School News

Change. Experience it. NYU Stern Undergraduate College Launches “NYC Consulting Capstone” Course, Giving Students Relevant Hands-on Experience with Real-World Challenges alongside Top New York Corporate Partners

Students in Professor Bruce Buchanan’s section of the “NYC Consulting Capstone” deliver their final presentations to clients from Welcome to Chinatown
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I'm taking away a deepened appreciation for the value of thorough research, the power of teamwork, and the ability to present complex ideas succinctly, skills that will be indispensable to my future career in financial research."

The NYU Stern community is powered by the challenge to not only embrace but to lead change. This guiding call to action sparks innovation across the School, and the Undergraduate College’s (UC) new capstone course for seniors is the latest case in point. 

Experiential Learning as a Capstone in Senior Year
Introduced this academic year, the “NYC Consulting Capstone” is in a class of its own in terms of scale and with its ambition to build skills such as judgment that can’t be automated in an era of artificial intelligence. The required, semester-long experiential learning course, which will be taken by all BS in Business seniors in either the fall or spring, is the culmination of each student’s Stern experience. Skills gained through coursework, student clubs, and internships, guided by the UC’s Five Pillars – Academics, Social Impact, Global, Professional, and Community – are put into action in this highly hands-on class.  

In the course, faculty-led student teams are paired with corporate partners across various industries to explore some of today’s most complex, pressing, relevant global business challenges – from artificial intelligence to social impact to fintech and everything in between. Students gain experience that will serve them as they prepare to transition to the world of work, including strategizing creative proposals while also managing stakeholder partnerships, navigating team dynamics, and learning how to hone and utilize their own unique strengths to optimize their contributions.  

An “Only at Stern” Offering in Vision and Scale
“In offering this brand new NYC Consulting Capstone course, I cannot help thinking that there is not another school in the country that could have pulled this off,” said Undergraduate College Vice Dean Robert Whitelaw.  “At Stern, our willingness to experiment, our commitment to innovation in business education, combined with the fearlessness of our faculty, were the starting points. Our unparalleled network of partner organizations just minutes away from our campus, whose teams often include Stern alumni, was the second essential ingredient. And, the energy of our remarkable students was the final critical piece of the puzzle. Given this initial success, our belief in this course as part of our vision for the future of business education in these turbulent times has been more than vindicated.”

Undergraduate College Vice Dean Robert Whitelaw addresses students during the capstone’s fall semester final plenary

Undergraduate College Vice Dean Robert Whitelaw addresses students during the capstone’s fall semester final plenary

Sharpening Skills That Can’t be Automated
During the inaugural fall 2023 semester, the course had ten different sections, each guided by one of Stern's world-renowned faculty, and each with its own corporate partner representing a different industry such as AI finance, real estate, healthcare, non-profit, sustainability, entertainment and media, and more. The course builds on Stern’s pioneering foundation in experiential learning, and throughout the semester, students worked in iterative cycles of action and reflection. 

According to Clinical Professor Matt Statler, who designed and led the course, "Students in the NYC Consulting Capstone develop their capacity to empathize with the needs of a client organization, work together in diverse teams to address complex problems, and become more self-aware through reflection on their experiences. In an era of increased automation, these skills will become increasingly important for all kinds of business functions, so the course allows our students to build on what they've learned throughout their time at NYU Stern and prepare themselves for long careers as leaders."

Clinical Professor Matt Statler speaks with students during the capstone’s fall semester final plenary

Clinical Professor Matt Statler speaks with students during the capstone’s fall semester final plenary

What the Students Say
Senior Alex Isaac (BS ’24), who is concentrating in Finance and Data Science, worked on a project at the intersection of AI and finance with TIFIN, an innovative investment management company, as part of Vice Dean Whitelaw’s group. “What surprised me the most was the opportunity to have a real impact through our suggestions. It was encouraging and inspiring to see a company genuinely consider student-led consulting advice and show openness to implementing our strategies.” Looking ahead, Alex noted, “I'm taking away a deepened appreciation for the value of thorough research, the power of teamwork, and the ability to present complex ideas succinctly, skills that will be indispensable to my future career in financial research.”

For Alex, one experience from the course made a lasting impression: “Our final presentation stands out as a landmark moment. The pressure of presenting a semester's worth of research and recommendations to a real company was a unique and unforgettable experience.” 

Senior Paula Sandoval Santamaria (BS ’24), who is concentrating in Finance and Computing & Data Science with a Minor in Math and Computer Science, worked on a project led by Professor Bruce Buchanan with non-profit Welcome to Chinatown focused on empowering small businesses. “This course has been one of the most impactful classes I have taken at Stern and will be something I carry with me through my professional career. Working directly with the client was invaluable and helped me gain experience in understanding their needs, resource allocation, and collaborative decision-making. I learned a lot about tackling challenges in unique ways and embracing the unknown. While daunting at first, the structure of the class encourages us to carve our own path and look at unconventional approaches to everyday problems.” 

Senior Paula Sandoval Santamaria engaging in her group presentation to Welcome to Chinatown client leads

Senior Paula Sandoval Santamaria engaging in her group presentation to Welcome to Chinatown client leads 

Paula continued, “Working with a non-profit like Welcome to Chinatown, which does such incredible work for underserved communities, emphasized and showed me the importance of integrity and placing people before profit.” 

What the Companies Say
Julie Dwyer (MBA ’20), Chief Operating Officer, Space, which offers on-demand, by-the-box storage, noted the benefits of engaging with Stern UC students as the client lead on her project.

“When you work tirelessly on something every day, you can easily get stuck in your own ways of thinking,” Dwyer said. “I allowed myself to be open-minded — after all, Space is solving a big pain point for many people, including students. My team and I were surprised by some of the simple but potentially impactful ideas presented to us. Being in the classroom has been so valuable that we're doing it again next semester!”

Dwyer, who graduated from Stern’s Executive MBA program, also spoke to how engaging it was to be back in an academic environment. 

“I live by the principle of ‘you get out what you put in,’” she said. “I wanted this to be a memorable experience for everyone, and I knew the students would match the energy I brought to the classroom. We developed a fun and easy dynamic early on, and I strongly believe that this allowed them to have the freedom to take risks and try new things in a real-world scenario.” 

Vic Lee, CEO, Welcome to Chinatown, spoke to how the project her organization hosted positively impacted students and stakeholders. 

“Collaborating with NYU Stern is invaluable to our mission as it creates a symbiotic relationship for Stern students and our organization, Welcome to Chinatown,” Lee said. “Students gained hands-on experience to understand how their learnings could be applied and translated to tackle real-world issues. This partnership not only enhanced student learning but helped us drive awareness to issues and foster what we hope will be growing relationships with Chinatown small business owners. Together, we're fostering a new generation of socially conscious leaders and problem-solvers, dedicated to ensuring Chinatown will be open for generations to come.” 

Tom Van Horn, COO, Magnifi by TIFIN, noted the benefit of Stern students’ perspective on topics impacting industry today, like artificial intelligence. 

"At this critical time for technology in finance, we're lucky to have Stern students considering the true human impact AI and tools like Magnifi can bring to investing. We were impressed with the students' presentations and encourage them to continue to contemplate progress for our industry and society as a whole."

After a strong inaugural fall semester, the capstone will continue in the spring with an innovative slate of corporate partners and a wide array of opportunities for students to gain critical skills for their diverse career paths.