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CBS First Year AMA

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New post 28 Nov 2019, 00:18
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Hey everyone! I'm a first year at Columbia who used the website for a couple years when I was applying. I've got some free time with Thanksgiving break so I figured I would do am AMA.

I'm more than happy to give my perspective on anything pertaining to the admissions process, the culture at Columbia, or anything else you can think of! Fire away.

And happy Thanksgiving!

Posted from my mobile device
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New post 28 Nov 2019, 05:53
Thanks for doing this! I have lots!

1. Can you let us know about the community? Is it as close as people say? Or do people go off into cliques or disappear to commute?

2. How are the classes structured in terms of time? Any thoughts about the core?

3. Have you been able to take advantage of NYC?

4. Can you take us through your recruitment process so far? How have you been supported?

5. Any clubs you've been part of?

6. Stern vs Columbia from your POV?

7. How has time management been for you? Anything really surprising? When do you usually get home?

8. Finances? How has that been? That worries me a little.

9. Did you do pre-orientation activities? Is there a lot of pressure to spend to fit in? Or to hang out at bars and stuff like that?

10. Imposter Syndrome? Do you feel some of that at school?
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New post 28 Nov 2019, 14:09
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1. Can you let us know about the community? Is it as close as people say? Or do people go off into cliques or disappear to commute?

I often heard that Columbia is a "commuter school" or that people who were from NYC would mostly stay within their own friend groups from pre-business school. Is there some of that? I would guess probably, but that hasn't been my experience at all. We actually looked at some of this in our Statistics class. Over 90% of my cluster live within a 20 minute commute from campus, so there are only a few people that are very far away. I found that the school did an incredibly good job during orientation of making the clusters come together and have a great sense of community. During the core courses (where you take all of your classes with your cluster) we have really continued to bond well together because we spend so much time together. I would say the grade non-disclosure really helps with how well we all bond because there isn't any incentive to compete academically against your peers.

As for the cliques, as with all things in life, there are certain people who gel a little better than others, so friend groups form. However, if you're asking about cliques in the "Mean Girls" sense of the word, then most definitely not.

2. How are the classes structured in terms of time? Any thoughts about the core?

You've got 9 classes for the core: Financial Accounting, Corporate Finance, Statistics, Managerial Economics, Strategy, Business Analytics, Marketing, Global Economics, and Operations Management. Each class in the core meets for 90 minutes 2 days a week (M/W or T/R). As I mentioned above, you take all of your core classes with your cluster, so it is a really a great opportunity to continue to deepen your relationships with the cluster.

In terms of a time commitment, certain classes take more time than others. Accounting and Corporate Finance, for example, take more time than marketing. In the first month of school your work will take up a ton of time. I spent hours each day just doing homework with my learning team throughout the whole month of September. However, once recruiting starts in October the professors cut back on the amount of homework pretty significantly and you're given a lot more "free" time (i.e. time to recruit).

I have really enjoy the core. Not only because so much of the knowledge is really foundational and sets you up for all your other classes, but because it allows you to spend significantly more time with your cluster. Remember, if you really think you don't need to take another accounting class because you're a CPA or something then you can test out of the course. You can test out of any of the core courses, but it means less time with your cluster.

3. Have you been able to take advantage of NYC?

I'll say this is a resounding yes. I've scheduled so many coffee chats with firms at their offices or at places next to their office. I've had access to people and firms that I wouldn't otherwise.

I'll give one example: some friends decided to go down to the Spotify offices for a recruiting event on a whim one day. We hopped on the subway and went to the Spotify office where we were with a bunch of other MBA students. At the beginning of the event the recruiter asked where people were from. There were plenty of people from NYC, but there were also people from Yale SOM, Kellogg, Booth, McCombs, and even some Canadians. My decision to go to this event was entirely on a whim because "Why not?", but for all these other people they had to fly into NYC to specifically go to this event. It allowed me a level of access that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

4. Can you take us through your recruitment process so far? How have you been supported?

There are clubs for everything that you possibly want to recruit for. If you're doing On Campus Recruiting (OCR) for Consulting or Banking then you've got a bunch of second years who are going to walk you through exactly what you need to be doing at each and every step of the process. They tell you who to talk to, how to talk to them, how to thank them for talking to you, how to interview, etc. It is impossible not to know what to do because the clubs structure everything for you. For people going through enterprise recruiting (i.e. non OCR) then there is a little less structure, but that comes with those industries.

I doubt that CBS is special in how structured they are. Business school is, after all, mostly about landing your ideal job.

5. Any clubs you've been part of?

Because I've been going through recruiting I've had much less time to be involved with clubs. I am officially a member of several, but I've spent all my time with professional clubs or the Small Business Consulting club. Many of my friends who are not recruiting are having a lot more fun at wine club outings or other social clubs like that.

6. Stern vs Columbia from your POV?

I didn't apply to Stern, so I can't speak too much about CBS vs. Stern. For me, I looked at the opportunities afforded to me from the CBS and Stern employment reports and thought that CBS had historically gotten more internships and job offers at the firms I wanted to work at proportional to the student population.

7. How has time management been for you? Anything really surprising? When do you usually get home?

If I'm home before 10 p.m. on a weekday I would consider it a victory. Recruiting takes at least 20+ hours per week if you're doing OCR, so expect that to consume your life. I would say that I'm probably spending 20% of my time school work and 80% on recruiting. I definitely did not plan on recruiting taking nearly as much time as it has.

8. Finances? How has that been? That worries me a little.

I'm fortunate in that I was given some money by Columbia, so my burden has been a little less than some of my other classmates. I set a pretty aggressive financial goal for myself and I'm doing ok, but there are a lot more expenses than you would expect. Club fees, unofficial school trips to Cancun, and a million other things that cost more than you would have though going in. Anticipate a couple thousand in "surprise" costs. I think most business schools have extra events that will cost extra money to be involved.

9. Did you do pre-orientation activities? Is there a lot of pressure to spend to fit in? Or to hang out at bars and stuff like that?

I went to Hamptons Week, which is exactly what it sounds like. There's a week before school starts where most of the class ends up spending some time in the Hamptons. I had a great time and it really kick-started my network at CBS. I would say that at first I was really thankful for having gone because I felt that I had a leg up on meeting people, but as time went on this didn't matter that much. You will get incredibly close with your cluster regardless of those events, although it will give you a network outside of your cluster.

As for spending to fit in, that isn't the case. I didn't go on the trip to Cancun and, while I did feel like I missed out a little, I certainly wasn't ostracized for it. Plenty of people stayed behind and we got together and had a fun time in NYC. People get it if you're working on a tighter budget. It just depends on how much you can tolerate missing out on those experiences.

There has been a lot less drinking at bars than I would have expected, but I've also been running to recruiting events so perhaps my view is a bit skewed haha... You always hear of business school as one non-stop party and that has not been my experience at all. CBS is so big and so diverse that you can find anyone doing anything at any one time. IF you want to drink, there will be people drinking. If you don't want to drink, there will be classmates not drinking as well. You'll get to do as much or as little as you want.

10. Imposter Syndrome? Do you feel some of that at school?

Everyone is so impressive that you'll always feel a bit of this, but don't let it get to you.
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New post 28 Nov 2019, 16:54
Wow, thank you so much for this! These in-depth answers were way more than I expected! I'll add more if more questions pop up.
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New post 28 Nov 2019, 18:36
No problem! I'm happy to answer any more questions you or anyone else might have!
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New post 29 Nov 2019, 09:06
Hello! Thanks for spending some of your vacation answering questions for fresh admits. I have a few questions:

1. Could you go over each of the core courses in more detail? I know Corp Finance and Accounting are full term and the rest are half, but how else do they differ? Are they equally difficult? is there more homework in one vs another? Different structures?

2. Is there any way to prep for the core courses? I have no finance background so I'd like to give myself a leg up.

3. Are there any profs you recommend to seek out or avoid?

4. I have so much runway - I'm trying to prep as much as I can before fall 2020 to best take advantage of my time at school. Any advice?

Again - thank you!
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New post 30 Nov 2019, 13:33
Hello! Thanks for spending some of your vacation answering questions for fresh admits. I have a few questions:

First off, congrats on getting in! I just also want to add that any prospective students who haven't been admitted yet are more than welcome to ask any questions :)

1. Could you go over each of the core courses in more detail? I know Corp Finance and Accounting are full term and the rest are half, but how else do they differ? Are they equally difficult? is there more homework in one vs another? Different structures?

As I'm sure you can guess, each class does not require the same time commitment. Accounting and Corporate Finance will require more time simply because there is more to build off of than other classes. The more "qualitative" courses (Marketing, Strategy, etc.) require a bit less time on homework than an accounting class will. Besides that, your professor will have a significant impact on how much work you have going on at any one time. The professors all teach the same material so the experience you have from one professor to another won't be dramatically different.

2. Is there any way to prep for the core courses? I have no finance background so I'd like to give myself a leg up.

I know Harvard has an "HBx Core" certification you can take (accounting, business analytics, and econ). This is a great intro if you're willing to spend some money. If not, I would recommend you check out Edx. I'm sure there's a few free courses in accounting or stats, etc. if you want a jump start on the academics.

3. Are there any profs you recommend to seek out or avoid?

All of your core courses are chosen for you, so you have no choice on who you get there. Since I haven't taken any elective courses yet, I can't personally recommend any non-core courses. However, Professor Todd Jick did our intro to CBS lecture during orientation and he was great. I'm looking forward to having him sometime over the next 2 years.

4. I have so much runway - I'm trying to prep as much as I can before fall 2020 to best take advantage of my time at school. Any advice?

Some people chose to take pre-MBA internships. From what I've gathered, this was much more common for people who are trying to pivot into finance jobs (IB, PE, IM, etc.). Besides that, have a clear idea of what you really want to accomplish from a recruiting perspective. If your goal in business school is to change jobs then you need to have a very very clear idea of what it will take and how you are going to position yourself to make this transition. I've already seen some people feel like they missed out on certain job opportunities because they weren't 100% clear on what they wanted to do.
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Re: CBS First Year AMA   [#permalink] 30 Nov 2019, 13:33
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