Andy Ng is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Urban Education and Social Entrepreneurship.
Andy started his NYU experience with the Freshman year in London.
Back in New York he nurtured his love for English and developed additional passions in the form of Education and Social Entrepreneurship.
Along with a couple of upperclassmen, he created a summer program for middle school students in low income neighborhoods in NYC. This program won a pitching competition and received funding to run during a couple of summers.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Andy Ng on NYU: English & Urban Education, Pitching Competition, and New York City Energy.
Episode summary introduction: In high school, Andy was a driven and busy high schooler. He was in student government. He was the President of the Honor Society. He was a student athlete and played Varsity Tennis. By his own account, Andy was in every conceivable club in High School.
Andy Ng is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Urban Education and Social Entrepreneurship.
In particular, we discuss the following with him:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Andy Ng is a graduate of New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Urban Education and Social Entrepreneurship. Andy later earned a Master of Education degree from Harvard University.
Memorable Quote: “I want to encourage everybody to follow their gut and really trust it. And sometimes, if things don't work out, like, that's totally okay.” Andy Ng.
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
I had two friends who were upperclassmen. And we were all very passionate about education. And we had some knowledge about the New York City public school system. And we saw an opportunity to actually create and provide services for low income students of color who were in middle school and trying to gain acceptance to some of the top public high schools. So schools like Stuyvesant or Bronx science where you have to take a test to get into. So throughout my sophomore year, we actually participated in this pitch competition. And it was really rigorous. It was almost like taking an extra class like writing business plans pitching in front of a panel of like investors while and then we ended up winning the competition.
Andy Ng is a graduate of New York University, NYU for short, with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Urban Education and Social Entrepreneurship.
In high school, Andy was a driven and busy high schooler.
He was in student government. He was the President of the Honor Society. He was a student athlete. Played Varsity Tennis.
By his own account, Andy was in every conceivable club in High School.
As a potential First Generation college student, he felt tremendous pressure to do well academically to live up to the family expectations.
Andy Ng joins us today to share his action packed undergraduate years at NYU.
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
[NYU Shaped My Life]
You know, I am a very proud NYU alum. Uh huh. And it's because I feel like my experiences, like, especially professionally have been so shaped by all the opportunities that I was offered, by attending NYU.
When I did my research, I saw that, you know, there were so many different majors and concentrations like over 200. And the fact that, you know, it wasn't a closed campus, I think was also something that really piqued my interest. The idea that, you know, there wasn't a gate that kind of separated the students from the rest of the city, it was really, you know, you can hop on a subway and just go into a different neighborhood. And that really excited me.
[Transition to NYU]
You know, just acclimating to a new environment, meeting all these new people, and then just, you know, taking classes. That was that was pretty tough, actually, because I didn't go to the most rigorous High School. So academically, in some ways, I, I very much like doubted myself, in the first couple months of college, like, I felt like oh, my gosh, like, I'm not prepared to be here. My classmates went to, you know, international schools, or they went to private schools. And they, it felt like they had come in with a much richer academic experience. So I definitely had a lot of culture shock.
NYU is really like a global university. And I think the, the student body really represents that. So I met you know, so many classmates and close friends from different parts of the world that I honestly didn't even know existed. until I started school. People with really different backgrounds than my own.
[For Aspiring Students]
Come into college with a very open mind of like what could be, you might have a major in mind, but know that like, you're going to learn about a lot of different courses of study that you never even thought about. And at least my personal philosophy, it's not just about studying something that you can get a job in. It's really about finding something, finding something that you find really, really passionate, that really speaks to you. And then you can, you know, extrapolate some skills from it and figure it out later.
Venkat Raman 4:31
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Andy. So without further ado, over to Andy Ng!
Andy Ng 4:40
Hello. Think I made it?
Venkat Raman 4:42
Yeah. Hey, Andy, welcome to our podcast scholars matters on the matters.
Andy Ng 4:47
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Venkat Raman 4:49
Absolutely. Absolutely. Looking forward to it. Yeah, as we spoke, we are trying to do these personal college stories. For the benefit of aspiring students all over the world and thought your experience at NYU would certainly benefit the students. So thanks for could make the time, of course. Very good. So what we're going to do today is talk a little bit about your experience, you know, epic, that whole journey. And maybe we can start out by just some general impressions of NYU a few years now removed. And then we can dive into different aspects of it.
Andy Ng 5:36
Yeah, that sounds great.
Venkat Raman 5:38
Cool. Let's get started, then. Maybe with your overall impressions.
Yeah. Um, you know, I am a very proud NYU alum.
Venkat Raman 5:49
Andy Ng 5:50
And it's because I feel like my experiences, like, especially professionally have been so shaped by all the opportunities that I was offered, by attending NYU, and I live in New York City. And, you know, I've been here since I was a student. And, you know, it's never lost on me that, you know, I was actually born and raised in a relatively small town in Florida. And my greatest desire, I remember in high school was to kind of get out of my small town bubble, and to go somewhere really big and, and busy. And that was New York for me. And, you know, I was lucky to land at NYU, and I took a really big risk in going, I actually accepted my offer. Before I had ever even visited New York. Yeah, there was something there was something kind of like just a gut feeling that was really pulling me towards the city. And, you know, it was very different, of course, than anything that I had ever experienced before. But I'm so thankful to have gone to to that institution. And I'm still very involved. Now, as an alum, still really close with all the friends that I've made there. It's definitely shaped my life a lot.
Venkat Raman 7:17
Well, maybe we can start with why you did pick NYU, as you were going through your high school process. And then, and then we can go from there.
Yeah. So I applied to a lot of colleges and universities, probably way more than I should have. I want to say, my senior year, I applied to 13 schools. And it was a mix of in state, Florida, and also out of state, probably the majority were out of state because I was just trying to give myself a chance to see you know, what was out there. This, the safe choice would have been just to stay in state because of the tuition. There were a lot of scholarships and kind of grant programs that I was eligible for. I probably could have graduated early actually, if I stayed in Florida.
But, you know, I ended up looking at some other, I would say more prestigious schools. So I applied to a couple Ivy Leagues, I applied to NYU, and I think actually, honestly, I found out about NYU, probably just because of like TV shows. You know, when I was in high school, that's actually when, like, Gossip Girl was still relatively popular. And I want to say honestly, that's, I didn't know anybody that had, you know, moved to New York or went to that school. I just remembered the characters, you know, they all wanted to go to Columbia, and then they didn't get in. So they went to NYU.
And, and I remember watching it and I just thought, oh, like I want to be like them. They're living in the city. They're students, but they they have, you know, this giant playground that they can explore. You know, and that's kind of why I pursued it. When I did my research. I saw that, you know, there were so many different majors and concentrations like over 200.
And the fact that, you know, it wasn't a closed campus, I think was also something that really piqued my interest. The idea that, you know, there wasn't a gate that kind of separated the students from the rest of the city. It was really, you know, you can hop on a subway and just go into a different neighborhood. And that really excited me.
Venkat Raman 9:37
Tell us a little bit about your high school interests and what were you like at high school? What were you interested in? What were you doing?
I was very, very active as a high school student. I was definitely the probably you know, that, that friend that people had who was a part of every single club and outside of taking you know, regular regular Classes was going to meetings, planning events, working with the administration, that was definitely me. You know, I was president of the National Honor Society at my school, I was active in student government. I was also a student athlete, I played on the boys varsity tennis team.
And then I also worked while I was in high school, too. So my schedule was really, really packed. And I think I kind of gravitated towards being really busy, because I knew from the minute that I entered high school that I was working towards going to college, right? That was an expectation that I had in my family. You know, my older sister was the first person in my immediate family to go to go to college. My dad actually was a high school dropout. And I grew up with a lot of pressure to do well academically and to get into a good school. And I also knew that it wasn't just about getting into a good school, it was also about doing well enough to also earn, you know, grants or scholarships that would allow me to go to school at a lower cost than what my parents could obviously afford.
So I had that motivation in high school. And that's really what drove me to sign up for a lot of different organizations. And once I did, I actually really liked it, it was a great way to meet other students to be really active and to feel like there was something to do, you know, outside of just classes. And I really, really loved the leadership experience, being able to have a point of view and to be able to bring it to a group of people and try to make something happen out of nothing. And I really, really love that. And I think that's part of the reason why I ended up getting into into NYU and some of the other schools I applied to.
Venkat Raman 11:56
So now you you know, you've been accepted at NYU, you show up there. What did that feel like your first sort of our big city, so that transition and then to college?
Yeah, so my, my freshman year experience was actually quite unique. NYU has first year abroad program that I participated in, and it's actually something that students can apply to now. But back when I was accepted back in 2011, I was actually placed into the program. Okay, so my, my acceptance at NYU was contingent on me actually going abroad. So I didn't actually have the option to go to New York, my first year. When I was accepted, they said, you know, you show potential to do well, at one of our study away sites, and NYU has campuses all all around the world. And so I was given the choice of either going to London, Shanghai, Paris, or Florence. And I ultimately decided on London because I was really worried about learning another language. That was something I struggled with a lot when I was in high school, I took Spanish for a couple years. So I ended up going to London, and I also went into college with an interest in English. So I kind of knew that that's what I wanted to study. And I figured, well, if I'm gonna pursue this, at some point, I would probably study abroad in London anyways, that's the place to go. And it also just seemed really exciting. You know, I was trying really hard to, to get away from Florida. And, you know, I thought New York was far far enough. But that, you know, the option to go, you know, overseas was was there so so I took it. So I only I only visited New York once, you know, after I got accepted, and then that summer, I packed my bags, and they moved to London. So I didn't have the typical freshman experience. But I think what I really appreciated about that abroad program was my freshman cohort ended up being very, very small. So if I had started in New York, I probably would have been, you know, one of like 1000s and 1000s of students moving into the dorms. But in London, I was one of 60 people. So it was really great because it felt kind of had that small town feel where like, I actually knew every single person in my freshman cohort, we all lived in the same building. We all took the same classes together and traveled together. So that was really great. But you know, it was it was a tough adjustment, of course, just being away from home for the first time. Like that. I didn't have my family with me when I moved so I actually you know, I said goodbye to them at the airport. And then I ended up in London and kind of had to figure my way out, you know, getting to the dorm. And there was a bit it was a it was a hard adjustment, to be honest. You know, just acclimating to a new environment, meeting all these new people, and then just, you know, taking classes. That was, that was pretty tough actually, because I didn't go to the most rigorous High School. So academically in some ways, I, I very much like doubted myself, in the first couple months of college, like, I felt like oh my gosh, like, I'm not prepared to be here. My classmates went to, you know, international schools, or they went to private schools. And they, it felt like they had come in with a much richer academic experience. So he definitely had a lot of culture shock, and I was doubting myself. And I think that's also kind of normal, as you know, a child of immigrants, nobody in my family really went to college. So I didn't really have a reference point. And I didn't really know that I would, you know, kind of experienced that when I when I came in.
A) that you got to study in another continent, literally, and then B) was this like a regular program for the year? I mean, you got a good set of choices to pick from, or was this sort of regimented set of classes?
Andy Ng 16:21
Yeah, it was, it was kind of fixed in some ways. So I was said that the first year away program, there's a there's a school at NYU called Liberal Studies. So that's essentially the program that I was in. And there's what they call a core curriculum. That's really based in it's the curriculum is very global in nature. And there's a lot of foundations and world history, philosophy and writing. So there were there are record classes that we all took. And then we had, we had room for a couple of electives. So we had we had a choice. And for me, I ended up taking classes, of course for English Lit because it was so hands on, while in London, you know, like the dorm that I lived in was down the street from like Charles Dickens, like childhood home, for example. So it was right next door. So there was there was an element of choice. But there was a lot of structure, which I appreciated, because that kind of made it easier. And because it was a study abroad site, I wasn't too overwhelmed with all the class choices, it was pretty easy to get in into an elective if you wanted.
Venkat Raman 17:33
What was it like, outside of class, your first year there?
It was actually great, because the schedule was slightly different while you were abroad. So I think the way that classes were organized, I think I only had classes three days a week. And one semester because I was there the full year. I think one semester I had classes just two days. So the rest of my time, it was actually kind of free. And I actually didn't really know what to do with myself in some ways, like I knew I was getting, you know, acclimated and learning how to study and to get my coursework done. But outside of that I traveled a lot. And I think that's a big advantage to going abroad is that it's it's just as much about what you're doing outside of the class as, as you are as the time that you're spending in with your classmates. So and because it was easy to travel, you know, we were my friends and I would get on buses or trains and we would just kind of venture around different parts of the UK and eventually other parts of Europe. And that was really great, you know, museums, we had a we had a lot of different breaks. And so yeah, there was a there was a lot of travel.
Venkat Raman 18:43
So did you have any organized clubs, organization, or was it too small for all that?
Andy Ng 18:52
Um, no, there there were a handful of different organizations. President on campus. There was my freshman year, there was that was the first time at NYU that they organized something called palai week. And that originally stemmed from the LGBTQ center on Main Campus, but they worked with a lot of the global sites to do some programming across the world. So I was able with another freshmen classmate of mine to get involved and we kind of became ambassadors of that week. So we got to play in different programming, which included bringing in speakers, there was also there was a volunteer organization present that allowed us to kind of work in the local community. So I ended up actually at one point tutoring outside of class. So I actually worked at a small primary elementary school, and I got to work with, you know, a couple local kids, teaching them how to read and write, which was really, really nice.
Venkat Raman 19:55
Rich experience. So So as far as the Each semester was semesters were concerned and the credits that you earn, it was on par with whatever you would have earned back in New York, right?
Andy Ng 20:12
Yep, exactly. Yeah. So that was that was like the comforting thing was that all the classes I took went towards my degree, so it wasn't like I had to repeat anything or take anything in it, like, in addition.
Venkat Raman 20:30
Then what happened, then you had to kind of come back to the mothership.
Um, in some ways, it was, it was kind of an easier transition than I expected. And I think it's, I think it's because I came in already with a sense of community. So what was nice was, when I transitioned back to New York, I already had a group of, you know, 60 people that I got to know pretty well, I ended up living with people from my freshman cohort. So we kind of were able to go through that experience together. Of course, you know, it was this kind of interesting experience, because I was coming back to campus, technically as a sophomore, but it very much felt like I was a freshman, because it was my first time really, on campus. And actually, like learning my way around. So it was kind of odd, in the sense of, like I was trying on was not to show my confusion too much the first couple weeks in New York, because I didn't want people to think that I was brand new, but it definitely felt that way. You know, I had to learn, you know, where all the different buildings were in the classes. And you know, it was, it was a little daunting to because it was also just New York City like your face. So I always trying to, you know, balance, like, Oh, my gosh, I really want to explore the city because I almost feel like I lost a year even though I was able to explore London, right, which was so amazing. But I also felt like, I came to NYU to be in New York, so I want to take full advantage. So so it was definitely a kind of like a dual, dual experience there. But having having that community really helped. And I think also, I had a really great academic advisor that I carry that I had carried over from my freshman year. And that made me feel a little bit more comfortable. Because once I got to the main campus, it was also like, so many classes, so many offerings, and I had to figure out like what time of day that I want classes. And it was also like kind of, you know, looking at new clubs and different organizations that I could be a part of. So it was a little overwhelming, but in a really great way.
Venkat Raman 22:46
Tell me a little bit about your classmates and your peers. Obviously, folks who were with you in London and now integrated into the larger population, there at NYU.
Yeah. I would say generally, you know, the types of people that you bump into at NYU, they are extremely, extremely motivated a lot of Type A personalities, people who are go getters, and I don't think that's a surprise. I think that's kind of what, what draws them in a place like NYU where it feels like, you know, every possibility is out there. There's really no limits to what you can do, whether academically or for your extracurriculars, and a lot of just different eclectic backgrounds. I mean, NYU is really like a global university. And I think the, the student body really represents that. So I've met, you know, so many classmates and close friends from different parts of the world that I honestly didn't even know existed until I started school. People with really different backgrounds than my own. You know, I remember, I kind of stood out in my freshman class, because I had like a part because I had a job when I was in high school because my parents didn't go to college. And I had some, some classmates who were like, Oh, yeah, like, you know, my parents are like the CEO of this company, or they invest here and we have like multiple homes around the world. And that was kind of like part of my culture shock of like, Okay, this is like, a crash course in just different life experiences, whether it's class or education or geography. And that definitely, you know, adds to be experienced, because, you know, one, I might look at a particular discussion or a class in one way, and other folks are like, actually, no, like, I've lived this personally, or I'm from, you know, this part of the world that we're studying right now, and it's not like this. And that was really eye opening.
Venkat Raman 24:52
So how was the teaching, the classes, the professors?
The teaching was incredible. And, you know, even it's funny because even though I started school kind of feeling like I didn't belong academically, I think I kind of hit my stride at some point. And I think it's because the professor's there were really nurturing, they really took the time to, like, I think invest in relationships with the students. I was definitely one of those students that was like actively going to office hours at first it was because I was like, I don't know what I'm doing, like, I need help. And then over time, I looked at those, that's just the invitations to really, like, get to know the professor's a little bit more and just have like, really, really stimulating conversations. And the classes were awesome, because, I mean, as an English major, of course, I did a lot of reading and writing. But then I was able to take so many other different classes, you know, through electives, I took classes on politics and immigration, I took classes on entrepreneurship that were a little bit more hands on, you know, making business plans and, and actually pitching ideas for possible money from investors then to make something happen. You know, I took a modern dance class at one point in college. So there was just a lot of variety, which I appreciated. So it wasn't like I was just at a library all the time. You know, it was great that like, sometimes the project was just go out into the, you know, into the streets and interview people and see, like, what is a problem that really matters to them and come up with a solution for it. And I really liked that. Because I tend to be kind of like a restless person. So I need the variety of things to do and to, you know, focus on and the cost is definitely offered that.
Venkat Raman 26:47
Yeah, sounds like it was made for you, this place.
Andy Ng 26:53
I think so. Yeah.
Venkat Raman 26:57
So what kind of things did you do outside of class? I mean, Student Government is one. So what what kind of things did you do? And what other activities were you involved in, some of the top ones?
Yeah, um, when I was in college, so in addition to majoring in English, I developed a really strong passion for entrepreneurship and education. So the and that was a result of of taking classes and having the option and kind of, at first taking them as electives, and then realizing, oh, wait, I actually think I want to pursue this a little bit more deeply. And then I would say, because of the environment, you know, I got access to so many different people, whether it was a lawns or different career professionals that were maybe coming to campus to speak or to, to host sessions, but with students, I got to meet a lot of different people who were really like engaging in either their own startups or their own adventures. And as a result, that that gave me the option to actually follow up with those people and to say, hey, like, Can I actually work with you? Or could I shadow you for a day and just like, learn what you're doing? So over time, in college, I had a lot of different internships, of course, over the summer, but also throughout the school year. I had an internship at like, Harry, Harry's, the men's razorblade company that people might be familiar with, and I interned there, you know, when they have 60, or 70 people. And that was an amazing experience. I also worked in education. So I worked at a nonprofit that helped young people actually K through 12, learn about the college application process. So I and that was my way of learning the city. So I oversaw some schools in the Bronx, and Brooklyn and Harlem and outside of class, I would actually spend time with a lot of young people, you know, working with them on their college applications, their scholarship applications, and then on campus. One thing that I was really involved with, like I said, was Greek life. So I had my fraternity brothers that I would hang out with a lot. And we would do, you know, social activities, but we also did a lot of service. So we had fundraisers for local organizations. We put on like an annual drag race competition, where we invite other frats and sororities to engage and to dress up and drag, all for a good cause. And then, I was also an admissions Ambassador at NYU. And that was a paid gig. So it's kind of akin to being an RA. And I would give campus tours to prospective students and their families. And that was actually a nice way for me to learn more about NYU too, but so I was often seeing like when I wasn't in class, like on a shift, kind of showing a tour group around and kind of talking about my experience. I mean, it sounds like pretty busy.
Venkat Raman 30:02
I mean, it sounds like you were pretty busy, both in and outside of class.
Andy Ng 30:06
Yes, like non like, really non stop. And I think that's home. I think, you know, like I said, that's kind of the, that's the energy that the city really gives off. And I and I really liked it. That's kind of what I craved.
Venkat Raman 30:23
Maybe we can talk about the dorms and the cultural social organizations and clubs in New York.
Mm hmm. Yep. So the dorms for, you know, I think compared to some of what I saw from like, my other friends that I grew up with, like when I visited them, and their dorms, like, the dorms at NYU are really nice income, or, like, much nicer In comparison, I think, you know, some of them, you know, they're kind of like, you're living in like a high rise in New York City.
And, you know, you're, you're living in certain neighborhoods that like you never like other people who have lived in New York for like their lives, like they've never, you know, been able to live in these these spots. So, you know, the view is definitely something worthwhile. And, you know, they're, they're kind of like many apartments, which I really like, I lived in one dorm called Palladium, which is on 14th, and third for two years. And that's right in the heart of Union Square, it's like above the Trader Joe's, if people are familiar. And that's like a prime location to be. And there's a lot of back, you know, there's so much that you can do around there are great restaurants, great clubs, and bars, and things like that.
And I think that definitely, is a nice segue into sort of the social, cultural aspect of, of NYU. You know, the formal, like, student organizations are awesome. Like, I was a part of Greek life, I was a part of student government, kind of like I was my freshman year. But a lot of, you know, activities are out and about in the city. You know, there's this really, there's this invitation to really get outside of the dorms, which I really like. So it's not just about like, what is your RA planning on your floor or in your building?
But it's like, how are they actually getting you to explore the city, which I really like. So it's like, you know, events, like at a museum, or different shows, whether it's like a band is playing or going to a jazz club, going to poetry readings, like in the East Village, like, there were, there was just all this optionality there. And it felt like it did an end, I think, you know, compared to maybe like a traditional campus where things might kind of close down at a certain hour, you know, New York is open all the time.
So if you really wanted to, you know, you could go to something in the middle of the night or super early in the morning, and there was always something to do. Whether it's a little trip, and you know, like I said, you can just hop on the subway. And that that kind of became like the best kind of Hall Pass, you know, that anybody asked for when you're in New York. Like I was, I remember, like I was, and at some point, like, it kind of became too much like, at some point in college, I kind of told myself, I need to, like, slow down just a little bit. But there were, you know, majority of college, I was like, running in between classes, maybe grabbing something to eat, and then like hopping on the train, and like meeting up with their friend here to study even sometimes, or, you know, I had some random kind of internships and side gigs. And I would go to the Bronx, and then come back down for a class and then go to Brooklyn right after. And so you know, it was, it was really nonstop.
Venkat Raman 33:42
You mentioned summers, so what kind of things did you do the different summers? And by the way, when you came back from London, did you do anything that summer? Or did you kind of take a break.
I did not take a break that summer. So I did end up going back home for about a month. But before my before my spring semester ended in London, I ended up meeting a professional colleague who has become a really close friend and mentor of mine. And he was involved in something called he was involved in something called GLP, which was this Global Leadership Program. And tons of students and young professionals from around the world would participate in essentially, it was almost like summer school in some in some ways. But you would take classes and Leadership Studies and you would also do a lot of cross, you know, cultural activities.
And I ended up applying for this program and I got in and the program took place in Rome. So I ended up spending, spending a good chunk of my summer in between freshmen and sophomore year in Rome, with, again, like another small cohort of people from all around the world. And it was an amazing experience got to like travel and study throughout Italy. So that's what I did before coming to New York.
And then the next summer, it was even busier. My sophomore year was when I started to branch out of my English studies. And that's when I started taking, taking classes in education and entrepreneurship, and something that NYU had. And now a lot more schools have it, but at the time, it felt like oh, this is very, like kind of new was they had a lot of student venture competitions. So where students could either form groups or go independently, and essentially pitch an idea for for a startup, or program. And I had two friends who are upperclassmen, and we were all very passionate about education. And we had some knowledge about the Park City public school system. And we saw an opportunity to actually create and provide services for low income students of color, who were in middle school and trying to gain acceptance to some of the top public high schools. So schools like Stuyvesant or Bronx science, where you have to take a test to get into. So throughout my sophomore year, we actually participated in this pitch competition. And it was really rigorous. It was almost like taking an extra class like writing business plans pitching in front of a panel of like, investors while and then we ended up winning the competition. And we won the competition, end of April, my sophomore year, and our intended program was a summer program. So you know, the the last month of school on top of finals, it was actually like we had all this grant money that we were able to use. So we were actually then going about starting our program. So we were recruiting students, we were recruiting volunteers, we were trying to find a space to essentially run like a mini school. And so that that summer between my sophomore and my junior year, we ran this program, which was called student to student.
And, you know, that was my first time really like running something on my own, like me, and my co founders, like we were the ones in charge, like we oversaw the money, like we were not even paying ourselves to run the program, we were trying to provide as much support to our students. And I remember I signed up to be a summer RA, right and why you just have a place to live. Because I went to school on on a scholarship, but it didn't cover summers. So I didn't have a way to pay for housing otherwise. And it was really tough. At some point, I had to quit being a summer RA because I didn't have time. And then I my housing situation was in flux. So then I had to like, just talk to so many different people at NYU to like, see if there was any possibility of like letting me stay at a dorm so I could run my tutoring program. So that was really tough. And then, you know, I, we continued to run that program through almost my senior year.
And then the summer between my junior and senior year, which is, you know, yeah, very, very important for a lot of folks who might get a summer internship that lands into a job offer.
Andy Ng 38:15
I knew that I wasn't going to be running the tutoring program then. And I wasn't really able to find an internship that really fit my interests or needs. And I think it was because I was studying so many different things. And because I was engaging in so many different activities, I actually didn't really know what kind of internship I wanted. So I was kind of applying for anything and everything. I was applying for internships at publishing houses, because I was still studying English. And, you know, in my heart, I was like, I still want to do writing, I don't really have professional experience in it. I was applying for internships and education. And, you know, entrepreneurship, what ended up happening was I landed an internship very unexpectedly at JP Morgan. And so I had a finance internship, which was a surprise to so many people. Because, of course, I wasn't in the business school at NYU. And I had no business really that internship because I wasn't that great at math. And I ended up being I did this internship and, you know, I was the only and it was, you know, students from across the country that participated, and they all moved to New York. And, you know, I was the only non finance no econ major in my cohort. So again, it kind of felt like my freshman year where I stuck out and I was like, I don't belong here. But you know, I think I think the folks at JP gave me a chance because they saw that I had the potential to still do well, and I interned in the commercial bank, and, you know, worked long hours I wore suit every day to work and that was something very new for me. You know, I sat at a desk and I worked in Excel a lot. And it was a really great experience. And at the end of it, I got a full offer to come back to JP. And that was a, that was a really pivotal moment in my life, because we all knew like the last day of your internship was when they would give you an offer.
So everybody knew that, you know, you're coming into the office, and you're you're mostly coming into either here if you're going to get a job offer, or if you're not. So I already knew that this was kind of coming. And I had to do a lot of personal reflection about like, where I wanted to go. And I made the tough decision. before they even told me that if I did get an offer, I was probably gonna say no. And so when they gave it to me, I declined it, then in there. And the reason why I did it was because I really appreciated that internship, I learned a lot. And if anything, I learned that finance wasn't what I wanted to do. And I think that's like, a very important thing for internships is that just because you do it doesn't mean that you, you know, you have to follow through with it. It's just as much about you learning about what you don't want. And that was the case for me.
So I ended up declining, because I realized, you know, there was a waiting room of people who, who very eagerly wanted that internship instead. So I so I entered my senior year not with with no, you know, secure job, which felt okay, because I told myself, you know what, I have the rest of my senior year to figure things out. But yeah, very, very busy summers.
Venkat Raman 41:29
These seem like great experiences, very varied, you made a few decisions...
Okay, so let's move along. Actually, let's go back in time. And I know you had a great experience at NYU. But if you had a chance for a redo, what would be different?
Andy Ng 41:58
So a couple of different things, actually. I mean, I actually would have changed my, my academic study, I think, a little bit. So you know, I majored in English and a minor in urban education studies and social entrepreneurship. And that was fine. There's a school at NYU called Gallatin, and it's for individualized study. And students in that program essentially create their own major, they call they get to name what their major is, they get to decide what classes apply. And they can really shape what that experience is like. And I wish I had the foresight, like coming into college with exactly what I wanted, I kind of fell into in a kind of stitch together majors and courses that felt right in the moment. If I had to redo it, I kind of wish I, I entered NYU saying, you know, I want to study like the intersection of like, education, diversity and like business maybe, and just declared it and then, you know, maybe I could have taken a completely different route through college with what I studied. Maybe I could have, maybe, maybe I could have done a more sort of academic route or research route. Maybe I could have found, you know, other internships that were maybe more aligned to like what I actually wanted to do. At the end of the day, you know, I'm still thankful that I found stuff like that JPMorgan internship and decided that that wasn't for me, but that's one thing I maybe would redo. And, you know, I was really involved. And I do really appreciate a lot of those experiences. But I do think there were a couple clubs or leadership positions that I took on when I really wasn't like, I really didn't have the capacity to do all those things. And that would have just been a, you know, I would maybe say no to those things or not pursue them just to have a little bit more wiggle room for myself. Just feel like you know, I can actually just take a break and just kind of like, relax and enjoy it. You know, I did feel the pressure to kind of keep going and do so many things. But sometimes I did wonder like, oh, like, Did I miss out on maybe some more social activities or just like spending time with my friends? If I wasn't like running from meeting to meeting? I think I would maybe reconsider that.
Venkat Raman 44:26
Yeah. Yeah that's always the case. You never know whether you were going too fast or too slow. And but yeah, exactly like asking this question because it's always fascinating to me to see how people respond and what they're looking for. And and it's, I think, very insightful. And for someone listening in, it gives them other choices that you may have wanted to consider while you were still in college. Right? I mean, things you could have would have should have done. And those, those are quite useful and beneficial.
Talking of aspiring students, how would you advise them if they are looking to apply to NYU, or maybe some comparable school?
Andy Ng 45:26
For students who are interested in NYU or school like NYU, I would say, let go of some of the planning that you might have in your mind. You know, like, it's funny, like you just said, like, you asked me this question of like, what would I redo and it's like, I'm saying, like, Oh, I wish I actually maybe planned a little bit more, but in some ways, like, I don't know, maybe the planning, I think you have to let go of it a little bit to just enjoy kind of the, the spontaneity and the serendipity of college. Like, that's the great thing about being a student is that if something comes up, like a new opportunity, or an opening, you can just say, actually, like, I'm going to do something different with that time. And once you're out of college, you, you you, you know, you tend to look back, and you're like, I wish I had that freedom or that flexibility that I did back then. So I would definitely say kind of, so along those lines, I would say come into college with a very open mind, if like what could be, you might have a major in mind, but know that like, you're going to learn about a lot of different courses of study that you never even thought about. And at least my personal philosophy, it's not just about studying something that you can get a job in, it's really about finding something, finding something that you find really, really passionate, that really speaks to you. And then you can, you know, extrapolate some skills from it and figure it out later. I would also say, definitely visit. You know, I think I lucked out and that I just had, I just had this feeling that New York would be for me, but I've had, I've heard stories of people who didn't visit and then you know, they get there, and they're so overwhelmed. And I actually had a classmate of mine, who I think maybe wasn't ready for how intense New York could be. And they ended up taking a leave of absence, which was fine for them. But I think the city can be really, really intense. And there's not as much of like a safety net that maybe some other schools have based on, like, you know, being kind of separated from, from, you know, certain things and whatnot. But when you're in New York, it's like, it's really in your face, it's really in your face, so you have to be prepared for that you have to be ready to walk really fast to kind of fake it till you make it, you know, like, you can't, you can't be one of those people kind of just like wandering aimlessly in the street, people will kind of eat you alive. And I would also say, something I learned from my time at NYU was that the academics, you know, of course, they matter doing well, academically, is important. But NYU is definitely one of the schools where, by showing up and being an active participant in other ways, like there's also a lot of value there. It's not just about getting, you know, a 4.0 GPA. And I would also say for students looking into a school like NYU don't feel like you have to be perfect across the board, like I did, I did well, academically, but in contracts, you know, I didn't go to the best school, high school. But I think what, what got me into NYU was that I had other things going on, you know, I was active. As a student leader, I had other interests outside of academics, I had a part time, you know, I had a part time job. And I would say like, it's important to think of the other things in your profile or things that you care about, and like amplifying those just as much as you would for academics.
Venkat Raman 49:11
Andy, we are sort of coming to the end of our podcast. Before we sign off, I wanted to give you a chance to talk about anything that we might not have touched on. Or if you want to share a fond memory or two or anything else that you feel might be relevant or interesting.
Thank you for that. I'll just say that. Um, yeah, if folks can't tell already, like I really love NYU. I don't think I would be where I am in life if I hadn't gone gone there. I just think about all the experiences unexpectedly too that I've had as a result Just being in New York, I think location really matters. I think at one point in, when I was in high school, I told myself like, Oh, I'm willing to live in like the middle of nowhere for four years, and then, you know, move to a city. And I think that works for certain people and personalities. But I think I did the right thing by saying, you know, what, like, I need to be in a city, I followed my gut there. And I think that's something that I, I want to encourage everybody to do follow your gut and really trust it. And sometimes, if things don't work out, like, that's totally okay. You know, sometimes life will have a way of just reminding you to slow down and to kind of check yourself. And, you know, at one point at NYU, I got, I was so stressed. And I remember, I was just feeling really overwhelmed. And I think I actually had like a panic attack in one of my classes. Because I was so overwhelmed. I was doing too many things. And that was a big wake up call for me of like, Okay, I'm a college student like, and I feel like, there's so much pressure to do so many different things, but it's also okay for me to just like, take a break and take a day off, and just enjoy, you know, not having to go to work and maybe not having to go to classes one day. And I think that that's really important. It's a high pressure environment, but there's also chances to just like be, and just to sit with yourself. And I think those are really important. And I learned that lesson by being in an environment like New York and going to school at like NYU, and I don't think I would have had those experiences had I gone somewhere else. So I think that's, that's important to highlight. And if folks, you know, end up going there, you know, best of luck.
Venkat Raman 51:41
Just like your..., you know, college life. This is fast paced, exciting. Lots of stuff, lots of information packed in this little time, but I really appreciate you taking the time and sharing all the details and the passion and energy. And I think this is going to go really well with everyone listening. So, thank you, Andy, I think I'd love to talk to you more, some more later, but for now. Thanks. Take care. Be safe. I'll talk to you soon.
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Andy Ng about New York University.
I would describe Andy the same way I would describe New York City - non-stop & in a hurry!
Andy started his NYU experience with the Freshman year in London.
Back in New York he nurtured his love for English and developed additional passions in the form of Education and Social Entrepreneurship.
He was involved in helping high school students with college applications, raising money for causes with his fraternity, in addition to being NYU’s admission ambassador.
Along with a couple of upperclassmen, he created a summer program for middle school students in low income neighborhoods in NYC.
This program won a pitching competition and received funding to run during a couple of summers.
After listening to Andy’s whirlwind experience, it would be hard to not look at NYU in greater detail.
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
US Colleges, College Admissions, New York University, Study Abroad, College Applications, Social Entrepreneurship, Education, English Literature, First Genner.