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Last Day of RC Year!

May 16th, 2009 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

There’s an interesting paradox in blogging: the more you have to write, the less time you have to write it in.  I’ve been out-of-town on personal trips 7 of the last 8 weekends, and that’s amidst a continual flow of cases, finals, and other HBS activities.  There’s a TON to talk about! 

A disclaimer: I’ve been sketching out what I need to post about here and there are 29 (!) posts sitting in the queue, waiting to be fleshed out and published.  That’s a bit overwhelming, and I thought it might be somewhat confusing if I continued posting “as is” without any explanation for why final exams are happening in July. 

So, (to reveal the true timeline)… 

Yesterday was the last class day of the RC year!  I have conflicting feelings  about the whole thing:

  1. Academically: We’ve studied and discussed hundreds of businesses over the last year, and it has been a fascinating journey.  From start-up to multi-national, from retail to raw material, from citizen to criminal, from gov’t agency to NGO.  When I stop to think about it, the sheer magnitude of businesses we’ve studied is astounding.  Taken individually, 30-page cases seem short, but they add up quickly (one statistic from BGIE shows we read over 1000+ pages in that class alone).
  2. …but, I’m not sure how much of that has translated into generalizable lessons.  Where are the hidden business secrets that are reserved for those who devote time to deep study?  Should we be modeling about all those esoteric complex financial instruments like they do at Chicago?  Or is the learning  possibly more surreptitious at HBS?  I think you have to hope that the 500+ cases have built a deeply embedded database in your mind… ready to be drawn to the surface by pattern recognition when you encounter a similar situation in the future.  Realistic?
  3.  Socially: I’ve been blown away by how close I feel to the 90 people in my section.  I would never have expected to build the bonds we’ve built… part of it’s the way the case method works (like a big group discussion) and part of it’s from the social activities.  I definitely feel like I could call any of these people up in the next 5-10 yrs and ask for a favor.
  4. …however, I’m not sure if I’ve built the type of relationships that last 10 yrs+.  Part of it’s due to choice – I’ve definitely spent more time “outside the HBS bubble” spending time with my significant other than most.  Most of it just has to do with interests… the majority of people here seem to go out and drink every night.  While I wish I could enjoy that more, it’s just not my scene.  Still, even though that crowd get all “the press”, I think there’s a huge portion of my section (and HBS) that are more like me.  
  5. …the real tragedy is: every once in a while I’ll find someone who likes exploring the outdoors, enjoys museums, prefers dinner parties and politics, and might even humor a dorky game of Pictionary.  My greatest regret from the year is that I didn’t seek these people out and spend more time with them. 

All in all, though, it’s been a fantastic year and I definitely wouldn’t give it up for anything!

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Lin

    I’m actually surprised at how you feel about your first year. I mean, despite HBS being an extraordinary school, I think these types of feelings you have are very common; will the things I learned, relationships I built, last outside of the college bubble?

    I have a gut feeling what you learn will be applicable in the real world considering the accomplishments of HBS alums. Even more than that though is the rigor of your curriculum. I find that business is a soft skill full of nuances. Few generalizations can be made about it and the ones that are made are broad and rather obvious. Being able to think critically and adapt is more useful in business than any set formula. Besides, if there was a secret formula, you wouldn’t be able to purchase it for any price.

  • rob

    Lin — I hope you’re right! There definitely are curricular differences among the b-schools. With the exception of Darden, I think HBS is alone in their dogmatic adherence to the case method. While I often feel like it’s brilliant (and I can’t imagine sitting in lectures for hrs / day), there must be some reason 99% of schools choose a different pedagogic path.

    Nice blog, by the way…! I’m a bit skeptical about the usefulness of technical analysis, but an internship at a solid VC firm is amazing! Some of my colleagues would probably be jealous.

  • Lin

    Really? I didn’t even know the curriculum across b-schools varied so much. Is Chicago that quantitative? Despite being a math guy (though a very poor one), I still feel soft skills add much more value than hard technical skills. For example, an options trader may have to understand the Black-Scholes model and the implications of delta, gamma, and vega, but at the end of all those calculations (at the touch of a calculator), he still makes a subjective judgment call when he trades. So perhaps you’re not missing out on much.

    Thanks for the kind words. I really like your writing style. I showed my girlfriend your blog and she was like “oh, so that’s what a hedge fund does; you’re explanation made no sense to me” I guess explaining accredited investors is less effective than a long/short example 😛 And yes, I am extremely fortunate to intern at the VC firm. Hopefully I can nab a job offer…

  • Fridays From The Frontline » Clear Admit: MBA Admissions Consultants Blog

    […] on her first year and shared some of the highlights while her fellow classmate Rob discussed some of the things he missed out on over the course of the year. Darden ‘10 JulyDream was already in Atlanta and three days into her internship.  McCombs […]

  • Arun Raj

    Hey, Great Blog! Gives me a slight insight on how things are at HBS!

    But referring to this post, I was quite curious on whether an MBA at HBS and other ivy colleges, focuses on imparting you with the knowledge of taking effective decisions in business or focuses giving you mathematical tools to analyse the situation you are in.

    Like you said, at HBS you went thru a lot of case studies. But then, there are a lot of models and theories like the Black-Swan (or sumthing similar), that you study about. Are these thought in class, or researched by students while studying a case?

  • Joe

    Great blog…I’m a newish HBS student myself. Would be interested in blogging myself. Are you looking for anyone to continue your blogs.

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