What It’s Really Like To Go To Harvard

On Harvard Business School's sprawling campus

“There are a few qualifications to the positives. For one, this is not a quant-y place. Number crunching is taught with the goal of helping you understand how number crunching is a means to an end, not with the goal of helping you become a very good number cruncher. This is fine and well when you’re a PM at some hedge fund calling the shots, but if you want to get the analyst job at the hedge fund, a Wharton education (based on comparing notes with a friend there) will be more directly relevant. The area where this is particularly applicable is actually not finance (as a finance guy, I’ve found that the subject is pretty well taught) but accounting. So if you come to HBS, bring an accounting textbook with you and study it on your own.

“Something else I’m not 100% convinced of is whether the case method is the best way to develop all kinds of soft skills. It obviously helps in many ways (see “Section” above), but I wonder if Stanford’s “Interpersonal Dynamics” class would be a better model than HBS’s LEAD and FIELD courses. I’m not really sure one way or the other.

“Other academics: I didn’t realize until I grabbed lunch with one of the senior professors the intensity of planning that goes into the first year curriculum. HBS has iterated it’s current pedagogy for about ~100 years, and everything happens for a reason. Every case, every simulation, every study group, etc., across every department, was purposely planned out and placed for some specific goal in a student’s development at that time. You could debate whether the goals are effectively met, but honestly, the fact that so much thought goes into getting-it-right makes me feel a lot better about shelling out $100K.

“Jobs: I’m really not qualified to talk much here just yet. One thing I’ve liked is that HBS holds off all recruiters to campus for the first two months or so, and then holds off all internship recruiting (or at least interviews for them) till January. This is a f–king godsend, since there are so many other things here to spend time on. In terms of getting a job in IM, it seems like it’s tough but do-able (whatever your background) if you stay plugged into the right clubs and network hard from there. I think HBS gives you a little tailwind (since a large number of big shops do come by here and recruit), but people with prior HF experience or mega-cap PE experience (not to mention Goldman, McKinsey, etc. types) are also a dime a dozen here.”

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