Park Perspectives: Life is a highway
Park Perspectives are authored by Johnson’s Park Leadership Fellows
Over the river and through the woods to New York City we go! After taking some time to reflect on my first semester and come to grips with my E-ZPass bill, I have very fond memories of making the 230-mile trip with my classmates from Sage Hall in Ithaca to the greatest city in the world. The first semester Core at Johnson is packed, as students are pulled in many directions to complete coursework, recruiting obligations, and other student activities. On top of that, a large portion of these events take place in cities throughout the country as students pursue careers in fields from tech to investment banking. During the second half of the semester, students frequently head out on Thursday afternoon to interviews, coffee chats, and recruiting events that are scheduled on Fridays. There are numerous modes of transportation at Cornell: Campus to Campus bus, Ithaca Tompkins Regional airport, and Uber, but for seven weeks in the fall, I opted to make the trek to the Big Apple in my GMC Acadia.
The Johnson community connection
A lot of MBA programs pride themselves on a tight-knit community, but I can tell you first hand that at Cornell, it is the real deal. The entire Johnson class communicates via a single GroupMe where students alert others of major campus events, upcoming deadlines, and general MBA banter. In addition, students frequently post travel plans in order to split gas or tolls—or just hoping for someone to spend four hours in the car with. I was one of those people! After posting to the general group, I would receive responses from many classmates. Some were my very close friends, whom I had gotten to know well, and others I would wave to in the hallway but hadn’t built a strong connection with yet. The great thing about having an Acadia is that it can comfortably seat five passengers. Once class finished at the end of the week, the group I was driving with would meet in Sage Hall’s atrium, gather our stuff, and go off on our weekly voyage with clear eyes and hopes of future employment.
From Ithaca to NYC: 230 miles ahead
The trek from Ithaca to New York City covers all types of terrain from back country roads in upstate New York to bumper to bumper traffic on the FDR. I also experienced all types of passengers. Some classmates would jump right into interview prep and begin quizzing each other on difficult accounting questions while others would fall asleep once we hit 81 South. The drive always followed a similar pattern, the beginning would be very quiet, then everyone would share what companies they were visiting with that week, where they came from, and personal fun facts. For example, I learned about the English school system in the country of Colombia and NCAA basketball traditions at the University of Kansas. I was always amazed by the transformation of the group at the end of the four hours. I became notorious for doing my best James Corden impersonation and hosting a version of carpool karaoke. Toward the end of the semester, everyone would sing along to Christmas carols and then we would go around the car and each person would get the chance to pick their “go-to song.” My personal selection is always Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. That 230-mile road provided me the opportunity to really get to know my classmates, their backgrounds, career goals, and favorite karaoke songs.
A new perspective with new friends
Business school has not only taught me the fundamentals of microeconomics, marketing, and finance, but I also have learned a lot about my phenomenal classmates. The Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2020 comes from all over the world, from many different industries and backgrounds. With a class size of 270, I was not able to get to know all of my classmates in the first semester, but the car rides to NYC helped me expand my network immensely and get to know my co-pilots, DJs, and study buddies on a more personal level. I can’t wait to get to really know the rest of the Class of 2020 throughout the remaining semesters in Ithaca; it just might have to be outside of the Acadia!