If you were to ask students or alumni what the best thing about Harvard Business School is, they will almost always respond; “the people.”  When we started at HBS in the fall of 2017, we found that our classmates – both in and out of section – not only brought the HBS experience to life but also helped teach us about the world around us.  

This year, the HBS Student Association started two initiatives, Eat & Engage and Community MyTakes, to help us get to know our HBS community even better, deepening our connection with our peers outside of the traditional classroom setting.   

Eat & Engage 

A few times a week, different students host Eat & Engage dinners at their apartments. Each dinner has a topic as a launching point of conversation. We’ve covered everything from the future of healthcare, to pivotal life moments, to the intersection of capitalism and morality. Even though discussions start with these topics, they end up moving in a variety of directions based on the different backgrounds and interests of the dinner guests. The group is always a random mixture of second year students (ECs), first year students (RCs), and partners, so there are always many viewpoints at the table to discuss! 

In the classroom, we talk about the importance of leaders having difficult conversations. Eat & Engage strengthens our ability to have challenging and thought-provoking discussions that are based on respect. The small size (each dinner is no more than 8 people) and the intimate setting help make the conversation rich and meaningful - it gives students the space to discuss ideas and uncover the nuance behind why a peer might see the world a certain way. The hope is that students will go into the world equipped with the tools to have meaningful conversations with people who come from different backgrounds and to be truly globally educated leaders.  

Community MyTakes 


The depth of the lives and passions of our HBS peers goes well beyond where they might have worked or lived, and the Community MyTakes program has been a great way to hear those stories and bring our community even closer.  

Traditionally, MyTakes were only done within each section: students would volunteer to tell a personal story or discuss a topic about which they were passionate. The Community MyTakes initiative broadens this idea from speaking in front of a classroom to speaking in front of the entire HBS community. The courage and vulnerability shown by students who present Community MyTakes has, in turn, spurred us to be more open with others in our life.  

Each MyTake has left us in awe of the strength and determination of those in our community. It is an incredibly moving experience to sit and listen to a student who perhaps you previously only knew as, say, a “former banker” or “ex-consultant.” Hearing them relay their life experiences and the moments that have shaped who they are can be transformative both for the speakers and listeners. The stories are always so much more poignant than anyone could have imagined.  

It’s hard to believe our HBS experience will be coming to a close in only a few months. The bonds we have built among the community here will last a lifetime, and the perspective we’ve gained from learning from others in our community has already bolstered our ability to lead with empathy and courage. Next time you have the chance, spend time truly getting to know someone; you’ll be amazed by what you will learn.  

Megan Williams, Grace Feenstra, and Marissa Meir are second year students at HBS. Follow the HBS Student Association on Instagram @hbs.sa or on their website (www.hbssa.org) for more information on community events at Harvard Business School.