As I was sitting in Washington Square Park next after visiting NYU, I was taking everything in. The sights, the sounds, and definitely the smells. The culture and vibe of the whole place was more than I could ever imagine. It honestly made me feel like I was home.
I’m born and raised Bostonian. As much as I hate to say it, I love New York. I always felt confined and restricted in Boston and that my potential in a smaller city put a hard cap on my potential. I never feel that way in New York. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how much this city can offer me. This place provides the best career opportunities, a great social scene, and a unique experience that’s unparalleled globally. It’s a place that I currently call home. In a city like this, the sky is the limit.
A BUSINESS MECCA
Many corporations call NYC home. For reference, New York City has 64 Fortune 500 companies headquartered here; that’s more than Chicago (35) and Houston (24) combined. Overall, one million businesses call this city home — and new ones are constantly popping up. You’ll never run out of options and you’ll always find a spot to pursue your true calling.
I’ve dreamed of living in New York City since I was young because I was tired of being a big fish in a small pond. (Big fish in a small pond?) Since I started my MBA program at NYU Stern, I’ve found others who are ambitious, energetic, and community-focused like my Stern classmates…or “Sternies” for short. After countless hours of conversations with them, they had all felt the same way that I did: Limited. Many of the international students wouldn’t even come to the United States unless it was to NYC.
New York has been the perfect place to explore potential future careers as I transitioned from a non-traditional background in the military and education. If I wanted to explore the world of finance, Stern’s MBA and undergraduate program have a robust alumni network already established. Consulting? Most of the top firms are headquartered here, which may explain why consulting is one of the three largest employers of Stern grads in 2021 Employment Report. Recently, major tech firms such as Google, Amazon, and Apple are gobbling up real estate in the city with startups popping up in droves. These offices, which were already close by our campus, allowed me to see in person what the work culture was like in my search for my next career. It also definitely helped that the alumni were easily accessible and happily gave me unofficial tours.
Even as recruiting was done mostly virtually, it paid to be here. I could easily tap into the network or at least have living in and experiencing New York as a conversation starter. After all, the first question I always got in a coffee chat was, “Where do you live?”
EASY TO GET AROUND
Whenever I want to meet someone for a coffee chat or lunch, it takes me less than 15 minutes to travel to their office or to any major location. Last month, I took the A train to meet a major consulting recruiter in Soho to discuss my application plans. The cost? $2.75 and a 5 minute ride. Being readily flexible and conveniently located has been truly advantageous. Most days, I would grab a quick bite from the endless food trucks on campus, attend a class, dart off to a nearby coffee shop to meet an alum, attend a study group meeting (and later a club meeting), and then finish the day by meeting friends for dinner. This was all within a 15-minute walking distance of campus. Experiencing the city and listening to the city news gave me good conversation starters with everyone who live or have lived here.
During a recruiting event I attended during my first year, we were hosted at Amnity Hall, a favorite post-class hangout located five minutes walking distance from Stern. A story was shared about how EY-Parthenon thought up the idea to do a yearly recruiting event in the basement over some dinner and drinks. A lot of history, conversations, and good times has been shared there. It was also conducive for recruiters, alumni, and candidates to congregate there since it was in the middle of five subway lines, two of which are express trains. Amnity Hall’s casual feel allows working professionals and students to unwind, relax, and be themselves — perfect for networking. It’s just one of many similar locations that are close to campus.
The classroom experience has also been enhanced. We are able to have guest speakers and industry leaders come and chat with us. For example, we had the Chief Human Resources Officer of Morgan Stanley, Mandell Crawley, come discuss how they’re tackling diversity and inclusion in a modern landscape. His high level approach was to work on one major issue (such as hiring more ethnic minorities) then moving onto the next diversity issue rather than trying to solve all diversity issues and think forward. I was shocked about this, but he would go on to further explain that by trying to do too much you end up accomplishing nothing at all. Outside of New York, I may not have been able to hear this insight from such an accomplished person.
AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE
Our social lives are also complemented. Each year, we’re able to enjoy a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These are guided by the curators themselves ending with a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline from the rooftop. We’ve also listened to the New York Philharmonic play at the Lincoln Center and caught shows on and off Broadway. We’ve even done food tours of the different ethnic neighborhoods (Korean BBQ in Ktown is my favorite). Another time, MBA students from Wharton, CBS, Yale SOM, MIT Sloan, and HBS came down to network in the city. We were able to socialize all weekend before parting ways after a brunch. As much as we’d like, you don’t have those same trips to Boston or Philadelphia.
Many people come to Stern because they want to be in New York City; after graduating — they are looking to build a career here. The type of personalities this city attracts are ambitious, hungry, and energetic but also very supportive and social. You’ll find the electric vibe of the city really brings people together. I have been fortunate enough to network with Sternies and New Yorkers alike very easily.
The big takeaway is this: you’re going to be spending two or more years in one location, as either a student or working professional…maybe both. Visit your potential MBA programs for more than one day if your schedule allows it. Sit in on a class, meet current students and alumni, walk around the campus and surrounding areas, and meet locals. It’ll help narrow down your choices, especially when it comes time to matriculate. Come to NYC with an open mind. It may not be for everyone, but it could very much bring out the best in you.
Bio: Phan Hoang, a first-generation Bostonian, is a second-year MBA candidate at NYU Stern School of Business. Prior to business school, he was an enlisted in the United States Air Force serving in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions worldwide. He has also taught internationally in countries such as Honduras and China. He worked in Product Management during the summer.
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