Undercover (at the) BS


By Chris Gustafson, Humor Columnist, MPP ‘12

Folks, as a Kennedy School student, I have often wondered how the other half lives. By that, I mean our misunderstood neighbors across the aquatic Allston border, Harvard Business School. In order to do this, I had to go undercover with the help of a friend, whom I shall call “Rick Gerry-Bullard.” I have chronicled my experience to share with you fellow world changers, so the understanding can begin.

DAY 1

8:00am: Arrive in a tuxedo and holding a cognac sifter to blend in. I tell people I used to be an i-banker (because saying “investment” is so last century!) at Lehman Brothers. They are impressed.  An assistant dean tells me I am not enrolled on the new student list. I tell him I know about his time at JP Morgan and asked him if 2008 rang a bell. Unsurprisingly, this generic threat carries HUGE weight over there and I am given a gold, engraved HBS name tag (this part is NOT a joke) and jump into mingling with business leaders/philanthropists/Madoffs of our generation.

10:30am: -Am told by three separate professors how amazing I am in a twenty minute period. I pat myself on the back in self-satisfaction.

12:00pm: Lunching with my pre-assigned lunch partner, Frankfort Fredrickson IV (I nicknamed him F3, he is not amused.) F3 tells me he was in banking for two years where he failed miserably, but his dad is president of Nokia, so he lives in a condo on Beacon Hill. I told him he will be president one day; he says “I know.”

1:30pm: Despite him being a total tool, I have grown fond of F3 and am disappointed that we are not put in the same section.  I am in Section D. Once everyone sits down, the lights turn off and fire blazes through the floors, and we are taking a blood oath in Harry Potter-style robes. Due to my stature, I have to wear a girl’s size, which is colored pink. They told me Mitt Romney did this too. Really? No it’s just you, pinky! I begin to cry.

8:00pm: Almost blew my cover by ordering a domestic draft at the Kong (a place that unites all Harvard students). Saved face by saying the beer was to provide cultural understanding on how the lower half lives; tears are shed as they all admire my connection to the common man.

Day 2

10:40am: Showed up really late because of the night before. Met with another dean, told I was being punished. Reused my Wall Street/2008 story; plays out the same way as before.

12:00pm: First class of the day, was cold called. All I say is the word “synergy” and, once again, am told I am a  genius. Another self back pat!

1:00pm: Made-to-order sushi in Spangler – it’s available all day, every day.

2:00pm: Am beginning to feel guilty about my charade, and am thinking about all the people who will be crushed when I come clean. All these thoughts fade away when I find out HBS gives free afternoon massages!

Day 3

10:00am: I tell my section I lost my inheritance and am forced to transfer business schools, to some lower-rung institution like Wharton. Finally, I tell F3. He is visibly shaken at the news, but understands the importance of maintaining the HBS brand.

As I turn to look at the mammoth business school complex one last time, a lump grows in my throat. It is quite and beautiful, and finally, I feel…peace.