Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Elynna Chang - Story of Self

Hi, my name is Elynna and I'm a super senior at Harvard concentrating in Sociology with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. I am no longer involved with any organizations on campus after returning from my gap year, but I previously served as Co-Finance Chair of the Chinese Students Association, Treasurer of the Asian Student Arts Project, Senior Operations Associate of Harvard College China Forum, and the coxswain of the Eliot Boat Club. I was also a member of the Asian American Dance Troupe and the Harvard Undergraduate Consulting on Business and the Environment. Throughout the years I worked in various different industries, such as tech, education, politics, entertainment, fashion, and even biotech. I was interested in many things but had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. So when COVID hit, I took the opportunity to take a gap year and explore.

I lived in NYC during that period, and quickly became friends with many recent NYU Stern grads. Interacting with them made me realize how much of a bubble Harvard was - people on our campus mostly recognized it, but the extent to which it pervaded every aspect of our lives was astonishing. Certain campus policies, such as Dorm Crew and resident tutors, and campus norms, such as highly liberal PC-culture and Yard protests, were viewed completely differently from the outsiders' perspective. This led me to realize that post-grad life would be very different from the one I experienced during my time at Harvard. At the same time, I also became increasingly interested in the finance world. This was undoubtedly influenced by my new friends, who were nearly all investment bankers. 

While my personal career journey ultimately led me away from finance, I became very familiar with the industry. And as I became more welcome in the NYU Stern finance social circles, my "finance bro" friends also started opening up to me more about the realities of the industry and the work environment. Many complained about the complete lack of work-life balance, the ridiculous hours, and the stresses of working on multiple deals, while others bragged about their amazing bonuses and the plethora of exit opportunities. However, I also began to notice the overall lack of women in the field. While previously I had heard about general workplace issues such as lack of gender diversity, the glass ceiling, and other gender disparities in the work environment, it felt different witnessing it in person. Hearing the misogynistic jokes, the helpless acceptance of the "bro-y" culture, and the general lack of respect for minority groups was very disheartening. As a woman that will be entering a related industry very soon, this deeply concerned me and became the motivation for this research project. 

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