Emerging from the Bubble

This week, as I was working with my co-chairs on the Social Enterprise Conference – Behrad Mahdi (OE) and Jacob Donnelly (NH) – we started chatting about the things that might be useful to think about as we reenter the real world. Behrad and Section OE had some recent alums join them for their Viewpoints last week, and he shared some of that collective wisdom with me. Some of this might sound familiar (didn’t they give us some of the same advice on our first day of RC year?), but I think the ideas are worth repeating. Just try to think about the content behind the soundbyte before you fold this page into a temporary umbrella.

10. The questions you asked when you started HBS (“What do I want to be when I grow up?”) are the same questions you’ll ask when you leave and for the next 5-10 years.
Stop freaking out about the fact you are still asking them. It’s normal.

9. The next 2-3 years of your career should be about getting off to a great start.
Don’t think about the money or the title or whether this is your “ultimate dream job.” Think about whether this will put you on the path you want to be on. Worry about everything else later.

8. What we do outside of our work might be just as important as what we do at work. Work/life balance starts now, even if you are single or married but pre-kids. Don’t ever give up the life part of the equation, because you might forget to take it back when it truly matters.

7. Whether HBS is a liability or an asset isn’t something you can control. Just be aware of the dichotomy and be truly humble. Humility goes a long way in general, but it is unbelievably helpful when you have “Harvard Business School” on your CV.

6. Be aware of your happiness and be open to opportunities. The opportunities to learn are everywhere!

5. Have faith. Whatever that means to you – family, religion, hope – keep believing in something.

4. Keep the idea of L&V reps, even if you lose the ability to outsource difficult conversations to them. Don’t lose the diverse perspective you gained from your 899 awesome classmates.

3. Relearn how to make small talk with non-business people.
They may not care about IPOs, but they have something to offer, whether they are country music roadies or photojournalists. And no, it’s not about expanding your network; it’s about enriching your life. There’s a chasm between the two.

2. Everything is a choice.
The key to happiness is being able to see the opportunities available. Don’t forget that you always have a choice. You are not stuck. You don’t have to have a miserable 10- and 20-year update printed for future LEAD classes to read.

1. You only get one shot at this: why blow it on a suit and a desk job if that’s not what makes you happy?
Go see the world, try stand-up comedy, write your novel, or take the start-up world by storm. Life is too short not to pursue your passions. And if you don’t have any passions, I recommend learning to bake carrot cupcakes. You may not love it, but it will give you something to nosh on while you think about what you do love.

If you have any ideas or questions you would like addressed in this column, or you want my recipe for carrot cupcakes, please email me at cwallace@mba2010.hbs.edu.

Christina Wallace is an EC from Lansing, Michigan. If you would like to see where that is on the “mitten” she’d be happy to point it out on her hand. Christina would also like to encourage everyone to attend the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference on February 27-28. It has taken over her life since the second week of RC year, and she’ll be a bit sad to see it all end this week. (But not too sad.she’s currently accepting offers for drinks after March 1.)