What do Wellesley, Barnard, Smith, and Bryn Mawr have in common? You guessed it - they’re all women’s colleges. But not only that: students from each of these institutions (and many more besides) participated in HBS’s inaugural Peek Weekend last June. 

Aimed at rising juniors, seniors, and new college graduates - Peek was launched to help young women (specifically from women’s colleges) understand what business school is all about – at a time when they’re naturally thinking about the next steps in their lives. This year Peek Weekend has expanded to include men and women, specifically those with a STEM or family business background. However, there will still be a large women’s college contingent.

Find out what three young women had to say about their weekend at HBS last summer.

Anne Dickinson Meltz (Wellesley College)

When I first decided to apply to Harvard Business School’s Peek program, I had certain thoughts on my mind. I was thinking about whether or not an MBA program was right for me. I was thinking about what I wanted to do after college, and where my career would take me. I was thinking about my summer and how best to use this time to explore my options. I did not, however, think about the more intangible and quite profound value that the program would add to my life.

More than simply a window into business school, Peek became a multifaceted and fulfilling intersection of experiences – a networking opportunity, women’s forum, leadership training, think tank, dialogue, classroom…the list goes on. HBS promised a “peek” into its classroom, and delivered a full-immersion business school experience amongst bright and passionate women, professors, alumnae, and faculty—something I’ll never forget and hope to continue someday.

Jada Hawkins (Barnard College)

"I am cautious of getting trapped by the delusional cloud of conforming to society, dismantling my crown of uniqueness and failing to be my true authentic self.” This quote—written on the board by a fellow student during our takeaway session—best describes what I learned about the values of Harvard Business School and about myself during the inaugural Peek weekend.

Throughout the weekend I met a group of supportive women eager to learn and to contribute to the growth of their classmates. Everyone was thoroughly prepared for our cases, and I gained immense knowledge by hearing diverse perspectives. From our lessons and our HBS professors, I discovered the underlying humanity that comes with running a business and the importance of listening to your customers and employees. I also realized that finance does not equate to business; you do not have to spend years on The Street to be admitted to HBS. Lastly, I learned that passion is the ultimate luxury good, because many cannot afford to think about it.

The alumni and faculty helped me reimagine Harvard Business School – this elite institution that seems completely unattainable – as an approachable and comfortable space. It was refreshing to hear from professors and alumni who do not let their careers or prestigious affiliations dictate their lives day to day; they still value laughter and strive to find work that is both lucrative and fulfilling.

This summer as an intern for a financial institution, I continue to carry the lessons I learned during my self-reflective peek into life at HBS. The experience emulated three things I value most – diversity, continued learning, and the celebration of individuals’ passions.

Emma Konzen (Smith College)

I felt at home in the classroom setting immediately. Students from all-women’s institutions across the country were seated around me in a lecture hall, eagerly anticipating the first class. It was a welcomed and familiar feeling. Individuals of our similar college backgrounds have this amazing ability to connect instantly with one another. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I felt even more at ease, ironically enough, when I soon realized that I wasn’t the only student in the hall that felt nervous or indicated a “3” or “4” on a 10-point scale in regards to the amount of business knowledge I previously held.

We were fortunate enough to meet a few brilliant professors that weekend that were able to command a classroom in a way that made me feel empowered, inspired, and anxious simultaneously. It’s an interesting experience, to have adrenaline coursing through your body throughout class while grappling with the fact that your initial “great idea” is about to be changed or influenced in some way by a fantastic remark of one of your peers.

The case study method was invigorating. Although foreign to me at the beginning, it was a way for myself, the other students, and professors to introduce ourselves and interact with one another on both a personal and intellectual platform. To introduce ourselves like this, thinking on our feet while moving quickly and unrehearsed, was an incredibly eye-opening and engaging way to participate in a classroom setting.

The Peek Program at Harvard Business School opened my eyes to a bright possibility for my future - a path that I had never considered. This program was a perfect depiction as to how a degree in business can inspire someone to take action over indecision, as well as the way in which a degree in business can transcend into a degree that promotes women’s leadership and positive change.