Poets&Quants – It’s My Stern: Student exchanges

Exchange students studying at LBS in the Swiss Alps.

Nearly two years ago, as I approached the end of the MBA admissions cycle, I was grateful to receive several offers of admission. However, that meant I had to make a choice about which program to select. To anyone who knows me, they’ll say I have insane FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This fear of missing out on a great program and new lifelong friends weighed heavily on me.

One of the reasons I chose NYU Stern was their comprehensive learning opportunities, especially its dual MBA program with HEC Paris. You spend a year in New York and the second year in Paris. However, a year away from my classmates seemed too much for my goals, so Stern’s one-semester exchange program was a great alternative for me, so I decided to do my last semester in Paris. What’s even better is that Stern has students from all over the world doing exchanges in New York.

Exchange students studying at LBS in Budapest


I volunteered to be an Exchange Ambassador during the fall semester of my sophomore year at Stern and helped integrate students into the NYU and NYC community. Some of them have become my very good friends; we even celebrated my birthday together in Miami. When it came time for me to study abroad, I was convinced to go to London instead. As a result, London Business School was a perfect choice, especially since most of the exchange students I met at Stern came from there. Essentially, we would spend an entire year together – fall 2021 in New York and spring 2022 in London – which would make our relationship stronger than just transitory or temporary.

At the start of the spring semester, I arrived in London and it has been amazing so far. It’s great to see the parallels and differences between these two cultural and business epicentres. The old world against the new world. Modernism versus traditionalism. The global influence of the United Kingdom stems from the time of its Empire and the main economic sectors are banking and tourism compared to the United States where its global influence is rooted in media and entertainment and one of its biggest export is technology. Yet many of the same things are also observed, such as democratic ideals and values. I wanted (and needed) to know how a country and an entire continent does business. This way, I could better understand these cultural differences in my professional career so that I can be more attentive and aware when working with international teams and gain their trust.

In London, I am no longer an observer or a student of international trade, I practice it. I am currently taking a negotiation course and have been able to learn a lot about how to negotiate with people from all over the world, many of whom have business experience in their home countries. There are so many more nuances to trying to make a deal, like culture, body language, facial expressions, and word choice. Each week the deals get more complicated as we try to apply what we’ve learned both academically and practically. This course made me realize how much I had taken for granted a US-centric business and strategic approach. I acquired an invaluable set of skills for the future of a globalized world.

LBS students who cross-exchanged to New York (NYU and CBS) that Phan met last semester


Another great thing about this study abroad program is that I meet like-minded and adventurous students from other top programs. These include the University of Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg, Yale School of Management, Columbia Business School, and even other Sternies. We explored the UK and Europe together. We all see the value of studying abroad and networking with people from other countries and programs. For example, I was able to meet in person one of my colleagues with whom I had worked during my summer internship. Even though I haven’t officially started my full-time position yet, I’ve already built a good relationship outside of work. He also introduced me to other members of our team and other LBS students who have completed an internship at his office.

It’s a bit different experience than if you were just with your classmates at home. We go through the same trials and tribulations, but in different cities and different programs. We are aware of what the other is going through, but we are still able to connect and reflect. One discussion we had was how we can help our advice clubs improve their understanding of international business and culture. We decided to create a case of inter-professional inter-school council. We are implementing a unique local business model in Scotland, which we conceptualized during our visit to Edinburgh. My friends at Booth and Kellogg hope to publish it for our schools’ respective case books before we graduate. These types of ideas and connections would not have happened without the exchange program.

Phan Hoang, New York University (Stern)

This whole experience has also changed me and my perspective on people and relationships. I am able to approach completely random strangers and connect with them in many different ways. Whether through culture, hobbies and interests, or global affairs, I am enriched through every interaction while in London. I used to approach people with a very US-centric approach and bring biases to conversations and live in the US bubble. Fortunately, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and learn much better soft skills in my personal and professional life.

In the end, I realized that most of the best programs all had the same things in common: great teachers, an abundant supply, a smart and dynamic student body, and a very unique experience. My best advice as you make a school decision is to make sure you carefully weigh the pros and cons of each program; understand what you are looking for and know what is most important to you; and take advantage of all the available options when you’re finally there. For me, the main thing to take away from the study abroad program was that I am able to directly broaden my perspectives to different cultures, to establish lasting relationships with people from other great schools outside of mine and get out of my comfort zone. . It’s truly a unique experience and I’m glad NYU Stern offers comprehensive business education.

Organic: Phan Hoang, a first-generation Bostonian, is a second-year MBA candidate at NYU Stern School of Business. Prior to business school, he was drafted into the US Air Force serving in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions around the world. He has also taught internationally in countries such as Honduras and China. He worked in product management during the summer.