Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Story of Us - Harvard Student Agencies

Please look through the slideshow of images and hover over each image title (top left corner) to read the descriptions of some fun facts about different HSA agencies throughout the decades. For a more in-depth timeline, please visit:

Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) was founded in 1957 as Harvard's "original start-up." The organization was founded on the idea of financing education through student employment. The oldest agency at HSA (founded in 1957) is the Linens Agency (known today as CDE, or Cleaner, Dorm & Essentials), the financial backbone of HSA in its early days and still provides Harvard students with laundry services and micro-fridges.

Over the years, HSA changed headquarter locations and saw the a plethora of different business ideas from publishing travel guides (Let's Go) to delivering cakes (the Birthday Cake Agency) to chartering flights (Charter Flights Agency) to house painting (House Painting Agency). Today, located at 67 Mount Auburn Street, HSA is home to 10 business units and 9 agencies. It continues to be a breeding ground of business learning and entreprenuership. In the recent two years, we acquired Trademark Tours, an agency that provides tours of Harvard and MIT, and opened a new location for The Harvard Shop at 1380 Massachusetts Avenue.

HSA is not another club on Harvard's campus. In fact, it is the only pre-professional business club that pays students wages no matter a student's financial status to learn about and operate businesses. In 2022, HSA celebrated its 65th anniversary. From 1957 to 1969, HSA grew from $100,000 to more than $1 million in gross sales. Today, HSA generates over $10 million in revenue annually, and staffs over 700 employees over 10 business units as the largest student-run company in the world. HSA is also the second largest student employer of Harvard students aside from Harvard University. The company is growing faster than it ever has before, yet we have not lost site of our original mission: "To educate, empower, and inspire Harvard College students with meaningful employment opportunities and hands-on business experience."

Given the company's trajectory, HSA strategically decided to raise wages across the board this fiscal year (FY24) and added several new management and hourly positions to create more roles while decreasing stress/burn-out. However, there's always more to be done. Given how aggressive bulge bracket banks and management consulting firms have been at moving up their recruiting timelines to recruit talent that would traditionally stay at HSA for multiple years, there's never been a more pivotal time to invest in HSA's business curriculum. Managers often feel that they lack the technical business knowledge despite knowing how to run a business (hands-on business experience). For HSA to continue to scale its operations, upskilling its labor force and retaining managers as top priorities, we decided to work on this project with aims to offer an HSA Executive Education Program that rivals the learning experience at outside firms. We took into account feedback, advice, and resources provided by professionals, HSA alumni, curriculum developers, other student-run business association leadership, and ex-HSAers who spend summers working at outside firms.

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