Monday, February 21, 2005
Compressed Schedule: HBS compressed the recruiting schedule for 1st years for the first time this year. Rather than have recruiting kick off in September or October like most schools, we didn't get started until November 15th or so. The primary reason behind the change was to give students more time to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives, with the secondary goal of reducing the stress of the first few months of school.
It definitely reduced the stress-level, but unfortunately, I don't think most students used the time for self-reflection. My only data to this end is the sheer number of people I spoke with who were interviewing in at least three different fields (i.e. I-banking, consulting, marketing). I'm not really upset with people for doing this, but I think they could have made everyone's life easier with a little more reflection about what they wanted to do with their summer.
The catch with a compressed schedule is that students at HBS were the last to interview and often had to make tough choices due to a lack of available days to schedule 2nd round interviews. That's the problem with required attendance, it really makes it hard to get out of town to interview. Professors are pretty understanding of absences, but it's still a pain in the ass.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere around campus during hell week (and after), is what I'll call relaxed tension. People were definitely feeling some pressure, but for the most part everyone was relaxed about it. I think this is largely a product of a healthy job market, but it also reflects a general attitude at HBS: We're all going to get jobs, everything will work out, no need to make myself miserable in the mean time. In fact, I witnessed a high degree of cooperation and camaraderie throughout the process, which I thought was pretty remarkable.
Tips: Having gone through the process for the first time, here's my advice for future 1st years. First, I think it is highly desirable to focus yourself as early as possible. Start thinking about what you want to do for the summer before you even arrive at b-school. I would start by reading books like What Color is Your Parachute?, Do What You Are, and even Think and Grow Rich. After that, it just takes a lot of self-reflection and use of the career services resources (like Career Leader) once you get on campus. Having done the hard part, you can then make your life easier during recruiting by holding your focus to that one thing you want to do. With that focus, you can use long weekends and the Christmas Break to visit companies, which is an excellent way to get 1st round interviews come recruiting season. Career Services advises that you need a plan A, B, and C, but I think you just need plan A and you need to do what it takes to make it happen. Of course, that may mean waiting until May or June to finally get an offer, but if you know what you want to do then you know what you want to do.
Anyway, I could probably write more, but this is long enough as it is. Comment if you have specific questions and I'll try to get to them.