Many of you may have experience participating in, leading, and even founding groups during your time as an undergraduate or in the workplace. Clubs at HBS can similarly provide many terrific opportunities and experiences during your time here.

As you think about how to allocate your time among the many options at HBS, participating in student-run clubs can be a great way both to explore interests and meet some of your closest HBS friends. Here are five things we think you should know.

1. Clubs are a great way to meet people outside your section

Given that most of your time in the RC (first) year will be spent with your section, clubs provide an easy way to meet fellow classmates across sections and years.  

Taking into account the large size of HBS, and the many section events that occur in the RC year, it may seem daunting to try and meet the other 1,710 students you don’t take classes with each day. Luckily, clubs are a unifying structure to meet others with similar career or personal interests.

2. You can join an existing club or start one of your own

While HBS boasts some large clubs with hundreds of members (e.g. Women’s Student Association, Africa Business Club, Venture Capital & Private Equity, Social Enterprise) many clubs are smaller and cater to distinct interests or affiliations (e.g. Aviation & Aerospace, Midwest Students Association). Check out the full list of clubs here.

And if you have an interest in a topic not covered by an HBS Club, you can apply to create one of your own. Just in the past year, the HBS Student Senate approved the Boxing & Fitness Club, CODE Club (for those looking to program), Free Enterprise Club, and the Search Fund Club. 

3. Many clubs charge membership dues, but you don’t need to commit immediately

There is a Club Fair early in the RC year, and clubs advertise themselves to recruit members. It may feel overwhelming at first to see so many clubs hawking for you to join. And many clubs charge membership dues (often one and two-year rates) in order to host speakers, socials, or conferences.  

Pro tip: don’t sign up and pay dues for 5-10 clubs immediately. Attend the first couple events of a few clubs you’re considering and then commit to ones where you are most excited. Few students report being actively involved in more than 2-3 clubs each year.  

4. You can take rewarding leadership positions early. But don’t overcommit!

RCs may have the opportunity to get involved in club leadership throughout their first year. This can be a terrific way to establish and expand your interests early. Often RCs play integral roles in planning club speaker events, conferences, and improving the club’s activities on campus.  

Before committing to many leadership positions, though, make sure you know the commitment required for each role. Talk to the ECs (second year students) about the role and time required, as among classes, social events, networking, recruiting and (sometimes) sleeping, you will become busier than you think in just a few weeks on campus.

5. Partners are welcome to join most clubs – and often they do!

Most clubs are open for partners to join, and some (like the Partners Club) are exceptionally great organizations in which your significant other can be involved. HBS is an inclusive place for partners and  significant others, and clubs similarly embrace that spirit.

HBS is a very active community, and clubs add particular dynamism and excitement to campus. Whether it is just attending a club social event or planning a large conference, clubs enhance student life and provide great opportunities to meet your amazing classmates.