About the Author

I am a 2008 graduate of the Extension School’s ALM/Liberal Arts program, with a concentration in history. Much of my coursework related to Chinese history, and for my thesis I carried out an extensive computer content analysis of Xinhua (新華社), China’s official news agency, to gauge Beijing’s foreign policy priorities in Southeast Asia during the Deng Xiaoping era.

While attending Harvard, I also wrote a blog about Harvard Extension called Harvard Extended. As the first unofficial online resource dedicated to the Extension School, it became quite influential, and still attracts a lot of traffic. There have been more than 500,000 page views to date, and I continue to receive questions and comments about Harvard Extension courses, program requirements, and quality issues.

Several years after completing the ALM program I began full-time graduate studies at MIT Sloan as a Sloan Fellow. After graduating from Sloan, I co-founded a mobile software startup (which failed) and later a digital publishing venture (which is still going strong). You can learn about IN 30 MINUTES guides here. I am also the creator of the Lean Media framework.

Follow me on Twitter at @ilamont, or contact me by emailing lamont -at- sloan -dot- mit -dot- edu. I also maintain a Harvard Extension twitter feed (@harvardextended) with a distinctly independent perspective.

Thanks for reading!

Ian

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5 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Ian –
    A question about HES. I’m considering the Sustainability program. Does HES offer anything in the way of post-degree career services, such as a typical university career services office or the like? Academic advisors with insight into career possibilities? Or is the degree holder completely on his or her own as to what to do with his or her new degree?
    Thanks!

    • Frans – there are limited career services available to Extension School students, including access to the Harvard Office of Career Services. However, I would not regard that as the guarantee of a job. My advice would be to contact the school and ask to speak with someone about the placement rate for grads in specific programs. Also, if you can get into contact with a recent graduate, that would also be helpful. Good luck!

      Ian

  2. Hi Ian,

    I am seriously considering going for this program however I have a few questions and/or issues that I was hoping you could address.

    1. Have you heard much about the finance program? If so, is it pretty good compared to other schools?

    2. If I get the ALM in Finance, will I be able to actually apply for jobs that require a minimum qualification of Master’s in Finance?

    3. How does the Harvard community view the HES based on your time there. I read in a 2009 article from the Crimson that had a very negative view of HES students. It’s title “Avoid These Crazy Harvardians” and in one paragraph, they said the following:

    “The “Well, I don’t exactly go to Harvard” Complex

    Taking classes at the Extension School does not make you a Harvard student. These faux-students linger in the Barker Center or the Garage Starbucks, pensively writing (not typing) away in their notebooks in hopes of fitting in with the rest of the undergrad population. Unless they’re upfront with you right away, don’t bother: the only thing more screwed up than actually being a Harvard student is pretending to be one.”

    Now I’m not sure if they simply mean students that take classes there for the sake of it or take it periodically or all HES students in general. After all, another article from another source mentioned that Zuckerberg and Gates were both just “taking classes at Harvard” but nobody says they’re not students.

    4. How much have you heard about whether a degree from HES, especially Master’s have helped a person’s career or if recruiters had a positive or negative view on it?

    5. I’ve read about your articles about the naming convention on our resumes. I was thinking about putting “Master’s Degree in Finance, Harvard University Extension School.” Is that appropriate or is that too “deceiving”?

    • Hello Henry,

      Thanks for your questions. Until your email, I wasn’t even aware that the Extension School offered an ALM Finance degree, so I believe it was recently launched or split off from the ALM In Management program. I can’t answer all of your questions, but I will try the best I can:

      > 1. Have you heard much about the finance program? If so, is it pretty good compared to other schools?

      As I said, I have never heard of it until now. I think it will be very difficult to compare it to other schools. Have you asked the Extension School to connect with current students or recent grads?

      > 2. If I get the ALM in Finance, will I be able to actually apply for jobs that require a minimum qualification of Master’s in Finance?

      The ALM is technically a Liberal Arts degree which states “in Extension Studies,” which might give some employers pause. This was an issue for one graduate of the ALB program who concentrated in engineering but ran afoul of a hiring company’s lawyers who expected to see “in Computer Science” on the degree. On the other hand, the same alumnus said that employers and HR departments were most interested in what he could do, not what his degree said.

      > 3. How does the Harvard community view the HES based on your time there.

      I have written extensively about this on this blog and harvardextended.com. Please check out the posts and the comments to get more insights into this — it would take me a long time to write everything out again.

      > 4. How much have you heard about whether a degree from HES, especially Master’s have helped a person’s career or if recruiters had a positive or negative view on it?

      The people who attempt to trick recruiters or hiring managers are viewed very negatively. Read the comments such as this one on my resume post, made by someone who was apparently tricked by an HES grad trying to pass herself off as a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

      I think there also is some negative bias against the Extension School in the local recruiter community, partially because of the longstanding problem with Harvard fakers as well as a perception that a part-time degree from any institution is substandard compared to the full-time equivalents. This was discussed in a WSJ article some years ago about recruiter perceptions toward executive MBAs and part-time MBAs — on Wall Street they were not taken very seriously, although that may have changed since then.

      In addition, this seems to be less of an issue the further away from Cambridge you get. In fact, many people with HES degrees have gone onto better careers and advanced academic study elsewhere after completing their Harvard Extension School degree requirements. That’s not only because of the degree, of course, but also because they are driven individuals.

      > 5. I’ve read about your articles about the naming convention on our resumes. I was thinking about putting “Master’s Degree in Finance, Harvard University Extension School.” Is that appropriate or is that too “deceiving”?

      In my opinion, as long as it’s clear the degree came from the Extension School, there is no issue. However, you may get questions on the technicality (i.e. it’s a liberal arts degree, not a finance degree, even though the coursework is very similar). This issue has caused problems for other people in technical fields, as well as the ALM in Management, as described above.

      In any case, good luck!

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