It’s a beautiful Saturday morning on May 17, 2014 in Budapest following a perfect night of packing and saying goodbye to Hungarian friends prior to flying to New York for a month-long experienced based learning course in the most global city in the world…but wait…it’s 10am so why am I still in bed when my flight is at 10:40am?!?!?!?!? ….S#%!…F@&#… I quickly awoke from my dream where I was giving the same presentation I just gave the day before in Managing Brands class. Realizing that I was going to miss my flight because my alarm did not go off as planned and that there was no chance my sleep deprived body would have woken up on its own, I changed my flight to May 20, 2014 with 5 minutes to spare.
After the initial shock of my blunder, I realized this failure to launch was a blessing in disguise. With 9 of the 11 months of the MBA program complete, it was very easy to get caught up in the speed of the program with its roller coaster ups and downs, lack of sleep, and challenging environment. But armed with the extra days to reflect on my time at CEU, I was able to take a step back and remember why I came to CEU and express these sentiments to my local Hungarian friends. By the time I finally arrived to NYC on the Tuesday night of May 20, 2014, I realized being in New York was going to be an amazing opportunity to press the reset the button on my perception of my time at CEU along with planning how to maximize the rest of my year.
As soon as I landed at JFK, the familiarity of being back home the United States hit me when the border guard said “welcome home” as he stamped my passport and as I could feel the greenbacks in my wallet again. Being that this was my 4th visit to NYC, including a summer intership at Breakthrough Collaborative (http://www.btny.org/) while living in Spanish Harlem, I didn’t experience the shock and awe my foreign classmates must have felt. Instead I felt the nostalgia of the smells all around me, the rattle of the subway cars, and the endless chatter from the bars I walked by.
Prior to the start of the NYC module program, there were many whispers of concerns from students about the usefulness of the module with some students even choosing not come. However, for me, it was a chance to bring my experience full circle and prove myself worthy of the MBA status that I am 20% away from completing. We heard inspiring and insightful presentations from the Acceleration Group (Alejandro Crawford & Brian Gerske), Keith Kulper executive search, Pfizer (Aaron), and Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP. Alejandro and Brian, in their engaging act, helped us understand how the startup ecosystem was bred in Brooklyn’s “Silicon Alley” and sparked thoughts of how can some of these methods be duplicated in Budapest. Keith pushed us to understand the value of the CEU MBA and how to sell ourselves; this was very useful because many of us seem to cynically tend to sell the program and ourselves short by forgetting all the positives of the CEU MBA such as global reach of the program, the academic rigor of squeezing 2 years into 11 months, and the differentiation factor of being a top school in the emerging CEE region. Aaron’s talk about his career path and daily work in analytics provided us with some a real world snapshot of what some of us may be doing after school. Lastly this week, Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP brought a connection with our recent ethics class with Peter Hardi…OK, I won’t lie….the best part was the wine and cheese party with the view of the NY skyline and Times Square.