Many b-school students dream of living and working in New York City and plan to use their MBA degree to launch a career there (or to return to the Big Apple). Others have done their time in New York and are looking to use their MBA to relocate to a different city entirely.
New York is one of the most popular metro areas for Vanderbilt Business students to land. We sat down with Rob Schickler, Associate Director of Admissions, and Brook Meissner, Senior Associate Director at the Career Management Center, to find out why students coming from and going to New York are attracted to Vanderbilt.
New York to Nashville to New York
Its Tennessee location notwithstanding, Vanderbilt attracts quite a few students from New York City proper, as well as the greater metropolitan area. “New York is probably the largest domestic market for incoming MBA students,” Schickler said.
When they first start looking at business schools, some applicants have questions about leaving New York for two years and trying to return after graduation. However, schools like Vanderbilt have strong alumni networks around the country and the globe, and they place students in nearly all major metropolitan areas, including New York.
“Once they see that employment report, and they see the list of not only the number of companies that come here, but also the reputation and the prestige of the companies that recruit here, that usually assuages any concerns they may have about not being able to return to the Northeast,” Schickler said.
Some students also have questions about moving from such a progressive and culturally advanced city as New York. However, in the past few years, Nashville’s entertainment scene has exploded. The Music City supports various performing arts, a symphony, dance troupes, live music events in all genres, urban parks, professional sports teams, and a great restaurant scene with James Beard award-winning chefs.
“That idea that Nashville offers all the things to do of a New York, but on a much smaller, less crazy scale — I think it’s really attractive to a lot of people,” Schickler said. “That’s probably the thing I hear the most for New York prospective students: I want to go to a city, but New York is too much.”
“I feel very comfortable pointing out that Nashville is a liberal city, whether you’re talking just sociologically or politically,” he added.
Given its central geographic location, Nashville is only a two-hour flight from 9 out of the top 10 metro areas in the country, including New York. With the short flights and no classes on Fridays, students find it very easier to get back to New York, whether it’s for recruiting visits or family obligations.
“There really is a great back and forth between Nashville and New York City all year long,” Schickler said. “It’s fortunate there are so many non-stop flights between the two cities, because our recruiters and students definitely take advantage of that.”
New York to Nashville to Anywhere Else
Not every student who hails from New York City is looking to go back. “I would say that just as many people are looking to scatter to the winds and are using the MBA to pivot and transition to a different industry, a different city,” Schickler said.
For those students hoping to move away from New York, Schickler points them towards the same resources he does for any other candidate looking to move geographies: the most recent employment reports and maps showing where Vanderbilt Business alumni, jobs, and internships are located around the country and globe.
“Once upon a time, (Vanderbilt) was much more of a regional school, with folks staying in Nashville and Atlanta. Obviously, we still place a lot of graduates in those cities, but folks don’t have to stay in the Southeast if they don’t want to,” he said. “I think a lot of people are pleasantly surprised that there are so many geographic opportunities available to them.”
Schickler says that for students looking to leave New York, the warm and welcoming communities of both Nashville and Vanderbilt are especially appealing in comparison to the exciting chaos of the Big Apple.
“I think our personal scale really speaks to a lot of people,” he said. “Folks who live in New York like that hustle and bustle, but I think that a lot of them are also maybe a little bit weary of the crowds.”
“You can this high-touch, personalized education experience, (and then go to NYC)…people don’t have to choose between the two,” he added.
Anywhere Else to Nashville to New York
Of course, for every student looking to leave New York, there’s usually another hoping to move there for the first time. Meissner helps coach a lot of students who are looking to go into investment banking and other financial roles in New York. He says that job applicants who have never lived in New York need to demonstrate interest not just in the company and role, but also the city itself — especially since large firms like banks usually have offices in multiple cities.
“There are employers who will look at someone who has never been to New York, and say ‘Does this person really want to be here?’” he said. “If you’re a hiring manager, and you have two candidates and everything else is equal, but one of them has lived in New York and the other one has never been to New York…isn’t it a lot safer to take someone who has been here and worked here?”
Meissner says candidates who have never lived in New York before should have clear motivations for moving to the city, as well as social support and resources they can highlight during interviews. He says that visiting New York is key to figuring out what you like about the city and growing that professional and social network before interviews (another reason why Vanderbilt Business hosts a Wall Street trek to the city in the fall).
“Really develop that why: Why are you interested in New York? (Don’t just say) that it’s fun, or because it’s where people say you need to be,” he said. “You need to show that you will be able to go there and hopefully stay for a while. If there are any family or friends (in the area), connecting with them and being able to talk about that with employers (helps).”
As for students apprehensive about finding an apartment and navigating the city once they get an offer, Meissner says that firms realize this is an involved process, and sometime even send representatives to the school to give new employees a crash course in finding an apartment. “I can’t think of any other location we’ve had that happen for,” he notes.
Students who hail from a different area of the country can absolutely get a job in New York and successfully relocate there, they just need to make sure it’s what they really want and that they are willing to put in the work.