“Being a parent of a newborn while working and doing an MBA is a lot of work. It means long days and sleepless nights. Everyone in the Langone program must make tradeoffs, but for parents, it’s especially complex. How do I work, keep my grades up, build friendships, maintain relationships, and take care of a tiny newborn? Can I be part of the social scene and be there for my baby when she wakes up multiple times during the night? At one point, I was ready to give it up because the mom guilt is all consuming, if not for my partner. His support makes it easy for me to navigate business school while being a mom.”
In a very special Mother’s (and Father’s, since this is our last issue for the school year) Day issue, The Oppy is excited to honor the students in our graduate community that are attaining their MBA, either full-time or part-time, while being parents. Parenting, as one can imagine, is more than a full-time job. It requires the emotional, physical, and financial dedication to bring up a child, and also mandates relationship management with one’s partner, family, peers, and coworkers – add an MBA on top of that, and the wheel of balancing life can easily go into overdrive. In short, mothers and fathers are superheroes. (I for one often forget to water my plants, and resort to chips and guac for dinner some nights, so kudos to anyone who responsibly feeds an actual human child, on top of going to school and working).
We are also excited to be partnering with Stern Chats, Stern’s podcasting platform that shares stories across the Stern MBA community, and will be including excerpts from their episode “Parenthood During Your MBA” below. Hayley Wilcox, Stern Chats’ host, speaks to Lucia Paradiso, Katie Medina, and Mark Ryan as they discuss parenthood during their MBA. From having their first baby during the program to raising three children, the guests share their personal experiences, knowledge, and advice to the episode. Check out the podcast episode!
Katie Medina: “One of the reasons I had chosen Stern was because it has a pretty small class size per year compared to other business schools – I was so nervous about being pregnant because you can be pretty visible at Stern given the small class size – people tend to know more people. I was nervous I’d be that odd girl pregnant in school – I think Lucia and I are the only women that have had children during our two years within my class that I know of – I was just blown away by how people reacted when I finally told them that I was pregnant, they were so happy for me. I have felt so supported having a baby here and I feel all my friends love my baby just as much as if not more than I do sometimes, so it’s just been really special to see that community aspect.”
Mark Ryan: “All the credit goes to my wife – we have 3 kids. It would be impossible without having that support system. Our schedules are so unaligned with the typical work day. Today, I have a 3-9 PM class, Wednesdays I have a 10:30 class. There’s a lot of irregularity that’s hard to balance, and also the social aspect is tough to balance. You come home and the kids are already asleep and they miss you, or they’re up waiting for you to come home – my 4 year old specifically requests me when he goes to bed, so sometimes it’ll be 11 and I’m walking in and he’s in tears waiting for me to come home. So it’s tough. But at the same time it’s a bit more motivating knowing what I’m working for and what I want to do long-term and knowing this will pay off.”
Lucia Paradiso: “A positive thing is that you are surrounded by people that love you, you are intellectually developing constantly, so it’s kind of a safe environment to have a pregnancy, and I really appreciate that [about Stern]. I think that one challenging part, at least when you’re planning to have a kid, is how do you see the recruiting process and your future job/internship opportunities? So having that security of careers like banking or consulting that will give you a full-time job offer after a summer internship gave me a lot of peace of mind for what was next.”
And a special quote from Langone student and new mom Pallavi Chalasani: “There is no perfect time to do anything in life, be it getting an MBA or having kids. For women especially because our career clocks and biological clocks are at conflict. I didn’t have kids on my mind when I applied to Stern, but it soon became a reality, and I had to learn how to multi-task effectively. I worked from home and took online classes all last year because of Covid but it was still hard work. I was up for a promotion which meant working long hours, jumping from my work zoom to class zoom and navigating through all the classes and assignments through the week. Virtual classes make it a little easy because a break during the virtual class is the ideal time to sneak in some goodnight kisses to my newborn. An early end to class means a quick dinner and catching up on my work emails or studying. Reading case studies to my daughter still counts as “reading your baby a book” and rocking my baby to sleep while preparing for exams is the best solution!
We figured there was no better way to really understand what parenthood while getting an MBA is like other than to ask the parents themselves. Thank you to all who graciously filled out our survey, probably in the midst of ten million emails and daycare drop-off or bottlefeeding. We hope the responses to the questions below help parents all across the MBA community realize they are not alone, and receive some tips on how to balance it all just a little bit better. To everyone else, make sure to show some love for all the parents (and to-be parents) you know at Stern!
How do you balance school, work, and parenting?
- Pre-planning and prioritizing my time. Sometimes I have to sacrifice school events to spend more time with my son on weekends. Other times I use my PTO to catch up on school work.
- I plan for the day and week in advance. My every hour is accounted for. My main priority right now is my 7 month old baby and family. I also try to take it easy at school. I’m a type A person and realizing that I can’t do it all was a hard pill to swallow, but I keep telling myself that it’s okay to not get an A as long as I understand the concepts. Being able to take classes virtually helps because I save time on my commute, valuable time that I then spend on other things that need to be done.
- I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do, if not for [my husband]. We treat parenting as teamwork (as it should be!) and he takes care of everything when I have school, exams or meetings. I finish my readings and assignments during the week so I can spend all my weekends getting in as much family time as I can. Childcare is still very hard during the pandemic (it is still a pandemic for kids under 5 who can’t get vaccinated) but we make it work with planning, understanding managers at work and supportive family!
- By pulling a lot of all nighters. Also, I am lucky to have a wonderful wife who while working as well has made sure our kids are happy, healthy and nurtured.
- I don’t have a social life.
- Balance? What is Balance? Honestly, you sacrifice sleep to make it all work. If leaving for school, you have to leave at the time that gets you to class with ~5mins to spare. Why? To ensure that other things on your list are getting completed.
- Identifying critical time periods when I need to focus a bit more on schoolwork (e.g., assignment due dates/exams coming up) and offsetting those by spending more time with my family at less critical times. Hybrid work during the pandemic has been quite helpful.
- It helps to have a kind, understanding, and lovely wife to perform this balancing act. She shoulders more responsibilities so that I can focus on learning. Once I graduate, I’ll definitely have to make up for this.
- Having a very involved partner (husband) and full time childcare has been critical to me being able to get everything done and enjoy my MBA in the meantime. I fit as much work for homework, club tasks, socializing and my Teaching Fellowship job as I can from 9-5, Mon-Fri so that I can spend evenings and weekends with my family and this has worked out well for my second year (probably wouldn’t have been able to do this during the height of recruiting in Fall MBA1 yr).
What’s been a highlight of earning your MBA while being a parent?
- My peers at Stern are super supportive and understanding!
- I still have long ways to go before I finish my MBA but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how supportive many of our classmates are. There have been times when I couldn’t attend study sessions because my daughter needed me, and everyone understood that and supported me by sharing the load.
- Sharing what I learned in school with the children.
- I am a girl dad, so meeting so many strong intelligent women who I can hold out as role models for my girls.
- Having all my friends get to meet my baby and getting to tell her that she was at my graduation! Being a parent hasn’t made getting my MBA any different in terms of highlights.
- I started my MBA with a mindset that I need to get done with my HW, before my kids start bringing their HW with them from their schools.
- Telling my 6-year-olds that I have to do math, trying to explain the Gordon Growth Model to them and then watching their eyes glaze over. In their view, math is limited to 5+5=10.
- This experience teaches you to be super efficient. Unless you are super organized, it is tough to study while raising a kid.
- I am much more organized and efficient with my time than when I joined [Stern].
- Seeing MBA friends of all kinds meet and spend time with my son. It’s been a revolving door of visitors who want to see Nico grow up and are always bringing him gifts. It’s been really special.
What are some tips you have for others who have children/are considering having children during their MBA program?
- You can’t do everything. Ensure you prioritize your child and their care before work and school. It’ll be easier to focus on the task at hand.
- It’s very important to be on the same page with your partner. Having children changes your relationships and when you throw in an MBA and work into the mix, it just gets harder.
- Make sure you have your village, you need all the support you can get and know that while it’s hard, it’s not impossible.
- It’s okay to say no.
- Plan your courses with the help of Academic Affairs. Plan your maternity break in advance so you can get back to classes after. And take advantage of the virtual courses!
- Childcare subsidies are only for full time faculties and students. Part time students need childcare help too.
- Honestly, I couldn’t imagine having a kid during my MBA. The newborn phase requires a lot of time and support, so maybe take that semester off. Otherwise, I think time with your kids is more about quality than quantity. You can always find at least a few hours a week to have special time with your kids. Make sure to carve that out.
- There would be some sacrifices that you would have to make. You would have to prioritize/strategize everything and everyone in your life. You would have to choose between what’s important and what’s super important for you.
- Surround yourself with people who are supportive and considerate of your time and efforts. Do not let other people tell you that you are missing out on things. You have higher goals in your life. There’s a reason why you are doing an MBA at this stage in your life with the kids (or kids on the way). Always remember that reason!
- If considering, make sure it happens during your second year. Use your first year to make friends, get settled, and build a solid foundation. This will come in handy when the child arrives during your second year. If you have children already, make sure your classmates meet them and your partner. This can only strengthen the bond between your family and your peers.
- Make sure that you’ve got a supportive partner/spouse or at least a support structure that would allow for childcare while going to school. Be realistic as to how many and which social/extracurricular events you can actually attend.
- To the extent that you can plan out the timing, it’s important to think about key milestones such as recruiting for a summer internship and/or full time offer, doing your summer internship, when the most social events will occur, etc. I was lucky enough to feel pretty good during my first semester while pregnant so was able to really double down on recruiting and school work. I gave birth 2.5 months before starting my summer internship, which was definitely a lot but relatively good timing.
How has NYU Stern helped you in your journey/ What resources at Stern did you take advantage of?
- I was able to talk to Academic Affairs to plan out how I wanted to proceed with my MBA, post maternity leave. The fact that I could take a break is one of the best things about the Langone program.
- Definitely helping with career advancement and job prospects.
- The nature of the part time program has been very conducive to being able to do this. That said, I think what made this possible were the other students who were both encouraging and worked around my even more constrained schedule.
- There is a community of parents at Stern, it’s nice to have as a resource to learn about things like the child care subsidy (~300 a semester) which I would have had no idea about otherwise.
- None. Not sure if there is any (bar a $200 subsidy). If there is, it is not widely marketed!
- Sometimes, I also feel that I do not have time to look for those resources. Every moment seems very important now.
- Sadly, none. Aside from NYU’s $300 Child Care credit that gets paid out at the end of the semester, there has been nothing. The problem is two-fold. First, there is a lack of institutional support in making sure that the Partners and Family club exists. The vitality of such a club depends on an individual’s personal interest in making sure it exists. Second, the fact that Stern is in NYC absolves Stern from doing things. The thinking: Partners have the entire city to explore. I think solving the first problem mitigates the second.
- I haven’t had to rely too much on NYU Stern as far as managing my responsibilities as a parent goes. I did have to miss a couple of classes during my first semester due to a death in the family – both of my professors were understanding.
- The fact that I am studying with people who take genuine interest in helping me out has been a blessing. This could start anywhere with happy hours to take your mind off things to picnic events.
- My professors and the Office of Student Engagement were all very kind and understanding about my needs as a new mom. Professors allowed me to make up work I’d missed when I was up to it prior to graduation, and OSE even sent me a gift in the mail.
Anything else you think a parent should know about the NYU community?
- There are numerous options available at NYU to choose be it in classes or career help, making our journey fulfilling and unique. The Langone program is fantastic in that regard, but you don’t have a graduation clock ticking.
- Also, reach out to other parents. We are all there to help each other navigate parenthood and business school!
- There is an NYU Childcare Google Group you can join.
- I would love to know what other resources are available to part time Langone students.
- Don’t be shy about sharing that you are a parent. The community here is very supportive.
- Use the child care subsidy each semester for date nights with your significant other!
- Almost every person I have met at Stern so far, has been very supportive of the fact that I am a parent.
- I realize I can’t have it all. I cannot go on the trips, the DBIs and the parties. But I’m still able to do something incredibly rewarding. When I started, I wanted to get an MBA because it will help me grow in my career. Now I want my MBA so I can help make the world better for my baby. She is far too young to understand what mom is doing, but I hope one day she recognizes that mom followed her dreams and worked hard to achieve her goals. I hope she does the same and much more!
Resources for NYU Parents: