For Kate Kingen and Patrick Garrison applying to business school was a mutual decision – and coming to HBS was a journey they decided to embark on together.
Kate and Patrick first met in New York City when they were both working as analysts at Deutsche Bank. They were staffed on the same sell-side deal and started dating shortly after the deal was announced. Though Kate had plans to move back to her home in Seattle, after meeting Patrick she stayed in NYC and worked in education reform in New Jersey. We checked in with these lovebirds to see what it’s been like to attend business school together.
Did you both know that you wanted to attend business school?
We both decided that business school was the right choice for us. We are both from the West Coast and wanted to find a way to both transition back west and explore new careers. We felt that getting an MBA would enable us to make that move successfully by opening up many high quality job opportunities for us in the same city. We believed that an MBA could provide us the freedom to pursue new professional experiences that we had been curious about without necessarily closing off the path to returning to our previous careers. And, for me, the two year program seemed like a great opportunity to test out my start-up ideas in a supportive and low risk environment while continuing to hone my business skills.
Did you have a back-up plan if only one of you got in?
Honestly, we tried not to think about it too much before receiving the decisions from business schools. We had discussed how we planned on handling the situation and both of us were comfortable that we would find a way to make it work best for us, but we were also determined to see how things played out rather than having a set plan.
Have you made friends together, or as a couple?
Yes! We have some wonderful couple friends that we have gotten to know together. A lot of our business school social life revolves around dinners and drinks with friends and their partners, which has been a terrific way to make friends with new couples. Since we're in different sections we have the benefit of getting to know two different groups of students and partners pretty well, which has been an added bonus.
Are there many couples at HBS?
There are lots of married, engaged, and long-term couples at HBS - far more than we expected. I would guess that about 50% of our section mates are in committed relationships. It’s the perfect mix and provides a wonderful opportunity for us to make friends with our section mates as well as some awesome partners.
What’s your favorite thing about being at HBS as a couple?
Getting to see each other grow and succeed in this environment. We are both really proud to be each other’s partners. Also, sharing what we learned from the day when we get home. It has led to lots of great debates!
What’s the biggest challenge about being at HBS?
We are lucky to be involved in two sections. But the challenge is balancing what events to attend between the two. We have a rule that if one of our sections is having an event that the partner can go only if their section doesn’t have something going on at the same time. This allows us to stay engaged with our sections but it usually leads to us going to separate events instead of attending together. But it’s a tradeoff we are willing to make, we only have two years with our section mates at HBS and have all of the years after HBS to go to events together.
What advice do you have for couples applying to business school together?
Apply in the same round! It is much easier to make the decision when you know where you both got in.
How has your time at HBS changed your relationship?
Our time at HBS has brought us closer together. We met while working after college, so we did not know each other as students. Having the opportunity to learn, grow, travel and meet a whole new set of people has been a wonderful new chapter in our relationship together.
What plans do you have after business school?
We're moving back to the West Coast! Patrick is joining the Corporate Strategy and Business Development team at Disney and I am interested in entrepreneurial opportunities. To that end, we are working on a fast-causal restaurant concept together as part of the Rock Accelerator program and we hope to open our first location shortly after moving to LA.