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Covid Journals: Finally coming to New York

By Kahlil Spurlock

During the Fall 2020 Semester, The Oppy will be publishing submissions from members of the Stern community about how the Covid-19 Pandemic has impacted their experience in and out of the program. This issue, we approached incoming students to learn why they chose to pursue an MBA knowing the pandemic would fundamentally change their entry in the Stern community. If you wish to write about your own experience, please e-mail us at oppy@stern.nyu.edu

The following entry comes from Langone student Kahlil Spurlock.

I always wanted to be in New York.

I was born in Los Angeles 30 years ago and during my time on the West Coast I realized New York had more to offer me in terms of experiences, both personally and professionally. My decision to pursue an MBA was realized more recently. I majored in business, marketing specifically, during undergrad because I loved advertising and understanding how businesses target their consumers. I loved everything I learned over those four years. But I also knew I would need something else to make me competitive in the marketplace when applying for my chosen jobs and helping me climb the corporate ladder. During undergrad I knew I wanted to pursue my MBA, but, more specifically, I wanted to get it on the east coast. I’ve been paying attention to NYU’s MBA program since then.

Somewhat ironically my first job wasn’t in advertising but communications, public relations specifically. I loved my job but I also knew it wouldn’t land me in my dream role as a CMO. I actually struggled to find the right time to pursue my MBA after I started my career. I always knew I would have to do a part-time program, but I didn’t know if I should go three, five, or even 10 years after I had worked full-time in my field. I had friends who were pursuing advanced degrees during this time, some of them were MBA’s, and I would ask them “When is the right time for me?” or “How can I do it?” and of course no one had a solid answer for me. It was something only I could answer. After working for a decade, I made the decision last year that I would finally take all the necessary steps to apply for my MBA. I began studying for the GMAT in December, right around my birthday, and built a list of the schools and programs I wanted to apply to, with NYU being at the top.

Most recently I was working in marketing communications in one of the most well-known luxury fashion public relations firms in the world. At the beginning of this year, my company approached me to be part of the team of publicists for the MET Gala in May, something the younger me only dreamed of. Unfortunately, like a lot of Americans, I was laid off in April due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the events and retail industries.

I honestly wasn’t sure what I would do from there and was somewhat overwhelmed by the possibilities. I wanted to make a career transition into branding, my true passion, but I also still wanted to pursue that MBA. What I did know was I did not want to be idle during this transition period. Ultimately, I decided to move up my application process to this year. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted, but I thought I should try anyway. I cannot describe how thankful and ecstatic I was to receive my acceptance letter. Not that anyone should feel validated by outside opinions, but I felt like the plans for my future were coming into focus.

I know we are all dealing with the effects of Covid-19 personally, but, to me, now is the perfect time to pursue an MBA. In one of my classes, my professor said getting an MBA cannot guarantee a better life. I agree with that, but I think it is a necessary tool for me in the pursuit of rising and progressing in my career.

All of us should use this time in the program to witness the transition and changes in almost every industry, and use it as an opportunity to analyze what’s going on so we have the ability to apply key learnings to our future roles.

I have now accepted a position with a major retailer as a brand manager focusing on strategy. The fact that I was in a top-tier MBA program was a huge selling point in addition to my other qualifications. This program is already giving me a leg up in the hiring market when there are more prospects than jobs.

I know that now is the best time in my life to pursue an MBA, and I’m so thankful I have the opportunity to do it at NYU Stern.

Photo credit: Benjamin Norman/The New York Times

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