additionally, as classes start in the summer semester, it is incredibly effortless to connect within the Stern buildings as it’s only Focused MBAs on campus. During the summer months, we had an intense syllabus with 19.5 credits – but this also allowed us to get to know each other through numerous group projects and more intimate MBA events. Of course, we also got to explore New York City after class and on the weekends.

Besides classes, the community within the Tech MBA offers tremendous support to help prepare  for recruiting. As all of us already have strong backgrounds in different industries and roles, we regularly take the time to share our experiences within our classes, and there are even several interview practice groups where classmates help each other with interview prep. 

The summer months created a strong bond within the Tech MBA. Besides connecting in class and during group projects, our incredible social committee organizes regular class events as well as a class trip to the Finger Lakes during the summer months. 

In the fall, club activities pick up again which will allow us to connect with 2-year MBA students. We get to choose a range of electives and have more space in our syllabus, so this time can be used to connect within the wider Stern network. 

For the spring semester, we already have the next class trip planned – this time we will explore the home country of one of our classmates, Colombia!

All those small but valuable things make up the strong community within the Tech MBA as part of the bigger, incredible NYU Stern network. This community made the first months of the program especially fun and helped me to create a home in the city.

What to Expect From Your Tech MBA Summer

One of the most unique parts of the Tech MBA is the summer semester – there are no other students on campus, you get to bond with your cohort, and start your journey as an MBA. If you’re wondering what a typical day in the life of a Tech MBA student in the summer looks like, it’s a very busy but exciting time! It’s also a great transition from working into school, since your schedule is more like a 9-5 working day. Here’s an example of what a typical day might look like:

  • 8am – 9am: Commute from Brooklyn to campus
  • 9am – 11:50am: Class 1: Economics
  • 11:50am – 12:30pm: Lunch in the park with friends
  • 12:30pm – 1:30pm: Catch up on reading in the student lounge
  • 1:30pm – 4:20pm: Class 2: Leadership
  • 4:20-6:00pm: Work on assignments
  • 6:00pm: Head home or grab dinner/drinks with Stern friends

Classes you will take: The summer is all about Core classes, and they’re in a special format to accommodate for taking everything over the summer. You’ll take Economics, Leadership, Accounting, Marketing, Communications, and many more courses, but in essence are taking most of the core curriculum that MBA1s take in their first year. The benefits of this are that professors distill down their content to the most important information, and you get a ‘greatest hits’ experience. The challenge can be time management because you need to make time for homework in the evenings and on the weekend. One great part is that everyone is in the same courses, so it’s easy to lean on each other for support.

How to take advantage of the summer in NYC: Since everyone is more or less on the same schedule, it means you’ll get to spend many of your days together during the week! It’s a great time to get outside in Washington Square Park to study or hang out, and check out all of the amazing lunch spots near campus. My personal favorite is Court Street Grocers. Our cohort did lots of fun summer activities, including a lobster boat cruise in Manhattan and outdoor rock climbing in Brooklyn.

What I wish I had done looking back: Time management can be difficult during the summer, because there are so many classes packed into a short period. The best way to manage for me was to block off certain nights or weekends where I would dedicate myself to getting work for the week done. I also used a program called Trello to make a board with tickets for every assignment that I could group by deadline or priority, which helped me make sure I knew what was coming up. Our cohort also made a #homework channel on Slack, and someone volunteered to post assignments each Monday. Like I said – lean on one another!

The summer is a really amazing time, and was my favorite part of the whole program! For those of you about to start the program, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Leadership Opportunities at Stern

Before I joined NYU Stern’s Tech MBA program, as an aspiring manager, I always wondered what opportunities would the school provide for me to grow as an impactful leader? How would these compare to the two-year MBA program? And, how do I prepare to arrive at school so I can best leverage these opportunities?

After completing almost a full year in the program, there are a number of opportunities I participated in that helped me strengthen my leadership & management skills while making the most of the program. I hope you consider participating in these as you choose to pursue your own Tech MBA!

  1. Cohort Leader Opportunity: Early in the academic year, Stern gives a taste of what winning an election must feel like, haha! Jokes aside, students elect a cohort leader who serves as a liaison between the administration and your Tech MBA class.  
  2. MBA Admissions Graduate Assistantship: Into the second semester, Admissions Committee selects 3-4 candidates as the face of Stern’s Tech MBA program. These students regularly mentor, guide and serve as ambassadors for both the aspiring MBA students and the admitted students. *wink* they’re the best *wink* As a GA, I have loved talking with so many of you about your journey to business school!
  3. Professional Club Opportunities: There are a number of professional clubs which provide important board positions for the Tech MBA students. Every year, 1-2 students get elected to executive positions within Stern Tech Association, Management Consulting Association, Data Analytics Club, and more. This serves as an excellent opportunity to shape the experience of Tech MBA students for next decade, especially given how the Tech MBA is still relatively new.
  4. Fun Club Opportunities: In addition to professional clubs, Stern also has a lot of special interest and affinity clubs. I personally am closely involved with Stern Football Association, Stern Follies, South Asian Business Association at Stern and Stern Comedy Club. So, spread your wings and find where your affinity lies – most clubs reserve a leadership position for Tech MBA students, which is a great way to get even more involved.
  5. Orientation Leader: Each year, the Office of Student Engagement recruits 4 Orientation Leaders who work to enable a smoother transition for the upcoming cohort. Personally, the Orientation Leaders were real gems when it came to guiding my initial exploration through the program after moving to New York from India last year. I am thankful for their wisdom, and the it seems like a really fun position!
  6. Miscellaneous: Apart from the aforementioned formal opportunities, Stern’s diverse, EQ-centered community continually presents other platforms to rise up and shine as a community leader. Just last semester, when we were struggling with Finance, some knights in shining armor rose up to use their professional experience to guide us in our projects :). Additionally, students who went through the Fall recruiting process and have their job secured have been hosting casing practice and mock interviews for those of us doing just-in-time recruiting in Spring. Even in small groups, Stern students show their leadership and commitment to helping fellow students.

To summarize, not only are there a ton of opportunities available for students to explore, you will also be able to create your own opportunities as you navigate through this amazing journey at Stern.

How to Pick an Apartment in NYC

Moving to New York City for the first time is not easy, it is a whole adventure. It is even harder when the decision of coming to the city has been made quickly. Through this brief post, I want to give some advice on how to do it, so the experience can be smooth and efficient.

There are three things that you should consider before moving: budget, area and building requirements.

The first thing that must be decided is the budget. Once you have a clear range defined, you can look which areas of the city have places in which you are comfortable with the prices. To do this, use apps like StreetEasy and Naked Apartments. Both apps will show you basic information about each building and prices. Beyond this, I recommend looking for ratings of the buildings for previous experiences, which is a good way to know if the buildings are in good shape or if the landlords & property managers behave in a professional manner when faced with difficult situations. This will save you many problems.

Most upcoming Stern students try to look at areas close to the NYU, often in West Village or East Village. Nevertheless, the school has a bus that can take you all around the city, so it is good to map out your location against that route and the subways.

After knowing budget and area, it is important to analyze building requirements. There are buildings that ask for proof of income for one year, or a guarantor. These requirements could be difficult to meet as you are going to be studying for at least a year, and even harder if you are an international student. Therefore, it will be more efficient to know which buildings can adjust to your situation.

This city moves very fast, so if you see an available apartment one day, it could be gone as quickly as the next day. I recommend you have four or five buildings/ units in mind. I also recommend visiting the city for four or five days and conducting apartment visits. Once you see any apartment that you like, ask for an application and move forward (if possible, on the spot). You don’t want to lose your chance!

With this approach you will have an apartment in your budget, in an area that you like, avoiding stress in the process. It is a whirlwind of an experience, but it’s all worth it to live in such an amazing city!

Building Community in the Tech MBA Program

A huge part of the Stern experience is getting to know your classmates, Stern alumni, and faculty, and building long-lasting relationships.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about making strong connections in a one-year program, however I’ve been blown away by the professional and personal relationships I’ve formed during my time at Stern.

The one year Tech MBA program is unique because students take the full business “core” during an intensive summer semester. Tech MBA students dive head first into the curriculum and are in class together five days a week for 12 weeks. This summer semester creates the optimal environment to get to know the cohort very quickly. Not only are you paired with classmates during class projects, but students also get the opportunity to socialize during lunch and after class.

In the fall, Tech MBA students are fully integrated into the Stern community and join clubs and take elective classes with MBA 1s and 2s. I enjoyed participating in Stern Women in Business, Stern Technology Association, and Stern Adventures events to meet Sternies outside of my cohort. Additionally, clubs are a great resource to meet alumni and network with the broader Stern community. Through club engagements I’ve met alumni at top tech firms and formed relationships with them to help me through the recruiting process.

Outside of the classroom and formal Stern sponsored events, there are opportunities for students to gather socially and travel together. Our cohort organized a ski trip to Utah during winter break, which was a great way to bond while participating in a fun activity. My classmates have gone on hiking trips and a group recently traveled to Colombia for spring break. Throughout the semester, our class also holds a weekly happy hour on Wednesdays that anyone can attend. We’ve even taken food tours in various NYC neighborhoods and gone to karaoke! Spending time in and out of the classroom with my cohort has been so much fun.

I’ve made lifelong friends at Stern and am confident that the supportive network I’ve built will help me succeed in my career and beyond.

My Favorite Class This Semester

One of the best parts about Stern is getting to learn from incredible professors who are experts in their fields. While many of my classes are engaging, there is one class that stands out above the rest: “Strategic Foresight and Predicting the Future of Technology” with professor Amy Webb. The objective of the class is to introduce students to the methods, concepts, frameworks, tools and techniques of strategic foresight, a multidisciplinary approach to deriving new insights about the future. To deliver on this promise, the class is organized into three sections each week 1. Introduction to methodology and a foresight tool 2. A deep dive into an emerging area of technology and 3. Practicing what we learned and applying concepts and tools to our final group project. Not only is the topic of strategic foresight extremely interesting, but the structure of the class also ensures that discussions are relevant and concepts can be applied to any business sector. We learn to identify signals in the world and make connections to form potential trends. We are challenged to imagine what the future of meat consumption will look like in 10 years, what the future of work will be in 15 years, and what the future of media will look like in 20 years. We learn to address assumptions and state uncertainties and back up our scenarios with quantitative and qualitative evidence. To give you a sense of the breadth of what I’ve learned so far, here are some of my favorite things we’ve discussed in class…

1. Why is Nintendo the most innovative company? When we think about Nintendo, we might think about Mario Party or Pokemon, but Nintendo was founded in the 1880s. Nintendo originally sold hand-painted playing cards. As the world evolved and technologies developed, Nintendo paid attention to the signals on the “fringe” and made bets to ensure they could stay in business. Nintendo transitioned from selling playing cards to developing games for malls, handheld gameboys, commercially available video game consoles, the motion sensor Wii, and many more innovations. This example clearly highlighted how companies can use strategic foresight to prepare for the future and remain ahead of their competition.

2. How will a refrigerator be used in 2031? At the start of class we are asked to do a re-perception exercise in which we imagine how everyday objects might be used in the future. Recently we discussed how refrigerators might be used to grow our own food at home, store essential pharmaceuticals, or in new areas of the supply chain as the world becomes warmer. This led to a discussion about when an object is still considered the original object…

3. What are the implications of synthetic influencers? We’ve learned about synthetic influencers like Lil Miquela and K-pop group “Eternity” in class. Prior to this class, I was not familiar with synthetic influencers and their potential impact on not only the entertainment and media industries, but also on society at large.

Throughout the semester, we work on a final group project. This is a great opportunity to apply the theoretical concepts and frameworks we learned step by step.

If you are interested in technology, want to challenge yourself to think differently about companies, societies, and governments, like to imagine what our futures look like, or just love learning new things, then this class is for you. Every week I look forward to rich discussions that develop because this class is a safe space for learning and taking risks. Each week the class time flies by as I absorb information from the professor and her guests lecturers/ class coaches. If you have the chance, definitely take this class!

My Favorite Course This Semester: Brand Strategy

There are so many wonderful courses at Stern that it can feel overwhelming to select elective classes each semester. Because the Tech MBA has put together a robust curriculum that focuses on both business and technical core classes, my hope for elective courses has been that they will be fun, interesting, and help sharpen on specific skill or knowledge area that I have not previously had experience with. For example, I am interested in sustainability and “foodtech,” so I am taking Social Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Food Business with Professor Hans Taparia.

When I was thinking about my prior role as a Product Manager, and some of the skills that I wanted to develop, I realized that I have not had much exposure to marketing. Specifically, I was interested in branding, and the way in which graphic design, strategy and positioning can come together to change the way a brand is perceived in the market, and the emotional impact it has on consumers. I decided to take Brand Strategy with Professor Gormley, and it has turned out to be my favorite course this semester. When I read the first line of her syllabus, I knew I had made the right choice. “Who says you can’t get real world experience in the classroom? Fran Gormley has worked in the Branding business for three decades and can teach you how to create Branding ideas that can propel a business forward.”

Before beginning at Stern, I was advised to take evening electives whenever possible because it would mean that the course was taught by a “practitioner,” or a professor who is currently working for another organization in the field, as opposed to professors who are lifelong academics. I think this is so important when looking to a subject like branding, because learning from a professor who is currently running her own branding agency ensures you are learning the latest and greatest standards from the industry.

Professor Gormley is a great lecturer, and she structures the class so that she delivers course content for half of the session, and then a guest speaker comes in to talk with the class for the latter half of the class. We have heard from executives across many different industries and branding agencies, specifically at PayPal, Fekkai, Edelman, Wolff Olins, and Interbrand. My favorite speaker so far was Frédéric Fekkai, a legendary hair stylist turned businessman, who spoke about his company Fekkai, and the various transitions it has made over the years. Frédéric spoke about the opportunity he had to sell his company, and eventually buy it back, and it was crazy to hear the story of the shampoo I had in my very own shower at home in Brooklyn! Professor Gormley also gives various case study lectures about the projects she has worked on across her career, making it very applicable to see the before and after of the branding work she has done. This class takes place on Tuesday evenings, but the time flies by, and I look forward to hearing from Professor Gormley and whoever she has in store for us each week. We even are working on a semester long project to rebrand a company of our choosing. I can’t recommend this class enough!

What To Expect of the Stern Tech MBA

As a Graduate Ambassador of the Tech MBA at Stern, some of the most common questions I receive are related to who should apply to the program. Potential MBA candidates want to know what characteristics are the best fit for a focused MBA. They want to understand if it is too technical, if it requires a deep understanding of coding and data science, or the expected job for a graduate of the program. I will try to answer these questions throughout this short article.

The program is an MBA (Master in Business Administration), so it goes without saying that the focus is business and value creation. Nevertheless, it has another core: technology. The Tech MBA seeks to prepare its students to be set up for a rapidly changing world by using technology as a tool to innovate and solve big problems. The mandatory courses mix business fundamentals such as Finance, Marketing or Founding a Startup, with tech courses, such as Dealing with Data or Foundations of Mobile Networks. Additionally, the Experiential Learning approach is a group of activities and courses focused in finding solutions for real-world business problems. As a student, you can be part of the EFL (Endless Frontier Labs), which is an acceleration program for massively scalable startups; or the West Coast Immersion, in which we travel to visit and analyze several companies.

One of the things I value is how diverse the program is. Students come from varied careers such as consulting, software development, product management, entrepreneurship, or even banking. To be ready for the program, it is ideal to take a fast introductory course in coding, and another in financial math. Both are just a recommendation; all things you will need will be taught during the MBA.

Nowadays, most companies want to transform into tech firms and this trend will change the way of doing business in the following years. This makes the Tech MBA a powerful program for being ready to work in big companies, growing startups or developing new ventures. There are no restrictions to where a Tech MBA graduate can work, but the main focus is around Product Manager roles, Strategic roles or Consulting roles.

This is a very current program that is constantly updating to the technological changes that the world is facing. It is a dynamic and fun program to pursue big goals and grow professionally and personally.

Navigating Stern’s Sites & Acronyms

You received your acceptance letter to Stern. Your heart is racing with excitement, you have butterflies in your stomach, and you are grinning from ear to ear. The next thing you know, you’ve received a handful of emails with directions to use different sites and mentions of different departments with different acronyms. Feeling overwhelmed? I sure was! Here’s a little study guide to help you navigate all of the amazing sites and resources that Stern has to offer. This list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, rather a helpful place to get started.

Stern Sites

NYU Stern Life
Stern Life is the best place to start after accepting your Stern offer. Leverage this site for all important announcements, events, action items, and access to resources before starting school. From Stern Life, you can keep up to date with forms to fill out, payments, technical setup and more.

NYU Albert
Albert isn’t a site that you’ll be visiting everyday per say, yet when you use it, it is important! Some of the most common reasons why you’ll go to Albert:

  • Managing your school finances / financial aid
  • To check and manage your course schedule (e.g. add/drop classes)
  • View final grades and submit course evaluations
  • Access to other Stern sites and resources

NYU Brightspace
Brightspace is the NYU Learning Management System (LMS), where all of your classes will be hosted. This is where your professors will upload their syllabi, add assignments, share resources and more. Familiarize yourself with how this site works as you’ll be using it a lot!

Stern Acronyms

OCD: Office of Career Development
OCD will be your best friend as you navigate recruiting while at Stern. This department specializes in career development and support, covering a range of offerings such as resume reviews, mock interviews, recruitment strategy and more.

AA: Academic Advising and Affairs
Academic Advising and Affairs at Stern is the go-to department for support with your degree. This includes navigating specializations, credits, exploring electives and more. You can schedule 1-1 appointments with the AA team. Keep an eye out for scheduled events hosted by this department as well!

OSE: Office of Student Engagement
Access support and resources with regards to life outside of Stern through the Office of Student Engagement. The OSE team supports orientation, student orgs, housing and more. This department is super helpful when navigating your Stern experience beyond the classroom.

Building Community Through Student-Led Events

It’s popular knowledge that a big part of the MBA is networking. But that word sounds like work and isn’t well-suited to the reality of things. There is a more appropriate word: friendships! Over the next year or two of your MBA, you will share life with a group of amazing people coming from various backgrounds, yet all working towards similar goals. If you do things well, you’ll build deep, lasting friendships with a bunch of them because you spend time together. In this blog post, I want to share some ways that our cohort has bonded through student-led community events.

Bars and Restaurants
These are classics. Don’t be shy to book a table somewhere and send a message in your “general” slack channel asking people if they want to join. I bet you that you’ll have to call back to increase your reservation to 20 seats.

Parks
This is a go-to in NYC and a fun way to spend Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Our cohort always ends up in Central Park, but there are tons of other parks too. I recommend getting a Moolky, a wooden pin & skittles game, which you can play as a group. Last time, someone brought a portable cornhole game that was also fun to play 2 vs 2. Do not forget sunscreen, coolers, and hats! If you have a dog, there’s a specific patch of grass just north of the East 72nd Street entrance with lots of other dogs running around and playing together.

Workouts
One of the highlights for me so far in the MBA has been running workouts for my classmates. We meet outside twice a week and sweat together for an hour. Then we usually go to brunch afterwards! Wednesdays are at the Houston st playground, and Saturdays are at Pier 46. Only one rule: you have to come to a workout to be added to the group chat! Don’t forget to take a group selfie post-workout! Open to all at any level, reach out to me if you want to join!

Saturday GCNY crew, Pier 46, 5/15/2021

House/rooftop parties
Rooftops are a huge commodity in NYC summers. Make yourself known if you have a rooftop or a bigger apartment than others!

Poker
My classmates and I had a couple good games, both online and offline. I recommend keeping it inclusive to everyone and giving a chance to people who don’t know how to play to give it a try. If you want to play online you can use pokernow for free and have a simultaneous zoom session.

PPT night
Our cohort has been running a powerpoint night every two months that has proven popular and a lot of fun. The premise is simple: 3 people volunteer to present to the group on a topic of their choice. The topics are completely up to the presenters and tend to be fun (or even ludicrous) in nature. Examples include origami, Whiteclaw, Australia’s Great Emu War, travelling to Chile, 90 Day Fiance, etc. 

Escape the Zoom
In this event attendees are separated into teams of ~4 and attempt to “escape the Zoom” by answering a series of ~8 riddles posted by the organizing team. Each team is sent to their own breakout room and given the first riddle. Once a team solves a riddle, one of the team members goes back to the main room and calls an organizer into their breakout room to deliver the answer. If correct, the team unlocks the next riddle. Hints are offered to teams after 10 minutes without a solution. The winning team is the first team to correctly solve all riddles!

Here’s a riddle to get you started:

Complete this logical sequence:

1 – E – 2 – O – 3 – E –
4 – R – 5 – E – 6 – …

a) S
b) X
c) Z

To see the answer, highlight this full line with your cursor: ANSWER is b) (SI)X 

Trips
Spending several days away together is usually an excellent way to get to know your classmates on a deeper level. And some may have the added benefit of discovering new parts of America. With everyone vaccinated and the slow easing of safety guidelines, trips might soon be part of the MBA experience again. There are as many destinations as you can think of. I’m recommending a local spot below:

Hunter Mountain
In the winter, Hunter mountain is a must-do for skiing and snowboarding with slopes available for all level skiers. It’s just about 2.5 hours outside NYC. You’ll need to book your ski passes well in advance and book a chalet on Airbnb for the group. I recommend renting your gear on the way up to the station where the queue will be a lot smaller.

Thanks for the read, I hope this will be useful to brainstorm what to do after classes! Have fun and see you around the city!