Launch Cliff – Will It Happen to Me?

Cassidy Morris, MBA Class of 2014

The short answer is Yes, Launch Cliff will happen to you, NYU Stern Class of 2015. Everyone will experience Launch Cliff in some way. It might be right after the final event on Thursday, August 27 or after the first full day of classes on September 3 or after the OCD emails start arriving. Regardless of when, just know it will happen.

Launch Cliff is when reality sets in, and the motivational wave you ride high into the first semester crashes against core course requirements, club board positions and events, recruiting and networking, or making friends at Beer Blast or over a WBL (white-boxed lunch).

Launch is epic in every sense of the word. There are impressive speakers, worldly ideas, and grand ambitions directed at each and every one of you. That’s right, you made it, you are IN, and this entire community at Stern believes in your potential to make a difference in the world, in business and in society. Business school is an individual pursuit and a variety of paths lead to graduation, especially at the 21st century business school. Stern is a leader in supporting career pursuits in Investment Banking, Management Consulting, Corporate Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, and much in between. So, please, enjoy Launch and the time it affords you to get to know each other and think about what you want out of these two years you have committed to your education and career development, e.g. the rest of your life.

These two weeks will be exhausting in so many ways, but that is just a glimmer of what life as a B-school student will be like. The key is to embrace Launch so that you bring the brilliance, optimism, confidence and creativity with you into the fall semester and entire first year. These will help you navigate the challenges of school, stay true to your goals and chart a path for success.

That might sound cliché, but it’s true. I came out of Launch inspired and energized, ready to succeed. I joined two club boards, was elected a Block Leader (BLOCK 6!), committed to a variety of school programs, and recruited for both marketing and management consulting internships. I dropped marketing after a few weeks when I noticed my enthusiasm waning under the demands of classes and clubs. If I enjoyed everything but recruiting, how did I get led astray? I lost focus. Professor Carr is disappointed in me, I’m sure.

When I look back on those first two months of school, it’s a challenge to separate September from October. The momentum to participate in everything is there (see also: FOMO). And Launch encourages you to explore your options, take the time to evaluate your goals and align your career trajectory in such a way to achieve professional success and personal happiness. But those two clearly do not align. It’s apparent that most business school students are over-achievers, go-getters, not the type to sit idly by and daydream. So, you must make the time to explore, evaluate and adapt your goals, and find out what is the right fit for you.

Finding the right fit. Even now, a year later, internship done, rising MBA2, I am not 100% sure what the right fit is for me. However, 10 months ago I figured out how to find the right fit for me. Talking about it. To lots of people. TONS of people. Tell your story, and not necessarily your 30 second, 2 minute or 5 minute story although you will practice those relentlessly, but just your story. The most helpful guidance I received during my first year was from sharing my own thoughts and processes with those around me, whether it be friends at Stern, alumni/ae, faculty, administrators or people outside of Stern (I did manage to save a few good friendships in that first year), and taking their feedback, questions and suggestions to heart. I think this strategy is a pretty good first step if you aren’t sure what direction to head in and can feel the Launch Cliff coming but want to stay on track. Start talking.

So what to do after Launch and not succumb to the Cliff? Hear the urgency to recruit, but focus on your own goals. Identify classmates with similar interests or recruiting timelines and support each other in these pursuits. Try to attend a smattering of corporate presentations so you can be sure you’ve sampled the many options available to you (even the ones you feel revolted by). Connect with MBA2s who have been there before; we are here to share our experience in an effort to support you in your journey. And finally, get out there. Leave KMC once in a while, get a Spring internship, volunteer, start a brunch club. Keep all this in perspective because before you take a breath, you will be sitting where I am welcoming the next class at Stern.


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