The HBS 2+2 program is a deferred admission process for current students in their final year of study, either in college or a full-time master’s degree program. If you are admitted through 2+2, you work for two to four years in a field of your choice before enrolling in the regular HBS MBA Program. This year we’re speaking with current MBA students who were admitted through 2+2 to learn what they did during their deferral years.

Here’s an interview with Sam Perez Diarte (MBA 2024).

Why did you decide to apply to HBS via the 2+2 deferred admissions process?

When I was younger, I watched telenovelas with my mom. I looked beyond the drama and strove to have this luxurious life of executives in the shows. I set my mind on becoming one of these executives. While my undergraduate degree is in engineering, I wanted to explore business more through formal learning. My mentor, Gary Trujillo, shared his experience at HBS and in the 2+2 program, and it was a perfect option for me. I wanted time to grow as a STEM leader and still have the opportunity to develop my business knowledge with this deferred enrollment program.

How long did you defer your 2+2 admission?

I deferred for 4 years. As a college hire, I wanted to gain as much experience before returning to HBS because I knew the classroom experience would be much more impactful. Now that I’m in my first year at HBS, I can confirm that was the best decision for me!

What job(s) did you have during your deferral?

I worked for 4 years as a Product Engineer in the Devices group on the hardware side of Microsoft. I worked on supporting the launch of products such as Surface Laptop, XBOX, and Surface Pro. I was in the New Product Introduction team, where I got the chance to travel between China and Seattle. I owned yield improvement and repair in the factories to ensure the team could meet demand. I enjoyed this role because I was solving new, complex problems and learning every day.

Did 2+2 change your path or alter your post-undergraduate plans?

Definitely. To be fair, I never thought I would leave my home state of Arizona. A year after graduating from Arizona State University, I experienced international travel for the first time. These experiences allowed me to be fluid in my plans, but I knew that no matter where I went, I was going to be a leader. Initially, I thought I would stay in tech and return to Microsoft post-MBA. However, after four years, I moved in with my partner, got engaged, and got married. Life changed. I knew from the beginning that I would go back to HBS, and it would take a lot for a first-generation Mexican immigrant to say no to this opportunity. So, my plans changed. I thought about everything that I’ve missed from back home, including my family, friends, and my community. I’m currently pivoting into consulting because I want to continue developing my business acumen and move closer to family. Eventually, my goal is to return to Phoenix to start my own business and explore the philanthropic ventures that my wife and I started envisioning during college.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering the 2+2 program?

If you have even entertained the thought of an MBA, apply. An MBA opens doors you may have never thought possible, and the best place to do that is at HBS. You have 2-4 years to think about it during your deferral; it is low risk. Also, this is the best time to take your GMAT/GRE. Most people I knew applied to business school while working, which led to a lot more stress than I went through applying to the 2+2 program. Don’t subject yourself to that; apply now!