This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Keith Riegert….
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Keith: My name is Keith Riegert, I’m originally from Berkeley, California—just across the bay from San Francisco—and I have a bachelor’s degree in Literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Accepted: Can you share three fun facts about yourself?
1. For fun, I moonlight as a book author with my writing partner, Samuel Kaplan. Together we’ve written eight books over the past eight years; and every year we get to learn, in depth, about something new.
2. In my application to Stern, I wrote my “Personal Expression” essay on my visit to Manhattan’s North River Wastewater Treatment Plant for a book project we were working on. I think in the great canon of admissions essays that has to be original. We visited the plant on a very hot day in July—not recommended.
3. I cannot clap and sing at the same time. It’s embarrassing.
Accepted:Where are you currently in b-school? What year?
Keith: Right now, I’m about to start my second year at NYU Stern School of Business. I’m enrolled in Stern’s two-year accelerated program for part-time students.
Accepted: How did you decide NYU Stern was the best fit for you? Anything in particular that drew you to that program?
Keith: I’ve lived in New York for about five years now and knew that I wanted to pursue my MBA here. There is no place in the country that offers a better business education than New York City—this is the heart of commerce, banking and innovation. At Stern, we’ve got the Fed, Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Silicon Alley all within walking distance of campus.
As far as NYU Stern, I was really drawn to the school’s increasing focus on business analytics and entrepreneurship—both of which I’ve chosen as my areas of specialization. The school’s fostering of programs like the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab have put Stern at the forefront of the push to make business schools more future- and forward-leaning. Moving away from a historically finance-oriented program has also created a student body at Stern with a remarkably diverse set of skills and backgrounds. The students I met when I first visited Stern, as well as the students in my cohort, have all been some of the most intelligent, interesting and driven people I’ve ever met.
Accepted: You recently became the co-President/Editor-In-Chief of NYU Stern’s Graduate Student Newspaper, the Stern Opportunity. Tell me more about why you took this opportunity, and why you’re so passionate about writing.
Keith: Of all the amazing student organizations Stern has to offer, I was most drawn to the newspaper. Business school is fast, tough and over in a flash, and it’s hard to get a grasp of everything that’s going on around you, especially if you’re also living in a bustling place like New York. I think the opportunity provides a link between students and the community (both at Stern and in the city) that has the power to ground you while you’re pushing through intense semesters. We strive to publish articles from every student organization and highlight as many on- and off-campus events as possible. In addition, as students of business, I think the paper allows us to explore the world of innovation and change happening around us in tech, finance, energy, economics, advertising, etc., in ways we don’t get to through coursework. Personally, I find writing for the paper provides a critical bridge between what I learn in the classroom and what I see playing out in the world of commerce.
Accepted: Where are you currently working?
Keith: As a member of Stern’s Langone Part-Time Program, I never actually stopped working when I started at NYU. I am currently the Director of Analytics and Market Research for the independent book publisher, Ulysses Press. I also launched my own start-up publishing company just over a year ago called Kingfisher Press that specializes in crafting data-driven, quick-to-market books.
Working while pursuing an MBA has been challenging (and exhausting); but having the opportunity to apply lessons from the classroom the next day at work is not something I could imagine giving up. Every class I’ve taken has worked its way into my professional life.
Accepted: What advice do you have for those who are just starting out with their MBA? Anything you wish you would have known before starting your program that you’d like to share?
Keith: I think the most important piece of information I have from my own experience is that, regardless of your experience, you can thrive in a top-tier MBA program. I have a background in the humanities and I was very nervous about starting at a disadvantage in a program steeped in high-level mathematics. I had no idea how I was going to fare.
I found the first step toward feeling comfortable with the MBA coursework was definitely studying for the GMAT. My advice is, regardless of where you plan on going (and how well you need to score), take the test seriously and study hard—beyond the score, it’s actually a very accurate representation of the skills you’ll need to excel in a business program.
Next, before you plunge into coursework, recognize any areas that you are not fully prepared for—whether that’s essay writing or derivatives—and work to get yourself ready. Take advantage of any prep courses your school has to offer and don’t be shy about asking peers for help.
Finally, don’t go into the program laser focused on where you are going to end up after your MBA. If you can keep an open mind about your future, you’ll find immense value in every course you take—from Marketing and Leadership to Global Economics and Operations Management—despite the fact that some classes are just not going to fit with what you end up doing. Barring a PhD, this may be the last time in your life where learning is a top priority. Savor that.
You can learn more about Keith’s MBA journey by checking out his website www.keithriegert.com and by connecting with him on LinkedIn. Thank You Keith for sharing your story with us – we wish you continued success!
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