It gives me great pleasure to have back on Admissions Straight Talk Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business. Isser earned his MBA from Duke Fuqua in 1995. He then worked in brand management for Unilever and L’Oreal before coming to NYU Stern as Director of Admissions and now Associate Dean for MBA Admissions. Isser participated in many of Accepted’s old admissions chats, typing madly away and getting finger cramps, but bravely answering applicants’ questions in that old text-only format. He also was the guest way back for episode 97 of AST when we discussed part-time options at NYU Stern. Isser, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk!
Can you give us an overview of NYU Stern’s Full-Time MBA program? [1:25]
Like many b-schools, our full-time program is a traditional, full-time, two-year MBA. The first year focuses on foundational basics, and in the second year you move into specializations.
Two things set us apart: first is our location and how we leverage that to our students’ betterment through experiential learning and career opportunities. And second is the unique makeup of our student population. We have about 400 students.
We value IQ and EQ – both intelligence and leadership. Our approach to academics is distinctive: it’s a mixed approach (not just lecture based or case-based, but a mix of approaches). We provide a range of opportunities; our courses are taught by a range of faculty (from Nobel Prize winners to practitioners who teach part time). There’s a lot of flexibility in the program – you can pursue between up to three specializations (or no specialization). And you can take classes overseas, or at other NYU grad schools.
What are specializations? [4:45]
These are most akin to what people think of as majors. We offer about 20 of them – it’s an organically developing list.
Some standard options include management strategy, finance, corporate finance, etc. But there are also more specialized areas, such as digital marketing, luxury marketing, entertainment and media, FinTech, etc.
You can specialize in none, and get a degree in general management – or pick up to three areas. So you can really tailor the degree to your short and long-term career goals.
We keep it fresh and in line with today’s business.
How many classes does it take to specialize? [7:45]
It takes nine credits to specialize. A typical class is three credits, though some are one and a half.
Stern is very proud of its 4 core values: Academic Excellence, IQ+EQ, Collaborative Community, and the Energy of a Global Hub. The stated focus on EQ is unusual. What does EQ mean at NYU Stern? [8:35]
Self awareness, judgment, understanding what’s going on in an interpersonal scope. Leading people. Negotiating, managing. Basically what might have been termed “soft skills.”
We see that an important part of business is not necessarily about your ideas, but about how you lead and manage your team’s ideas.
There are a number of ways we get at this value through the application process.
What are some of those ways? [9:50]
It starts with the essays. We’re looking for things that get at who you are.
Recommendations provide insight into people’s personality.
And the interview process adds dimension. We interview all the candidates we admit. Interviews are by invitation only. The interview is not blind – the interviewer will have read your application and know it well. The interview is conducted by a member of the admissions staff. Our admissions officers are trained assessors of talent – that’s important to us.
Stern is located in the heart of Manhattan. How do you take advantage of your location? [14:30]
We have an Office of Student Engagement, and one of their functions is to leverage the city for students’ learning and make NYC a hands-on extension of the academic experience, through industry immersions, course projects, etc.
For example, the Entertainment & Media Immersion brings students together with alumni from Time Warner, and culminates with teams presenting to executives from Time Warner. Students get into real issues and learn about the industry.
Another example is the Stern Consulting Corps. Students act as consultants for local companies and work on real problems. (The companies are vetted so that we know students will be working on significant projects that will be of value to them.)
Through the Tech in the City project, students learn about digital entrepreneurship by working with early stage startups. They get a sense of what’s going on, and participate in weekly reflection activities.
Do projects like these ever turn into internships or jobs? [18:40]
Sometimes. People make connections and referrals. Even if they don’t result in a career directly, the type of experiences they get are helpful during the recruiting process: it gives them a tremendous advantage – not to mention the connections they make.
Recruiting is changing – the hiring path is fragmenting. How is Stern adapting? [20:45]
We’ve always had a footprint in multiple industries, because of our location. What’s happening now is that’s how things are going more generally. The biggest change in our world is the growth of consulting, which is now one of the biggest areas for our grads – about 30% of our grads now go into consulting.
What’s an example of a cool entrepreneurial project students have created? [22:30]
There are so many! But here’s one: Students tried to come up with an idea to help the health of people in developing countries.
Imagine you’re in a developing country and have a cellphone – take a picture of your eye, and an app can diagnose what kind of eyeglasses you need. Then you could link to a site to order glasses. The idea that you could see correctly and affordably with your phone is pretty amazing! Not surprisingly they won support with that idea.
Let’s turn to the application process – we touched on EQ. The other values are intelligence, collaborative community, and the energy of a global hub. How can applicants show fit with these elements of Stern’s mission? [25:45]
Academic excellence: we’re looking for students who will thrive in a rigorous academic environment. That’s really a minimum threshold.
The global hub: we want to take advantage of NYU as a global university. Students can go to our partner schools’ around the world and learn what it’s like to do business in China, India, etc – this type of immersive, in depth experience gives a broader experience. Today, most applicants do have a global mindset, and that’s important to us.
The other important aspect is character elements. Collaborative community: we believe in taking care of one another. Group success is more important than individual success. Students here help each other be competitive for jobs – they coach each other for interviews, even when they may be applying for the same position. Our classes form bonds that are deeper than you normally see at a b-school, that last a lifetime.
Stern accepts roughly one in five applicants. How do you winnow it down? How do you decide who gets interview invitations, and who gets in? [30:40]
We get many more qualified applicants each year than we have room for – these are difficult decisions we have to make. It’s a combination of factors that set people apart. Don’t give us a reason to say no.
On the career front: prepare as if you were preparing for your post-MBA job. That is, do your homework. Research the career, job function, etc. I would do that before even starting to write the essays.
The interviews are in person in NY. Prepare extremely seriously – why are you passionate about Stern? Demonstrate EQ, not just IQ. Show your personality: we’re not looking for a cookie cutter. Embrace what makes you truly, distinctively you – don’t shut it down.
If you can, visit before you apply. Contact students, come to a session. Get a feel for the vibe of the place.
It should be a mutual match – you want to find the right fit. The people who really want to be here, it often comes through.
Is there something you wish MBA applicants understood that they often just don’t? [38:30]
1. It’s such a big investment – of both time and money – and there’s no do-over button. Make sure that you need an MBA, make sure you know what you want to do. Make sure you’re going to the school where you get the best return (that’s not the highest ranked school, but the best school for you).
People spend so much time on GMAT and essays that they lose track of the big picture: you need to know what you’re doing. There’s a big step between knowing you want to do something else and going to b-school.
2. It’s not just about the test score.
3. Judgment. I’m looking for people I’ll be proud to put in front of recruiters and have as alumni, so if people demonstrate certain behavior, it’s a sign of a lack of self-reflection.
4. Blind leading the blind. There’s a trend of peer input on applications: applicants are listening to their fellow applicants for advice. Checking in with each other is natural, but there’s a reliance on people who don’t have experience or expertise. Why you’re doing it is so different from why anyone else is doing it.
Go visit, talk to students, get a sense of the vibe of the place. Do your research.
Any advice for applicants currently working on their applications for the Round 2 deadline? [47:05]
The essays that pop are the ones that are from the heart – speaking in the words you would normally use, about something you’re passionate about.
Show the essay to your best friend and ask, “Does this sound like me?”
Let who you are shine through. The biggest risk is playing it safe.
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