I’m an RC taking a break from freaking the living f**k out about my FIN midterm to ask you about something that’s been bothering me: we do all these cases, have all these discussions, and drink all this alcohol with strangers-we-pretend-are-friends, but I’m not sure I’ve begun developing the technical knowledge necessary to mindfully and successfully lead employees with specialized knowledge in whatever field I choose. When does that part of my MBA training begin?
Waiting in Wilder
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Wait, you thought – AHHH HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Ho boy, woof – sorry, just catching my breath. I – hahahaha! I’m sorry, it’s just – that’s not why we’re here! A Harvard MBA is about flourishing, growing, living your one wild and precious life, and knowing exactly what needs to be done while having absolutely no idea how to do it! Then you hire people who do know how and pay them enough that they address the problem and don’t ask pesky questions about your lack of skills. You think CEOs know how to run cutting-edge engineering analyses, or test new drugs, or use Hubspot? Please!
My advice is to enjoy this two years of booze-fueled “introspection,” and then find a company where you can strategize to your heart’s content and one day lead its employees to value-maximizing glory without any idea how they’re actually getting there. Have fun!
I honestly have to say EC year has been a bit of a let-down. Not only do I have to structure my own schedule, but I only see about a third of my sectionmates with any regularity! I find myself longing for the good times of RC year: three-case days in Aldrich, hookups that everyone pretended not to know about, falling asleep and drooling on my seat mate during LCA – you know, the kind of memories we’ll cherish and laugh about at our 1, 5, 10, 15, 17, 20, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 36, and 70-year reunions. What do you recommend?
Longing in Loeb
I completely understand where you’re coming from. I regularly hear of cases like yours, and I want you to know there are a number of things you can do to stem the EC social blues:
– The Class Crash. Haven’t seen a certain section-mate because you’re into finance and they’re into BEMS? Easy! Just waltz into their class one day and say you’re going to be their guest. If they say, “That’s crazy, what are you talking about?” you can introduce yourself to the professor as their guest. You’ll know you’ve re-formed your special bond when the professor forces asks them to introduce you at the beginning of class and they do so to avoid a scene because they value your friendship so much.
– The Lunchtime Linger. Another great way to snag some section time is, after purchasing your food in Spangler, stand in the dining hall in the aisle near the water machines and cutlery and slowly pivot back and forth like you’re looking for your friends. What you should actually be doing is attempting to make eye contact with any and all sectionmates you can, even if the only time you ever spoke to them was during that weird LEAD exercise where we had to ask someone on the other side of the room a question about something we were curious about. Once they look you in the eye, they’re fair game! Feel free to go on over and take a seat at their table, regardless of who else is present – if they didn’t want to sit with you, they should’ve kept their eyes on their food.
– The Spangler Sit-in-Wait. Essentially, this involves sitting on Spangler lawn wearing sunglasses and pretending like you’re studying, when in reality you’re patiently waiting for a sectionmate to appear and walk close enough to your table where it won’t be weird for you to flag them down for a friendly chat. If you’re lucky, they might even join you! Just make sure you have a case out to “read,” so they know the academic sacrifice you’re making by socializing with them.
Some people may refer to these techniques as “desperate” or “sociopathic,” but I like to think of them as “disruptive,” “innovative,” and, at the very least, “memorable.” Let me know how you fare!
Harby is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated MBA advice columnist and the author of such bestsellers as Teaching Your Dog How to DCF and The Seven People You Meet at the Boston Doubletree. Want some advice from Harby? Email your question to Harby@Harbus.org