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Dear Harby: The Advice Column for MBAs

Dear Harby,

My former co-workers who are now applying to business school now want me to read their essays, but I’m lazy and don’t really like them. What should I do?

-Chillin’ in ChaseDear Chillin’, Such a dilemma! I can imagine that nothing is more difficult than having to repay the favors from students when you were applying, to those awful, boring, heating-fish-in-the-microwave individuals you used to call “Greg” and “Katelyn” but now call “co-workers.” How dare they impinge on your hard-won privilege at this elite school of business administration? How dare they deign to ask a favor of your refined eminence, ensconced in the hallowed gleam that bounces from the Baker Library cupola? Oh, why, ye gods, hath they beset upon your aching shoulders the burdensome task of maintaining contact with your erstwhile colleagues? The heart breaks with consideration of your ponderous situation. To be honest, I’m running into the same issue at this very moment, because I, too, am lazy and not sure that I like you very much. However, my editor told me I have to play, so my advice to you is to change your life motto from “Pay it to myself” to something more, I don’t know, forward-looking; quit pleasuring yourself to Game of Thrones nude scenes in between cases; and show a bit of class. Be the embodiment of what makes this school great, rather than writing your own chapter in The Golden Passport. Or not, up to you. Lazily, -Harby

Dear Harby,

I don’t have any interest in recruiting for consulting or banking but I do want the free dinners. What is the etiquette for these events? How can I get in, nosh, and get out without talking to anybody?

-Hungry in Hamilton Dear Hungry, Ah the time-honored HBS tradition of bribery by mini-burgers. Every year, as the winds cool and the leaves change, human relations officers from white-collar firms make the migration east to Boston for their ritualistic feeding, traditionally reenacting every detail from years past including the food, the pant-suits, and the inane conversation about “corporate culture.” Of course, it’s absolutely permissible to supplement your diet with caprese salads and hot dog nibbles courtesy of JP Morgan. Here are the rules to live by:

  1. Prioritize the big names. Goldman and McKinsey have the budget for great food and there will be enough suck-ups there allowing you to sneak in and out unnoticed. Plus, they turn-down so many candidates that there won’t be any love lost by some rejection on their end.

  2. At small names, bring a posse. There is one reason to go to a dinner at William Blair, and obtaining a vibrant career in second-tier investment banking is not one of them. They may have rented out the big ballroom at The Charles Hotel, but much like their decision to even recruit at HBS -- that move is aspirational. If you go solo, there is an incredibly high chance that you’ll get stuck talking to the same one or two recruiters for the entire evening, guilting you into fasting and depriving you of the mouth space for chewing. If you come with a posse, you can rotate who gets to eat and who has to talk to the recruiter as the “designated distraction.”

  3. Let the food come to you. Upon entry, locate where the hot apps are coming from and plant yourself by that door. Remember that the closest exit might be behind you.

  4. Be the question master. To buy time for eating, speak only in questions, that way they will do the talking and you can do the eating.Hoping you’re full of success, - Harby

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