Langone Student BlogJanuary 2015: Choosing a Business School
I’m often asked “Why did you choose to pursue your MBA at NYU Stern?” or “How did you know it was the right decision?” There are a variety of reasons I knew it was the right fit for me: academic rigor, structure of the curriculum and global reach.
Having gone to NYU as an undergraduate, I already knew that Stern is an institution with academic excellence. The curriculum is based in strong analytical, problem solving skills coupled with understanding of global dynamics. But it goes further than just on academic performance. You may have also seen the phrase “IQ + EQ” on the Stern website and wondered exactly what that meant. While academic excellence is important, Stern strives to be a community of intellectual individuals who have superior interpersonal skills that can motivate and lead others. This is important because of the collaborative nature of our curriculum. The majority of courses at Stern include a collaborative element. From group oral presentations to group papers, it’s important to be able to work with a variety of individuals who tackle problems in different ways with perhaps a different mindset. Learning in such a highly collaborative environment helps you become a more flexible and dynamic teammate and leader.
Last but not least, Stern is a global hub. If you’ve read my other posts, you know how much I’ve traveled through Stern. If those haven’t demonstrated the vastness of the Stern curriculum and ability to travel the world to gain first-hand experience, I’m not sure what else can! For those who haven’t read my other posts, thus far I’ve gone to Namibia & South Africa to learn more about the culture, Morocco to further understand how it is the gateway to Europe and currently, I’m writing this post from sunny Las Vegas to investigate the operations of the entertainment industry! Before I graduate in May, I’ll go on one last trip to Panama to gain insight on the operations of the shipping industry. NYU Stern has really provided me with a unique set of opportunities that I would have never been able to experience otherwise.
I knew it was the right decision because I wanted to be a challenging, yet supportive and collaborative global business school. Stern has delivered just that! When considering which business school to attending, think about your personal goals and where your personality will fit in the best. Each program has a different culture and structure, so do your research, talk to current students and alumni and figure out where you will excel.
Stay tuned for my next post – I’ll go into further detail about the Operations of Entertainment class that I’m currently attending in Las Vegas!
November 2014: Thanksgiving in Morocco
Over Thanksgiving, I had quite a unique experience! I took my very first DBi course and it was in the beautiful setting of Morocco! If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that over Spring Break earlier this year, I went to Africa for the first time on a Trek, where I visited Namibia and South Africa. Unlike Treks “Doing Business In…” (DBi) courses are one to two-week intensive courses, in which you receive either 1.5 or 3 credits. The curriculum for the course is unique and encompasses a mix of local faculty lectures, corporate visits, government and/or business speakers and cultural visits. They are offered outside of semester timeframe, typically during January break, spring break, or in May, right after spring semester ends and right before summer session begins.
Personally and professionally, DBI courses allow you to gain international experience, strengthen your skills in a rapidly expanding global economy, build in-country expertise and provide a new perspective on business in a different culture! Academically, they are applicable toward the Global Business specialization.
My time in Morocco was incredible. Myself and roughly 30 other Stern students spent November 23rd - 29th in Morocco, the first 4 days in Casablanca and the following 3 days in Marrakesh. To prepare us for the trip, we had a pre-departure assignment to summarize the current economic status of Morocco, so we had at least had a foundation before we were immersed in the classroom. While in Casablanca, we attended lectures at ESCA, learning the history of Morocco, the political environment and the economic future of the country. We also learned quite a bit outside the classroom. While in Casablanca we had a guided city tour, visited the Hassan II Mosque, ate at authentic restaurants and toured a local company, Lesieur Cristal, an Agro-Industrial manufacturer. While in Marrakesh, we explored the Djemaa-El-Fnaa souk, visited a candle-making factory and watched artisans hand-craft wooden goods.
While taking classes and experiencing the culture in Morocco, I was keeping in mind the final assignment we had ti complete. We had been broken up into teams before the trip commenced, and were assigned to strategize how to increase business between Morocco & USA, according to the free trade agreement. Each team had to represent a North American company for an implementation in Morocco or North Africa. My group was able to think strategically about the problem and recommend a relevant and thoughtful solution since we had spent time in the country first-hand.
Through this DBi, I not only learned more about North Africa, but made new friends both from Stern and ESCA, experienced a completely different culture and way of doing business and most importantly, learned more about myself. Since I’m graduating next May, I will not be attending another DBi, but I will be taking two operations courses: one in Las Vegas in January and one in Panama over Spring Break. I can’t wait to share those with you!
October 2014: GMAT vs. GRE
Many students ask about the choosing between the GMAT vs. GRE when applying to Stern. It’s not which standardized test is better, it’s about which one is right for you. Stern accepts both and weighs the scores equally, so don’t stress about which one to take. There really is no preference at all – so do your research and figure out which test will showcase your skills the best.
You may be wondering, well there is only a GMAT range on the website, so they must prefer that test. WRONG! The GRE range is not published because it just recently started becoming an option for business schools and there is not enough data to establish a range. If you take the GRE, there are online tools and tables that can help you convert your score to GMAT standards, so you can see where you compare.
I know from personal experience, I was applying to school during the transition period from GMAT to GRE so I felt compelled to take the GMAT. I thought it was a harder test and more a traditional option, so the admissions board would see me as a more serious business application. I spent months studying for the GMAT, I even took a very expensive prep course. I took the GMAT twice and both times I wasn’t performing to my potential. I then took a practice GRE class (without any preparation) and did extremely well! I signed up for official test and scored in a much higher percentile compared to my GMAT. I applied to Stern with my GRE scores, and clearly the rest is history! But I could have saved time and money if I just took the GRE, since that test was a better fit for me.
So, play to your strengths! Remember the application is holistic, so your standardized test score is just one component.
September 2014: Work/Life/School Balance
500+ new students enter the Langone program every year at Stern and balance work, school and life. So how do we do it?
The character traits of students in the program reflect mature, organized, intelligent and thoughtful individuals. It’s important to realize that priorities may have to shift when you start the program. And while it may seem cliché, you get out what you put into Stern!
Many of the core classes are quantitatively focused – including Firms & Markets, Global Economy, Foundations of Finance, Accounting and Statistics so it’s important to dust off those math skills and brush up on regressions and demand curves before you start! The admissions team tirelessly works on ensuring that students who are admitted have the skill set to succeed at Stern. Personally, not having a quantitatively focused undergraduate degree, I took a Statistics course the summer before I started and then attended the optional pre-semester math boot camp at Stern so I was able to hit the ground running.
It’s also important to plan ahead. For instance, I know when my “busy season” is at work, so I adjust the types of courses that I’m taking during those semesters. If I know I need to travel for work, I will proactively complete my homework or start studying for the midterm well in advance. The professors understand that we’re working professionals, so the syllabi outline all deliverables so you can prepare accordingly! Once you’ve completed the core classes and start taking electives, you can take classes that fit your schedule the best – courses can be lectures, workshops or a hybrid. Some classes have a multiple quizzes and tests, while others have term papers or group presentations due at the end. All these details are posted well in advance of the class lottery, so you can plan out the courses that fit your work/life the best.
Currently, I hold down a full-time job in Brand Development at Bath & Body Works, am the VP of Student Affairs for the Langone Student Government, Managing Editor of the Stern Opportunity Newspaper, a Langone Graduate Ambassador, on the board of Stern Women in Business, take a full course load and lead an active social life. I promise life, work and school balance is possible!
August 2014: Entrepreneurship at Stern
I receive quite a few inquiries from students wondering about entrepreneurial opportunities at NYU, so I wanted to take a moment to briefly discuss the myriad of ways you can gain experience in the start-up space while attending Stern.
Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship
The Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is an invaluable resource at NYU. One of the program’s claim to fame is the $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge, where start-up teams compete for prize money to fund their ideas. I participated last year and unfortunately did not make it to the finals, but through weekly workshops and presentations, you learn frameworks to help to launch your own company. I plan to compete again this upcoming fall and hopefully I can get closer to that $200k prize! The center also provides entrepreneurship-in-residence mentoring and a host of other resources to help your startup idea become a reality.
Entrepreneurship & Innovation Specialization
In addition to having a separate center dedicated to entrepreneurship, there is curriculum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. To declare an entrepreneurship specialization at Stern, students must take one of the foundational classes: Foundations of Entrepreneurship, Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship or Foundations of Technology Entrepreneurship and then an additional 6 credits focusing on any area of entrepreneurship. Courses range from Accounting, Tax, & Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs to Managing the Growing Company and everything in between. One of my favorite courses thus far has been the Business Start-Up Practicum where we spent the semester conducting market, organizational, operational, strategic and financial analyses to produce a venture concept and a real, actionable business plan. This class can be extremely valuable if you have a specific business idea and want a team to help you flesh out the details.
Entrepreneurs Exchange Club
There is also a student group on campus, Entrepreneurs' Exchange, whose mission is to help students, alumni, and affiliated entrepreneurs achieve entrepreneurial success and career goals. They seek to accomplish this by fostering entrepreneurial curiosity, by providing an energized environment conducive to pursuing entrepreneurial paths, and by providing focused resources, education, networking opportunities, and career guidance to the Stern community. This past semester I participated in a consulting project through Entrepreneurs Exchange, where myself and three other Langone and full-time MBA students helped create a social media strategy for a health-focused beverage startup. It was amazing to work directly with the founders and gain real-world startup experience. These are just a few ways to get involved in the entrepreneurship scene at Stern. Every year we have students collaborate and create startups and even in non-entrepreneurship focused classes, classmates are always networking and looking for co-founders!
July 2014: Choosing Courses
From world-class professors to truly unique classes, I have found that selecting courses can be a great time of discovery. Though 60 credits (~20 classes) may seem like a lot, now that I’m closing in on my last two semesters at Stern, I want to ensure that I maximize my time here. There are a few classes like Data Visualization, Law & Business of Bitcoin and On Your Feet: Think, Speak, Lead, that I never thought I’d take during business school, but through endorsements from fellow classmates and Stern’s Course Faculty Evaluation (CFE) system, I’ve been able to discover these unique classes.
After the completion of each course, every student fills out a mandatory CFE, which is kept anonymous to facilitate candid feedback from students. All the evaluations from the CFEs are housed on a website with searchable results, so while you’re planning each semester, you can see quantitative reviews of each course and professor. The evaluation includes feedback on specific metrics of the course itself including workload, specifics on the professor and his or her teaching and communication style, as well as an overall evaluation of the course. It’s a good way to visualize the data (see, I’m already applying what I learned in class!) and you can see how many years a specific professor has taught a course. It's a great tool that I leverage every few months and it makes the class registration process much more efficient!
May 2014: Langone Clubs and Activities
I’m often asked the question, “If I don’t attend Stern as a full-time student, can I still participate in clubs?”
The answer is -- of course you can! Many clubs have a Langone board and a Full-time board to ensure that there are a variety of events that cater to students in both programs. I’m currently a member of a number of clubs; I write for the Stern Opportunity (Stern’s student newspaper), I am on the special events committee for SWIB (Stern Women in Business) and I am the VP of Student Affairs for the Langone Student Government. So it’s definitely possible to attend classes, be an active member on campus and enjoy a rich social life with classmates in both the Langone Part-time MBA for Working Professionals and the Full-time MBA programs!
When I first started at Stern in spring 2013, I tried to join every single club and attend every event -- it was a definitely a struggle to try to balance everything. After spending some time in the program, my advice is to choose some activities that are in your comfort zone and that relate to your career aspirations, but also try a few clubs or events that are completely different. When I signed up for the Stern in Africa Club, I had no idea that it would lead me to a 10 day trek to Namibia and South Africa and to a group of people that are now close friends. You’d be surprised who you’ll meet, what will inspire you, and how it can enhance your Stern experience!
April, 2014: Collaboration
Stern is extremely collaborative. Nearly every class that I’ve taken – from Business Communications to Firms & Markets – has had group assignments or presentations. They’re not only a great opportunity to work closely with a small group of your classmates, but they’re an amazing way to learn. I am constantly surprised by how each person I work with frames a problem-set, synthesizes information or strategizes differently. It’s more than just right-brain versus left-brain thinking, it’s learning to look through the lens of a financial analyst, or a marketer, or an entrepreneur and understand their objectives and priorities. I’ve grown so much from just listening to my classmates and I can already see myself adopting best practices from them.
Not only do I have the opportunity to learn from my business school classmates, but other graduate students as well. At NYU, graduate students can cross-register and attend certain courses within other NYU schools. Currently in my Foundations of Entrepreneurship class, I’m on a team with two other students who are both studying at the NYU School of Law. In this class, we spent the semester developing a business, writing the business plan and then pitching the idea to the class (which we are doing next Tuesday!) So for the last few months, I’ve been working extremely closely with these two law students and learning so much about how they strategize and analyze how to launch a business. As a trained marketer, I immediately focused on branding, positioning, and segmenting the market, while they focused on legal barriers to entry, contracts and regulations in the market. Needless to say I’ve gained a whole new perspective and become a savvier entrepreneur-in-training because of my experience in this course.
It has been an amazing experience collaborating and I feel the intimate group size, the resources we had access to, and the caliber of my classmates truly made this class a memorable one.
April 2014: April Update
I have quite a bit to share since I last posted!
I’m excited that I just received my classes for summer 2014! I plan to continue taking entrepreneurship and finance electives, including Entrepreneurial Finance and Innovation & Design. I’m also taking my very first social media class, Social Media & Digital Marketing, so I’m excited to supplement my traditional marketing skills through this class.
Other exciting news was the Langone Student Government elections. Any part-time student is able to run for a position. They just need to procure signatures from the student body to be eligible and then after campaigning on campus, the entire Langone student body casts their votes online. The student government does an excellent job bringing the thousands of part-time students together and I’m excited for the 2014-2015 board. One of the most popular programs the Langone Student Government sponsor is the Spring Fling semi-formal, which took place this year on April 5th at the Downtown Association. It was a night of dancing, dinner and merriment with 500+ part-time students in attendance. Proceeds from sales of novelty glasses, photo booth tickets and other fun swag went to Stupid Cancer, which is a non-profit organization that empowers those affected by young adult cancer through innovative programs and services. It was my second time attending Spring Fling and it was such an incredible time. Who doesn’t enjoy dressing up and socializing for a good cause?
April has been quite an exciting month. Before I know it, May will be here, along with final exams and another bitter-sweet send off to a newly graduated Stern MBA class.
March 2014: Spring Break
Well I’ve made it back from my trek to South Africa and Namibia! It was absolutely incredible. Though I’ve traveled through Europe and Asia, visiting Africa was such a different experience. I conquered my fear of heights and climbed up Dune 45 (which is over 550 feet high), ate ostrich and warthog, saw the “big five” safari animals (lion, elephant, water buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) and visited some of the most incredible African landmarks like Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point! Though, the highlight of my trip by far was hiking up a mountain in Namibia and watching the sunset with two of my close friends. The sight was absolutely breathtaking.
This trek allowed me to meet students that I may have never encountered in class, experience a new culture and travel to a new continent (Africa was definitely on my bucket list). It was a great complement to my education in the classroom. The itinerary had just enough structure that I felt my time was maximized, but enough free time that I was able to break off and explore sights/events that suited my personal interests. We hit the top tourist attractions, but also tapped into the local culture of Namibia and South Africa. Needless to say, through this 10 day adventure, I certainly forged some lifelong friendships.
Now that I’m back home (and slowly getting over jetlag), I need to focus on taking my midterms this week and gearing up for the second half of the spring semester!
March 2014: Stern Global Trek: Africa
I am so excited! In less than two weeks, I’ll embark on a global trek with 35 of my fellow MBA classmates.
During our 10 day trip over Spring Break, we will go to South Africa and Namibia. From a safari and wine tasting in Cape Town to the Le Mirage Desert and Walvis Bay in Namibia, we will go on a cultural adventure through southern Africa. I rallied five of my close Langone classmates to join, but this will be a mixture of part-time MBA students and full-time MBA students, so it will be a great opportunity to meet new friends and expand my social circle.
These MBA Global Treks offer the opportunity to gain international perspective and expand our viewpoint on cultural diversity. Through partnerships with club leaders, the Office of Student Engagement facilitates our travel so the trek is organized meticulously to ensure safety and security! Treks happen during Spring Break and Winter Break in a variety of locations. For instance, this Spring Break, while I’ll be in Africa with Stern In Africa, the Emerging Markets Association will be in Peru, the Social Enterprise Club in Morocco, and the South Asian Business Association in India! Those are to name just a few. Domestic treks also occur as well, for instance the Entrepreneurs' Exchange will be in Austin for SXSW and Stern Cellar will be in Napa.
While at Stern, you have opportunities to go abroad in addition to treks. You can also take a DBI (Doing Business In…) class, which are one- or two-week classes in countries around the world. Before I graduate next year, I hope to go on a DBI in Argentina!
I’ll check in at the end of the month with an update!
February 2014: Spring Semester
We’ve been experiencing quite the winter wonderland in NYC these past few weeks! I haven’t seen snow like this in a while – and I’ve been in Manhattan since 2007!
I’m happy to report that I finished my last winter intensive class on Saturday and the spring semester has now started! Now the weather needs to start feeling like spring!
A few weekends ago, I helped welcome the entering spring 2014 class and I couldn’t believe I’ve officially been in the program a year. It’s been such a rewarding journey thus far, and I’ve completed 25.5 credits out of the 60 required to graduate. Almost at the half way point!
While the spring semester brings a whole new set of classes, the academic and social activities ramp back up on campus as well. In the next few weeks I’ll hear Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Healthy Snacks, speak at NYU’s Social Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century Speaker Series, I’ll socialize with new and current classmates at the Langone Student Government Welcome Back Party, I’ll sit in on a Q&A with Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, at the Langone Speaker Series, and I’ll cultivate my skills at the Moet Hennessy Glenmorangie Scotch Tasting sponsored by the Cellar Club. Those are just a few events that are happening on campus, but the options are unlimited. I can’t wait to see what this new semester brings!
January 2014: Core Groups
At the onset of the Langone program, during Langone Lab Orientation weekend, you will be assembled into Core Groups. Since you’re entering with over 150 other students, you will take at least your first two classes with your Core, which is usually around 40-60 other students. In order to foster networking and social activities, you’ll have the opportunity to elect two representatives from your Core Group to serve as Core Group Leaders. Those students work very closely with Academic Affairs to help distribute information about the program to their peers, but also are given a budget to organize events.
Now, just because you may be in the Green Core and you met an amazing person in the Yellow Core during orientation, doesn’t mean you will never see them! The Core Groups are great way to foster relationships, share information about the classes you’re taking and, of course, create some friendly competition! During the semester, each Core Group competes against each other in the Core Group Games. From flag football, to karaoke, to community service projects, Cores try to rack up the most points for the prize: more funds for your Core!
When I started the Langone program in Spring 2013, I was elected a Blue Core Group Leader and we actually wound up winning the Core Group Games! With our budget, we sponsored happy hours after class, had a rooftop party in Brooklyn and went to a Yankees game. We also had weekly events with a variety of cores from an array of class years, so we quickly meet classmates who are at different points of the program.
January 2014: Goodbye Fall Semester, Hello Winter Intensives!
The Langone program offers so much flexibility when it comes to taking classes and gives you the option to take courses nearly year-round. From early January until the Spring semester in early February, you can elect to take intensive modules, which are classes that compress a full course into a shorter amount of time. The name is pretty accurate, as they tend to be intense, but in a good way, I promise!
I am taking my final two core classes during this intensive period: Operations Management, which runs 3 weeks and meets 3 times per week, and then Business Communication, which runs 1.5 weeks and meets 3 times per week. Whether you’re trying to finish your MBA quickly, or have flexibility at work during the intensive periods, these modules are a great option to get a few credits completed in a just few weeks.
While I prepare for my winter classes, I can’t believe almost a year has passed since I began the Langone program. I started in February 2013 and it has been such an amazing adventure thus far. With another semester behind me, I’m able to take more elective courses and focus on my specializations. In the Spring I will take Corporate Finance for my Finance specialization and Foundations of Entrepreneurship for my Entrepreneurship and Innovation specialization. I’m still undecided about my third specialization, since there are over 20 to choose from, but it’s not required to designate specializations, let alone three!
December 2013: Project Sunshine
Last weekend, with a group of about 30 Stern students, I spent a few hours creating “Surgi Dolls” and assembling craft bag kits for Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free education, recreational, and social programs to children facing medical challenges and their families.
Creating a Surgi Doll involves cutting out pieces of cloth, stitching them together, and then inserting stuffing to make them plush. I quickly learned that I had no idea how to sew, let alone make a doll. However, after some guidance from a few fellow Sternies, the whole process was actually relaxing. By taking a few hours of our weekend to volunteer, we were able to do something special for sick children, as well as bond with new classmates and learn a new skill.
Projects like this make Stern such an awesome community. This event was sponsored by the Langone Student Government (LSG) and was completely student-lead. They organized the entire event from contacting the non-profit to planning the details to delivering the Surgi Dolls. And in just two hours, we were able to create dozens of dolls and craft kits for Project Sunshine!
December 2013: Welcome!
When I started at NYU, I was interning at Christian Louboutin (a French designer) and focusing my studies in fashion. However, it was a specific class at Stern, Consumer Behavior (with Prof. Meyvis*), that led me to the concentration of Consumer Psychology. Exploring the intersection of psychology, economics and marketing led me to explore a variety of internships in market research, private equity, advertising and marketing.
Upon graduating, I decided to pursue my love of marketing and accepted a position in brand management at The Dannon Company. Since then, I’ve worked for Estee Lauder Companies in the Global Makeup Marketing department for Clinique, and now I am at The Limited Brands, in the Brand Development department for Bath & Body Works.
I made the decision to return to NYU and attend Stern because I wanted to sharpen my quantitative skills, become a more strategic thinker and grow as a leader. I was a little worried about returning to my undergraduate institution, but thus far my experience at Stern has far surpassed my expectations. Not only are the professors world class, but my classmates are some of the most passionate, exceptional individuals I have ever met.
So, I know I told you quite a bit about myself! Don’t worry – my future posts will be about academics, social activities and everything in between. I’m involved with the Langone Student Government, write for the Oppy (Stern newspaper) and am involved in over 10 clubs on campus, so as the semester continues, I will share a variety of things (including some best kept secrets from my undergraduate days)!
*Professor Meyvis currently teaches MBAs at Stern and I highly recommend you take his class!