Lauren Calio, Director, MBA Admissions

Lauren Calio, Senior Director, MBA Admissions, NYU Stern

1) What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your MBA program this coming year?

NYU Stern is known as the School that embraces change, and we are focused on fostering leaders who can drive change and create positive impact in the business world. It’s hard to choose just one, but I’ll highlight Stern’s Leadership Accelerator, which features highly engaging experiences that put  students out of their comfort zone in order to build the mindset and behavioral skills needed to lead change. Recently, over 60 MBA students participated in our first in-person “live case”, an innovative new model for leadership development. During the live case, students face uncertainty and are required to remain agile while making quick decisions. They receive invaluable, personalized feedback from a faculty coach that they can use as they evolve their own unique leadership style.

2) What 2-3 qualities, skill sets, experiences does your program value most in applicants?

Students come to Stern with a range of career and lived experiences, which we welcome and embrace. Students should arrive at Stern with a commitment to their own personal and professional development as well as to the larger Stern community. We seek students who possess both intellectual and interpersonal strengths, a core value we call IQ+EQ. A common thread among our students is their high emotional intelligence and pride in our collaborative community. We also pride ourselves on being a School to which everyone can bring their full selves. Our students’ interests outside of the classroom are also vast, as evidenced by our 30+ students clubs serving professional, affinity, and special interest areas.

3) How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?

The essays are the part of the application that applicants have the most control over. We encourage candidates to use them to tell their story in their unique voice. My favorite essay is our Pick Six visual essay, which requires applicants to submit six images such as pictures, charts, infographics and artwork, along with six short captions, as a way to introduce themselves to the Admissions Committee. The Pick Six in particular is a creative way for an applicant to tell us more about who they are as a person, complementing the other components of the application. My advice – view this essay as an opportunity to show the Admissions Committee what and who have impacted you and what you are passionate about. Don’t overthink it, but have fun with it. Do not make the mistake of writing what you think we want to hear. We want to hear your genuine experience.

4) Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants?

What we tell applicants is that after you write your essays, have someone read them – but don’t show them the question beforehand. If your essay answers the question clearly, the reader should be able to identify the question you are answering. They can also help proofread the essays. With regard to recommendations, Stern requires one EQ Endorsement, preferably from the current manager. As part of the endorsement, in addition to requesting information on your principal strengths, we ask your endorser to provide a compelling example of when you demonstrated emotional intelligence. Be sure to give your endorser plenty of lead time to complete the endorsement thoroughly. Sit down with them to discuss your desire to attend business school, career goals, and remind them of your achievements. This will help them write an informed endorsement that includes relevant examples to help the Admissions Committee know who you are as a professional.

5) Are you putting additional emphasis on the GMAT versus in past years? Thoughts on GMAT vs. GRE?

Our Admissions Process is holistic. Stern is test agnostic and accepts the GMAT, GRE, and Executive Assessment; we do not have a preference between these tests. We will accept the GMAT Focus Edition and new shortened GRE. Applicants can also submit an LSAT, MCAT or DAT. Test scores are just one piece of the application. They are an indication of your quantitative ability, but you can also demonstrate this through work experience, previous coursework, hobbies, etc. You can take free online practice tests for both the GMAT and GRE. Try both because sometimes applicants find they prefer the cadence and format of one test over the other.

6) What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities (or to advance their Career Path)?

Stern’s Careers Team partners with students in a strategic search for both internships and full-time roles. They offer a variety of resources through the Ignite Program, which includes resume reviews, mock interviews, networking workshops and more. Their team also builds and grows relationships with employers across industries and geographies, which brings a wide range of companies to campus for corporate presentations and interviews. Our student-run professional clubs are also a fantastic resource for industry-focused professional development, events and networking opportunities. Finally, our location in the heart of New York City provides students quick and easy access to employers, alumni and networking opportunities. Post-MBA, our alumni have access to lifelong career support through Stern’s Career Center for Working Professionals and lifelong learning available in the form of auditing graduate-level classes.

7) Favorite Hangout for NYU Stern students?

I went straight to our MBA students for this one. Book Club is an independent bookstore in the East Village, not far from campus. This cozy spot feels like your living room and serves locally roasted coffee, NY state craft beers, and wine.


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