MBA News: A Harvard Business School Student Reflects on Her First Year

The Harvard Business School (HBS) Class of 2015 celebrated its commencement last week, and students in the Class of 2016 can finally take a deep breath—the first year of their business studies is behind them! One member of the latter class, Ellen Chisa, shared her experiences thus far in an article she wrote for Business Insider, touching on a question she says she has been asked numerous times in the past year: “What’s one thing you’ve learned at Harvard Business School that blew your mind?” Of course, answering such a simple question seems impossible considering the amount of information that business school students are expected to learn throughout their challenging first year. Instead of providing a clear-cut answer, Chisa chose to discuss each of the ten core curriculum classes that HBS requires its first-year students to attend.

HBSis known for its strong use of case studies—which take up approximately 80% of class time, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in April—and Chisa noted that there was no shortage of cases during her first year at the school. “Doing 20+ cases on countries and politics taught me one important thing: there’s a lot of similarity between different politics situations,” Chisa wrote while discussing the mandatory “Business, Government, and the International Economy” course. “It’s not too hard to brush up on the basics so you can maintain a conversation about international affairs.” Chisa’s brief analysis of each course could prove helpful for aspiring HBS students, but bear in mind what she said: “I can’t tell you everything I’ve learned at HBS, and no book would have prepared me for the experience.”

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