First month at HBS

What. A. Ride. I’m only able to write this because I accidentally turned up half an hour early to something. My head is just spinning…

At HBS you’re an active participant. In everything. From class, to extra-curricular involvement, so with 100% Type-A personalities organizing a social gathering, the pace is relentless. It’s not like my undergraduate studies, and I already treasure the rare hour or two to myself I can allow myself every couple of days.

The first few weeks (edit: month and a half! Really?!) are everything I expected, and more. There’s been so much I could mention right now, and simply haven’t got room. I’ve been trying to decide how I can keep this updated in a sensible way as the initial rush begins to calm a little, considering my new workload. So I’m going to give a brief update and try and regularly cover a topic I think might be interesting to those outside the ‘bubble’.

HBS Baker Library from across the Charles River

HBS Baker Library from across the Charles River

Section Life

HBS is divided into sections, with roughly 10% of the class in each (currently 94 in mine). I’ve been allocated to the best section, obvs! The section becomes your academic and social center. All classes are taken together – a significant piece in itself due to the case discussion method in use at HBS.

While the professors are truly excellent teachers, you’re meant to learn from each other as much as the professor themselves. It’s an engaging experience, and certainly no falling asleep in the back row (however much you may want to)…

We’ve recently discovered that there is no ‘science’ to putting sections together, no late night evenings with lots of coffee looking at the backgrounds of the 900+ students as we’d assumed up until now. They split the class into 10 equal parts, and the only consideration is to check for a roughly even mix of international students to US nationals. The amazing diversity of the class admitted each year does the rest for them, and so far it’s incredibly successful. The diverse background of my classmates is staggerring and much more different than I’d expected based on the traditional background of your typical MBA.

If you’re looking at HBS as a possible school, I strongly urge you to see a class if at all possible (ideally two differing subjects) and if not, at least watch the video above. The level of preparation is extensive, allowing the class to take a more ‘free-form’ discussion rather than a tightly scripted one.

As well as inside the classroom, your section becomes your social unit too, actively encouraged by the school – a close bond outside the classroom fosters openness and sharing within it. It doesn’t always happen and work out (there are always whispers and rumors of the ‘broken’ section), but usually it does.

It begins from the first day and we now have an elected president, treasurer, social chairs, athletic rep, international rep. Intra-mural sporting events within the class are competed between sections, party attendance is a competition between each section for the highest… competition seems to be a theme at HBS.

Looking ahead

So far, we’ve been what feels like an incredibly busy time. Apparently it is not. Extra-curricular activities are just kicking off, the recruiting season is now about to begin (we have been protected so far at HBS, unlike some other schools, but this is about to end already) and exhaustion levels look likely to escalate.

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One thought on “First month at HBS

  1. Sounds very similar to my experience in Hanover! Drinking from a fire hose is the analogy we use. We’ve actually had recruiting events already it was super intense but feel good now I’ve met all the firms I want to meet with and know their process!

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