Untuk mendapatkan gambaran yang lebih detil tentang Harvard, berikut adalah interview dengan Mr. Junaidi, alumni Harvard Business School (HBS) yang kini bekerja di Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Beliau pernah melakukan internship di kantor pusat Microsoft (Redmond, Washington) dan makan malam bersama Bill Gates.
Sebagai catatan, Harvard Business School (HBS) hanya memberikan gelar MBA, PhD, dan executive program. Gelar setara S1 hanya diberikan oleh Harvard College yang dianggap orang-orang lebih prestisius daripada HBS karena acceptance rate-nya jauh lebih rendah. Kendati demikian, HBS merupakan salah satu sekolah bisnis terbaik yang pertama kali memberikan gelar MBA. Jelas tak mudah untuk diterima di Harvard College maupun Harvard Business School.
Berikut adalah kutipan interview dengan Mr. Junaidi. Apa yang tertulis merupakan pengalaman selama berada di Harvard Business School, bukan di Harvard College.
How did you choose Harvard? What preparation did you take to successfully be admitted to Harvard?
Honestly, I didn’t plan to apply to HBS for couple of reasons: I think my chance was slim, I don’t think I will like the people despite haven’t visited and talked to their students and alumni, and I don’t think I will grow further in HBS environment. I think I could grow further in a more collegial and teamwork environment like Kellogg (Northwestern University).
However, as you may already know, I ended up applying to HBS, and become its alumni now. Two primary drivers persuaded me to apply: first, I said to myself that time that I wouldn’t apply to b-schools anymore if I failed again that time. I believe life must go on, and an MBA is only one of many means to reach my goals. HBS is the world’s most reknown business school. Hence, I feel I would be sad if I didn’t give myself a shot since it was my final attempt to get into a b-school; second, my bosses asked me to apply to HBS. They believed I could get in. Thus, I decided to apply (otherwise they will not write their recommendation for me).
In terms of preparation, there is nothing different in process and document-wise if you are applying to other top b-schools. You need to prepare GMAT, TOEFL, and essays.
In your opinion, what makes Harvard so special? What makes Harvard different from many other top schools? E.g Stanford, Wharton, Oxford, Cambridge, etc.
IMHO, it is driven by many factors. First mover, continuous investment in brand, alumni, and Harvard College. HBS is the first business school that gave out an MBA degree. As a first mover, definitely HBS incurred advantages in terms of brand awareness, publicity, and human resources. HBS also put their best efforts to preserve its legacy and brand; they have strict rules, thus all disturbing and damaging behavior are treated seriously. Strong alumni network also seems to be a strength. With alumni spread across the globe, and most of them hold exceptional position, it benefited HBS in terms of brand name, image, access to knowledge, and credential. Harvard College also helped build HBS credibility. Reknown as the oldest college, Harvard brand awareness and perception definitely help HBS a lot.
How would you describe your experience here at Harvard? What they teach you at Harvard? What did you learn at Harvard?
A transformational experience. They (mean the whole ecosystem consists of profs, students, alum, speakers, neighborhood) taught me a lot of things, not only business acumen, but also leadership, communication, social responsibilities, understanding yourself, and life in general.
What is the academic environment at Harvard? Will I still have time to network or other business activities if I attend Harvard?
You can find a lot of info from HBS website. Basically you can do a lot of things while you are there, but you just need to manage your time carefully. Understanding yourself better to know what you really need, what you really want to help you prioritize what you should do while you were there
What is the social life like at Harvard?
Not exactly sure what you are trying to get out of this question. But simple answer is fun, collegial, depressing sometimes, but overall it could be a good social life.
People behave as though an Ivy league degree is a golden ticket to lifelong wealth and satisfaction. Is it true that an Ivy league degree can open many doors for me?
It is really relative. With greater name, comes greater responsibilities. It is true that it could open more doors, but it could also close many doors. People expect you to be perform better, people also think you would have higher expectation thus tend to be not loyal and need to be pleased all the time.
There is no question that studying at Harvard as well as living in Boston is very expensive. Is an Harvard degrees worth the sacrifices?
Worth or not? Couldn’t speak on behalf of others. At the end, it depends on what you are trying to get out of a school. There are things that money could not buy.
How does one get into Harvard? What kind of people get accepted to Harvard? Straight As, top in the class, people that will work for the CIA?
You need to apply. Just read the admission criteria in the website. Everything stated there is correct.
How important is leadership and organizational experience for Harvard?
Very important to demonstrate that you have leadership potential, but again everyone has his/her own definition of leadership. Having organizational experience is not equal to leadership potential. Being a manager does not mean you have leadership potential as well.
Catatan Tentang Harvard Business School
Berdasarkan statistik, Harvard (MBA) menerima 908 orang dari 8.661 aplikasi atau sekitar 12% saja yang diterima. Mereka yang diterima punya IPK (GPA) S1 rata-rata 3,66 dan median skor GMAT 700-750. Harvard juga menolak pelamar non-native yang memiliki skor TOEFL (iBT) kurang dari 109. Tentu saja tak menutup kemungkinan misalnya skor GMAT di bawah 700 lantas tidak diterima atau skor GMAT 800 otomatis langsung diterima.
Sebagian orang juga mengatakan bahwa application essays juga memegang peranan sangat penting terutama untuk mengungkap diri Anda yang tak terekam dalam IPK, GMAT, atau TOEFL. Ada juga yang memandang bahwa rekomendasi dari student, professor, atau alumni dari Harvard juga merupakan poin plus karena mereka bisa memberikan assessment terhadap diri Anda sesuai “standar” Harvard.
Seperti yang tertulis pada situs mereka, HBS menginginkan calon mahasiswanya memiliki kriteria: a habit of leadership, capacity for intellectual growth, dan engaged community citizenship. HBS ingin mendidik calon pemimpin masa depan yang kelak akan membawa nama Harvard. Mereka juga mengharapkan Anda cukup cerdas dan mampu menangani kegiatan perkuliahan yang padat. Dan terakhir, Anda diharapkan tak cuma brilian, tetapi juga peduli dengan lingkungan Anda.
Kalau Anda benar-benar ingin diterima di Harvard maka siapkan diri Anda agar memenuhi minimum requirement yang mereka berikan dan tonjolkan kelebihan Anda sehingga terlihat stand out daripada ribuan applicants lainnya. Persiapan yang ideal bisa dilakukan sejak 8-12 bulan sebelumnya. Bagi sebagian kita mungkin mencari skor TOEFL 110 atau GMAT 700 terasa sulit, namun tidak ada yang tidak mungkin selama kita mau berusaha.
Looser always says, “It’s possible, but it’s difficult.” Winner always says, “It’s difficult, but it’s possible.”