Five intensive months at Stern
PhD research Scholar Olivia Kim spent the 2023 fall semester at NYU Stern School of Business. Here she shares some of her experiences from the exchange.
As part of my PhD curriculum, I had wanted to visit either NYU or Columbia due to personal reasons (I could be close to my family) as well as for career reasons (top business schools in a large international city).
Luckily, I got in touch with Professor Minah Jung, who is a professor in JDM (Judgment and Decision Making) at Stern Business School at NYU, who kindly agreed to host me for the fall semester in 2023.
Intensive 5 months
My goal for this visit was to develop my solo-authored paper on social media and morality. However, this project ended up on the backburner because I decided to take a semester-long PhD seminar that I thought would be useful for my learning with Professor Maheswaran, titled ‘Experimental Approach to Behavioral Research’.
While this ended up being a lot of work, it was so helpful in not only developing a deep understanding of the methodology and the types of research conducted in my field, I believe the accumulated knowledge and wisdom would not have been possible without having the time to digest all the reading materials and having in-depth discussions over the course of the semester.
Journal Club Meeting
On top of the course, I also attended the weekly ‘Journal Club Meeting’ which was founded by Professor Jared Watson who joined NYU in 2018, where the Marketing faculty (mostly for CB researchers) and the PhD students come together to present research ideas, discuss the job market candidates and their papers, or read relevant articles in depth and discuss it every Friday in a brown-bag style.
I had a chance to present one of my research ideas during one of these sessions, which I found immensely helpful in developing my solo-authored paper on edifying vs. gratifying activities. Having regular weekly meetings where we can discuss research ideas and get real-time feedback was another aspect of my NYU visit that I found both enjoyable and synergetic in being able to develop my research portfolio.
Furthermore, we were strongly encouraged to attend the job talks of all the job candidates (both CB and quant) during the month of October, and we read the CB candidate papers in the journal club and discussed the candidates and their papers beforehand.
I found both activities – attending the job talks and having to read the paper and discuss it in depth during the journal club meeting – extremely motivating and helpful in developing a sense of what the latest topics and methodology are in the field of Marketing.
It was also useful to see the level at which these top job candidates are prepared for when they go on the job market. It was both motivating and stimulating to see how they present and handle the often very grueling questions during their job talks.
New contacts and new research projects
On the personal front, I was able to form several meaningful relationships with both the faculty and students at NYU (who were all so welcoming and warm and was always ready to meet for coffee or to discuss various research topics and socialize on Fridays for a happy hour).
I also had the opportunity to meet other visiting scholars from Portugal, China, and Morocco, who I am still in touch with and hope to keep in touch with going forward. On the work front, I was able to make a relatively quick progress (developing theory and running 5 studies in three weeks) on my paper on edification vs. gratification. I also got started on a new project that I hope will lead to future papers on a topic that I had been vaguely interested in and eventually planned on getting into down the road (i-frame vs. s-frame in policymaking).
I am especially excited about my solo-authored paper on edification vs. gratification, which is based on an idea I have been sitting on for a couple of years. While this is a project that I am working on alone, I do think it was the result of a cumulative effect of going to a semester-long class, attending the job talks weekly in the month of October, and being exposed to other researchers’ projects during the weekly journal club meetings.
I was also very lucky to be invited to work on a grant proposal with Professors Minah Jung and Leif Nelson on a research topic about individual-framing vs. system-framing in consumer behavior (which my supervisor, Helge Thorbjørnsen will also be a PI on), as this is a topic that I was hoping to delve into in the future.
I believe that going on an exchange is especially useful in academia because 1) change of scenery can offer new perspectives, 2) can provide opportunities for new ideas and new contacts, 3) you can learn from how other institutions function.
I was very lucky to be able to partake in the exchange at the right time in my PhD career (3rd year fall) and got much more than I bargained for during my exchange period.
While I didn’t get to do the things that I had planned on doing (travel within the US, work on my social media project, check out Columbia business school, etc.), I feel that I was able to make much more progress on my PhD than I had expected (1 new paper that I am hoping will lead to a fruitful research stream, and 1 new project that I also hope will lead to a few research papers with Professors Minah Jung, Leif Nelson, and Helge Thorbjørnsen).