‘Tis the season for hearts, roses, chocolates, and dare we say it….quarantine love. Well, at least for some. While the rest of us may be faring these cold nights alone, let us tell you about a little Stern match that happened thanks to The Oppy. Would we call ourselves matchmakers? Absolutely. But we will let you form your own conclusions.
Meet Conor Clark. Tall, handsome, engineer, and previous-single Langone student, who is The Oppy’s VP of Relations and the genius mastermind behind “Stern Singles”
I first spoke to Conor on the phone last January when interviewing him for an editorial board position for The Oppy. Immediately I thought to myself, “well this guy is smart and charismatic, and he too has no newspaper experience. He’s going to be perfect for the VP of Relations role.” Fast forward to a few weeks later at our first Oppy meeting and in walks Conor (remember in person meetings?!). He was dedicated, motivated, and also pleasant on the eyes. I remember whispering to Ray that it was a pity my younger sister had just started dating someone (Hi Jason! I love you for Marita, I swear). Conor presented his idea of “Stern Singles” at that very meeting. I must admit, I originally had my doubts. “A bachelor/bachelorette feature in an MBA newspaper…is that the vibe we want to be giving off here?” However, in the spirit of leading in a democratic style, I put it to a vote and it was an overwhelming yes. Thank goodness it was because it is one of our most popular features we have. I look back at that meeting with many fond memories. The five new members of The Stern Opportunity restarting one of the oldest MBA school newspapers a year ago will always be a life highlight for me, but I digress.
Conor never said much about his non-Stern life, and in my attempt to be a professional leader, I never learned personal information about board members, unless self-volunteered. Conor ran “Stern Singles” and boy, did he succeed, His interviews with our classmates are some of the wittiest and frank articles we have. In fact, much of The Oppy’s feedback is how much students love the feature. Conor, I’m sorry I ever doubted you and also that I didn’t inquire about your dating life. This segues me into the next part…
Oh Shelby, where shall I begin? Shelby was in my block (Fall 2018 Orange Block, what’s up!) and our block co-leader. She was also my first friend at Stern. I felt so unsure of what professional value I could add to our block. I was this nurse practitioner, who had no business knowledge. It was the first time in a long time that I felt so out of place. Meanwhile, Shelby was this tall, dark-haired stunner, who was self-assured and had accomplished so much by her mid-20s. She could take charge in any room she walked into. She always knew what she wanted and took life by the horns. She had this innate confidence that I always admired and would talk to anyone.
She also was also an avid reader of “Stern Singles.” One day, Shelby texts me to ask what the process of being a Stern Single includes. I told her that it was very simple (because it is) but she had no choice than to be interviewed now (I promise I am not this harsh on most people inquiring about the feature). I could not have predicted what happened next. But let me have them tell you that part.
Shelby! Conor! How’s it going? Can you walk us through how the interview went?
CC: I was newly single, but also working on a mushroom farm in Alabama for quarantine. My social prospects were limited. When I heard I was interviewing the cute girl from my Business Comms class I got pretty excited.
SD: I shamelessly asked Deirdre if I could participate. I had been single for a few months and felt ready to mingle. Deirdre graciously announced my nomination, kindly not mentioning that I had nominated myself, and Conor sent the questions to me via email. I had moved back to CA to wait out COVID and my best friend of 11 years was home with me. She and I split a bottle of wine, answered the questions, and emailed them back.
CC: I remember reading Shelby’s responses in my Mom’s kitchen and just loving every moment of it. I had to call my Mom over and ask “is this girl flirting with me?” She thought so, so naturally I had to volley back with my own flirtations.
SD: It was not until after I had sent back the responses to Conor that I realized he was the cute Conor I had noticed in my Business Communication class. I was MORTIFIED at some of my responses, especially when I saw that some I had meant to go back and change had found their way into the article.
I remember talking to a few board members after this interview was released. It may have been mentioned that Conor had truly outdone himself this time. In hindsight, that should have been a clue. What happened next?
SD: My friend, Jason, who had been gracious enough to do a testimonial, saw the article come out first. He called me right away saying, “Oh my gosh, this cute Conor boy who wrote this article is flirting with you!” I denied it, thinking that it was flirtatious because it was a singles column. Later that night I realized that mine did read a little bit differently as compared to the others. Jason told me that if I didn’t slide into Conor’s DMs he would do it for me. Knowing this was a legitimate threat, I slid into Conor’s DMs and complimented his hammock (I am a lifelong fan of that format of lounge furniture).
JASON, our own Stern Cupid! Readers, Shelby’s Stern Singles article can be found here. How long ago did this all go down?
CC: We met in Business Communications in fall of 2019. Shelby’s stern singles article was in May of 2020. I convinced Shelby to fly back to New York in August. Luckily she hasn’t gotten sick of me yet.
SD: My mom accused me of flying back to New York for the sole purpose of going on a date with Conor, which I will still deny, but is absolutely true. And by the way, I will never get sick of you.
I think I just threw up in my mouth. I equally hate and love both of you. What was your first date?
CC: We both live in West Village and I was eager to show off my cooking skills, so I made a pretty stellar picnic and we had dinner on the Christopher Street pier. Conversation mostly hovered around quarantine activities and what songs must be on the perfect teenage angst playlist. You know, romantic stuff.
SD: I was really blown away by the level of effort, thought, and care that Conor put into our first date – we had a multi-course picnic filled with some of my favorite things. We had a great time on the pier and I remember thinking, “it really looks like this guy wants to kiss me,” but he wasn’t making a move! He was a gentleman, walked me home, asked if he could kiss me (to which I replied, “I have been waiting for you to do it!”). He literally jumped in the air out of excitement after we kissed (I lovingly refer to this as the leprechaun kick). As Conor walked away, I knew I had met someone special and was hoping he liked me as much as I liked him. The next morning I woke up to this banger seven-hour playlist based off of our conversation and knew that he was as smitten for me as I was for him.
Are. You. Kidding. Me. Is this an early 2000s teenage rom movie? But seriously, move over New York Times, The Oppy is giving your “Modern Love” feature a run for its money. Anyway…do you think that starting to date in a pandemic was much different than dating in more normal times?
SD: A couple of things stand out to me…we got to get to know each other by talking on the phone and just keeping in touch without pressure first, and I really enjoyed getting to know Conor that way, it made me excited to see him when I got back to NYC. The second thing that has been different is that we haven’t really been able to get to know each other’s friend group since people are (understandably) not spending time together in person as we did pre-pandemic. It is odd that we’ve never gone out dancing, to a concert, or to hang out with a big group of friends, but we certainly look forward to doing those things together post-pandemic.
CC: Luckily we just make our own dance parties and concerts. Cooking for each other has been great too. I’m still not sure if Shelby likes me or just likes my cheesy grits.
SD: I love you, and I also happen to love eating the cheesy grits you make.
(Readers, I am starting to feel uncomfortable and really want to end this interview. Their chemistry is electrifying. But in the name of journalism, I will continue…)
Is it fun dating a classmate? Can you tell us some pros and cons?
SD: I’m enjoying it! There is a common understanding of juggling work and school, a common work ethic, and an appreciation for relaxing. When we have had classes on opposite nights, we cook for the other so they aren’t burdened and can stay focused. I don’t think there is a con, per say, but I am not sure how much Conor likes when I join his breakout rooms to say hi to my friends (ha!).
UM SHELBY, as a person who has experienced this, I can say that I don’t like this. Two months ago, during an Oppy meeting, I had to put Conor on mute because I just heard you chattering away in the background. Thank goodness for Zoom host privileges.
Ok now a really important question…what are your FIRST Valentine’s Day plans? I know, I know. It’s just a commercialized holiday. However, I am a big advocate for candy, roses, and being wooed.
CC: Big fan of wooing as well. We’re actually combining birthday celebrations with Valentine’s day and headed out to Montauk for a long weekend. Cozy beach weather, a fire, some yummy food. We do what we can.
SD: 12/10 can confirm that Conor is the King of Woo, I am very, very lucky.
*sighs* I don’t think you two understood the purpose of this interview. It was not to make other people jealous or nauseous by how cute you both are.
What would you say to readers who are thinking about nominating themselves (or classmates) for “Stern Singles?”
SD: Do it, do it shamelessly. You have nothing to lose in putting yourself out there (except, I did find out that my coworkers googled me and the article is the third link that pops up – super fun way to kick off leading a 16-person team of people I have never met at work before). Many people reached out to me, and all were really lovely people, as we know, the Stern community is filled with great people.
Get it girl. Any advice to anyone who is harboring a little crush on a previously featured Stern Single?
CC: People really underestimate the power of being thoughtful and saying something just a little silly and sweet.
Awwwww, our first pandemic love match! I’m gushing over here…on the other side of the computer, where it’s Covid safe. Thank you both for sharing your story. If any of our readers are interested in being a “Stern Single,” please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Secondly, if you like someone who has been featured, why don’t you shoot them a Stern email or slide into their Microsoft Teams messages (I’m hip. I’m cool. I know the lingo). After all, Stern Singles participate because they are trying to meet great classmates!