Rescheduling Good Times

"Just wait until your second year," said last year's second-year MBAs, reassuring me and my fellow first-years as we struggled under the combined weight of classes, recruiting, and developing our business school network. My fellow first-years and I took solace in the fact—yes, the undeniable fact—that second year would be easier on all fronts. We promised each other we'd be grabbing midday drinks at the Half Pint bar, going on Stern (Stern Full-Time MBA Profile) Adventures trips, and polishing our acts for the annual Stern Follies (some kind of fiddle-driven Devil Went Down to Georgia extravaganza was mentioned).

Now that second year is here, I'm finding myself pretty darn busy. The state of the economy meant that some people came back from their summer internships without a full-time job offer in hand. For others, it took a summer of interning in one industry or function to help them realize that perhaps their true interests lay elsewhere—meaning a fresh go at recruiting. For those like me, job offers might be forthcoming as a result of our summer internships, but won't be extended until later in the year. As a result, many of us (including some of my planned partners-in-crime for second-year slackerness) have been involved in recruitment activities more than we expected when we were planning for second-year fun.

Given how much I enjoyed my internship last summer, my own recruitment activities have focused a bit more narrowly on media-type enterprises than they did last year. I also took into account how fulfilled I was by the general management aspects of my job this summer, so this semester I've attended corporate presentations on leadership rotation programs and have pursued a few of those opportunities. My fingers are crossed for something to work out in any one of these areas, but the bottom line is that recruiting has certainly kept me busy.

well-versed Simon Cowell clones

The good news is that the formal on-campus recruitment process for second-years is winding down—a marked change from my first-year experience, when interviews didn't even start until January. Happily, a number of my fellow second-year students have already landed offers for exactly the consulting, finance, and marketing jobs they wanted, so I expect to see stress levels go down precipitously any moment now. If registration for club events is any indication, that might be starting already, as the tickets for a Johnnie Walker whisky-tasting co-sponsored by the Stern Wine Cellar, the Luxury and Retail Club, and the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students were almost entirely sold out within minutes of being posted online. This is a very encouraging sign that the fun second year I envisioned last semester is finally getting started.

Of course, recruitment is not the only thing going on. My goal in coming to business school was to dive deeply into marketing and strategy, as well as to master the kinds of tools I'll need to make informed business decisions for any future employer. As a result, my classes this semester are far from a cakewalk. The weekly homework for my Decision Models class, designed to help students master Excel and the complementary analytical tools used to model the consequences of business choices, has had me fighting to craft the ideal simulation or set up spreadsheet models that won't return the dreaded "Solver cannot find a feasible answer" error message (often far too late on Sunday night or far too early on a Monday morning). But I've enjoyed the challenge. The same is true for my class on Competitive Strategy in the Marketplace, which is renowned as being one of the most demanding and challenging classes at Stern. Imagine presenting a complex business strategy challenge to a very vocal panel of judges made up entirely of Simon Cowell clones—who are mysteriously well-versed in the vagaries of game theory and the many poor assumptions that can send a net-present-value calculation off the rails—and you get the idea.

paying back as MBA career coach

I've also taken advantage of the opportunity that all students have to work on campus second year (second semester of first year, too, as a matter of fact). One of my positions is serving as a graduate ambassador in the Stern MBA Admissions office. This is a highly interactive, fun job that involves responding to prospective students' queries about student life via e-mail, Web forum postings, telephone, and in-person during tours and information sessions. I co-host one tour a week and I've really enjoyed sharing Stern's unique value proposition—the New York location, our collaborative community, academic excellence, and an admissions process that values both intellect and interpersonal savvy—to prospective students.

My second position is with the Office of Career Development, where I work as an MBA career coach to first-year MBAs. The semester kicked off with my conducting a thorough review of 22 first-years' resumes, complete with detailed suggestions on how they could be improved, followed by six small-group "job search strategy sessions" on various topics such as networking and tough interview questions. This week marks the start of the final element of the semester-long curriculum: technical mock interviews in various functions for each first year. I applied for the career coach position because I found each of these sessions tremendously useful as a first year and wanted to continue the tradition.

So have I had any fun at all this semester? Absolutely. I did fulfill the promise to myself to go on a Stern Adventures trip earlier this year. I took a train from Grand Central Station to a beautiful spot on the Hudson River for kayaking with nine of my classmates. I traveled with about 80 other full- and part-time MBA students to the Net Impact conference at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The panel discussions and networking opportunities were informative and interesting. But I know we were all happy when the bus pulled up in front of the Kaufman Management Center and we found ourselves back in New York, where we belong. I'm looking forward to more enriching activities during my remaining time at Stern, short as it is.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.