May is a busy month at HBS. First year students are
finishing up exams and heading to summer internships around the world, and
second year students are saying their goodbyes and preparing for life after
HBS. The hustle and bustle of May culminates with Class Day and Commencement
and the campus is buzzing with lots of activity (and lots of proud parents).
But once the students are gone the campus is quieter than
usual; the Aldrich classrooms are empty, the Spangler dining hall is quiet, the
Shad treadmills are unoccupied. It’s still HBS, but it doesn’t quite feel like
Luckily June is never too far off, and campus springs back
into life with the arrival of our SVMP students. Each summer we welcome a class
of about 90 rising college seniors for the annual week-long Summer Venture in Management Program. The program was first launched back in 1983 with the purpose of
increasing diversity and opportunity in business education.
During their week on campus, SVMP students are taught by HBS faculty through the renowned case method. Participants spend evenings analyzing
real-business cases, and use morning study groups and classes to examine and
debate their ideas through lively interaction with peers and faculty.
So what’s it like to be part of the SVMP program? We reached
out to Joshua Rodriguez, a first generation college student who completed the
program back in 2012. Josh was attending Pomona College when he participated in
the program, and is now based in Los Angeles. In LA, Josh works as a Regional
Organizer for FWD.us – a tech advocacy firm that mobilizes the tech community
to support policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st
century, starting with comprehensive immigration reform.
Why did you choose to
come to HBS for the SVMP program?
All of the SVMP alumni that I had met raved about the
program, and it got me excited about being in a room full of young and
motivated leaders who want to learn.
What surprised you
the most about it?
I was most surprised by how much this week at HBS simulated a week in
business school. From the courses, to the professors, to the networking events,
the SVMP program did a great job in giving me preview of business school. I was
also surprised by how approachable the HBS faculty and staff were. The HBS
faculty and staff truly believe in the SVMP program (shout out to Professor Anita Elberse!) and they make it a point to encourage underrepresented groups and
individuals to consider business school in their futures.
What was your biggest
The biggest takeaway from the program was how business school could become
a reality in my near future. As a first generation student, a school like HBS
seemed unattainable. SVMP empowered me
to shoot for the stars and dream big. Another big takeaway was the SVMP
network. I was able to get plugged-in to a network of highly motivated
individuals, a lot of them are first generation students, who are motivated to
be leaders and change the world.
How has it changed how
you think about the future?
Attending SVMP at HBS made me focus and target my next steps in order to
get to business school. In applying to graduate programs, you often have to
tell the story of self. You have to answer why is it that you want to go to
business school, why specifically “x” school, and why now. If you can chart a
roadmap early on, it is much easier to decide when you want to go to school and
why. The other thing the SVMP program made me realize is that you should focus
on yourself. There is no direct path to getting into business school. The best
thing you can do is focus on you and work on things that you are passionate
about. This will allow you to shine your brightest.
What would your
advice be for people considering applying?
The simple advice is to apply! SVMP was one of the best weeks of my
undergraduate career. I cannot think of a better way to spend a week than with
a room full of bright and motivated individuals who want to learn.