Transitioning to business school is a big change. New place, new people, a new schedule – it’s a lot to adjust to. To ease that shift, HBS hosts something called “START week”: the first official welcome for the new class of MBA students. START week takes place over the course of students’ first week on campus in late August; all first years (RCs) participate in START and a group of second year (EC) START Ambassadors plan and lead activities throughout the week. We checked in with this year’s START leaders and co-Presidents of the Student Association (SA), Brad Minkow (MBA 2015) and Anya Hayden (MBA 2015), to learn more.

What activities take place during START week?

Academically, START introduces students to their sections and the case method. Following the “big reveal” of section assignments on the Monday morning of START week, students attend their first classes with the group with whom they will spend the rest of the year; it’s an exciting day! Initial cases are led by FIELD faculty and are designed to ease students into the structure of a case discussion. 

Socially, the SA and the START Ambassadors lead a series of events designed to help students bond both with their section and with their class as a whole. Events range from activities that facilitate small-group discussion (e.g., small group dinners and brunches, “Ask an EC” Ice Cream Social) to larger parties (e.g., Color Block Party and Casino Night). We strive to provide low or no-cost events that cater to students’ diverse interests.

Why is START an important part of the RC year?

START is students’ first introduction to HBS, and can shape their impressions of their section and the school as a whole. RCs are required to attend all academic components of START; social activities are of course optional, but highly recommended!  We want as many RCs to end their first week on campus feeling excited, rather than overwhelmed, about the year ahead.

What surprised you the most about START week when you attended?

Honestly, how much we enjoyed it! START is a great chance to get to meet people throughout the class before section events really get going.

What was your favorite START memory?

Field Day – it was so fun to bond with our sections over events like Limbo and Dizzy Bat.

What is your overall goal for START week?

START is not an isolated orientation; rather, it’s a preview of what’s to come over students’ next two years. We structured START around the three pillars at the foundation of successful student life: (1) personal and (2) professional development and (3) a strong community to facilitate said development.

START affords students a tremendous wealth of information. It’s our hope that students will take away that there is no one “right” way to go about the next two years. Just as there are 1,800+ students, there are 1,800+ unique paths to a successful MBA experience. It is this opportunity of choice that makes for such a wonderfully eclectic HBS community.