The Joys of January

Ahhh, how great to be back at HBS… The beautiful weather, the job offers pouring in, and my grades reflecting all that hard work and clearing the path to my inevitable Baker Scholar status. Life couldn’t be better.

Which one of you is thinking that right now? If I find out, I’m coming after you. With a stick. A big one.

As for me, I am far from that frame of mind, but I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone. Based on the stunned looks on faces, and the black bags under eyes, it seems that some others are readjusting to HBS life as poorly as I am. With that in mind, I am offering a few tips on how to deal with January. I can’t guarantee that they will help, or even that they will be coherent for that matter, but hopefully 2 minutes of entertainment will lighten your mood if nothing else.

Tip #1: Career Planning
Now that you have heard back (or more likely have not heard back) from all of those companies that you frantically applied to by December 12, maybe it is time for that critical realization. Maybe, like me, you are just more suited to a life in sanitation logistics operations than management consulting or investment banking. Don’t shrink away from it, embrace your lot as a “garbage man” (apologies for not writing “garbage person”, I just couldn’t do it), it’s a noble calling. Get ready for regular shifts and hours, union wages and job security (face it, there will always be garbage). If Boston just isn’t warm enough for you, don’t worry, every city needs disposal personnel. I just ask one favor, please avoid Miami. I have my application in there already, and it would absolutely break my heart to get rejected from another job due to yet another “more qualified candidate”.

Tip #2: Dealing With Grades
Hopefully, by now you have recovered from the shock of opening up your grades page to see it littered with 3s and 4s. Those diabolical academic services people just couldn’t resist mixing final exam grades with course grades. To top it off, they had to put your course grades in Roman numerals to test if you were blinded by stress, or if you were slow enough to think for a fleeting moment that perhaps a “III” was the same thing as a really, really enthusiastic “I”. Even if your course grades were in fact filled with IIIs (I hope for everyone’s sake that the use of the Roman numeral combination IV was not necessary this term), don’t worry.

Instead, sit back, relax and enjoy some of the pearls of wisdom imparted by your professors:

LEAD: “It’s one thing to ‘pass’ on a cold call, but to ‘pass’ on a question after raising your hand for it? NOT a good idea.”

TOM: “Didn’t you get the picture when I told you that you were wrong? You just had to keep talking, didn’t you? Silly little boy.”

MKT: “So, you like playing games in class? Hope you enjoy my ‘good luck with the academic review board’ game!”

FRC: “That ‘quality not quantity’ thing is for real. Haven’t you learned about ‘balance’ yet? You may recall the concept from the first week of my class. Here’s a refresher: 200 bad comments + a 4 on the final does NOT equal a passing grade.”

FIN1: “Apparently you didn’t understand the ‘attendance is mandatory’ rule. Then again, maybe next year when you’re working as a garbage man that won’t matter as much.” (How do they know these things about me? Scary.)

So you see, this brings me to the actual tip. If you “hit the screen”, don’t worry, it just means more time to “build your resume”. Refer back to Tip #1 if you need ideas about that.

Tip #3: Coping With The Weather
Be it insanely humid heat or frigid windy blizzards, That Guy has seen it all and let me tell you that dealing with extreme weather is a matter of psychology. Next time you think you’re cold, jump into the Charles River for a quick dip to find out what real cold is.

If this kind of shock treatment isn’t your bag, go the other way, plan a luau and fill your apartment with sand, tiki torches, and leis (please note the spelling… not that the other kind are bad for dealing with cold weather either). Following that line of thinking, HRES is actually advising One Western Avenue residents to turn up their heat during cold spells… So crank it to 80, break out the bathing suits and mix up the mai-tai’s – it’s the best way to follow campus rules. Don’t forget to share the wealth, OWA is a great place for parties. In fact I heard that a couple of guys on the third floor are considering a Hawaiian themed party, and like their last party, “you should stop by, there’s plenty of room”. If it gets shut down, no problem, you just move on to another apartment and keep going (until Campus Police get tired of that game). Worst case scenario, one rumor has it that you can always carry on in the kiddy play room at the end of the hall, nobody ever checks there.

One final bit of advice about the weather: liquid insulation is the best kind.

Maybe alcohol won’t make you warmer, but at least you’ll stop caring about the cold.

If these three tips aren’t enough to get you through the next couple of weeks, remember this: HBS alumni look back on their time here and actually lament the fact that it went by “so quickly”. I have to believe that at least some of our predecessors know what they’re talking about (otherwise this whole HBS network thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be).

January 20, 2004
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