The Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) at HBS is a one week management training program for rising college seniors. It’s designed to increase diversity and opportunity in business education, and give college students a sneak peek into life at HBS. Each June, students from around the world gather on campus to read cases, learn from HBS faculty, and understand more about the MBA program.
Find out what four SVMPers (who participated in the program last summer) took away from the experience.
After SVMP, I left with a newfound community of 80+ brothers and sisters. It was refreshing to meet peers who collectively shared the desire to succeed and defy expectations. Even after the program, we still keep in touch via group chat and we have spoken almost every day since. I now have a network of people who I can bounce ideas off of and share my experiences in corporate America with. SVMP is not only a glimpse inside HBS; it also fosters a rich community of tenacious individuals.
Beyond the great connections I’ve made, SVMP also allowed me to break through many mental boundaries I had before attending the program. No longer was I confined to the expectations of what society deemed me capable of. I began to think of bigger and brighter ideas. I didn’t have an epiphany, but I did leave with a sense of forging my own path and digging deeper into my passions. HBS and SVMP showed me that if I could compete in the big leagues of one of the world’s most storied educational institutions, then the best is still to come for what I can offer the world.
I quickly discovered that the case method is engaging, intense and fun. SVMP simulated case method classes for us during our time on campus with real cases, faculty, and the expectation that we as students would study and prepare for class. You're expected to contribute in class and while many of us felt we didn't have much experience or value to add to the conversation, I learned we all actually do. Everyone comes from a different background personally and professionally and can offer a new perspective to the case and challenge other people to think differently. I learned to speak up because I do have value to add with my diverse experiences just as everyone else does.
Through the week of SVMP we were exposed to so much including extracurricular life, current students, case method classes, the city of Boston, and more. I learned not only how diverse the student body is in terms of interests and passion, but also that business school is more than formal business education. Yes, it's a commitment to learn the fundamentals of business but it’s also just as much a personal learning experience as it is professional. Business school is about forming relationships with others, being challenged to think differently, and being asked to grow in ways you couldn't imagine. Business school is a personal and professional growth experience.
SVMP taught me that when you begin a huge project, start backwards. Particularly, the cases at SVMP included a variety of information – sometimes unnecessary, superfluous information (often the 'company history' context). I learned from doing enough cases that you need to know the goal before beginning any project or case. Create a target goal by asking yourself, “What do I need to do here?” Is it increase sales? Is profitability down? Is it determining if this investment is worth it? And then look at your exhibits. Always the exhibits!
I also found there is no such thing as a stupid comment, but there are self-evident ones, or ones better left unmentioned. At SVMP, I learned the importance of presenting information clearly and concisely. SVMP alum and the keynote speaker for my year Casey Gerald often used a framework when he spoke (“I would like to talk about 3 things”), which makes his communication very clear to both himself and the listener.
SVMP was a truly unforgettable experience. The faculty members, in particular, were really incredible. They made every single student in the classroom engaged in the case studies we discussed - even when the topics were far from our area of study or expertise. Getting to know then other participants was extremely valuable since each of us brought a unique perspective to the classroom.
Finally, it was fun! For every minute of studying and reading there was an equal amount of time to interact with other students and faculty, explore the Harvard campus, and even take in the sights on a Boston harbor boat tour!