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Auntie Sam:

Dear Auntie Sam,

Enough with the talk of soul mates already! And I thought that self-love was an HBS application requirement. Can we focus on something really serious this week please?

When is a bank not a bank? When it is called the job bank. It seems that this bank is not insured by the Federal Government; and depositors, i.e. employers, have withdrawn all their money in a panic. It seems to this HBS student that we are not all that different from Argentina.
I am deeply in debt. My summer internship was at a halcyon ’90s billion-dollar start up that has run out of cash. Interview requests are harder to come by than Al Qaeda operatives. I have become very suspicious of the motives of all my friends who do not have job offers. AND my parents have turned my room at home into a storage room for their collection of early nineteenth century Dakotan quilts.
“Fear not,” I thought to myself as all this dawned on me during the past few weeks. I will be able to network myself into some job or other by avoiding the job bank altogether and going straight to The Source: that vast, dependable, illustrious, powerful, and employed elite who are HBS alumni. These all powerful alumni would, at the drop of a line, a call from some needy and unknown soon-to-be-alum, think nothing of throwing around some corporate largesse in the form of a job offer.
Being as focused as the next second year, I picked alums in New York, Copenhagen, and Seoul, in the professional services, consumer product development, and eyesight-related not-for-profit industries. Imagine my utter astonishment when, upon making contact with my first alum, I was curtly informed that this was a time when the going was tough, and HBS alums need to look after Number One. One of the alums I spoke to actually asked me if I could take them off the alum database.
What am I to do?

Yours,
Desperate A. Nonymous

Dear Desperate A. Nonymous,
The Province of Buenos Aires has responded to the Argentine crisis by printing its own currency, a form of perpetual IOU known as the Patacon. This is a time when the true steel of HBSers shines through and we get resourceful.

One of my best friends in the world has never worked a day in his life for anyone. In the meantime, he has bought a house in the Hollywood Hills, raised two daughters, sent them to private school, and funded a costly divorce. How did he achieve all this you may ask?

The answer is simple: become a documentary film maker. I can assure you that there is much worth chronicling in the life of the second year HBS student at the present time. If you look at the success of Start Up.com-which was directed by a Harvard alum, no less-there is a road map to self-employment success (in the case of the film maker, not her hapless subjects).

The plot of the HBS documentary runs something like this: a tale of woe, sex, and betrayal is acted out at the Merrill Morgan company presentation when two best friends throw themselves at the hapless recruiting director, who has figured out how to tell people that there are no jobs this year in sixteen languages. He wants to talk about the World Trade Center. They need a job. Because of the combination of booze, stress, and desperation, they end up kidnapping him and hiding him in the dorms, a seldom visited warren of rooms perfect for hiding strange men. In a bizarre twist, Merrill Morgan decides that this is the perfect excuse to cancel all recruiting commitments for the 2002 season and offers the ingenious duo a sizeable bounty to hold on to their prey for the balance of the second year. This leads to spate of copycat acts…. You get the picture.

You offer Argentina, I give you Colombia. Time to buckle down, and get creative.
Yours,
Auntie Sam

October 15, 2001
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