Harvard Business School’s (HBS’s) January Term (known as J-term) takes place between the fall and winter semesters to provide students with the opportunity to engage in academic and professional pursuits following a change in the Harvard University calendar. (For the first time in the university’s history, all Harvard schools share a common academic calendar, which includes an extended break in January.) J-term opportunities include an expanded Immersion Experience Program (IXP), faculty-led seminars, student-organized treks and independent professional development programs. The IXP program has grown to include one- to two-week-long faculty-led trips to China and Rwanda and continues to offer domestic opportunities to study issues in health care in Boston or to participate in a service project in New Orleans.
Unlike the longer IXP programs, the on-campus, faculty-led seminars are typically a few days in length and have covered such topics as leadership, business and sustainable development, how to cope with failure and negotiation. The short professional development opportunities, also taught on campus, are led by independent organizations and have included topics such as deal making, sales leadership and restructuring. Some students also use J-term to do a “winternship,” which allows them a short window in which to get to know a company beyond their summer internship—quite an advantage in a competitive job market. Of course, some students also use the time to go on vacation with their families or travel with classmates.
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