Stern, Stereotypes, and Students: A Conversation with Student Lucy Lian

We sat down for a quick chat with Lucy Lian, current Vice President of the Stern Street Team, to talk about misconceptions and stereotypes that Stern students face.

Name: Lucy Lian

School: NYU Stern

Major: Accounting (BS/MS CPA Accounting) and Computing & Data Science

Year: Sophomore

Activities and Organizations Involvement: Street Team, Hall Council, Accounting Society, EmpowerED Consulting, Beta Alpha Psi

Hobbies: Drawing, Daydreaming, Anime, Volunteering

HC NYU: Why did you chose Stern?

I came from a science background in high school, so choosing a business school as my university was the change I wanted to make to seek a more social based work environment versus a more academic research based track. Coming into a business a school, what I really valued was the environment that I was in. So, I believed in the potential of New York as a city, and decided to attend a business school in the city.

HC NYU: What are some expectations that you had coming into Stern? How have these expectations changed as you enter into your junior year?

I had the assumption that members of the business community are very competitive. I wouldn’t say that that’s false. But I will say that coming into Stern that seemed to be a negative connotation. Now that I think back, while business students at any business school would be competitive, it’s positive in that you really help each other along and push each other to be better, and learn the strengths of each other. And I think that’s part of what makes an undergraduate school unique: you not only grow your business acumen, but you also grow as an individual.

HC NYU: From freshman year to sophomore year, how has your Stern experience changed you?

As I said before, I was a very science-focused high school student. When I came into Stern as a freshman, I was not active and outgoing as I am now, because I made a very drastic change in my academic pursuit, and I was also in a foreign country, so that unfamiliarity stopped me reaching out to people that would have supported me. But coming into sophomore year, I had the transition period where I was able to find my own niche within the school, and have the support to reach out to other people. I think this really changed how I really interacted with the business environment.

HC NYU: Could you provide a little bit more detail on how Stern has given you the resources to reach out to others, especially considering how Stern is sometimes described as a restrictive environment by non-Stern students?

From a professional standpoint, Stern has given me the opportunity to reach out through its diverse alumni network, who are all very willing to give back to the community that they came from. When we reach out as current student, the alumni were more than happy to reply, and that  type of mentorship that we get really encouraged me to explore my options at NYU Stern. On the part of Stern being a restrictive part of NYU, I think that can be true, especially if you devote a lot of time to the Stern community. We do have 27 clubs within the community itself, and with so many people to know already, the plentiful resources that Stern has makes it restrictive for people to step out to a larger community, because I think intaking a lot of resources can be difficult and can take time, so if you’re already offered with so much, would you step out of that environment? Maybe not all the time, so that’s why people can think that Stern becomes restrictive in the context of being a part of the larger NYU community.HC NYU: You mentioned that you are a part of the Street Team. What made you join, and what’s your favorite part of it?

My favorite part of being a Street Teamer is telling people my personal story with the university and being able to give a more relatable context to what an official website can offer. There is individual differences in experiences and that type of difference not only comes across through what we advocate ourselves in public, but also what kind of signals and aura we give off when they see us in person. I think there is a specific culture that NYU and NYU Stern cultivates, that you can only sense when you are talking to current students in person, so I was glad to be part of that, and also being able to show my personal perspective on the school that I’ve studied at for the past two years.

HC NYU: In your opinion, what are some misconceptions that students have of Stern?

I don’t want to foster any misconceptions, but I have gotten questions on how NYU Stern kids’ main motivation is compensation. While I think compensation motivates some of us, I wouldn’t assume that the main driver of Stern students to pursue specific careers is based on the salary we are going to receive. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions that people have of what business students in general.

Another misconception that people may have of NYU Stern is that it is a little exclusive. With the restrictive community again, if we are provided enough resources we don’t actively seek out resources outside of our smaller community. And we have our own jargon given the specific track that we pursue. So, I think while not all of us reach out to the NYU community, we do participate a lot in the wider community. A lot of us are in culture clubs, a lot of us are in different organizations and communities, it’s just that we’re not as represented on a larger picture that it is sometimes hard to see that.

HC NYU: Have you been confronted by any Stern stereotypes?

I think it’s in a more joking context, but I’ve gotten remarks like when I talk about specific perspectives, like when I talk about “Oh it’s really worthwhile to do A vs B,” they’re like, oh wow, the way you evaluate makes you sound like a Stern kid. And that’s when I think there’s a stereotypical view of how Stern kids talk, and I think that’s not wrong because we learn the language in a school, it’s just that business students and the business communities do it distinctively from other groups and it shows. Because a lot of what business students talk about is very related to our daily life, so it’s a chance for us to use our jargon, unlike if you studied neuroscience, where unless you are talking about a specific topic the jargon won’t come up. So that’s one thing that people observe a lot, is the way we communicate that can be stereotyped.


Picture courtesy of Lucy Lian