The business school happy hour is a very novel concept to many people not familiar with it. First of all, to the working individual, the need for a student to have a happy hour seems ridiculous. Second, the fact that the entire school, ergo hundreds of people, make up the happy hour is a bit much. And third, when happy hour turns into a party, an after party and a nightcap every week, it shouldn’t be labeled a happy hour.
If you can’t handle those realities, then I suggest you don’t come to Columbia Business School. I visited many a happy hour during my search for a business school, and needless to say, Columbia definitely throws one of the best. In fact, they are somewhat unique in that their happy hour always occurs on campus. Many campuses do not allow business schools to have open bar, drink fest on their campuses, in classrooms and outdoors, but Columbia seems to think it’s not a big deal if the business school does it. The business school is the only school on campus that is allowed to have alcohol in school buildings, which is why many of the undergrads that walk by the patio and see us drinking outside tend to have envious looks on their faces—and I should know, I used to be one of those wide-eyed, Columbia undergraduates.
So how has happy hour been during my first semester at CBS? Seeing that all things come in threes, here is a trio of happy hour details I think you will want to know.
One. As I alluded to before, happy hour is actually more of a half-day celebration that it is just an hour or two of drinking beer. For starters, at Columbia Business School, we have pre-happy hour, in which each student cluster, club or organization hosts their own party in a classroom in one of the business school buildings. These usually go on for about 90 minutes or so until the actual happy hour begins. Pre-happy hours usually consist of spending time chatting-it-up with your cluster, favorite professional club or getting to know another cluster in a cross-cluster happy hour. However, pre-happy hours can also involve a CBS Matters presentation, a cluster meeting of sorts or a chat with Dean Ziv if you can get him to come.
Two. Happy hour itself is a big, giant maze of confusion. You have kegs one end, food on another, people talking in the hallway, classrooms, patios and lobby, and above all else, there is often a DJ, stage or activity of some kind going on in the background. Since I’ve been at Columbia, Happy Hour has consisted of an American Idol competition, Easter egg hunt, carnival games and a dance-off between the January-term clusters. Not to mention, all of this takes place on the first floor of Uris Hall, which is not equipped to host 1,400 students in the MBA program. Thankfully, not everyone comes every week, but there are still hundreds of people there and always someone new to meet among the fray.
Third. The food runs out quickly. If you want food, get there when happy hour starts, which is at 7:15pm. Sometimes the food is awesome, like the soul food that has been ordered and the Italian buffet we got one week. Of course, sometimes the food is horrible, like the fish and chips we had, in which the potato chips weren’t even good.
In summary, happy hour is great. It really is a great way to lubricate your relationships within the school, and if you really want to meet new people, you can. Then again, if you want to chit-chat with your usual friends over free beer and food, that too is an option. Thankfully, you have about 10 happy hours a semester, so mix up your goals on a week to week basis and get the best of both worlds.