In A Topsy-Turvy Year, Unexpected Challenges & A Dream Job For This NYU Stern MBA

Kaori Yamaguchi is a student from Japan who recognized an opportunity and didn’t let it go. She received her MBA from NYU Stern this spring. Courtesy photo

New York University Stern MBA graduate Kaori Yamaguchi is part of a cohort badly impacted by coronavirus.

It was even harder for MBA students like Kaori studying in a foreign country.

Yet like many she overcame the challenges of the pandemic and finished school, landing a job as a senior associate at a marketing consulting firm in New York City, a company that will sponsor a work visa. It’s a springboard to Kaori’s twin goals: creating a Japanese skincare brand in New York, and spreading awareness about cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan on social media platforms.


Courtesy photo

Yamaguchi was no stranger to master’s programs before joining Stern. She completed a master’s degree in molecular biology at Kyoto University. Then, while working at a major Japanese electronics company as a senior R&D associate, she was inspired by the possibility of expanding her horizons and made a career switch.

“I realized I enjoyed science, but I’m more interested in interacting with people, so I moved to a marketing research department,” Yamaguchi tells Poets&Quants.

At the same time, she visited the United States as part of her company’s research team — a visit that eventually led her to apply to NYU.

“I was dreaming of studying and working in the U.S. in the future. So, I also wanted to expand my marketing research skills — that’s why I joined NYU Stern,” she says.


Kaori began her first semester at NYU Stern in fall 2019. As her second semester arrived, so did the Covid-19 pandemic that moved all classes to a remote format.

Kaori decided to stay in New York, hoping that her cohort would eventually go back to the classroom. But not everyone in her class shared her hope.

“Many of my friends went back to their home country immediately after Covid hit, so I haven’t seen them since Covid,” she says.

Her stay in New York became nerve-racking for Yamaguchi’s family as the rise of Asian crimes kept increasing in the U.S. New York saw some of the highest volume of such crimes.


As an international NYU graduate Yamaguchi faced the flip side of the coin: job hunting.

The lack of career fairs or networking opportunities in person was a major impediment. “I was recruiting online,” she says. “I spoke with more than 100 people and asked my NYU alumni.”

Even before graduating from NYU, Kaori constantly worried about the future.

“Many companies considered not sponsoring international students because these things are very tricky,” she says, “so I was very anxious about my future.”

Her concerns mounted in summer 2020 when the Trump administration announced new restrictions on international students whose courses moved entirely online. Kaori saw her stay in the U.S. hanging by a thread.

Then — relief. She got a job offer from a marketing firm that will let her stay in the U.S. to keep working in her dreams.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.