Category: Student Blogs

A Glimpse of My Life as an MSBA Student – Nodi Bui ’21

The following post was written by Ngoc Diep “Nodi” Bui, a current MS in Business Analytics in the Class of 2021

After finishing my undergraduate degree in Missouri, I moved to Rochester to attend the MS in Business Analytics program at Simon. COVID has made everything abnormal this year, yet my life at Simon has been very productive and exciting. Despite the whirlwind of activities and deliverables, I manage to keep it under control by always planning ahead and checking my online calendar regularly.

Here is a snapshot of what a typical Tuesday looked like during the Fall B term:

7:00 a.m.: My typical morning starts at 7 a.m. I wake up, shower, and have breakfast. I often go for a quick smoothie as I don’t often have big breakfast, yet I do need to give myself energy to start a busy day!

8:00 a.m.: Take the bus to Simon. I live in Southside Living Area, an undergraduate apartment. I work part-time for the University of Rochester Residential Life Office as a graduate assistant. As I supervise the resident advisors at Southside, I am assigned to live in the area. It’s about 20 minutes by foot from Simon; during the winter, I often take the bus, which typically takes 10–15 minutes.

8:15 a.m.: Stop by Starbucks on my way to Simon to get a cup of coffee.

8:30 a.m.: Attend my Analytics Design and Application class.

10:00 a.m.: Have a 20-minute break between classes. I often use this time to talk to my classmates.

10:20 a.m.: Attend my Predictive and Causal Analytics in R class.

12:00 p.m: Weekly meeting with the Simon Admissions Committee. My second part-time job is as a Simon Admissions Committee ambassador. The Committee meets up weekly for updates on admission rounds, application reading, and interviews.

1:00 p.m.: Meet with the Pricing Club Executive Board. I am the MS representative in the Pricing Club, and we meet up every week to discuss plans for upcoming plans.

2:00 p.m.: Lunch Break! I typically have lunch at noon, yet Tuesday is busier than usual, so I have lunch quite late. I often get food at the Pit, one of the University of Rochester’s dining halls.

3:00 p.m.: Meet up with my teammates (pictured), to work on our current case for Analytics Design and Application focusing on conjoint analysis. In between our meeting, we often take a 15-minute break for coffee and a snack.

5:30 p.m.: Work out at the campus fitness center.

6:30 p.m.: Take the bus back to my apartment.

7:45 p.m.: Make beef noodle soup for dinner. I often eat dinner while watching Netflix.

8:30 p.m.: Do my homework and prepare for the two classes I have on Wednesdays: Data Management and Professional Communications.

10:30 p.m.: FaceTime with my family in Vietnam. Because of my job as the Residential Life graduate assistant, I do not have any roommates, so talking on the phone with my family or my undergraduate friends in Missouri every night gives me company.

11:00 p.m.: Pack my backpack and get ready for bed.

Ever since I started the MSBA program, my schedule is busier than ever. With four classes, two part-time jobs, club activities, and networking, my weekdays are packed. As much as I like hanging out with my friends during the weekend, I cannot do it this year because of COVID. However, we do get together virtually during the weekend to bond and play board games. Even though the program is intensive, and my schedule is always busy, the learning process—both in and out of class—is fulfilling and worthwhile.

Student Reflection: Wakanda Meets Silicon Valley—A Journey to AfroTech

The following blog post was written by Juana Johnson ’21 (MBA) and was originally posted on the Ain Center for Entrepreneurship’s website

For the last four years, something very special has been happening in the San Francisco Bay area in early November. Around this time, upwards of 10,000 brown and black folks descend on the area to discuss all things engineering, technology, venture capitalism, entrepreneurship, and social reform. This gathering brings the best and brightest together with technology powerhouses like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, with the collective mission of addressing pressing issues and offering solutions for minorities in these industries. Some have compared this event to a family reunion, a historically black college/university (HBCU) homecoming, and career conference all mixed up in one—but to the wider world it is known as AfroTech.

juana1AfroTech was curated by Morgan DeBaun, Aaron Samuels, Jeff Nelson, and Jonathan Jackson of the online platform Blavity. And now in its fourth year, the annual conference attracts founders and staffers of some of the fastest-growing tech startups that present the systems and strategies they use to grow their products and businesses.

This revolutionary experience for black techies fosters conversations ranging from how to raise venture funding to how to conduct user design workshops and growth hacking best practices. The conference also includes three full days of speakers and showcases of the latest technologies from the hottest startups in the country. Even more, top black early stage startups have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and compete for the highly coveted AfroTech Cup and win $10,000 in prize money.

When I arrived in Oakland for the conference, I had a sense that I was about to bear witness to a one-of-a-kind experience, and it did not disappoint. With well-known celebrities like media personality Charlamagne tha God, political strategist Angela Rye, and comedian and venture capitalist Hannibal Buress participating in fireside chats, I knew this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill career conference. For first time attendees like myself, the schedule of 60 breakout sessions and 100 corporate sponsor presentations could be overwhelming, but the conference offered three career tracks (leadership, entrepreneurship, and engineering/design) for attendees to focus their experience. During my time, I was able to attend breakout sessions ranging in topic focus from “Utilizing Technology to Protect Bodily Autonomy” hosted by Planned Parenthood to “From Seed to Series A” led by VC firm Precursor Ventures.

Mandela SH Dixon, CEO of Founder Gym, spoke extensively about the overarching topic of the conference: the issue of funding disparities for companies founded by people of color. In fact, the funding landscape for minority and women-owned startups continues to be a dismal one, with just 1 percent of venture-backed founders being black and 1.8 percent being Latino. Women-founded startups receive only 9 percent of investments, while the largest portion of startup funding still goes to white (77.1 percent) and Asian founders (17.7 percent) regardless of gender. Dixon offered tips on how to secure the money needed to launch a business when personal finances are the main concern. She offered that “Success is in the follow through,” and that even in the face of racial and gender-specific barriers, the most successful founders of color are those who have found a way to stand out.

The career expo floor was filled to capacity with recruiters, hiring managers, and eager job seekers looking to change the composition of Silicon Valley. The most successful applicants secured on-the-spot interviews and job offers or invitations to company networking receptions held at night. But the networking didn’t stop there—it continued on with marquee night events hosted by Apple, Twitter, Adobe, and Kapor Capital.

I left the conference with new professional connections, potential business collaborators, and a renewed sense of purpose to do my part in changing the narrative for underrepresented minority groups in pursuit of futures in tech entrepreneurship. I know now that what happens at AfroTech is one-of-a-kind, and everyone who believes in supporting the collective power of entrepreneurs of color should be in attendance. Support from the Ain Center has been instrumental, and I hope to continue to share my AfroTech experience and lead a trip to next year’s conference for University of Rochester students will the same goals in mind.

If you’re interested in participating in the conference next year, head over to AfroTech StartUp Database to be considered for speaking engagements, pitch competitions, and angel investments from the AfroTech network.

UR Simon Weekend Reflections

The following blog post was written by Akshatha Kumar, MBA Class of 2021

UR Simon Weekend was an incredible experience that gave me a preview into what my life at Simon would be like. The chance to have an up-close interaction with my future classmates, senior students, and the faculty was one that I definitely did not want to miss. In all honesty, I did have admission offers from other schools, but the warmth of the Simon community and the feeling of being a part of a collaborative and cohesive environment was what cinched the deal for me!

Akshatha with friends and family at UR Simon Admit Weekend 2019.

Me, Khushi Vijaykumar, my mom, and Vanessa Li at UR Simon Weekend 2019.

I traveled to the United States from India with my mother for the weekend. I was under the impression that my mother would probably be in the hotel room all day while I was at school attending the events but we were surprised to find an itinerary waiting for her! Simon had organized separate events during the day for partners and families while the students were at school. This was amazing because my mother got a chance to explore Rochester and the University of Rochester campus through guided tours and see what life would be like for her daughter, who was moving away from home for the first time!

The events organized for the students throughout the weekend had a perfect balance of learning and fun. Interacting with stalwarts like Kathy Waller ’83 (MBA), former CFO and president of enabling services with Coca-Cola, helped me gain a deeper insight into the legacy of the school and the pedigree of its alumni.

This is a group of us on our visit to Goler House to look at housing options. Sanjan, a second-year MBA was kind enough to show us around his house!

A photo from our visit to Goler House to look at housing options. Sanjan, a second-year MBA was kind enough to show us around his house!

I have two favorite memories from this weekend. The first is the Mock Career Fair, where we have one minute to give our pitch to alumni from different walks of life, and they in turn gave us constructive feedback. This exercise was great for an international student like me as it gave me a flavor of what job recruitment would be like in the United States. My second favorite memory was the ‘Amazing Race,’ where we were divided into teams and we ran around the school completing one task after another! The race showed how much Simon values teamwork and it helped me get to know my future classmates better—getting to explore the school was an added benefit!

I fell in love with Simon Business School during UR Simon Weekend! Every minute on campus felt surreal (it still does!) and I started school later in the year with a happy heart knowing that I had made the right decision.

UR Simon Weekend is April 3–5, and offers programming designed to lay the foundation for your internship/career search before you begin your first class. We are also thrilled to announce that Kathy Waller ’83 (MBA) is returning this year for a Fireside Chat! If you’re beginning your full-time MBA or MS degree at Simon this summer, visit the Admitted Student Portal to register for UR Simon Weekend today—and don’t forget to inquire about a partial travel stipend!

Club Spotlight: Net Impact

The following post was written by Keenan Heyward, 2021 MBA candidate and member of Net Impact

Keenan Heyward '21 (MBA)

Keenan Heyward ’21 (MBA)

Coming into Simon, one of my top goals was to learn more about how business can positively impact society and how I can utilize my skill set to support this endeavor. While researching MBA programs, I learned about an organization called Net Impact, whose stated goal is to mobilize next-generation leaders to use their skills and careers to make a positive impact on the world. Since becoming a member of Simon’s chapter, I have enjoyed interacting with MBA and master’s students who are eager to positively impact society and have furthered my growth as a social impact leader by participating in insightful events and projects.

One such event was a guest lecture by Kevin Callahan, who was most recently the VP of enterprise social responsibility at The Walt Disney Company. Kevin’s depth of social impact experience is impressive, and he was gracious in sharing what he has learned thus far and how we can help organizations see corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a strategic investment rather than a discretionary expense.

From Kevin’s point of view, CSR is growing in importance due to a variety of factors, including the growth of the socially responsible investor community, the breakdown of trust in our institutions, and changes in consumer and worker attitudes towards companies conducting business responsibly. In response to these factors, Kevin walked through the steps that Disney took to make CSR a core part of their business strategy, such as acting upon the customer feedback they received regarding their social responsibility and conducting research that uncovered a direct correlation between how consumers felt about the brand and how much they spent with the brand. To Disney, CSR is an opportunity to eliminate risk as well as gain a competitive advantage. Tying CSR to business growth is the way forward in the modern world.

Going forward, Kevin believes that future business leaders like my fellow Net Impact members will play a key role in boosting the prevalence of CSR at major corporations by being able to communicate the business case for CSR as a growth strategy and by bringing continuous innovation to the space.

Simon Net Impact had a great time at the Net Impact conference in Detroit Oct. 24–26. Alumnae Jennifer Edwards '17S (MBA), Mikayla Hart '16S (MBA), and Sarah Spoto '17S (MBA) joined Meg Litvinenko, director of student life, Matt Sisto '21S (MBA), Keenan Heyward '21S (MBA), Amanda Bickford '21S (MBA), Justine Lazo '20S (MBA), Jessi Garhart '21S (MBA), Tady Chen '20S (MBA), Emily Bader '20S (MBA), Greg Arnold '20S (MBA), and Juana Johnson '21S (MBA) at Detroit’s Women in Mobility event on Oct. 24 (organized by Sarah Spoto).

Simon Net Impact had a great time at the Net Impact conference in Detroit Oct. 24–26. Alumnae Jennifer Edwards ’17 (MBA), Mikayla Hart ’16 (MBA), and Sarah Spoto ’17 (MBA) joined Meg Litvinenko, director of student life, and Simon MBAs Matt Sisto ’21, Keenan Heyward ’21, Amanda Bickford ’21, Justine Lazo ’20, Jessi Garhart ’21, Tady Chen ’20, Emily Bader ’20, Greg Arnold ’20, and Juana Johnson ’21 at Detroit’s Women in Mobility event on Oct. 24 (organized by Sarah Spoto).

The best part of being a member of Net Impact is the wide variety of activities we remain involved in. Just about a week after Kevin’s excellent talk, twelve of us, including two alumni and our amazing advisor—Meg Litvinenko, director of student life—headed to Detroit for the annual Net Impact Conference. This conference was my first as a Net Impact member and will definitely not be my last.

The atmosphere of the conference was energetic, invigorating, and inspirational. Amongst many other impactful moments, I learned about the amazing work of organizations like Empowerment Project and BlackFemaleProject, networked with members of Net Impact chapters from around the world, and enjoyed my first taste of a Beyond Burger thanks to the meat-free nature of the conference. Also, it was humbling to see Simon Net Impact recognized on stage as a Gold status chapter—many thanks to the great work of previous Net Impact leaders and members.

Joining Net Impact has already proven to be one of the best decisions I have made thus far as a student at Simon, and I look forward to supporting the group in pursuit of our goal of earning Graduate Chapter of the Year at next year’s conference!