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Full-time MBA | Justin Kono

Justin Kono
Student Voices

Justin Kono, MBA 2024

  • Hometown
    Seattle, WA 
  • Undergraduate
    School: University of Washington
  • Previous Company
    Caliber Home Loans
  • Summer Internship
    Bank of America
  • Specializations at Stern
    Real Estate
    Corporate Finance
  • Student Clubs
    Graduate Finance Association
    The Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students

What moment made you realize Stern was the home for you?

I knew that I wanted to go into Investment Banking before pursuing an MBA, and I was excited about the idea of New York. I attended many, many information sessions for Stern and loved both the faculty and the students. Stern was my #1 pick before I even started working on my applications.

How did you prepare for the program before you began it?

I was still working full-time prior to the program starting, so I didn't have a chance to do much warming up before school. I primarily brushed up on my quant skills using GMAT guides since I am not the strongest quant, and I studied investment banking / Breaking Into Wall Street questions to get a head start. I also spoke to a lot of MBA1s (first-year MBA students) to get a grasp of how to best prepare for a cohesive start to school and recruiting. Speaking to current students is the best thing you can do to prepare.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Getting an MBA is not only an investment in yourself but also a gift to yourself. You get to spend two years choosing what knowledge to consume, and you get to do it on your own terms while lining up a fruitful career that aligns with your interests & goals. Think carefully about what you want that experience to look like, and do everything you can to make that vision come to life.

What surprised you the most about Stern?

I read this a million times from students when I applied but I can't say it enough - Stern delivers on its EQ+IQ (and now +CQ - or cultural intelligence) promises. The student body is diverse, rich in experiences & perspectives, and beyond welcoming. Stern is the strongest community I have ever been a part of.

Who makes up your chosen family at NYU Stern?

It's tied for Consortium & Outclass. I met the Consortium folks at Orientation Program (OP) months before the program started, and we instantly became a family. We have monthly dinners to celebrate birthdays and catch up on life, and we are all a sounding board to each other professionally and personally. We celebrate our wins together and we are there to offer a hand if there are losses (but Consortium takes a lot more W's than L's). There isn't a single person in the Consortium that I couldn't go to for help and they really eased my move to the city from LA.

How has Stern prepared you for the recruiting process?

I did early recruiting beginning at the end of last spring and going into the summer. I was certain of what I wanted, and as soon as I articulated that, the career center gave me resources for my resume, cover letters, crafting my story, and most importantly - connections with current students. Those Sternies gave me immense resources, from sharing questions banks ask, to what to expect at interviews, even how to tie my tie.

How would you describe the Stern community?

I would describe Stern as a family. Even with 300+ people, everybody has a place where they fit in best and countless other welcoming places to join & collaborate. I am not usually one to strike up a conversation with strangers, but Stern is the exception; I feel I can talk to anyone and have a conversation that is meaningful or fun (or both).