We spoke with a rising second year at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business just as he was finishing his first year of MBA studies and preparing to start a summer internship with a venture capital firm in New York City. Before entering Stern, this student—who has a finance degree from William & Mary—spent three years working in structured finance at a regional bank in Washington, DC, before switching to asset management and working at a venture capital fund of funds. He is pursuing two specializations: one in finance and one in entrepreneurship and innovation.
mbaMission: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today and telling us more about your experiences as a Stern MBA student.
Stern First Year: Sure. No problem.
mbaMission: So, how has living in New York City been for you both personally and in relation to your career search and your MBA studies?
SFY: I went to a very rural undergrad. I went to William & Mary, so this is a complete 180 from that, having actually a city around. But that being said, I’ve always wanted to live in New York City. I was going to move here after undergrad and decided to move to DC instead. Living in New York has been amazing, and now after going to school here, I could not imagine going to many other programs, and that’s not only from all the things that New York has to offer from a social standpoint and like a cultural standpoint. But even just resources with regards to meeting industry professionals, having internships during the semester, working on a consulting project for a company, having guest speakers come into school. We literally get—we get it all. If there is someone that’s in town, we can try to get them to come speak at school, which has been great because we’ve had awesome speakers. I’ve gotten to interface with really cool companies over the last year just by literally hopping on the subway and going to their office. And that’s something that has been really valuable and really important to me. And part of the MBA experience has not just been being in the classroom, because certain faculty are amazing, but they keep encouraging us, get out of the classroom, get out of the confines of a structured text and everything and learn on the job, learn from people who have done it. And that’s really what New York’s been able to provide for me.
mbaMission: Sure. I could see that. As far as the social thing goes and bonding with your classmates, is it tempting to spend your free time doing the New York thing or do you generally stick around campus? How does that work?
SFY: That’s a great question, because we spend however many hours always together, with my classmates, and I’m on campus at 9:00 in the morning, and I don’t go home until 11:00 or midnight. That’s just how it is. I’m always with them, and it’s not always doing work, but a lot of times, its social activities with my classmates. And one thing that’s nice in New York is I have the ability to meet up with all of my non-Stern friends and can disconnect from Stern for a night, for a weekend, for however long I want, but the really nice thing is that even the people that are from—that lived in New York prior to coming to Stern, they still stay engaged with the Stern community. They’re not quick to run off to their previous friends, their previous roommates and just hang out with them, but everyone has bought into Stern, and they want to hang out with their Stern classmates. And at the same time, they are just as willing—on an off night and they really need a break from the Stern kids—to go hang out with their other friends.
For example, my college roommate lives here in New York and lives a block from me, but I would only see him once every two weeks or so just because I’d be busy with school stuff and he’d be busy with stuff, but then we could sync up and go out anytime, really.
mbaMission: That’s great. How would you characterize your classmates at Stern and the Stern community as a whole?
SFY: My classmates and I say that at Stern—at least in the MBA program; I haven’t interacted too much with the undergraduate program—but there is the assumption that all business schools are hypercompetitive and cutthroat, and I would say that at Stern, this couldn’t be farther from the truth in that it’s a very collaborative culture. Everyone is willing to help each other, and that’s very weird for me, because you get these 400 type A people together all competing for the same jobs, for the same As in the class, because we do have forced curves, but at the same time they’re willing to shoot over the research they did for a marketing class or what they got on a problem set just because people generally care for their classmates. I wasn’t expecting it to be like that, and now I know Stern traditionally had a reputation that’s much better in that regards than [at some other MBA programs], but it still is much more collaborative than I would have imagined.
And there’s the intellect level. I’ve been very impressed with people, because what Stern does a good job of is not just snagging a bunch of people from banks, a bunch of people from top consulting companies and then a couple of people who’ve done those weird philanthropic things that everyone always hears about the double bottom line in business school. We’ve got a very diverse class set, and some of my best friends worked in the arts before coming to school. But then I have a friend who was an investment banker. I’ve got people who were professional soccer players and things like that, that you get such a unique perspective when it comes to class, especially when it’s a discussion-based class where people are bringing up their experiences. And while leadership for someone in an arts collective and leadership for someone at a major consulting company are different, their different perspectives really help shape a better understanding of what that is and brings much more to the classroom. It definitely makes for interesting conversation.
mbaMission: What were your thoughts about Stern’s core curriculum?
SFY: I don’t know how familiar you are with William & Mary’s undergraduate business program, but at William & Mary, we do something very similar to a lot of business schools. You do two years of liberal arts, and then you do two years of business classes. So my first semester in the business school at William & Mary was a core semester with the same team across all four core classes. You work in those same groups on all your projects. You do your accounting, your marketing, your finance and a little operations. So a lot of the core here at Stern was a review for me, and that’s good and bad. So for example, I did not take “Foundations of Finance” with [William] Silber, which is one of the most popular classes at school, and that was more because I would have just been bored out of my mind. I work in finance, and I was able to waive out of it very easily, and while I missed out on “the Silber Experience,” it was good for me.
Now whether or not I wanted to put in the time to test out of the other core classes could have been good, I mean, I don’t think there’s enough gain. Part of the value of the core is not just taking the classes, it’s establishing those relationships with your team members and with our, as we call them, our blocks. The people in my block are now some of my closest friends, the people I go to all the time for anything. So it’s more about establishing relationships than the actual what you learn in the classroom, even though there’s some people that needed that baseline knowledge in order to succeed in the class after the first semester.
Now, there are some classes, like, the leadership class isn’t particularly my favorite, I didn’t take macro economics just because micro economics wasn’t very interesting and I don’t know if it’s the nature of a core class in that they have to keep it kind of mundane and hit certain points, but overall, I think what they teach you in those core classes is pretty important to know. Now in the second semester, I have two core classes and three electives—in those electives, I’m tapping on a lot of the things I learned in core classes.
I’m in “Corporate Finance” now, and I didn’t even take foundations [the core course “Foundations of Finance”], but my level of finance is still a lot stronger than the people who just took “Corporate Finance.” It gets people up to it at a good enough level where they’ll then be able to succeed in the next class, but it’s still not a completely level playing field after the core.
mbaMission: Right. What kind of hands-on learning opportunities have you had? There are a lot of such opportunities at Stern, if I understand correctly.
SFY: Yes, not only in the classroom. We’re really lucky, as I said before, to be in New York in the sense that we get guest speakers all the time. So Anne Moore, who is the former CEO of Time, spoke to my class yesterday, and just being able to hear someone like that. We’ve had Peter Lewis, who’s the former CEO of Progressive Insurance. He came in and talked about the Harvard Business Review case on Progressive Insurance. We discussed it for an hour, and then Peter came in as a surprise and talked to us for an hour about decisions he made in that case. That kind of hands-on experience from a guest teacher perspective are amazing.
The professors here are so well connected that they can get an awesome speaker to come in and talk about something that’s relative to the class, but it’s not just the classes themselves. Stern does a really good job with this program they call Stern Consulting Core, and they don’t tell you when you sign up for it, but it’s essentially another class. You have to interview, and you go through this process where you end up working with a local organization. Most of them are nonprofits or foundations, and you are then consulting in teams of three to five for that company or that nonprofit organization, and they will leverage your MBA skill set that you’re learning in order to get whatever they need to do.
So I didn’t do Stern Consulting Core because a lot of the clubs will have individual ones that are more focused on a particular industry. I did one through our Entrepreneurs Exchange Club, which is called EEX Consulting, and I worked with a start-up here in New York last semester. There was a team of five of us, and we were brought in to do two things. They wanted a complete market analysis to find out if they were targeting the right things, and then they wanted us to do a pricing model for them. And so there were five of us that sat down, and we met with them once a week or so. We would go to their offices and sit down with their team—they’re building an actual product, have customers, have raised venture money and everything. They’re a venture-backed company. We’re talking to the guys who were in programming and asking like, “What are the features that you think that we would need?” and getting that input. They were more concerned with us learning from them on how business runs than what we were giving them in response, which was, “Here’s how you should price it. These are the verticals you should go for. Here’s a complete market analysis on those verticals.” So that kind of hands-on experience. There were five different projects just for EEX last semester. There were five for our Luxury Retail Club. There were five for another thing. So most kids will do one of these consulting products in the first or second semester first year, and then a lot of times people do them second year.
I was set up through my project last semester with an internship this semester at another start-up, and that was just because they talked, so I got that hands-on experience outside of the classroom even there. So it’s not just the guest speakers or the cool opportunities to do neat things in New York—like, you can do a field trip to the New York Stock Exchange if you’re in an investment banking class. That can be very relevant as well. Some of us might not want to do that, but having that kind of opportunity and the hands-on stuff is great.
It’s almost like the cases are secondary. Like you read these cases, but that’s not as relevant as being able to say, “Hey, Joe, tell me about that marketing study you did on the film industry for your internship.” That’s more valuable than reading a Harvard Business Review case from 1975 on a company in an industry that is no longer relevant.
mbaMission: Right, that makes sense. It sounds like you’re making a lot of connections, and that’s helping you land some great job opportunities, but have you worked with the career development office at all?
SFY: I have, but not as much as other people. I came in with the impression that I did not want to do traditional recruiting, so I wasn’t interested in investment banking, consulting or brand management. So I think the good thing is they do a great job with those three, and that places 70% of our class off the bat. They’re very good at getting those kids internships. I was more focused on the entertainment, media and technology stuff. I’m in the Entertainment, Media and Technology Association, and I sit on the board, so I’ve been able to get a lot of relationships and start a lot of conversations through that. But OCD [Office of Career Development]—we call them OCD—they’re there to sit and listen to you and help you hash out ideas. I was presented with three offers at the same time, one of which was through their network, and it was for investment banking, and I sat down with someone I had been in dialogue with in OCD for a few months and hashed out all the pluses and minuses of each. We looked at where did I want to be in the future, what would be the best way to get there, and they’re pretty responsive. I mean, they’re not as strong in those non-core three that I mentioned earlier [investment banking, consulting or brand management], but I think that’s only going to become better with time.
It’s almost on the clubs. Being on the board of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Association, I help out with anything I can. So if someone says, “Do you know anybody at this company?” I’ll be like, “Yep,” and I reach into my personal network and set someone up, and they’re just as willing to reciprocate. My roommate is the president of the club, and she’ll send out something if she has a connection that someone else might want. We know the limitations of it, and everyone does, and they then leverage the other students. You have remember, there are 800 full-time students and thousands of part-time students. So thousands of part-time students are here in New York that all have jobs at companies we probably want to work at. I have classmates that used to work at Google, for example. I have classmates that interned at Google last semester. I have friends who are part-timers who work at Google. I have alums that work at Google, and so if Google is who I want to target—even though the OCD brought Google in a corporate presentation and we did recruiting through them—you still have all those other avenues that you can hit up and get some kind of traction there as well.
mbaMission: That sounds really helpful.
SFY: Yeah, and I think they [the OCD] know their limitations. There’s been a little transition in the team in our career office, and I think that they’re still figuring out certain things like who’s going to work on the social enterprise stuff, who’s going to work on the entertainment stuff, who’s media, who’s technology, who’s whatever. So it’s a learning process.
mbaMission: Of course, especially when the landscape keeps changing.
SFY: Yeah, you know, I’m sure they were great for banking. I don’t know because I didn’t do that recruiting, but it shouldn’t be hard for Stern, right?
mbaMission: Right. What impression do students generally have of Dean [Peter] Henry and any influence he’s had since he took over?
SFY: I think he’s generally very well received. People like him a lot. He’s a great person, and it seems that he actually cares about the students. A good example is he takes the stairs up to the 11th floor every day. He doesn’t walk over to the elevator, pop in the elevator and take it up and not say hi to anyone; he takes the stairs so he can talk to students on his way up to his office. And he also has office hours available whenever anyone wants to talk to him. I could go talk to his receptionist now and just say, “Hey, I want to speak to Dean Henry whenever he’s next free.” “All right, I’ll give you Tuesday at 3:00.” You can literally sit down with him. There’s a couch in his office, and he will literally talk to you about whatever you want to talk about, whether you’re not happy with something, whether you just want to say, “Hey, great job on that State of Stern address you gave last week.” He’s always there for feedback. I have three friends who played basketball with him yesterday, or two days ago, at the gym. They set up and were like, “Hey, do you want to play basketball?” He’s like, Yeah!” So then they went and they played a game of Horse for like an hour.
So the administration is good. He’s not just a figurehead. There is a team working with him, a very confident team that is trying to identify all the issues that students have with Stern and trying to, you know, alleviate the pressures on kids. So kids want more classes during the day, for example, but it’s hard with some of our professors who are notable in the business school who work during the day. They’re trying to address all the issues of students, and it’s why we had this State of Stern speech last week. He works very closely with Adam Brandenburger, who’s one of the other deans [the Vice Dean for Graduate Education], and anything that comes up, they’re willing to tackle. They want to do what’s in the best interest of students, not just what’s in the best interest of themselves.
And Dean Henry has a purple backpack that he wears around all the time. So you always know where he is. Then he’s like six [foot] five, so he’s hard to miss. He actually was the dunk champion in college when he played basketball. He’s very well respected.
mbaMission: That’s great. What would you say in general about the school’s faculty?
SFY: I think there’s a wide range of faculty. You have some who are absolutely unbelievable, like I’m sure you’ve heard of [Aswath] Damodaran, who is, you know, the guru on corporate finance. I’m in his class now, and I will say that he is the guru on corporate finance. There is no one that will teach you corporate finance better than Aswath Damodaran. That’s just not going to happen. He’s fantastic. But it’s hard to sell a professor on teaching a core class, right? Do you want to be the guy that teaches “Statistics”? No. That’s not particularly interesting—an intro-level statistics core class for an MBA—but out of the ten professors that I’ve had so far, I’d say there’s only been two, I would guess, maybe two and a half, that I’ve really been disappointed with, and the others have all been amazing.
There are academics, and you quickly figure out who the academics are, but then there are also a lot of people that have worked in industry. So my investment banking professor ran Credit Suisse at one point. He’s worked in investment banking for 30 years. He knows the industry better than anyone, and he’s not going to get up there with a case and try and teach you with a bunch of case studies. He’s going to get up there and say, “This is what I did when I started Equity Capital Markets at this bank.” You learn all about it from that, and so the teaching styles vary. My class at 3:00 is mostly case based—I mean, every week a case to read for it, but that’s just the way that certain classes are. There’s very different teaching styles amongst all the classes, and some are very hands-on. There are some where we break out into little project groups constantly. There are other ones where it is kind of more straight lecture, like Damodaran’s class. So it varies, and most of the time, I’ve been very satisfied.
You’re not going to get 100% of amazing professors, but there are enough that, after your first semester, when you’re not forced to take certain classes, that you can take only “amazing professors.” And we have these course faculty evaluations that all the students can view, and they’re anonymous. You rate all the professors. So students are required to fill them out in order to get their grade for a class, and you can go in and see the rating for every single professor, and you can know before you ever take your class how demanding the class is, how would you rate it on a scale of one to seven, how effective is this professor at using tools other than just lecturing, things like that. So you can get a full overview of all the professors before you ever take them. And that really weighs into a lot of people’s decisions on classes. You might think a topic’s really interesting, but then you check out CFE [Course Faculty Evaluation], and they’ve gotten 3s across the board, and it’s, “I’m not going to take that class now.”
My class at 3:00 is with [Glenn] Okun, and he is a very good professor. He’s very interesting and entertaining, and he’s one of those who has worked in the industry, he’s done it. I’m in his “Managing the Growing Company” class, and it’s fascinating from a standpoint of—he has what I think he called the Frankenstein text, which is a text book that’s in a series of articles and Harvard Business Review cases, and some actual textbook chapters written by Jim Collins, who was a professor at Stanford, and we’re the only other program that uses this textbook. It can’t be used by any other school. So it’s a very unique text to use and learn from, but then his actual teaching style is great. I mean, he gets up there—and it’s an hour and 20 minute-class twice a week, and we have a different case for each class—he gets up there and for the first 20 minutes, 30 minutes, he just says, “All right, tell me everything about the case.” And he won’t prompt you—he’ll literally just sit there, and you kind of describe everything. He writes it up on the board and then ties it into how we should evaluate it from that point. And then it’s just a very engaging class. My whole thing is, if I don’t read the case, I’m not going to go to the class. I don’t get anything out of it, and he knows that, and he’s very quick to point out that there’s no point in coming if you didn’t read the case. Why waste anyone’s time? He’s just a very engaging professor. He’s a little quirky, but he’s good and extremely bright.
And Damodaran takes the cake for accessibility. I had a quiz with him yesterday, and the class he teaches is capped at 400, I think, so basically the whole first-year class takes it. I think there’s probably 360 kids. We had a 30-minute quiz yesterday, and he had graded all 360 quizzes by 10:00 this morning. He did it. He doesn’t have TAs [teaching assistants]. He did every single one of these, and then he emails everyone, “Okay, come pick them up whenever.” And then in addition, he sends us an email every day, and they’re different emails on different types of days, so every Friday, he sends a webcast out where he talks about something we learned in class, and he does a ten-minute webcast on applying that thing we talked about. Every Wednesday is the puzzle of week, where he’ll take something in the news and say, “This is how you should apply what we’ve been learning in class to this.” We’ll have a post-class review, like a quiz question that he doesn’t grade, but he’ll say, “Just think about this. This is what you should have learned in class today.”
He told us, “If I’m ever walking around and you see me, you can ask me any questions you want. The only time you’re not allowed to is if I am sleeping or if my heart rate is above 161 beats per minute—meaning he didn’t want people asking him while he was running on the treadmill, but other than that, you can ask him questions whenever you want. It’s fair game. And it’s mainly the reason I’m taking his next class, which they call corporate finance part II, next semester. I mean, he’s just that good of a professor. That’s hard to pass up.
And there’s Charlie Murphy, who is the investment banking professor and trying to teach some other classes. He’s just absolutely fantastic, and whether it’s because he’s had so much experience in the industry and knows all the players or the fact that he’s just very humorous. He knows who his audience is, and he plays to the audience. So he’ll tell us a story. He goes, “All right, I’m going to tell you the funny version first before I tell you what actually happened,” and that kind of stuff really gets kids engaged.
When you talk to the second years and you ask them what was your favorite class at Stern, people either say it’s Okun’s “Managing Growing Companies” class or Charlie Murphy’s investment banking class [“Investment Banking: The Financial Service Industry”], and more often now they say the investment banking class. And I’ll be perfectly honest—70% of the class will never go into finance, maybe 60% have never touched finance—so it’s not like it’s a quant-heavy class. There is no math in the class; it’s just very intellectually stimulating, and he does an amazing job of teaching it. Anyone you talk to from Stern who’s taken the class will tell you that he is probably their favorite professor.
And Sonia Marciano is another good one. I did not have her for our core “Strategy” class, but some kids did. She teaches advanced strategy, and she’s amazing as well.
mbaMission: Great. What kind of interaction have you had with the alumni, either when you were applying or since you’ve become a student?
SFY: So when I applied, I didn’t have as much interaction. The funny thing is that Stern has probably the most graduates of an MBA program because of all the part-timers, but I didn’t talk to many. I talked to current students that are now, I guess, alums, but I didn’t deal with too many of the alumni when I was applying. My role on the entertainment and technology board is I coordinate speakers and events, so I get a lot of alums to come in from various entertainment, media and technology companies, not only in New York, but all over the country. They come in and either sit on a panel, do a Q&A, give a speech to the students or hold a lunch and learn.
So I’ve interacted with actually quite a few, and that’s not just because I wanted to do the speakers and events. Like, I am in the GFA, which is the Graduate Finance Association, and I’ve had a chance to interact with a ton of alum in the finance program. I’ve had a chance through the entrepreneurs club [Entrepreneur’s Exchange Club] to get in touch with a bunch of the people who work at start-ups around here, and I think it’s partly due to the fact that a lot people who go to Stern stay in New York after they graduate or come back here if they go somewhere else for a few years. So there are always people to talk to, and they’re very receptive. I’ve emailed people who I’ve never had a conversation with and no one ever introduced me. I will just email them because I found them on our alumni database and say, “Hey, so and so, my name’s Joe, I’m a first year at Stern. I’ve been doing blah, blah, blah, and I’m very interested in hearing more about what you do. Would you have time for a call?” and they’re all willing to. I’ve got a probably 10% miss rate of people who are either just too busy or don’t respond, but for the most part, they’re super receptive to help anyone out, because a lot of them relate back to when they were in your shoes. They’re good about it.
And the office of career development does a good job of getting us in touch with the alum, whether it’s at any company. So I was interested at one point in looking at potentially an internship at J. Crew. So I went into their office, and I said, “Hey, who graduated from Stern who works at J. Crew?” And the guy says, “It’s so and so. Let me send you her email address.” It was fast, and I got in touch with the girl two days later. We were having a conversation, talking all about her job at J. Crew and things like that.
One thing that I didn’t mention earlier about hands-on learning opportunities that I just remembered—and which is actually set up through [Professor] Okun—is we do an Amazon challenge [the Amazon.com Innovation Competition] every year. It’s kind of a case competition—I don’t know, because I haven’t done any of the consulting case competitions, but I know we do them with Deloitte and a bunch of the big consulting companies, but this one for Amazon. They sent, I think, six people from Amazon—I think one or two are Stern grads—and the idea was we have three weeks to come up with a business plan or a new business to launch for Amazon, and we need to do so in teams of five. Then we submitted them all to a senior exec at Amazon, and they read through the ideas they liked and picked the top three. And then those top three groups presented to six people from Amazon at Stern, and then the winners were flown out to Seattle to then pitch that in front of management.
So that’s the kind of experience you get, and all these kids are volunteering to do it. So I volunteered with four other guys, and we came up with our idea. We didn’t end up winning, but they were so good. We emailed the people at Amazon and asked for feedback, and they said, “You guys didn’t think about these things. Have you thought about these things?” and “Those were great things.” And Okun set it up on his own because he just wanted us to learn how to do that. That is something he didn’t have to do but did, and it was very valuable.
mbaMission: What would you say are the best and maybe not-so-great parts of Stern’s facilities?
SFY: So I’ll start with the worst only because I feel like it’s a common complaint and it’s an ongoing joke. They’re actually addressing it, but the bathrooms always being cleaned, and the joke is that they’re always clean, but they’re never available when you need to use them. But they have started a really huge renovation process on a lot of the building, and they’ve gutted almost all of the bathrooms, and they’re replacing all of them. So we do have new, fresh, clean bathrooms on every floor.
And then there are a couple of classrooms that seem somewhat dated. One of our larger classrooms is scheduled for a huge renovation this summer and will be done hopefully by the fall, which is great, because we have a lot of panels and things are hosted in there, but it’s kind of a dingy old classroom. For the most part, we’ve got our study labs that most of the first years hang out in—that was brand new a couple years ago. Our big lecture hall is almost brand new, and the technology in all the classrooms is amazing. All of our study rooms that we book through our online system have hookups for everyone’s laptop. You can hook them up to a 50 inch TV in every single one, so you can work on a project together and not on someone’s 11 inch laptop screen. So those kinds of things are amazing in the sense that the technology is definitely up there.
They do need to work on the café. I mean, there’s not a whole lot of food options, but granted, you’re in New York City. I can walk a block in every direction, and there’s 20 different places to eat. It’s not like we’re all on campus and have to drive to the closest Jimmy John’s. And we all order Seamless [an online system for ordering from restaurants]. If we need food, I can order Seamless on my phone. I can get food 20 minutes later, delivered from anywhere in the city, so that kind of stuff is great.
mbaMission: Sure. How would you characterize social life at Stern specifically?
SFY: Yeah. So, I am lucky. I’m really good friends with both of the people on our events committee, so I’m just a bystander—I generally do what they do. We have every Thursday night, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, what we call beer blast, and it is MBA only, for the first and second years. The part-timers come, but not often. It’s basically like a keg party in the basement of our building. We have a giant room, and they have tons of kegs, tons of food, music, and it’s hosted by a different club each week and co-hosted by our student government. So it’s just a place where everyone meets every Thursday night at 6:00. You know, you’re like, “Are you going to beer blast? All right, I’ll see you there!” And then whichever club hosted that beer blast will organize a post-beer blast party at a bar within a few minutes of campus that everyone goes to. So they have that every week, and the clubs themselves all have various happy hours. I feel like I could go to a happy hour with a different club that I’m in every single night if I wanted to. Those are all student run. People are very big on the social life here.
Last weekend was our spring gala, which is our business school prom, essentially, and they have it at one of the trendy hotels here in New York. So that kind of stuff they do a great job with. But the students want to hang out with each other even when there’s not something going on. Like I said earlier, I’m just as apt to call any of my classmates to hang out—most of the time even more likely to call them than one of my friends, like my old roommate from college or good friends of mine who I grew up with and who live here in New York.
mbaMission: We’ve heard the Stern Follies are a pretty big deal, too, right?
SFY: Yeah. Follies was a few weeks ago, and Follies is a huge deal. It was a lot of fun. It’s just nice to see your classmates kind of poke fun at being business school students. We poke fun at the school a little bit. Obviously, we poke fun with Columbia a lot—and they do the same thing with us—but Follies is a really fun thing. I didn’t know how big of a thing it was until I went to the first Follies, but now I’m already thinking about what I would want to do if I want to submit a video for Follies for next year. I’ve already thought extensively about it.
mbaMission: That’s great. Do you think you will?
SFY: Yeah. There’s a good chance.
mbaMission: What do you think more people should know about Stern that you think they probably don’t?
SFY: We’re not just a finance school, but if you want to do finance, we’re the best to do that at. I know Chicago Booth and Wharton are both great programs for finance, and those are just as good, and MIT Sloan’s another great program, but at Stern, just the accessibility you have is amazing. All my friends went through banking recruiting last semester. They were at Goldman Sachs during the week, meeting with people, having a coffee chat. They were meeting with a hedge fund on Park Ave. They were doing those types of things that you don’t get to do, and that transcended across all of the different recruiting stuff. So that’s something people don’t take into consideration. They think, “Oh, you’re in New York. You’re just in a big city.” But it’s all those opportunities that are there that people just kind of overlook.
And the second thing I would say is that people need to look at—I mean, I’m obviously biased because I don’t go to Columbia—but they should think about Stern just as much as Columbia, even though we’re not as highly ranked. I think we should be higher ranked. I think we place people in just as good of jobs. I think we have more extensive faculty. We have a better access in the sense that I can walk two blocks to an internship, when they have to take the subway 40 minutes.
Those kinds of things that people don’t think about, and they just think, “Columbia is Ivy League,” you know, “They’ve got to be the best. They’ve got to be better than Stern.” So it’s not a chip-on-the-shoulder type of thing, but people need to consider that if you’re looking at Columbia, you should be looking at Stern. If you’re not, you’re an idiot, and vice versa—if you’re looking at Stern, you should look at Columbia.