Introduction

I put the cap back on my pen and leaned forward in my seat, elbows pressed against the desktop, eager for what I knew came next.

It was the last day of my third term at Harvard Business School—and, to put it mildly, the past few months had not gone well. At age twenty-seven, I found myself in the first down economy I had ever really known. Searching for a job, I attended nearly every one of the company information sessions held on campus; the few recruiters who did show up gave cheerful presentations about the wonderful places where they worked, hurriedly adding that they were taking summer intern applications only, please. Returning to my old firm was not an option, either: Recently acquired, it was laying people off in droves.

Get Harvard Business Review Leadership Library: The Executive Collection (12 Books) now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.