As The World Sterns: Join The Club!

I met my consulting case competition team at one of the MCA bootcamp sessions. We went on to win the case comp! (Penelope on the far right)

When I was preparing for my MBA admissions interviews, I remember one consistent piece of advice: do research into the student clubs on campus. As I looked through each program’s website, it became clear most had similar clubs; roughly half were geared towards industry recruiting and the other half were “fun” or special interest clubs.

When I applied to Stern’s MBA program, I wrote about wanting to get involved in EMSA (Entertainment, Media, and Sports Association) and Stern Follies (a comedy sketch club). At the time, I was focused on recruiting for roles in the entertainment industry, and these two felt like they would be the best fit with my background.

Upon arriving at Stern, I was advised to at least try out the consulting recruiting process, led by the MCA (Management Consulting Association). In the best case, I would find a career that was the right fit for me. In the worst case, I would be very prepared for spring recruiting. As it turned out, the best-case scenario quickly came true, and I ended up recruiting successfully for consulting.

These three clubs shaped not only my Stern experience, but ultimately the trajectory of my career. Perhaps the most impactful on my career was, of course, the MCA, which taught me the ins and outs of consulting.

In December, we hosted a cross-club holiday party with five different clubs, including EMSA. It took a lot of coordination but was a great opportunity to bring people together!


When I first arrived at Stern as an MBA student, I had limited knowledge about major consulting firms or the jobs they did.

Fortunately for me, the Stern MCA had me covered. Mere weeks into the start of the school year, they were running their “Consulting Bootcamp.” This included weekly sessions where 100+ MBA1s would be taught by MBA2s about the do’s and don’ts of consulting interviews. While Bootcamp mostly covered the different elements of case interviews (reading charts, creating frameworks, giving a final recommendation, etc.), the MCA also held frequent sessions and open hours to help educate us on the differences between firms, along with how to have a productive coffee chat or write a compelling cover letter.

Simultaneously, the MCA set up MCA Study Groups. Each was led by an MBA2 Study Group Leader who volunteered every Thursday lunchtime to review casing concepts with a small group of MBA1s. We would go through slides provided by the MCA Knowledge Management team, ask questions, and work through example questions as a group. These Study Groups were also a great place to meet friends with whom you could practice casing – I ended up scheduling a weekly practice case with one of my Study Group members.

Combining all these support systems with those provided by Stern’s Office of Career Services, I felt well-prepared for the corporate presentations, coffee chats, and ultimately, interviews that led to my summer internship.

For example, I received a piece of advice while practicing casing with an MBA2: create a framework for everything. Frameworks are commonly used during case interviews, but are also a common way for consultants to approach problems. I utilized this when firms would ask in interviews why I wanted to work there, specifically. I would respond with three “buckets”, or categories, of reasons why I was interested in working there.

The two-year Full-Time MBA Program is unique in that exactly one year after you’re learning everything about consulting recruiting, you’re teaching it to the next class. I was no exception; when it came time to sign up to be a Study Group leader, I was ready to go. I was excited to share my experience with my MBA1s. It was shaped, in a lot of ways, by my non-traditional background. I found that my acting training had a lot of applications to case interviews – I approached them as if they were one long business-themed improvisational scene. I was also happy to join a few panels that revolved around topics such as the differences between consulting firms and how to prioritize wellness during recruiting.

The Stern MCA was not only incredibly important to my career development, it also introduced me to several of my best friends in the program. By going through a very fast-paced – sometimes stressful – experience together, we all found a supportive community in one another. I knew that no matter who I asked for help, everyone would be happy to do a practice case or look at a cover letter. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me to get to the point where I am, with the exact job offer I was hoping to have (I’ve accepted a role at a Big 4 consulting firm after graduation).

A group picture after hosting my first EMSA trivia night. We had so much fun!


Originally, my plan was to come to Stern and recruit for entertainment and media. While I ended up realizing that wasn’t actually the right path for me, I still wanted to be involved, as much of my background is either entertainment-related or entertainment-adjacent. I ended up taking on the board role of AVP, then VP, of Social for EMSA.

While on the Social vertical, my fellow AVPs/VPs and I organized entertainment-themed trivia nights, an excursion to an Oscars Watch Party, a cross-club holiday party, movie nights, and several happy hours for club members to meet and mingle. EMSA has the unique opportunity to host some of the most fun events on campus, as our club revolves around entertainment, media, and sports!

What impressed me the most about EMSA, however, was the dedication that every single board member showed during their tenure. In my second year as a EMSA board member, I saw classmates introduce a new alumni mixer, events for admitted students, and even mini case competitions that brought professionals from entertainment, media, and sports to Stern. For example, an upcoming mini case competition will bring in professionals from the Barclays Center to approach a day-long case about the future of sports and live entertainment. Board members also organized countless in-person treks to entertainment companies’ New York City offices, as well as breathing new life into EMSA’s newsletter and social media presence.

Members joined EMSA for many different reasons, but the advice that I would give for anyone considering joining a club they’re somewhat interested in is this: Join! You’d be amazed at the fun, diverse, and meticulously planned events that your peers put together. If you’re even a little bit interested in a certain industry, your time as an MBA is the perfect opportunity to explore it. Many clubs will bring in panels of speakers and host conferences to help educate students (and outside guests) on the state of the industry. Clubs truly provide an opportunity for additional education, all organized by the generous volunteer work of your talented peers.

The cast at the end of last year’s Stern Follies production – the show ended with a standing ovation. What an incredible moment!


Finally, we arrive at my favorite part of Stern – Stern Follies. Follies is a sketch comedy club, originally founded by a Stern student who just wanted to perform some fun song parodies he wrote about his MBA experience (we know this because he reached out!). Since its inception, Follies has turned into a full-scale production, held at NYU’s Skirball Theater, with a combination of digital and live sketches. It is all written, directed, and performed by current Stern MBA students.

I was excited to join the Follies board as a VP of Stage Production. While my fall was consumed by consulting recruiting, my spring was all about Follies. I wrote about 10 sketches and filmed, edited, and performed in the live show – while also running several technical elements backstage. It was one of the most stressful experiences of my Stern experience, but also one of the most fulfilling. Hearing a theater full of 400+ Stern students laughing at the jokes that we had tirelessly worked on was a feeling I’ll never forget.

It was a pleasure to return in my second year as one of the co-Presidents of Follies. This year, we introduced many new initiatives: monthly writing workshops to collaborate on sketches, an improv workshop to teach the applications of improv to a business environment, and a Talent Show at the beginning of the spring semester to celebrate all the talent we have at Stern.

So why put on a sketch comedy show in business school? I think the answer comes from the feedback that I got following our performance last year. One of my peers reached out and said that Follies was a perfect opportunity for all of us to come together and laugh at some of the things that we were, perhaps, taking too seriously. Follies is a reminder that while this experience is important, we can take a step back and laugh at it – and ourselves.

Follies is also a great way to get involved and have fun with your fellow Stern students! There are a lot of great friends that I have made (or gotten closer to) through Follies. It is also a rare opportunity to practice putting yourself out there and being silly, something that I’ve had a lot of chances to do in my professional life, but that I’d argue most MBAs have not had.

Overall, Follies has been an amazing experience, and I’ve loved being able to laugh, create, and collaborate with some of my favorite people at Stern over the past two years. Ironically, my stress relief has led to some of my highest stress. At its core, Follies is about having fun in a stressful environment. If it leads to a room full of laughing Sternies in May, it will all be worth it.

Washington Square Park near the NYU Stern campus


Clubs are an essential and integral part of your MBA experience. While these three have stolen my heart (and my time) while at Stern, every student has had their own journey.

A great thing about being an MBA is that you can be as involved as you want – I have some friends who have sat on five or more boards, some that have one board position, and some who just attend events.

However, MBA clubs do ultimately provide an opportunity to mix with peers, learn more about the business world, and get the most out of your MBA experience.

Penny is a current second-year student in NYU Stern’s Full-Time MBA program. After graduating with a BFA in Acting from NYU Tisch in 2015, Penny spent the next five years exploring a number of adventurous hospitality roles. In the summer of 2020, she started looking into MBA programs and discovered it was difficult to find information specifically geared towards non-traditional candidates. She hopes to pay forward everything she has learned about applying to MBA programs, the student experience at Stern, and entering the business world through a non-traditional lens.




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