Club conferences are a vibrant part of the student life
ecosystem at HBS. Over 25 conferences are held each year on topics ranging from
finance to entrepreneurship, and some of the most well-known conferences include
the Africa Business Conference, the Dynamic Women in Business Conference, and
the Social Enterprise Conference.
Last year, Eddie Coates (MBA 2016) managed the Real Estate
Club’s Real Estate Weekend. We recently caught up with Eddie to find out what
prospective students should know about conferences at HBS. Here’s what he had
conferences are run by MBA students
The conferences at HBS are entirely student-organized and
there are a lot of them. An outsider
attending one of the conferences would probably think that a full-time staff
organized the event, but I can assure readers that students do everything from
recruiting the speakers to raising sponsorships to stuffing name tags in
take place throughout the school year
Conferences begin within the first month of the fall
semester with the final conference taking place about a month before finals.
(including prospective students!) are welcome at conferences
The attendee base is diverse and includes HBS and other
Harvard graduate school students, visitors from other MBA programs, local
professionals, and industry academics.
If you have the ability to schedule a campus visit on a date
that is adjacent to a conference in which you’re interested, do it! Prospective applicants are absolutely welcome
and this is a great way to meet current HBS students and potentially learn more
about a specific industry.
campus clubs spearhead conference planning
Before starting my RC year, I decided to target the Real Estate Club as the professional organization in which I was going to invest
significant time and effort. I meshed
well with the Club’s leadership and they were
naïve kind enough to ask
me to co-chair the 2015 conference alongside a student from the Graduate School
of Design and another HBS student.
They helped us recruit a conference team of 5-6 additional
students and we were off to the races! I
knew it would take a lot of effort to continue the conference’s legacy, but
it’s much less daunting when you’re surrounded by such capable, creative
people. We quickly determined what
aspects of the conference each team member would oversee and went to work (I
took on programming and operations).
a conference can be a challenging and rewarding experience
I had been involved in organizing conferences and events
before, but the experience was totally different due to the fact that the team
was comprised of Harvard students. Like
many who come to HBS, I had never been surrounded by such high performers. This reality didn’t necessarily surprise me,
but I was blown away again and again by the creativity and efficiency of the
team. The biggest challenge our team faced was deciding when to stop adding
additional components and begin executing.
Enthusiasm is an amazing thing, but can also lead to scope creep if you
don’t harness it properly.
Organizing the conference was one of the highlights of my RC
year. I made so many valuable
connections with other students who are passionate about real estate as well as
important professionals. One’s time is
scarce and precious at HBS, but some commitments are worth the added work. I see many peers shy away from taking on
leadership roles within student clubs or student conferences because of the
implied time commitment. I think this is
a mistake. If you’re passionate about a
specific topic or industry that is covered by a conference, do yourself a favor
and go all-in.