Opinion

A Couple’s Guide to HBS

Adam Friedman, Contributor

Amanda Friedman, Contributor

With one semester of HBS under our belt, we can confidently say we’re now experts on #LifeatHBS. We thought it was about time someone asked us to share our words of wisdom with the HBS community. In recognition of Valentine’s day, we wanted to fill you in on some top tips, tricks, and observations to have the perfect* couple life at HBS from both of our expert perspectives:

A Student’s Observations:

  1. Do not try explaining FIELD Foundations to your non-HBS partner. Let’s just say that things got off to a rocky start when I told my wife I quit my job, moved us across the country, and am spending thousands of dollars to build spaghetti towers. While the basic premise of the class, increasing students’ EQ, seems straightforward, playing the “guess what number is on my head” game, and being a photographer in an Everest simulation was not what she thought an HBS education would be. I recommend future classes describe it as a team-building seminar and move on. That said, if your partner ever digs up your “identity map” and he or she is not on it, be ready for a painful conversation.
  2. Partners are the secret weapon in intramurals. While we have been pleasantly surprised at the athletic ability of HBS students overall (and their ability to cause injuries – please don’t hurt us), some of the key playmakers have been partners. Two 6’+ partners made for the best receivers in flag football, and we have a legitimate college athlete who is the star of our undefeated volleyball team. However, my partner knows the real secret weapon for intramurals: bringing fresh orange slices for halftime.
  3. Do Not Share the Profiles of the Class of 1976 from LEAD. Sharing some of the cases and classroom discussions with your partner is important and gives them some insight to your experience. However, if you decide to share the Profiles from the Class of 1976, please remind your partner that the amount of death, divorce, and general depression generated by those six HBS alum are (hopefully) not a statistical snapshot of post-HBS life.

A Partner’s Observations:

  1. Call any trip with your student a “trek”. While planning trips to visit family may occasionally elicit groans from your student partner, watch those groans turn to glee once you start calling it a “trek”. What was once “President’s Day weekend with grandma” is now the “Florida Trek” and what was Passover in New York with my parents is now the “Long Island Immersion Trek”. Still beta testing “Grocery Shopping Trek”, but the early results are promising.
  2. #PartnerLife Motto: All of the fun, none of the classes!: While not all of us partners took the GMAT, or worked extremely late, or spent hundreds of hours prepping b-school applications, we supported our student partners through it all! So it’s only fitting that we get to share in this experience too, but only the fun parts. No cases, just happy hours. No finals, just game nights. No 8:00am discussion groups, just going to work at 9:00am and being the breadwinner (insert flexing muscle emoji here). So feel free to raise a glass with the rest of the partners and students in your section, you earned it!
  3. Build your Shad schedule around the RC class times. For those partners in Cambridge, joining Shad is a nice perk. Even better, with all 930 RCs in class at the same time, the place is a ghost town during RC classes, with nearly every treadmill, stretching mat, and dumbbell at your disposal.
  4. Learn a handful of HBS buzzwords. If your student partner is anything like mine, you’ve likely heard enough HBS vocabulary that you could go undercover as an RC. And if your student partner is anywhere as nerdy as mine, he or she gets a huge kick out of your use of HBS jargon. So if nothing else, amuse them by randomly dropping words like “bottleneck”, “buffer”, and “bullwhip” into conversation.

Joint Observations:

  1. The Pregame is basically the game. Look, there’s no way both of you are making it to La Fabrica with the party crowd. You’re better off exploiting an early pregame and knowing that the singles will have the stamina to carry the torch to the wee hours of the morning. Truth is, while they love you, it’s not you they want to be socializing with at 1:00am. In fact, when we hear our section is going to 730 Tavern, what we hear is “7:30, Tavern”, which means we’ll be passed out well before midnight. No shame!
  2. On a serious note, make time for each other. The HBS experience inherently puts new stresses into a relationship. *Disclaimer: we’re not actually perfect and we’re still learning as we go. Whether your partner is near or far, carve out time to do whatever you love together. Whether that means a weekend getaway, dates in Boston, or simply binging your favorite Netflix shows on the couch, find ways to escape the HBS bubble. And no! – the section outing for Hibachi at Tokyo Bitsuteki does NOT count as date!

With all that being said, hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day! Whatever you do, please don’t take your partner to a romantic evening at the Spangler Grill.


Adam Friedman (MBA ’20) hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from Indiana University. Prior to HBS, he worked in investment banking in New York and, most recently, private equity in Chicago focused on healthcare investing. Adam is the Section D Admissions Representative and enjoys sharing his HBS experiences with prospective students. He loves live music, escape rooms, and his guilty pleasure is Caribbean cruises.

Amanda Friedman is originally from Long Island, NY and graduated from Indiana University. Amanda works for Combined Jewish Philanthropies, focused on connecting young adults to Jewish experiences in the greater Boston area. Amanda is currently the Social Media Manager for the HBS Partners’ Club (@HBSPartnersClub). She enjoys cooking, board games, and sharing her adventures via Insta-story.

February 7, 2019
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