Why I Decided to Join
If you think about the demographic of partners, we’re all over the map. Just like students, we’re quite a diverse group of talented people. Learning the different backgrounds, languages, professions and lifestyles is simply fascinating. There are partners who work from Boston to California, partners who don’t work, those that live on campus, those that live off campus… some of us are married and many have children. We are consultants, teachers, business owners, doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and parents to name a few. We’re a pretty powerful group if you ask me.
It’s been mentioned in this column before, but being an HBS partner warranted life adjustments for all of us, particularly when I began to learn about most of the partners here at HBS. I have a full time job, I live off campus, and I don’t have children. It felt like three strikes right off the bat. Historically, I’m the type who likes to be involved so I was impressed with what was offered to us simply by being registered partners with the school, but I was less impressed with what the Partners’ Club offered. I was left asking myself, should I join the Partners’ Club if I don’t feel much of a connection to it?
Needless to say, I didn’t join… it didn’t feel like it was the place for me. Nothing against the Partners’ Club, because I think it’s a beneficial organization for a specific group of people (who also happen to be the vast majority of partners) but I felt a bit left out and unsure how I fit in. I’m not sure what the day-to-day schedule of events looks like now, but back when I was still receiving email about daily events, I felt like nothing was for me. None of the events fit the schedule of a working girl, and it led to a feeling of anxiety. It felt as if I was missing out on everything important and that I wasn’t getting the full HBS experience as a result. It was quite frustrating.
However, the reality is, had I looked passed my initial judgment of the club, I would have found that there’s much more to it, even for partners in my situation. As I mentioned in my “What’s in it for us?” article, we are granted access to the coveted HBS network. There are endless clubs and organizations to be a part of. If I’m not interested in joining these clubs, I need to suggest new ideas. Changes won’t be made unless there is a need.
I’ve heard partners who have moved here from around the world mention that the Partners’ Club has helped them get acquainted with Boston and Cambridge. The club is helping international students obtain work visas so that they’re able to begin work in the United States. Crimson Kids has proven nothing short of a gold mine for partners with children (babysitters, play dates, fun events for kids), and provides a wealth of resources to expectant parents.
This is all wonderful, and I’m glad that an outlet like this exists for partners. However, the partners that fall in my group felt a bit of a struggle to fit in and be a part of the HBS experience (and I learned pretty quickly that I was not alone in these feelings). This group may live off campus, we are working all day, five days a week, and if we’re lucky, we can meet for dinner or a drink one night each week. We’ve had to take it upon ourselves to organize group events, dinners, etc. All of this is fine, but it took almost ten weeks to get here — to form secure groups of friends like everyone else was doing the first few weeks of school. Are we the anomaly? Did this happen to you?
So the question is, what can be done to get more involved in the leadership of the Partners’ Club, so that partners entering next year who find themselves in a similar situation feel like they have a place in the club, too? (The first thought that comes to mind is an afterhours sub-group within the partners club, or hosting panels of working partners, or a working professionals group where we can share what we’ve learned about particular industries, etc.) First, we should probably join!
I’ve decided to let my guard down, change my attitude, and join the Partners Club to try to alter it in a way that is appealing to all partners, not just a certain chunk of us. Nothing productive can be accomplished from the sidelines. I’d love nothing more than to be a liaison for partners next year who find themselves in a similar situation to mine and help jumpstart their comfort level into the partners program at HBS.