Despite growing up in a small village in southern Germany, I have always had a strong sense of curiosity that drew me to places far away. As a young boy I often gazed up at the airliners cruising 36,000ft above and wondered what their origins and destinations were. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that after high school I decided to work for a non-profit organization in Indonesia, attend university in London and Singapore, and eventually join the Boston Consulting Group where I did projects across Africa and Europe. 

Although I pursued aerospace engineering for my undergraduate degree, I had always known that I wanted to enhance it with a formal business education later on. I first met someone from Harvard Business School in my final year in college at a BCG event for new hires. After finding out that my colleague had just graduated from HBS, I couldn’t help but drill him with questions about his time in Boston. A few months later, I had a chance to actually visit HBS. Strolling over Baker Lawn on the school’s stunning campus, I was deeply inspired and knew that this was the place I wanted to get my business education. 

Looking back at my first year at HBS, I cannot believe how lucky I am to be in this great place, surrounded by people who are striving to make a difference in the world.

For me the two most important aspects of HBS are the classroom experience and the social bonds I have formed during my time here.

Having initially perceived the case method with a healthy amount of German skepticism, I have been simultaneously inspired and humbled by how well it works in a classroom of 94 students. When a professor knows everyone’s personal and professional background in detail, and students are thoroughly prepared and familiar with each other’s backgrounds, the classroom truly becomes a magical place. 

While discussing a wide range of topics, from the strategy of Airbus to supply chain ethics in the Bangladeshi garment industry, you draw from each other’s experiences in frequently heated but always respectful and open debates. When exploring topics such as corporate governance or redistribution of wealth in society, a European and German perspective was incredibly valuable in the classroom.

I would like to share three pieces of advice specifically for prospective German students.

1) Don’t be discouraged by the lack of MBAs in Germany

Today, an MBA degree is still rather uncommon in Germany. German boardrooms and higher levels of management are mostly populated by PhDs. But I wanted to do an MBA for my own personal growth, for the opportunities it would open up internationally, and for the lasting friendships I would create. Beyond your personal growth, the value of an HBS MBA is undoubtedly defined by the alumni network and the brand recognition. 

2) Find a support network

The lack of a support network during the application process can be a challenge for German students. Most Germans are unfamiliar with the process and requirements of US universities. My advice is to look around your workplace, browse through your LinkedIn network, send cold emails, and do whatever you can to connect with MBA alumni. A coffee chat or phone call with an alum allows you to find out if the MBA is right for you and can prove particularly useful when navigating the application process.

3) Come visit

Reading up on or talking to people about Harvard Business School is useful, but nothing can replace a visit to the school. You will be able to sit in on a class, meet with current MBA students and be immersed in the campus environment. The experience here is very different from a German university. Therefore, it is useful for you when making your decision to apply for HBS and when writing your application. After all, your flight and hotel expenses for this trip are tax-deductible in Germany! 

I really hope that more Germans who are in the early stage of their careers will consider an MBA at Harvard Business School as a possible next step. Just like myself I have no doubt that many others would find it a truly transformative experience.