I sit here just a few weeks removed from my HBS experience.  It is a bittersweet time in my life; I am excited to continue in my career with the newfound knowledge and tools HBS has provided me, however, I can’t help but feel saddened realizing that I will not get to continue spending day-in and day-out with the extraordinary people who have surrounded me for the last two years. As I ready for my move to Chicago for my next adventure, I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned during my time here.

1. I learned to ask for help

During my first year at HBS, I found myself struggling in our Finance I course. Coming from an operational background, I had very limited exposure to interpreting problems and solutions through a financial lens. After finally admitting to myself that I was not going to master these concepts on my own, I swallowed my pride and reached out to one of my classmates with a finance background for help. 

After some tutoring, I began having better comprehension around the lessons being taught and found myself more engaged in the following class sessions. After a couple weeks, I was very surprised when that same classmate asked if I could tutor him in Technology and Operations Management (TOM).  

Many perceive the necessity to ask for help as a sign of weakness in today’s society. I find this not to be true. Asking for help signals you trust someone else’s capacity on a subject matter. By taking the risk and overcoming my fear of “being perceived dumb,” I was able to achieve a level of understanding financial concepts that I would not have otherwise reached. In addition, by making myself vulnerable, I was able to return the favor and share my own expertise with the classmate who I initially sought help from.

2. I learned to be myself

I made the choice to pursue an MBA not only to grow my business skillset but also to explore other career paths that would become available upon graduating from HBS. When I arrived to HBS, I (like most classmates) became overwhelmed by the amount of social activities and professional events I tried to attend due to FOMO (“fear of missing out”). My initial thoughts were to find a small group of friends and “follow the crowd” versus pursuing what specifically interested me.  

What I quickly discovered is no matter what event I attended or opportunity I pursued, I was surrounded by exceptional people. This discovery made me much more comfortable with determining what was the right path for me as I knew that the people around me at any event would provide an enriching experience.

3. I learned to change my mind

At HBS, you will have your opinion altered almost daily within the classroom. However, it was my conversations with my classmates outside the classroom where I found my biggest transformation. After just a couple months, I found myself having genuine discussions with classmates who offered brand new perspectives on a wide range of social and professional topics. 

While we did not always agree, our mutual respect allowed us to engage in conversation and truly get the opportunity to listen and understand what may be considered an opposing point of view. With these new insights, I received the gift of having my mind changed, not because I was wrong but because my perspectives had been broadened.

4. I learned the value of community

I can’t help but smile thinking about the number of different classmates who went out of their way to help each other over the past two years. Whether it was babysitting a classmate’s kids on a Friday so they could take their spouse out for a date night, or contributing countless hours to help prep classmates who are interviewing for a new industry, I felt part of a community that cares for each other. I am honored to be part of this community of extraordinary people who want nothing but to see me succeed, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.