Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Rachel Chanen, New York University (Stern)

Rachel Chanen

New York University, Stern School of Business

“Find me where there’s cheese, a new place to explore, or with those I love.”

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

Fun fact about myself: The highlight of my athletic career was being a “ball kid” at an MLB game

Undergraduate school and major: Harvard University where I concentrated in Psychology with a Secondary in Global Health & Health Policy

Most recent employer and job title: The Trevor Project, Strategic Campaigns Manager

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? After beginning my career in social impact, I saw there was an issue in how people access information about organizations and services that can help them better their lives. I wanted to think on a larger scale about how I can help empower people to connect with resources, particularly through technology. Given Stern’s unparalleled access to technology companies and the abundance of tech coursework, the decision to attend Stern was an easy one.

What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at NYU Stern? What makes you most nervous? I am most excited to meet my classmates and learn from their diverse backgrounds, career experiences, and passions. I’m a bit nervous to navigate graduate school in the world of coronavirus, but I know NYU will provide us with all the tools we need to make it work!

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m really excited to participate in Tech in the City, which allows Stern students to gain hands-on experience with early stage tech startups. Since I’m making a career change, I know it’s vital for me to have true experience in the field as I look to start on my new path.

What word best describes the NYU Stern classmates you’ve met so far? Why? Driven. Everyone I’ve met is so passionate about every aspect of their MBA experience—their classmates, their career tracks, their extracurricular activities. I’m thrilled to be in an environment with such special people who will push me to be a better version of myself.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My job before pursuing an MBA was at The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. The position I held, Strategic Campaigns Manager, was brand new to the organization and gave me many opportunities to chart my own path and to make strategic recommendations for how Trevor should communicate with different key audiences, like donors/supporters, young people, and allies. While I’m proud of many pieces of my work in that role, I’d say my biggest accomplishment was leading the launch of Trevor’s first Pride marketing campaign.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve spent my career helping disadvantaged populations access information they need to improve their lives, including access to counseling, education, and violence prevention resources. In these experiences, I’ve seen that although the internet has lowered barriers to accessing information, it’s a vast place with limited safeguards against scams and irrelevant information. For example, when I worked on a public service advertising campaign connecting people with free GED courses, most conversations I had with participants ended with the statement, “I wish I knew about this sooner.” They lamented that when they searched “GED” on the internet, they were overwhelmed with superfluous and fraudulent resources.

These experiences have illuminated the insight that people frequently fail to discover services that can change their lives, and I want to dedicate my career to solving this problem. I know an MBA from Stern will equip me with the skills and knowledge I need to do so.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Columbia Business School and Yale School of Management

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Though it sounds strange, the toughest part of my preparation process was whittling down my answer to “Why Stern,” because I had so much to say. However, I wanted to be sure I highlighted the most important reasons I wanted to attend the program.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My top factors in looking at MBA programs were access to technology coursework and job opportunities, immersive learning experiences, and a close-knit community. I researched these things by reading everything I could find on the internet (thanks Poets&Quants!), talking to current students from my childhood and undergraduate networks, and signing up for every information session, coffee chat, Q&A session, and tour I could.

I knew NYU fit my career goals and was the right cultural fit because I started each conversation I had with students and alumni by asking for their favorite parts of the school BEFORE I told them my interests and priorities. Almost everyone I talked to mentioned at least one of my priorities completely organically, which showed me that everything I thought about NYU and why it was the right fit for me was indeed true!

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? I have been networking with my future classmates, reading books on technology and entrepreneurship, reading daily newsletters on various business-related topics, and, of course, brushing up on my math skills!

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? During my time at The Trevor Project, I had the privilege of working with a young person who had reached out to our Lifeline during a difficult time in her life. Hearing how learning about our services changed her life and empowered her to come out to her friends and family safely showed me the true stakes of not being able to access information one needs to support their life. I saw that this information gap I had noticed early in my career was simply too urgent to not be addressed, and I wanted to start my journey towards solving this problem as soon as possible. This prepared me for an MBA because it provides an element of humanity and passion in my studies.


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