Bridges 2024 and Section F

Today, I was very fortunate to be part of a goodbye discussion with some of my students at Harvard Business School. They are about to graduate and for three days they go through a program called “Bridges.” Ideally, it is a way for students to process what they have learned over two years and gather together for the last time as a group to reflect, express gratitude, and look forward. And, perhaps, shed some tears.

Students meet with various faculty members and also have numerous social events to celebrate graduation. I do not know what it is like because, when I was a student, we did not have such a program. You submitted your final exams and your final papers and you walked away.

Don’t get me wrong: graduation was very fun, but I was more focused on making sure my parents were having a good time, and so, I did not have much time if at all to say goodbye to my friends.

Back then, we did not have the Internet, and we did not even have email addresses. Graduation really marked the end. It was very hard to stay in touch with everyone.

One student mentioned that it was very difficult to explain the Harvard Business School experience to their family members. It is very unnatural, but yet eventually comfortable and familiar, to be in one windowless room for a whole year with 90 other people from around the world. That is the Section experience: a shared and intense journey through the Case Method whereby you learn not from the professors but from your fellow students.

In the second year, students take elective courses and are no longer in the Section. But the original bonds stay strong. And, many of these colleagues become lifelong friends.

Graduation is weird because there are so many mixed feelings. On the one hand you are celebrating, and on the other hand, you are grieving. Together they comprise a set of very strong emotions.

I am old and getting older.

In this chapter in my life, as I try to help the entrepreneurs I have backed, I am also working with young people. And, it has been thrilling, challenging, and fulfilling.

I hope my students find closure and satisfaction with what they have accomplished. They are good people, and the future is so bright for them. It was difficult for me to say goodbye to them.

On the last day of class, the students gave me a picture of them. I have it up in my office, and I look at it often. As a student, I was in Section F. My oh my, how life can be a circle.

Congratulations, Section F! I will miss you!

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