Saturday, February 28, 2004

As I reached the apex of the bridge headed towards the Holland Tunnel, the sun was beaming, the sky was blue, and Lady Liberty was just off to my right standing proud and tall. As I gazed on the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan, I felt a wave of emotion, mixed with nostalgia for times spent in New York with my family when I was a kid and with a sense of all we all lost on September 11th. And it all reminded me how tough New Yorkers are. And that feeling, that raw New York feeling is very much like my experience at NYU today.

My expectations were wrong, and my day at NYU rocked. The students are laid back and they have a demeanor of coolness. All of them seemed to be having FUN. The facilities and faculty were on par with the other programs I visited. At lunch, I sat next to Professor Cabral, who is the head of the Economics Department, and he talked about Game Theory and other Econ stuff, which was fascinating for Econ/ Policy geek like me.

The interview was very laid back. A Stern alumna, who had a nonprofit background, interviewed me. She had read my file before my interview so the questions were specifically tailored for me. The questions included the obligatory Why^3. She also asked what I would contribute and to describe a team experience. She did press me on a couple of issues. Nonprofit organizations don't recruit at Stern, so she asked how I planned to find a job. (I answered that I have an existing network in the nonprofit sector.) She also questioned my quantitative abilities since I'm a nonprofiter. I was surprised by this because my last two jobs (including my nonprofit one) are very quantitative. I do financial analysis now, and my last job involved modeling and discounted cash flows, IRR, and NPV calculations. In undergrad I was a TA in finance, financial accounting, and managerial accounting. I've never had anyone question my quant abilities so I was surprised by this question. I believe I handled it well. Apparently, NYU uses the interview to address any concerns they have, so I'm glad I got a chance to tell them my skills that may not be evident by looking at the surface of my file.

The admissions people were super cool. One thing that was really impressive was the information packet they had for me. It had information on clubs that they thought I'd be interested in based on my background and interests. Also while I was waiting to be interviewed, one of the admissions people was talking to me, and he knew my file and knew I was into nonprofits when I told him my name. It made me feel special, and that is something I haven't experienced at any of the other schools I've visited. It made me realize that if I attended Stern, I wouldn't just be a number. They would know who I am. And that's pretty damn cool.

And of course one of the major selling points about Stern is that it is in the heart of New York City. And not the touristy part either. Stern is in Lower Manhattan where actual New Yorkers live. One of the reasons I like Stern, is the opportunity to live in NYC. I would love to live in Manhattan for a couple of years. But I'd have to get rid of my car; New Yorkers drive like CRAP.

All and all, it was a good day. So add Stern to my list of schools I'd be totally happy to attend.

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