Dee Leopold’s Harvard B-School Webinar Slides

Whatever plan they come up with that we think is thoughtful and makes sense, we’re here to make that happen for them. In terms of the regular applicant pool, you’re not going to get in without full-time work experience after college. Two years is right for some people. Probably the mode right now is four years of work experience. There are many people here who have more than five years. There are certain paths that we find very attractive, like the military. Almost all of them have at least five years of work experience. Do we encourage them to go AWOL in order to come here? No, I don’t think so. There are people who have changed careers.

Try not to get hung up on thinking there is a magic moment that is going to be right for everybody.

Question: Can you explain the work experience part of 2+2 in more detail between college and coming?

Leopold:It’s not as if we are going to arrange a job for you. The 2+2 people tend to be the most exciting experiences for us as an admissions board to meet because they are full of ideas. We have 2+2 people who have started businesses, who have gone to very cool, under-the-radar companies, who have joined startups, or have gone to heavy manufacturing, They have done some traditional things. They have gone to consulting, Some have gone to banking. But they are simply very interesting people.

Some have actually done two jobs before they come here. They might have done a couple of years of something traditional and they might have said, “You know what? I’m going to go out and start my own business.” We had somebody who just finished his first year and his whole goal is to run summer camps. I remember talking to him as he was being interviewed, and he wanted to do an internship at an advertising agency because he knew he would have to do marketing. He’s spending this summer doing an online retail startup. But he said his goal is still to do the camp thing, so I would say that some people have a collection of experiences by the time they come into the program.

Question: What is you’re missing part of the application?

Leopold:You are responsible for making sure that the application is complete. It’s up to you to make sure that everything is in. As you experience the online application, you’ll know that. This is not going to be a mystery to you as to whether your recommenders have submitted or not. Do not expect us to be calling and making sure that everything is in.

Question: How are different company brands viewed? Are they rated?

Leopold:No. I say this with affection, but sometimes I think you assume a level of method here that is really excessive, if I put it back to the goal is to have as diverse a class as possible, you might see that there’s X number of people from brand X firm so you say that must be all they are looking for. Well be careful, because you will not do well on the GMAT if that’s how you draw conclusions from data.

Our goal is to have as many different companies and industries represented whenever we can. This is certainly no big secret: There are certain industries, even certain companies, where it’s built into the system that people go to business school. This is not like medical school, where this is a certifying credential in order to practice business. There are many consulting firms and investment banks. So we are embracing many many industries and companies. But we cannot necessarily go out and find large pools from every place. We encourage them. We hope you find us and if you work at a company that is making a product and you are wondering about whether you are going to get to HBS from there, ask if we can come and do a presentation. We’ll be do glad to do more presentations, to more companies. Just invite us.

Question: For the essays, should the examples be professional or personal?

Leopold:That’s a good question. Aaaah. Keep in mind that you are applying to business school. There are some things that I really wish I didn’t know sometimes. We are all smiling; but we all love what we do. Keep in mind who your audience is, what your objective is. It doesn’t have to be cut and dried or in code. Don’t get too personal unless you really believe it is salient to the questions we are asking.

Question: How important is your GPA?

Leopold:Your college record is important. Your GPA is just a number. When we are looking at this, we spend an awful lot of time looking at the courses you are taking. I think you’d be impressed with how much time we spend talking about this and keeping current. We have visited a lot of schools now with the 2+2 program. We learn a lot about a lot of schools. We also learn a lot from interviewing people. We’ll ask, ‘What was the type of class you took?” What was this department like at school X?

We are building our own knowledge base through the interviews. We are going to look at the courses you’ve taken. Have you challenged yourself? Have you taken some risks? I would hate to think that people would be simply courting the perfect GPA and not really maximizing the opportunity to take some risks. You will certainly take some risks in business school in the case method. You’re going to be asked to take stands on things in which you cannot possibly be an expert on. An appetite for risk in terms of challenge is very attractive in a candidate.

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