On the evening of 8 September, while New York city life bustled and fussed throughout the condensed metropolis of Manhattan, matriculating MBA students trickled into the ‘Cambridge in America’ office on the 17th floor of the Hippodrome building standing on the Avenue of the Americas.
The NYC Careers Trek was effectively a pitstop on our way to Cambridge and the start of the Cambridge MBA program. A pitstop that would serve to energise, excite, and inform all of us. The CJBS alumni were full of delight revisiting their time at Cambridge, from their early mornings with their college crew team, to their late evenings working on consulting projects. They filled the room with nostalgia, leaving all of us eager for a taste of their rewarding experiences. Several panelists challenged us to push ourselves: ‘try new things’, ‘get to know those different from you’, ‘take classes to learn’, ‘do not focus on grades’. The picture they painted was colorful but clear: we were entering an unparalleled program due to its strong connection to a university brimming with with potential and prestige.
Networking and socialising continued into the evening with dinner. Conversations ranged from recent professional projects to concerns about how to fit everything into suitcase, but one thing was very clear: we were now part of the Cambridge community.
We started the next day of the NYC Careers Trek with coffee and conversation. I recognised during this time that the trek served not just professional networking with alumni, but also allowed me to connect with my new classmates and better prepare me for arriving in Cambridge. I learned about the messaging apps that people were using and the different activities that were being planned for our first days, as well as the best places to set up a bank account or find a phone plan. Before even starting the company visits, I felt that my flight to New York City for the Career Trek was worth it.
Our first visit was to Vermeer, a marketing strategy consultancy within the WPP Network that strongly believes in ‘unleashing purpose-led business growth’. The professional diversity of the class led to a range of questions about Vermeer and their various projects in creating brand identity. The ‘industry agnostic’ consultants presented past projects they had worked on with a variety of companies – ABInBev, Dulux, PayPal, and Estee Lauder to name a few – and the success they had seen, as well as describing to us their typical day.
Our next stop was the beautiful offices of Samsung, where we sat in sleek conference room with unrivaled views of the High Line, New York City’s public park built on a historic freight rail. Damon Sununtnasuk, a CJBS alumnus, was quick to show us the opportunities available at Samsung, a conglomerate of over 50 companies. I was personally struck by everything that exists within Samsung, there was so much more happening within the company than technology, which makes sense considering it accounts for 23% of South Korea’s GDP. Our visit concluded with a tour walk of Samsung’s ‘digital playground’, learning about everything from 360 degree cameras to smart refrigerators.
Our final visit was with a technology team at JP Morgan, a team that was quick to tell us that they truly view their employer as a ‘tech business with a banking licence.’ The informal discussion with a CJBS alum and his team further pushed us to understand the whole of company – JP Morgan is so much more than finance – and caused many of us to think of what the future of business holds – technology will become increasingly important to maintain a competitive advantage in any industry.
We all walked away from the day with smiles and excitement, albeit slightly tired but the NYC Careers Trek has allowed many of us to truly connect for the first time, easing our move to Cambridge with now identifiable friendly faces.