At HBS, the Tech Club aims to educate the community on the latest technology trends and skills, to facilitate recruiting opportunities, and to foster social and professional networking within HBS, greater Harvard, and the Boston area. The club now has over 500 members, and welcomes students with all levels of tech experience and knowledge.
What do you hope students get out of their membership?
Our goal is that students (regardless of their skill level) can enter the club and, through the experiences and exposure we provide them, identify where their passions and strengths lie. We hope the club can help provide them the skills, knowledge, and connections to get that dream job.
In addition we aim to provide members with the motivation and means with which to give back to the club — in terms of forming close friendships with other members, sharing some of the knowledge and skills they uniquely have, and helping create bridges to other similarly minded folks across Harvard and Boston.
What activities does the Tech Club coordinate?
The club sensed a student desire for formal tech skills (e.g. programming, rapid prototyping, UI/UX) and we are working this year to pilot a series of these skills workshops to see if eventually there’s enough there to transition it into the official coursework.
The club has been able to nimbly work with similar tech clubs across all the Harvard schools and other schools like MIT. The wealth of differently formatted mixers, small group dinners, and jointly hosted workshops is quite easy for student clubs around the city to do.
We also have a Wednesday night speaker series featuring movers and shakers in tech, a variety of student treks to the Bay Area, New York, and parts of Boston to visit companies directly, a litany of career-related skills events, an education series called Training the Valley, a series of sub-industry highlights on fintech, edtech, etc., a mentorship program, small group dinners and socials within the club and with other tech clubs across schools…the list goes on. We are one of the most (possibly the most) active student clubs at HBS.
Can you tell us about your annual conference?
This year will be the 21st year of hosting a conference. It’s traditionally been called Cyberposium (recently rebranded to a name with hopefully even more longevity — the HBS Tech Conference), and has its own Wikipedia page. As you can see from that page, the conference has had a rich history of attention-grabbing keynotes and is one of the most well attended and anticipated tech events for the entire Boston tech community.
But as in many of our branches this year, we asked ourselves what is next? We’re still figuring out what that looks like exactly but our hypothesis is trending in the direction of unique interactions and more memorable formats beyond the initial eye-grabbing headliners. This might look more like hands-on demos or interesting social mixers between speakers and attendees — not sure yet! Stay tuned and register to attend!
What courses are popular for students interested in tech?
Many people cross-register for the foundational computer science course at Harvard College (CS50). A smattering also cross register for MIT courses at the Media Lab and at the Sloan School of Management.
Some of the more popular tech courses at HBS include the Online Economy, Launching Tech Ventures, Digital Innovation and Transformation, Product Management 101 and 102, Entrepreneurial Finance (not purely tech), Founders’ Dilemmas (not purely tech), Strategy and Technology, and a handful of industry deep dives into tech + healthcare, energy, government, education, etc.
How does the Tech Club assist students as they search for summer and full time employment?
We are a conduit for companies to post jobs online and host events to meet students face to face. We also provide a wealth of skills and knowledge-building events for our members. Finally, we are working to capture and leverage the wealth of knowledge that is latent in our student population from previous work and internship experiences to share with others.
What advice does the Tech Club have for students who are considering applying to HBS?
We understand that careers are the forefront of your minds when thinking about business school, but we urge you (as the first year HBS faculty urged us!) to view these two years as an opportunity to look up, take a few breaths, and form a world view that takes into consideration your values, strengths and weaknesses, and priorities.
Industries come and go in popularity and will morph in unexpected ways; it’s hard for any institution to provide you the knowledge or skills that will outlast these changes. This school aims to help you discover where you will be most effective and happy, and to build the judgment to continue to make that decision with changing inputs.
So, in many ways, the Tech Club here should probably just be a small part of your decision calculus. The bigger questions are if you think you’re at the point in your life where you are ready to solidify this world view - and whether or not you think the HBS and Boston environment will help you get there?