Dear RC Partners –
For (at least) a year or so now, many of you have listened to your student excitedly share their dream, hope, and aspiration of pursuing their MBA at HBS. Whether it made you want to jump for joy or run to the hills, you’ve stood by their side each step of the way. There’s been planning, prepping, applying, waiting, moving, and now finally – it begins. What may have at times felt like a painfully drawn out process, quickly becomes a whirlwind, and whether it has fully sunken in yet or not, you have made it, survived it, and are finally here. So welcome. Welcome to this peculiar, yet amazing experience we call the partner life of HBS.
Like all new stages of life, it is impossible to ever fully prepare yourself for what is to come. (Especially when that stage involves balancing week night costume parties and formals with real life “adulting.”) You can take all the advice and guidance from others that you desire, but the beauty of any new journey is that it will always be uniquely yours; it is never quite the same for any two people.
But what kind of partner community would we be, if those of us who have survived year one didn’t at least share a few lessons learned? After all, sticking together is one of the things we do best.
- Embrace the ride. If you thought you had a thriving social calendar before, get ready for a whole new kind of “busy”. Between section retreats, running dinners, campus clubs, and holiday parties, there are constant opportunities awaiting you, and partners are welcomed to join in on it all. For the next two years, you will have the chance to partake in one of the most exciting experiences of your life; creating and enjoying community at HBS. Not only is this opportunity an honor, but it is also a whole lot of fun, and you will quickly find that it will fly by faster than you hoped; so let yourself enjoy it and make the most of it. Sure, some moments will feel tiring and perhaps overwhelming, but trust us when we say that embracing this temporary “crazy” is totally worth all the wonderful memories and new friendships you will make along the way.
- Community is key. It’s no secret that life during these two years comes with its share of special challenges (especially when your student is needing more support than ever) and no one will quite understand your world as well as fellow partners. Having a support system and community of partners will be a lifeline, and is one of the best investments of time you could make. Try building in a regular hangout (weekly wine night perhaps?) to laugh, vent, and help keep one another sane. After all, nothing says “bonding” like shared experiences and a glass of rose!
- Hold the tension. There will be hands down, more activity to partake in then you will have the time and energy for. Knowing when to say “no” and setting personal boundaries will be important for you and your student, but also knowing when to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, will be equally important. Challenge yourself to hold this tension. Don’t feel bad for the times you choose to rest while others play; but also encourage yourself to step out and try new things, even when sticking to the familiar seems easiest. You never know what friendships will form where you least expect them.
- Be you. Along with the excitement and anticipation that all students and partners bring to the start of RC year, comes a common fear – “will they like me?” It’s as if the mind resorts back to our teenage years when one of our biggest worries was whether or not we would fit in and have friends. But you soon realize that everyone is in the same boat, looking for authentic relationships with people who are willing to share their true selves. These two years at HBS will remind you, if you let them, that the richest experiences in life come from being known and knowing others. It’s a beautiful thing to be surrounded by people so different yourself who can broaden your perspective, help you think in a new way, and teach you to be curious of the world around you. But to get there requires you to be your true self, even when it feels risky. So remind yourself continually that you are here to be you; and the world is better because of it.
So there you have it; a few nuggets of wisdom to hopefully aid you in the midst of this new transition. While your journey here will be undoubtedly unique, one thing remains true for us all: the experiences you will have and the people you will meet here at HBS, will change your life forever. Your experience will be what you make it, so own it, jump in with both feet, and get ready for the time of your life.
Heather Fischer is an HBS Partner who works as an Organizational Effectiveness Specialist for W.L. Gore & Associates. She is also the author of Madetolive.org.