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Daniel Z. Levine '03When Daniel Z. Levine '03 started his summer internship in Washington, D.C. he was still waiting to hear whether Harvard would admit him to the Class of 2002.
Then in July, Levine got a letter offering him a deferred admission: he could come to Harvard if he was willing to take a year off first.
"I took a week off to think about it--talking with friends, my parents," Levine says. "And after a week I decided it felt right. I wanted to go to Harvard, but also a year off is not a big deal."
After some additional time to think it over, Levine says he began to think of the year off as an opportunity.
"'Wow a whole year,'" he says he thought. "I could do all these things I wanted to: take a cooking class, travel, practice with a break dancing crew."
But Enews, the e-commerce company for which Levine was interning, had other ideas. When staff there learned about his situation, they offered him a full-time job.
Levine spent most of the year working for the company, where he created content for its magazine sales website.
"I was like an editor at the company," Levine says. "I was dealing with adult things like health insurance, stock options and paid leave."
And he says he enjoyed seeing the company grow from a staff of 10 when he first worked there to more than 100 employees when he left.
"You feel a sense of ownership when that happens," Levine says. "What was nice about seeing it grow was just growing along with the people who work there."
But Levine also took six months in the spring to backpack around Europe, an experience he remembers fondly.
"I think the year off is one of the best things that has ever happened to me." Levine says. "I feel like I view things differently. It's important not to let school suck you in like a vacuum and I feel like I have some perspective."
Lindsay K. Hall '02
But when Harvard offered Hall deferred admission to the Class of 2002, it was skating that filled her year.
"I met this lady at the rink who offered to work as my agent to look into finding a job with a show."
Soon after, Hall says Disney offered her a job touring with a company in South America.
She took it.
"I thought, 'When's the next time I'm going to be able to go to South America?'" she remembers.
But the opportunity did present its difficulties.
"The first place I went was Sao Paulo, Brazil and that was major culture shock. The first day I had to order food, and I didn't know any Portugese or even Spanish," Hall says. "People would teach me the words, but at first it was so hard just to say them. I was really timid--it was hard."
Things quickly improved, she says. Hall learned her numbers and was performing within a few days. She says she got to know the other members of the tour, even though they were all significantly older than she was.
"They became my community," she says.
And Hall reflects fondly on coming to Harvard after her tour through seven cities in South America and a trip to Moscow.
"I think I felt more focused. Watching these people in their 20s and 30s, just traveling the world and taking things a day at a time, I felt so much more prepared. I felt ready to come to Harvard, because I had a goal to learn."
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