Ds Scholarship

It’s My Stern: My Take on NYU Stern’s “Pick Six” Essay

Photo collage of Pick Six Essay themed Food and Travel

NYU Stern’s “Pick Six”, or as I like to call it, Six Pix, was one of the most interesting and creative articles I’ve done during my MBA application journey. I felt it was a great opportunity for the MBA admissions team to learn about more than just my resume, EQ endorsements, essays, and application. These four parts basically paint a picture of things you’ve done in the past, but without much depth. You can argue that articles are a way to do this, but you are limited by the number of words.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so with six pictures I can express 6000 words. I’m a little embarrassed to share this, because I assumed that only the admissions team and my friends who gave me feedback would see Pick Six again. Of all the coffee conversations I have with potential applicants, I’ve found that the most frequently asked questions revolve around unearthing this essay, determining their EQ, and incorporating it into their applications and interviews.

I’m going to talk about my Pick Six and show you some pictures of it (I’ve left some of this feature to other people for privacy purposes) and the thought process behind it. Please take all this with a grain of salt. Just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. Also, don’t force a narrative that doesn’t exist; It is much better to be original and honest than to try to tailor your essays to what you think the admissions officers or program are looking for.

So without further ado, here are the article’s claims and how I dealt with it:

Brief introduction or overview of ‘choose six’ (no more than 3 sentences)

I have absolutely no artistic talent. I just used a basic form. Although I missed an opportunity to use violets at NYU, I thought it might force me a lot. Instead, I focused on making it clean and following the instructions.

Six pictures help clarify your identity. A one-sentence explanation of each of the six images that helps explain why they were chosen and why they are important to you.”

The first picture:

A couple of key notes. The first is to restrict only one sentence. If you remember all of your grammar rules from studying for the GMAT – specifically correcting sentences and using punctuation – you have used each rule to help me expand these sentences to tell a story. I think that shows a little creativity on my part. However, if you can tell the story using just one short sentence, I think that’s creativity too!

On my bio, there is a dot at the bottom in the additional information section that says “worldwide traveler”. There is a lot more to the story than just these two words. I chose the photo above because I know how diverse New York City, NYU, and the world are. Naturally, I fit right in. I love to travel, but who wouldn’t? I have traveled to many countries and doing it myself has been one of the most enlightening and self-reflective experiences of my life. The person you spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so it’s best to make sure that this person is fun and interesting to be with. This photo ended up being a major topic of discussion during my interview.

second picture:

This was a picture of me and some friends when we were in uniform after we accomplished a major humanitarian mission. It was the beginning of my journey of teamwork, leadership and perseverance while serving in the United States Air Force. My resume has been full of military achievements, leadership achievements and strong international teamwork. I felt like I only needed to include one picture from this master class of my life.

Third picture:

I can share this because they are just stock photos. Plus, it’s hard to take pictures of myself while dancing! I love dance. I wanted to talk about this to prove that I like getting out of my comfort zone, but I’m also not a very traditional applicant. The looks of surprise I get when I’m in Latin America and do their social dances really well were a highlight of my nights. At Stern, I hosted salsa and bachata nights and was able to introduce my classmates to fun and amazing dance styles.

Fourth picture:

This was a class photo of my students who I taught in Honduras. Teaching was something I was very passionate about after separating from the military. I wanted to keep giving back to the world and trying to make a difference. At that time, Honduras was one of the most dangerous countries in the world and was in dire need of teachers. She talked about why I went there and showed me the effect on my students. I grew up in extreme poverty. My parents were immigrants from Vietnam. I know how important education is to move forward in life and I wanted to try to give back. This has been a major topic in my life and I wanted to touch on it.

Fifth picture:

NYU Stern’s brand call to action is built on the principles of boldness, dream, lead, empower, and manifest change. I think this photo includes just that. I took cooking classes in many of the countries I’ve traveled to, which gave me a good understanding of the culture, history and social aspects of the area. These experiences also added to my personal cookbook, where I was able to create an amalgamation of what I learned. However, in many places, I was the only male in those classes. In this photo I was the only man in a room with 40 women. People have given me grilling looks, but some of the best chefs in the world are men, so it’s a little confusing as to why this stigma exists. It was even worse when I tried to teach my students how to cook, which I believe is an important life skill. I wore that colorful apron with pride and didn’t care what people thought. I wanted to change this negative stereotype and start removing the stigma from it early!

Sixth picture:

The final photo was basically funny, wacky, creative photos I took with my students before summer vacation but in a different part of the world. I wanted to show my entertaining side. The MBA program is intense, especially during finals and recruitment. It is important that I miss and enjoy my short time here. It has been absolutely correct for the 1.5 years I have been on this program so far. It also showed that I could help others throw out their own shells and abandon themselves because the country in which I was studying was very traditional and conservative.

Overall, I had a story to tell, and through these photos I was able to add more depth and breadth about myself and prove why Stern is for me. It was such a fun project that I was finally able to share different aspects of my life outside of just my CV, GPA and test scores. We all have a story to tell. Make sure to tell you!

Curriculum Vitae: Phan Hoang from Boston, a first-generation, second-year MBA candidate at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Prior to attending Business School, he was drafted into the United States Air Force where he served in humanitarian missions and peacekeeping missions around the world. He has also taught internationally in countries such as Honduras and China. Worked in product management during the summer.

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It’s Stern: ROI for Building Relationships

It’s Stern: New York isn’t a city, it’s a world

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