Silly me. When I sauntered into Aldrich Tuesday morning after a fun, relaxing Labor Day weekend, I actually felt like I was getting the hang of this whole section thing.
Even after just one week, I knew to expect the pleasant salutations among new friends, the stress of trying to make at least one somewhat relevant comment in class, the horror of having the professor blindly ignore your flailing arm, the pain of waiting eighty minutes to go to the bathroom after two cups of coffee, the discomfort of having your ex-boyfriend in section. You know, the usual.
Boy was I wrong. Just minutes into my first LVDM class, my professor asked me to play the role of Andersen, the CEO in the Beech-Nut case. Heart pounding, teeth clenched, sweat forming, I smiled sweetly and said, “Sure.” For the next ten minutes, I was grilled. Who was Andersen? Was he married? Prior job experience? First changes he made to the organization? These weren’t even the assigned questions! As he interrogated me, the professor bounced over to and away from my “desk,” leaned over my shoulder while he waited for some of my answers, pointed to the relevant text in my case, and basically scared me half to death. Thank goodness for the savior classmate seated next to me who covertly whispered, “Page two!” during my first, panicked attempt to find the requisite information.
And why me? After I had identified Andersen’s initial role in the company in the Sales & Marketing department, the professor looked at me pointedly and slowly said, “So Andersen worked in the Marketing department of a Consumer Products company?” Ding-ding! So had I. I had been ambushed!
After class many classmates, most of whom I’d never met, came over to me, patted me on the back, said “good job,” and made other encouraging remarks. I was so touched by their encouragement and support, especially given how insecure I’d felt about my performance. Later that afternoon, after winning the trip to Cape Cod in my Economics of Markets class, my LVDM professor actually emailed me to thank me for leading the class and for being a good sport.
Is this school for real? What happened to the intensely competitive kids vying for the top grades at my small, private high school? Where are the world-famous but completely inaccessible professors from undergrad? As my mom dubiously said, “You mean, you won a vacation during class? This is school?”
As my experience Tuesday reflects, HBS is a place unlike all others. They may call this a business school, but really it is also a drama camp, an interpersonal workshop, a game show, a travel agency, a moral educator, a confidence booster (Dale Carnegie, eat your heart out!), a social club, and even a spa (come on, Shad counts). To anyone doubting your decision to come here, I would say, just wait. And think: after all, we could still be at work.