HBS breaks – Work hard OR play hard

HBS Break classroomThe HBS MBA consists of a full-time 2-year program – but full-time only means so much. The 2 years spent getting an MBA degree include a couple of breaks. To some, the breaks are more important than the actual time spent in HBS classrooms. Find an overview of the 3 types of breaks found at HBS and their specificities below.

First, there are the small Holiday breaks. They include a couple of days off for Thanksgiving in November and a full week off in March for Spring Break. Of course, the end of December is reserved for family and friends, with courses at HBS typically ending around December 10th and exams finishing by December 20th.

HBS breaks over years

What my 2 year program at HBS looks like…

The Winter breaks tend to be more diverse. Obviously, there are 2 of them. The first winter break is monopolized by the FIELD2 program (read more on FIELD2 HERE) and recruiting for summer. The second one is a real break for most students. This month tends to be filled in a lot of different ways. One way is to go on Holiday and travel (just an idea). Travel can be organised personally, or can be done through a trek organised by one of the HBS clubs. Other students do some kind of micro-internship with a company or get some work done for their employer-to-be. Finally, there are those that sign up for the HBS IXP (immersion experience program).

HBS IXP infomercialAn IXP can best be considered as a course offered as part of the 2nd year course program at HBS. It is part of the curriculum and students can sign up for it by using the course allocation algorithm (which I described in detail HERE). IXPs consists of a couple of preparatory courses during the first term and then a +/- 10-day trip to the selected country, where students will typically work on consultancy projects. This year, students were able to sign up for IXPs in China and Japan. It seems the offering of IXPs has gone downhill in recent years though, as it used to include destinations such as UAE, India and Rwanda. This year, only China and Japan featured on the program. I believe IXPs can be considered as the pioneers of the FIELD2 program, which is currently part of the first year at HBS. Some important differences between both programs are that FIELD2 is mandatory compared to IXP, and that the full cost of the FIELD2 program is paid for by HBS and its generous sponsors. IXP programs require a contribution of the students, up to 3500 USD for the Japan IXP. For those interested, find an infomercial of HBS on IXP HERE.

Finally, there is the 3-month-long summer break. Again, travel and treks are popular options with students, but most time is spent on either doing internships or working on start-ups. It is a great time to prepare for one’s future career and/or to explore industries and cultures that one would otherwise never end up working in. My summer was intense, with 2 internships in 2 different industries on 2 different continents. And as I worked all summer long, I decided to fully devote my current winter break to holidays and travel… on yet a third continent.

Best wishes for the New Year!


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