When I was in elementary school my Dad founded Bryan Medical, a small medical device company in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve been involved sporadically since then, starting with small tasks when I was younger and growing into larger roles like 2D and 3D design now that I’m a senior design student at the University of Cincinnati. With graduation in sight, I was contemplating long-term goals and how my family business background played into that. 

When an HBS representative came to my campus and described a program that gives participants a glimpse into Harvard’s take on business management education, with a focus on family business, it seemed like an ideal way to keep exploring. Before applying, I remember thinking that a weekend is way too short to gather any real insight — and ended up being completely wrong. 

Peek Weekend gives you actionable takeaways. For example, prior to hearing about Peek a mentor of mine recommended I read the book “Different”. I was later delighted to find out the author, Youngme Moon, was one of the professors at Peek. We were able to discuss a portion of her book that resonated with my interest in applying a business lens to specific areas in my field. This short discussion was incredibly valuable and didn’t require a long-term program to happen. I just needed access to an environment like Peek where these discussions happen with professors all the time. 

In addition to professors, Peek gives participants access to a dynamic group of students and uses cohorts to group students with others grappling with similar career questions. The cohort experience meant Peek was not a one size fits all event. Elements of the weekend were tailored to the interests and knowledge gaps of those from family businesses. Cases focused on relevant topics like small scale franchising and analyzing family business success stories. Staying in the same dorms, preparing for cases together, and generally goofing off, made it easy to continue discussions outside of the classroom. 

When looking back on what discussions have stuck with me the most, I keep returning to a particular case study that broke down the “secret recipe” for successful small-scale retail. Small businesses are often overlooked and labeled as “quaint” and discussing this case with others from a similar background gave me a new vocabulary for talking about family business from a strategic lens. 

Peek also provided the opportunity to connect with current HBS students. I crossed paths with a leader from the HBS design club and had in depth conversations about the intersection of design and business. After hearing about my professional interests, they suggested other HBS events I might enjoy and as a result I am excited to be attending the HBS Women’s Student Association conference next weekend. Even after the end of the weekend, we’ve continued to email back and forth and they’ve been extremely supportive in helping me navigate after graduation options. 

Participating in Peek Weekend connected me to inspiring professors, peers, and current HBS students. If you’re contemplating whether or not to apply, my advice would be that there’s no reason not to. The potential gain is huge and the potential loss is just the time it took to fill out the application.