If you want a real look of what happens in the daily life of an MBA student at a Top MBA Program you’re going to want to read our interview with Nick Johnson. Nick is a MBA Candidate in the Class of 2015 at NYU Stern, and when he’s not meeting with company recruiters and coaching 1st Year students through the recruiting process as the President of the NYU Stern Management Consulting Association (see our previous podcast with Nick) he’s interviewing prospective Stern MBA applicants, consulting for startups and small businesses, and exhibiting optimism towards the Minnesota Twins and Boston College Eagles. I had the chance to talk to Nick to get his thoughts on NYU Stern, consulting, admissions and lessons learned from his MBA experience.
MBASchooled: Thanks for joining us Nick. First up, what’s the most memorable experience you’ve had during your two years at Stern?
Nick: I’d have to say its signing karaoke with 100 of my classmates in the tiny Japanese resort town of Atami
MBASchooled: What’s the best class you’ve taken (Name, professor) and why?
Nick: Charlie Murphy’s Investment Banking class. It’s really a full look at financial services and I’m not sure if anyone knows as much about or as many people working in finance as Prof Murphy.
MBASchooled: Why Stern?
Nick: The blend of IQ and EQ that they advertise actually comes true. Sternies tend to be real people who are very work-hard-play-hard. It’s also tough to beat NYC if you are into meeting a lot of recruiters and having big name guest speakers. The restaurants and bars here aren’t too shabby either.
MBASchooled: Let’s talk management consulting recruiting. What were some of your highs and lows from your recruiting process?
Nick: First, getting the internship offer in January of 2014 was an awesome feeling. I hadn’t been on a job interview since undergrad and was quite nervous about the process so it was awesome it worked out. Speaking of nervousness, I bombed my first case interview which was disappointing since it was with my top choice firm. That was a big low.
MBASchooled: What are some lessons you’ve learned from the consulting recruiting process?
Nick: First, Don’t let the structured process fool you into thinking everyone is the same. Maybe you have a high GPA that recruiters will love even though you went to a lower tier state school. Maybe casing is your thing, but your resume doesn’t shine so you need to network hard. Heck, maybe you’ll find out you don’t really even like consulting after you dedicate so much time to events in October and November. Bottom line is use the resources out there and take it seriously, but try and do it in a way that works for you.
MBASchooled: Now that you’re a second year, what’s it like watching the recruiting process from the “other side?”
Nick: I’m certainly not jealous of the MBA1s, but it is awesome to see them succeed at the same time. I think one thing I tried to really instill at Stern this year as president of our Management Consulting Association was a really drive for MBA2s to give back time and with that we hit an all-time record in consulting offers at Stern.
MBASchooled: What are some valuable lessons you’ve learned from your MBA Experience?
Nick: I think being flexible in any situation is always advantageous. Be flexible with your plan to specialize in operations if you somehow find yourself wanting to take more finance classes. Be flexible if you were set on MBB but now find yourself drawn to the tech world. Even be flexible if you wanted to do a group project on beer and end up doing costume jewelry (that one comes from a personal experience.)
MBASchooled: What’s something all MBA’s should do in business school?
Nick: I don’t know if I could say just one thing, but I will say this: get to know your classmates. The most valuable networking you do won’t be at a corporate presentation or coffee chat but instead it will be when you have a class with random group assignments or when you find a crew to search for a McDonalds in Tokyo. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, and that is actually impossible, but being able to connect at some point with a high percentage of your classmates will pay huge dividends down the road.
MBASchooled: What advice would you give to those considering an MBA?
Nick: Again, be flexible and don’t be locked in. First make sure it’s the right time. If you need a career switch, is it something realistic? If you are looking to enhance your current path, is an MBA the best way to do so? Once you’ve locked down answers to those questions, don’t limit your school choices. Apply some basic filters on location, key industries, and program structure then visit and meet students before you really force yourself to have top 3 or 5 choices. Do your best on applications, and make sure that for your top schools that you write your essays from scratch if there is no natural overlap between questions. Schools can tell if you are taking another application and fitting a square peg into a round hole!
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