Aaron Hancock is a member of the HBS Class of 2021. He serves as Senator for Section H and is the Chair of the Senate Clubs Committee. He is also one of the incoming Co-Presidents for the African American Student Union (AASU). Aaron is originally from Charlotte, NC and lived in Washington, D.C. prior to HBS, where he was an investment professional at Artemis Real Estate Partners. He discovered his interest in real estate while pursuing his undergraduate degree in Finance at Cornell University. Since coming to HBS, he has also taken on a new role as the Head of Real Estate for Wall Street Prep. Aaron plans to return to Artemis after graduating.

Ryan Flamerich is a member of the HBS Class of 2021. He is a member of Section C and serves as Head Senator for the SA student senate. He also sits on the board of PRIDE, the LGBTQIA affinity club at HBS. Ryan is originally from Birmingham, AL and lived in New York City prior to HBS, where he was a consultant at Deloitte Consulting. He is passionate about commercial aviation and looks to pursue a career in the space after HBS. Ryan’s undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama. Roll Tide!

INTRO

HBS has over 85 active student clubs, with new clubs created every semester. As elected Senators, we have the privilege of representing our Sections in the HBS Student Association. Part of our job includes sitting on the Clubs committee. We support and promote all of HBS’ clubs: affinity clubs like the Latino Student Organization (LASO), sports clubs like the B-School Blades, professional clubs like Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA), and interest clubs like the Wine & Cuisine Society. 

With classes moving online for the remainder of the spring semester, the importance of the HBS’ clubs’ community has been on full display. In the last three weeks alone, clubs have hosted community-wide virtual events with Gabrielle Union, LL Cool J, Rich Gotham (President of the Boston Celtics), and Joe Maddon (Manager of the Los Angeles Angels). Clubs have also pushed boundaries. Our student ‘celebrities’ performed the 47th annual HBS Show live over Zoom for the first time in the show’s history to thousands of students and alumni around the world. In short, our clubs are unstoppable.  

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1. Community

When students arrive on campus for the first time, the suspense of meeting Section mates, preparing for potential cold calls, and understanding campus food options can feel overwhelming. Having the option to join a club that mirrors any facet of who you are helps greatly in the transition to life as an MBA student over the next two years.  Having people to lean on during challenging times is what forges lifelong friendships and is one of the things that makes HBS such a vibrant community. While each club on campus builds its own micro-community, there are over ten affinity clubs that create fellowship among those with similar life experiences. 

Ryan Flamerich (MBA 2021): Attending HBS has been a dream come true for me! When I arrived on campus, I was sometimes too nervous to speak; there were so many amazing people to get to know. I remember my first event with PRIDE, the LGBTQIA affinity group at HBS. It was a welcome event focused on bringing together ECs (second-year students) after the summer and introducing RCs (first-year students). Connected by our identities, PRIDE became more than a community on campus for me: it became my family. PRIDE members often lean on each other for help with everything from navigating relationships to building financial models.  

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2. Career Advancement

Clubs provide some of the best ways for students to explore new careers or to build their skillsets. Career clubs like Aerospace and Aviation (A&A) Club host regular networking events for club members and annual conferences. Many clubs serve as the primary contact point for recruiters: Venture Capital and Private Equity Club (VCPE) often are contacted by alumni or major firms looking for interested MBA candidates. While all career leads are registered with HBS’ Career and Professional Development (CPD) office, clubs allow students to develop relationships with industry leaders that aid in finding unique positions. Clubs also provide interview support; Management Consulting Club (MCC) offers members case preparation support so students can land a role at their dream firms.

Ryan Flamerich (MBA 2021): One of my MBA goals was to explore a career in commercial aviation. A&A connected me with alumni who lead organizations who directly operate or support aviation: from aircraft financing firms to maintenance services companies. It exposed me to areas of the sector I did not know existed. The guidance I received was invaluable during the internship process; it helped me land a dream internship at a leading airline.

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3. Leadership Opportunities

More than 200 students serve as club leaders and that’s only counting co-presidents and CFOs. HBS is a leadership school and clubs can be an incredible way to sharpen and maintain those leadership skills to prepare for the business world post-graduation. In addition to putting leadership in practice, leading a club is also a shared experience that lends itself to developing deep relationships with other students during EC year.

Aaron Hancock (MBA 2021): This Spring, I decided to run for co-president of the African American Student Union (AASU) and was elected alongside two classmates. When I started at HBS, I had every intention of putting extracurriculars on the backburner and would have sworn off a club leadership position. However, HBS’ RC experience pushed me to think hard about what is important to me in life and how to utilize these two years best. I’m passionate about creating opportunities for diverse talent in business and serving as an AASU leader allows me to pursue that passion on campus, right now.

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4. Conferences

After the conclusion of START, there are on-campus conferences happening nearly every weekend. Many of these conferences, like the Africa Business Conference and Dynamic Women in Business Conference, are not just staple events in the HBS community but are flagship industry conferences. HBS conference traditions go back over 20+ years.  Other club conferences, like the Tech Club’s conference and Social Enterprise Club’s conference, are on the leading edge of new technologies and exploring the purpose of business today as we know it. Students have the opportunity to hear from some of the world’s foremost thinkers without ever leaving campus.

Aaron Hancock (MBA 2021): One of my more interesting conference experiences was helping organize the Real Estate Venture Capital competition as part of Harvard’s annual Real Estate Weekend. I will never forget receiving the news that the conference was cancelled due to COVID-19 as we were setting up the competition room the night before the event; two weeks later we hosted the first virtual Real Estate Venture Competition. Working with our sponsors, judges, and participants to bring this creative solution to life was an unforgettable experience.

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5. Treks

Club treks are a great way to get to know fellow club members and explore industries and areas of interest further! Career-focused treks usually involve traveling to an industry “hub” such as New York or San Francisco. Over the course of 1-2 days, participants meet with a variety of different companies from the industry and have a few social events, as well. On Westrek, the annual Tech Club trek to San Francisco, participants have the opportunity to meet with large tech companies, startups, and VC firms. Although treks don’t necessarily lead directly to job opportunities, they are a great way to get smart on industry trends, hear how leading firms are navigating the current environment, and build a network, which may ultimately help with the recruiting process.

Ryan Flamerich (MBA 2021): I had the opportunity to travel with my HBS classmates to both career and community oriented treks this year. Many of the clubs work hard to make the experiences as inclusive as possible. During a career trek to Atlanta, I was able to hear directly from alumni how an HBS MBA impacted their careers up until retirement. 

CONCLUSION

Student clubs are a key component of the MBA experience. With 1,800+ students from all over the world, there is something for everyone at HBS. Club activities and leadership allow students to explore new interests, contribute knowledge and relationships to their classmates, gain an even deeper sense of belonging in affinity communities, and broaden their networks outside of the HBS community. Whether it’s the weekly salsa meet up or the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Conference, HBS’ clubs benefit students professionally and personally.

Clubs on campus ensure students are never short on things to experience. The number of events made possible by HBS’ club leaders is supportive, sometimes overwhelming, but always exciting!