Coding at Harvard Business School: An interview with RC Andrea Coravos (Section E)
What are you building these days?
Last semester, I worked on a couple smaller side-projects. At HackHarvard, Mike Monovoukas (‘17), Yoonju Kim (‘17), and I built a web-app called “MeToo,” which is a crime prevention app. This semester I’m focusing on two meatier projects. My FIELD3 team is building a natural language processing app. I’ve also been working on a digital marketplace for brain fitness.
You were working in consulting and private equity prior to HBS. When did you get excited about coding, and how did you teach yourself?
I’ve always been someone who likes to tinker with things. I started to get more involved with coding in late high school. In college, I made and hosted a few websites for my friends’ student government campaigns. While at McKinsey and KKR, I coded and deployed credit-scoring and media mix models for a range of companies.
Through all of these experiences, I realized how important technical skills are (and will be) for operators and executives. I wanted to build a stronger technical base, so decided to leave private equity and enroll in a five-month full-stack coding program called DevBootcamp. That program changed the way I approach the world by making me a more creative problem-solver. When I graduated, I was hooked.
You are one of the co-founders and co-presidents of the CODE club at HBS. Tell us about that club — what is it and why did you found it?
One of the great challenges at business school is the tension between having manager time vs. maker time. HBS is built for managers – lots of time in class, clubs meetings, coffees with friends and potential business partners. It’s difficult to carve out “maker-time” — anyone who paints, composes music, writes long-form pieces, or codes, often needs long-periods of unstructured time to create.
We started CODE at HBS for students who wanted to keep their technical skills sharp while getting MBAs. Our meetings are early in the afternoon, so we don’t cut into maker-time. Every week, a fellow student will give a “Lightning Talk,” sharing a demo and piece of code they’re proud to have built. Past demos have included hacking GroupMe, scraping classcards, developing Halo 5 (video game development), programming a drone to follow your face (computer vision), and building a musical instrument with fruits and a Raspberry Pi. Anything you can imagine, you can create — and we strive to create a community where students (from any technical level) who are inspired to build can find each other.
What do you want to do this summer?
Software engineering / development.
Shorter answer: coding is fun and rewarding. I love the challenge and the way my brain works when I’m deep in the flow. Longer answer: I believe software will help solve important human challenges — particularly in healthcare and economic empowerment, and I want to be a part of building that future.
Any tips for your classmates looking to learn to code?
Come join CODE! We’re an all-levels club, and we’d be thrilled to have you become a part of our community. More broadly, Harvard also has a vast wealth of resources for students. TechClub has launched a program called “Training the Valley” in partnership with General Assembly to provide 5-6 hour long sessions on weekends.
The iLab hosts HackLab, where students can learn how to build iOS app or learn Bootstrap. ECs can also take CS50, which is Harvard College’s most popular computer science course.
It’s never too late to start and there are a lot of fellow students who want to work with you. I hope you get a chance to experience the magic of coding while at HBS.