My name is Minwei Cao and I’m a senior at Williams College, a small liberal arts college in the backwoods of Massachusetts. As a Biology and English double major, I had never thought about business school. I found out about Peek serendipitously via email. My school’s career center sends out informational emails here and there and this one caught my eye. 

When I first read the email, I thought, “Oh this is so not me. Business school? That’s for consultants and bankers” I think HBS intentionally targets Peek to STEM majors who never saw themselves going to business school, and that’s the beauty of it. You don’t realize what you could do until you push yourself to try something that’s “so not you.” 

I got accepted and the staff were all very helpful before, throughout, and after the program. Peek for me was an HBS sampler for an intensive few days; with cases drawn from real life, everything we learned was very applicable. I never knew about the network effect until we did a case on Buzzfeed. I never knew about the history of how Alibaba’s Taobao got started as a B2B platform, or what Uber’s highly profitable business model was, or that the now very popular Swiss watches were seriously struggling for a while until Jean-Claude Biver saw the innovative business opportunities behind this timeless tradition. 

These are just a few takeaways from the weekend. The other takeaways apply more to my life philosophy: which is to always be open-minded because new opportunities and new insights tend to come your way when you keep an open mindset. I did about Peek, and I was very glad I did. The biggest step is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something you never thought you would be good at. So take a chance! Apply! You truly have to experience the uniqueness of HBS for yourself. HBS Peek admissions does a great job of creating a well-rounded cohort. People studied all sorts of different disciplines at both big and small, public and private universities across the US and the world. There were underclassmen but also people who just graduated college. People had a wide range of backgrounds in business; and for those like me who had no background at all, I promise Peek was not intimidating whatsoever! 

The energy was very intellectually stimulating, invigorating, and dynamic. The environment was highly supportive and collaborative. Classmates built off of each other’s comments and in the early mornings, bright and early at 8am, we had study groups to discuss cases. The study groups were an opportunity for us to be open about what we were confused about and see if your peers understood it better and can help you grasp it. By the end of the day, you would’ve gone through each case at least 3 times. Once by yourself, once in your study group, and once in class with the professor and the rest of your cohort. With each iteration, you take away something completely new and exciting.

For the STEM cohort specifically, I think my research background helped me be analytical, methodical, and critical while reading the cases. When reading a case, it was important for me to distill what the central argument was and how the case backs up these arguments. Putting myself in the case protagonists’ shoes was immensely helpful. Cohorts do stay in touch after Peek , especially if you guys are working on projects together. For example, four girls from my cohort did a presentation on marketing strategies for Peek together just last semester. 

The whole weekend, you are pushed to think introspectively about yourself as a leader. The professor who taught us the Uber case, Youngme Moon, started off the weekend with 6-8 questions about your perceptions of HBS and your perceptions of business. I definitely had those perceptions change after the weekend. That was tremendous for me because I saw how my mindset can adapt and be constantly flexible to incorporate new information and new learning. 

Professor Frances Frei gave us a talk on effective leadership and how it consists of three prongs: authenticity, logic, and empathy. I realized my strengths are in empathy and authenticity when I lead, but I sometimes lack logic. These introspective activities really helped me stay grounded throughout the weekend and beyond. Even now, I try to adjust my footing sometimes when I realize I’m not being authentic or logical enough in my visions. Though Peek was short, its impact on my intellectual mindset and career goals have been very long term. I really hope to see myself in a cohort setting again one day at HBS and discuss tangible cases with very bright and collaborative classmates.