The Academies by Harvard Student Agencies is one of two education agencies at Harvard Student Agencies, the other being Harvard Student Agencies Tutoring. Here at The Academies, we strive to bring high school students pre-professional experiences through our curriculum and passionate Harvard undergraduate students. With topics such as business, coding, consulting, pre-law, pre-med, and politics, students are able to deeply explore a field of their choosing while collaborating with each other and bouncing their ideas off current college students going through the process they will soon be following.
Internally, The Academies team is comprised of 6 different managers: a managing director (me!), two operations managers, a marketing manager, a partnerships manager, and an intern who is a pre-frosh. With the exception of one manager and me, none of us have ever met each other in real life. Given this pandemic situation, HSA's whole model of a company which works together in person has changed. In fact, the 12 other businesses at HSA also started online with no one really knowing each other.
As many say, it is quite difficult to foster relationships online, and one of the key aspects to what makes a business or a group do well is their interactions with each other. The freshmen coming in to college were in an even worst spot, having to start their new chapter of their life completely virtually. Knowing this, especially as a managing director, meaning being the person who is in charge of all aspects of the business and ensuring that the business does well, community-building was and still is at the forefront of everyone's mind. Which is why the main questions to best help managing directors who have to help themselves, first-years, and other managers make this transition into a welcoming organization are all centered around community.
Some of the questions for many managers still remain, but most have figured out their special way of building community; however, are always open for more ideas of how they can provide such a space.
Given this predicament, this project is focused on helping others build community, focused on the question: How can student organizations such as HSA, which is composed of 13 smaller agencies (or teams), build community during a virtual year while still balancing life offline and the HSA work itself?