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Student Seeks Work/Life Balance; Career Services Unsure How to Proceed

(Wilder House) RC student Chad Souter threw Career Services for a loop last Thursday when he told his career counselor that the most important thing he wants out of a job going forward is a strong work/life balance.
“When my counselor, Joan Diaz, asked me to define what I think work/life balance means, I told her that the work part means having a job that is both intellectually stimulating and provides a decent amount of responsibility. The balance part of it means traveling little, having my evenings and weekends free to spend with my family and getting more than two weeks of vacation a year,” Souter said.

“All Joan could say to me was ‘Hmmm, I think that’s gonna be a problem.'”

According to Souter, his counselor then went on to tell him that no such work/life jobs exist at HBS. “First you have to take the banking, consulting, private equity, hedge fund, corporate rotational program and media jobs off the table. All those jobs are seven-days-a-week. At a minimum.” Diaz said.

“Then all you are left with are the non-profits. And even those jobs require 70-hour work weeks and a ton of donor ass-kissing. Yeah, you might get a bunch of vacation time, but you don’t even have enough money to pay off your Citiassist deby, let alone enjoy your vacations.”
Diaz then explained to Souter that the University’s frequent references to the importance of work/life balance are purely “lip-service.”

“Think about it – do you really believe that HBS could generate a $1.48 billion endowment if all our alums work in middle management and play an active role in rearing their children?” Diaz asked rhetorically. “Our ideal alum works like a madman to make a lot of money and if he or she has to miss a few birthdays and piano recitals, then those are sacrifices they’ll have to make to be a ‘success.'”

Diaz ended their session with a difficult question, “If you don’t want to be super rich, then just why did you come to HBS in the first place?”
“To be intellectually challenged and make substantive friendships?” Souter responded.

Diaz laughed out loud at Chad’s answer and said “No, seriously. Why did you come to HBS?”

“After this meeting,” Souter said, “I have no idea.”

January 20, 2004
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