I still remember with great clarity the day that I came home to find that envelope from HBS. After a few seconds of euphoria the questions arose: What now? What do I do next? Which brings me to my bigger question: What happens after a group of high-powered, high achiever types come home from the office/airport/nightclub to find out that, for the first time in perhaps a very long time, their summer is completely free? What would they choose? Investigation throughout Section E brought to light a number of interesting points. First was it modesty or amnesia that provoked Paul Phillips’s somewhat typical answer, “Um I can’t really remember doing anything. Oh-hang on-now that I think of it, I did travel to China, Thailand, Italy, Switzerland, Egypt, and Hawaii. Would that count?”
Geoff Henry decided to take some risks and went night diving with the sharks at feeding time on the Great Barrier Reef. In his words, “What was I thinking?” Richard Fraser, while learning to surf in San Francisco, found himself jumping out of his skin at the sight of a shark in hot pursuit, only to be told later by his instructor that the jumping finned creatures were, in fact, dolphins. Nicola Longfield was nearly driven to taking up smoking again after a close encounter with a snake on some island in Laos. Scott Boze had finally worked up his courage to take a 111-meter bungee plunge off a bridge with the Victoria Falls in the background.
Meanwhile on the other sides of the world, Mora Segal and Logan Metcalfe were each taking plunges of their own and getting married.
Paul was not the only one to go find the world. Between them, Thi Luu, Timothy Gordon, Mary Moses, Marie Baudron, Kevin Barenblat, Richard Lim, and Christian Hempell managed Turkey, Crete, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Italy, Costa Rica, China, and Iceland. Marie made a motorcycle trip and got bitten by leaches, Kevin crashed a motorcycle and suffered through giardia, while Mary attended a motorcycle sex show and had her hands painted with henna.
Heidi Brooks went on a five-day motorcycle trip through Vietnam after managing the paradox of actually learning to snowboard, in summer, in Holland. Finally, Gaby Podskubka also went snowboarding, but then it WAS winter in Argentina, and capped it all off by then going surfing. Ahh, the joys of Latin America.
All of which gives me the idea that some people simply had to do something constructive with their summer. In fact there appeared to be four distinct philosophies:
First, there were those who worked: In Dimple Shah’s words “I couldn’t imagine months of just doing nothing, so I decided to follow my passion for retail and do a summer internship at the Gap.” Nate Kring taught sailors how to launch Tomahawk missiles, and Eric Paley was busy on the board of his still floating start-up. Alexis Martinez, Phelps Jackson, Hanna Hofer, Haley Kim, and Sandra Stientjes also all had various reasons for slaving through the summer months.
Second, there were those who studied. Jeff Rhodes learned French in Paris, and Aimee Young attended art school in Florence.
Third, there were those who chilled. Kate Whittington hung out in Mexico; Matthew Barlow read novels on the beach in Mali; Bill Fruhan golfed and sunned on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard; Andrea Mitchell yachted around Monaco, Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Frejus and Saint-Tropez; and Ugwunna Ikpeowo says there’s no place like home in Chicago. Kristina Pi went home to China to look after her mother’s dogs and return the wish she made at a Buddhist temple to come to HBS. David Hall was also hanging out, or in his words, “enjoying being unemployed,” although I’m not quite sure where he was.
Finally, there were those who went on a road trip. Brian Haufrect managed 10,000 miles from Houston through Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and finally up to Boston, while Julie McDaniel, never one to travel alone, took another five carloads of friends along with her in convoy on her road trip of the year.
Alex Tkachenko could not remember his summer, but he did recall the 6’4″ stunning Amazon warrior who interviewed him for HBS. And what better memory than that?