Thursday, June 5, 2014

Interview with 1st Year Student in the NYU Stern MBA Program

I am pleased to offer the following interview with a current 1st year student in NYU Stern's MBA Program.

1. Looking back on the way you prepared for the MBA, is there anything you would change? Anything you would have done more of or less of?

After spending a year at NYU Stern, I’ve realized that it’s really hard to join a new society at the beginning, that is, to take leadership as a student in a foreign country.

Communication is different from just speaking in English and there is not only a hardship in language but also differences in culture and mindset. For the first few months you will spend quite an intensive time mingling and studying. Here (in the US) students keep almost no distance with each other. From the perspective of Japanese culture (I’m from Japan) I found it a bit close and felt an adjustment was required. I have learned, both from applicants who visit our campus and my own experience, that Japanese applicants focus their research more on the classes and less on the environment. That could be a big deal. You should know what’s really going on during your MBA to be assured you can feel fit with your school. It is possible that you are not outgoing enough, and so you may be confused when it comes to your school life. In order to avoid that, you should know what opportunities are being set up for you. The Japan Trek (sometimes called the Japan Trip) is a good example. You have absolute advantage in everything and there are lots of potential friends who are interested in your home country. You will be exposed to a lot of students and they will know who you are. They will realize you are polite/kind/sincere etc. and you will be able to get a strong bond with them, as you contribute to the student body in your school. This is the first step for you to make a difference in your life as a student. Thus, you should imagine such specific steps beforehand and leverage fully the opportunities you can encounter.

In addition, if I were an MBA applicant this year, I would spend more time choosing schools, specifically getting to know the environment around each one.

You will spend a lot of time outside the school, so it’s important to know the environment. Many Japanese applicants tend to focus only on school programs when they investigate business schools. This is important, but seeing other opportunities is of great importance as well. Fortunately, I live in the center of NYC, which means it enables me to network with various smart people from Japan as well as other countries. That’s one of the New York advantages. Also, the great access to other cities and countries helps me get involved in events/opportunities I cannot enjoy/experience in Japan and that makes a difference.

I know that whatever your target score is, it is hard to beat the GMAT and TOEFL. But you are not going to do them again once you enroll in your dream school, so I recommend you think of your school choice over and over while you are an applicant.

2. Can you write a bit about a course that you have really enjoyed or benefitted from?

NYU Stern is known for Finance but I think it is also good in Data Science. Since I majored in statistics and math, it allows me to know how my academic knowledge applies to real business problems/situations. Lectures here use a hands-on style and professors let us form a study group so I can learn concreted knowledge and experiences from not only the professors but my group members.

3. Have you had the time to get involved in any extra-curricular activities? If so, what ones and what are you doing in them?

I was a Japan Trek leader. There were over 170 applications to join the trip and 100 MBA students went to Japan with only three Japanese students. Half the participants wanted to go sightseeing in the daytime while others wanted to go to nightclubs every night. To satisfy both, trek leaders got up at 7am and went to bed at 5am every day. We were really exhausted but really got to know each other well. And the remarkable point is that the participants gave us a big gift as a token of their gratitude. Currently we feel much closer with each other and it motivates us to contribute to the school even more.

4. What have your experiences been like in learning/project teams? 

NYU Stern has various dual degree courses. One memorable experience was when I worked with dual degree students from the film school. It was for a data mining class and we had to create a data-mining project and complete it by ourselves. We did a project of projecting box office sales for movies. Film school students are professional in qualitative analysis of what will affect the sales of movies and I’m good at math and programming. We could realize synergies with each other. Also, if I work in Japan I wouldn’t normally have a chance to work with people from the film industry.

5. Can you share your plans for the summer?

Since I’m a company sponsored student I can’t do a summer internship. Instead, I will study Spanish and Chinese. Also, I will study programming.

6. Can you offer any words of advice for those applying to the MBA program you are enrolled in?

NYU Stern is at the center of the world and offers you a lot of opportunities that can make your life better. Please feel free to contact us from our website. Hope to see you soon. Good luck!

Thank you for your time!

John Couke