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Life at Harvard Business School: Candid Discussion With Harvard Alumni

Posted on Aug 10, 2018
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ReachIvy hosted an HBS panel discussion with Abhijeet Satapathy, Bindi Dharia and Vibha Kagzi, all alumni from Harvard. In the engaging and exciting conversation, students got a flavor of life at HBS, and how to make the most of it while studying abroad. Here are some snippets from the conversation.

Why Harvard?

Abhijeet Satapathy:
I come from an IIT Kharagpur. Decided to study management. I applied to HBS, Wharton, MIT, and LBS. eventually got into HBS. It’s the best school out there. I wanted to learn finance to help with our family business. So Harvard was the clear choice for me.

Bindi Dharia:
I lived in mid-west (in the US). Wanted to move to a warm place. I had applied to Stanford, Wharton, HBS. I had decided that it doesn’t make sense to do an MBA other than top schools. When I got into HBS, I checked the breadth of courses, where alumni went post school, and other such important stuff. I was quite satisfied. Plus, scholarships were available. Which made it easier, in my case, as I was looking for financial help. HBS was a clear choice for me.

Vibha Kagzi:
The good thing about Harvard is that once HBS decides they want you as a student, they will figure out what you need to get there. If your finances are weak, they even work a package to remove the financial burdemerit-based, you have to be a deserving student for that. (This is merit based scholarship). They are very generous.

Did you visit the campus before joining the school?

Bindi Dharia:
Yes, I did. I fell in love with the campus of HBS. It was beautiful, though it was a rainy day. (Abhijeet adds: Something like the Hogwarts of Harry Potter books! 🙂 )

Vibha Kagzi:
I visited the campus too. I recommend you do that. It gives you the flavor of the school. Helps to get the vibe of the campus. Schools are very open to you visiting them. They will organize tours to help you check out the school. Ideally, make sure to team up with someone. Try to visit a lot of schools. Helps to give you a great insider’s view of schools.

What is the one thing about HBS that really struck you as Wow factor?

Abhijeet Satapathy:
The kind of professors that you get at HBS is simply great. They bring various guest speakers to the classroom. You get to interact with influential people, quite literally the who’s who of the world.

Bindi Dharia:
The people that were in the classroom. The diversity is spectacular. I remember one incident clearly. There was the case of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which had made news back then. Our class professor had called one of the engineers who was involved in the case, to talk to us. It’s truly incredible; the kind of experiences you can get at HBS. Also, almost every top company has HBS alumni. If you send an email out, you almost always get a response, simply an HBS alumnus are HBS alumni.

Vibha Kagzi:
They call the CEOs from the case that we are asked to discuss as class project. And the class is lucky to see and interact with the CEOs whose case we are discussing.

What is the one challenge you faced at HBS?

Abhijeet Satapathy:
I remember the first and the biggest challenge I faced on landing abroad is “How do I get a credit card here?” Because being in a new country, you obviously have no credit history. There were some logistical challenges you always face in a new place. Within the school, I guess it takes a while to blend in with people.

Bindi Dharia:
When I landed there, I really thought that I was an admissions mistake! There were so many smart people out there! Plus, at that time, I did not understand finance. I wondered what I was doing in this class full of people who have done cool stuff.

Vibha Kagzi:
I had an accounts background, so Accounting 101 class seemed, very basic to me. I was fairly relaxed and finally when the exam came along, I got my grades which was in the 90s. I was fine with it, for the amount of effort, I thought I had done well. Then the professor puts out a chart of all scores of students in the class. And the 90% score was the mean score! And I was used to being a topper in class all my life.non-accounting I was in a class full of engineers, non accounting background people. That was a reality check for me!

In the two years, I was there, I realized that there was so much happening every day, every hour, that it is nearly impossible to immerse yourself into all the activities on campus. You have to learn to prioritize what you want to do, and which ones will take a backseat.

Key Takeaways from the Conversation with HBS Alumni Panel:

1. Read, Research, Review.
It always helps to stay informed. Before applying to HBS, or for that matter any school you wish to go to, make sure to talk to alumni, attend MBA fairs, meet AdComs, and read up all that you want to know about the school. If possible, schedule a campus visit to the schools you wish to apply for. Start early in the process, so that you get to do everything well.

2. Make the Most of Your Two Years on Campus.
Your college has a lot to offer. There is no point regretting all the things you could have done after your education is over. So make sure to make the most of your time on campus. Participate in activities, clubs, and meets. Work hard. Because everyone does.

3. Keep Your Network Alive After Graduation.
Your college buddies are most likely going to be heading top corporations or doing some exciting business ventures on their own. You want to stay in the loop. Stay connected with everyone. Attend alumni meets regularly. Connect over LinkedIn, email, or social media if that works out. The best thing you get from your overseas education is a treasure trove of connections. They help you tremendously to boost your career.

Posted in Study Abroad