Why are you here?
Did you come to Harvard Business School to find your next job, make career contacts, or learn everything the case method can teach you? Did you come to make new friends, travel the world, or just spend a couple of years working out and eating right? Maybe you came to write for the top MBA newspaper in the world (in which case we should talk! [email protected]).
The bottom line is that every HBS student comes to campus with unique reasons for being here. The worst part of HBS, the dreaded “Fear Of Missing Out”, comes when you forget this simple truth, and watch classmates enjoy themselves doing things with their HBS education that you never wanted do to with yours– like weekending in Iceland when you came to explore Boston, or recruiting for an Investment Bank when you came to launch that startup idea you’ve had. The undercurrents at HBS are strong, and if you don’t paddle toward your priorities, you may be pulled far away from where you truly want to go.
HBS might cost the average student more than $213,000 over two years, but the most valuable resource here is time. You will never get to do everything. You won’t even get to do most things! For most student, HBS is the most stimulating environment they will experience in any two years of their lives. You’ll spend two years here constantly turning down invitations to amazing speaker events, life-changing career opportunities, intimate dinners, and raucous parties. Every time you will agonize over whether you’re making the right decision. Even after the event is over, you still may regret the decision you made. This is exhausting and if you let it, HBS will wear you down.
We at The Harbus recommend a more deliberate approach. And that is to ask yourself: why are you here? Or more accurately, what would have to happen this year, this term, or this week for you to consider your time here a success? We recommend writing down the answer to this question as concisely as possible and displaying it in a prominent place in your apartment. Revisit those criteria daily. Share it with your seatmate and anyone else who can help to keep you accountable. Whenever you are presented with a choice as to how to spend your time, revisit your criteria for success and see if the opportunity will meet it. If so, attend with purpose. If not, decline with confidence.
At the end of two years, the only person you will let down by spending your time doing the wrong things will be yourself.