Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Story of Self - Sophia Wang

Hi! My name is Sophia, and I am a sophomore in Leverett House studying History and Film Production. I currently serve as the COO (Chief Operations Officer) of Harvard Student Agencies (HSA), the largest student-run company in the world. I am originally from New York City, and I have been intrigued by business every since my first experience in sales when I was five and selling cholocate bars in my local park for school fundraisers. In 2019, a couple of friends and I wrote a business plan to start an arts non-profit: an organization that provided free arts resources on a global scale. Having attended a performing arts high school and coming from a neighborhood with limited resources, I understood how the power of the arts can truly transform one's childhood experience. I wanted to give back to the community. During the pandemic, we launched United Under Arts, INC., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and I served as a founding member and International Marketing Executive (we've expanded to 6 continents, 700+ volunteers, 25+ countries). The hands-on business experience I got here further sparked my interest in business.

After getting into Harvard, I remember wondering which clubs I should join. I was interested in business, and I knew Harvard unfortunately had no undergraduate business degree. Additionally, I was seeking a community on campus. There were very few people from my high school here; as such, I did not know many people. During Virtual Visitas, I came across HSA's Zoom room. As someone who believes in "learning by doing," I was drawn by HSA's pitch of "hands-on business experience." I officially joined HSA in September 2021 after applying to the company and receiving the role of the FY23 Marketing Manager at The Harvard Shop, the retail business and one of HSA's agencies. As the Marketing Manager of The Harvard Shop, a $5.5M+ in annual revenue business, I was responsible for the agency's marketing both in-store at our three brick-and-mortar locations and our eCommerce site.

HSA in 2021 was completely different. Still in the mist of the pandemic's effects and the first year back on campus fully, a lot of our in-person activities were restricted. Masked, six-feet apart, on Zoom, our first few meetings were reminders of the eerie situation. Many of us questioned whether we would get that community aspect anywhere on campus. As the situation started to dial down months later, we were able to safely host socials. Working part-time while juggling a full school schedule was definitely a change. Through the year, there were times when our jobs got extremely stressful, especially when we had to open a new store in the mist of finals/moving out. So why didn't I quit? The community. We were a family. When a team member was stressed out, we would help them by reallocating their tasks so they could take some time to destress. A year later, I am still grateful for my first year at HSA. I could not fathom in any other universe where I would have had the opportunity to meet amazing people while being trusted to send emails to ~100K subscribers and operating a million-dollar worth eCommerce business.

In August 2022, I was chosen as COO. I decided to stay a second year because I wanted to give back, build a community, and expand the HSA learning experience. 

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