I felt that HBS oversells its international diversity. I got the feeling the majority of international students were “international” in passport only. They had gone to American universities for undergrad, worked for American companies, and would be going back to work for American companies following HBS. While brilliant, they brought little “international” diversity to the table.
Try your best to identify early, if not before school, what industries you would like to recruit for. Narrowing your choices will save you a lot of time during recruiting.
I’d limit your job applications to about 10. If you are applying to more than 10 companies, I don’t think you have properly done your research and it will show during the interview. I applied to eight companies during recruitment, and even that was a lot to keep track of. On one of my interviews, I had had no time to research the company or network and it definitely showed.
Expect to get dings (rejections), even when you’re applying from Harvard. For high-performing individuals, it will be the first time you may have been told thanks, but no thanks. Expect it. It builds character.
EXPLOIT YOUR STATUS AS A STUDENT
Exploit it when making phone calls and visits with alumni, potential employers, and others. Most people will give you a minute if you are a student. After graduation, you are just another dude/dudette.
The sooner you stop worrying about them, the better and more stress-free your experience will be. At HBS there is little transparency and the grading system to me was very subjective, with 50% of your grade based on class participation and 50% based on a case exam. You receive little to no feedback on either grade until you receive them a month after taking the exam. By then, you have stopped thinking about it.
Coming from West Point, where I studied to a degree that amazes me a decade later, not worrying about grades took some getting used to. You need to understand why you are at business school. If you want top honors, crush it. If you want to develop yourself personally, learn a new hobby, or try new things, crush it. In the decade since West Point, I learned that there is more to life than grades (not an excuse to sham, but I don’t have the single-minded academic drive that I once had at West Point).
Rid yourself of any form of veteran entitlement that seems to have crept up. You cannot rest on your laurels. Your veteran resume with its accompanying experiences will assist greatly in getting that first interview with companies, but after that you must prepare for the interview and then perform during your internship.
HOUSING (HBS SPECIFIC)
On campus or off campus, it doesn’t matter. If you are off campus, try staying within a mile of campus and you won’t miss anything. The main social scene at HBS revolves around the campus and Harvard Square (and club parties in downtown Boston if you choose to do them). If you live off campus, get a bike.
At HBS, your first year is all required curriculum (RC) so you have no choice in what you take. Your second year (EC), you choose your courses. Take some time to plan your schedule. Talk with current second-year students and look at course reviews. While I was happy with my course selections and thought the allocation system to get into them was equitable, I wish I had done a little more deliberate planning on what courses to take.
My favorites second-year courses were The Coming of Managerial Capitalism, taught by Professor Nicholas (a history-like course and Professor Nicholas was awesome); Business at the Base of the Pyramid, by Professor Michael Chu (interesting course that took a while to gain steam/catch my interest, but the last half was enlightening); and The Energy Business and Geopolitics, taught by Professor Maurer (I want to go into the energy industry post-BCG and this course was absolutely fascinating).