Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to further cultivate my intersecting interests during a transformative internship at Eli Lilly. It wasn't just a summer of tasks and projects—it was an experience that tied together my lifelong curiosity, my scientific expertise, and my newfound skills in business, making it a summer to remember.

Our first academic year, known as the Required Curriculum (RC) year, laid a robust foundation for our new directions, but it was our summer internships that truly showcased the breadth of the program. From venture investing at Johnson & Johnson's JJDC to AI and Data Strategy at Moderna, and even philanthropic efforts in Alzheimer's research within Bill Gates' private investment office, my classmates and I didn't just scatter across the biotech industry—we purposefully immersed ourselves in its diverse opportunities. One of us even launched a startup, capturing the program's entrepreneurial essence. These weren't random placements but deliberate career paths, each made possible by the program's comprehensive curriculum. It's a testament to how well the program prepares us for varied yet equally impactful roles in biotech. There's a growing urgency for versatile business leaders who can operate at the intersection of science and society- and as MS/MBA’s, we are up to that challenge.

This summer, I had the privilege of joining Eli Lilly's Genetic Medicines External Innovation and Partnerships team—an experience that was nothing short of transformative. Far from your garden-variety "search and evaluate" teams common in Big Pharma, our team operated on a more expansive playbook. We had the exhilarating task of not only evaluating opportunities from companies across the sector but also digging into early-stage academic projects, helping to nourish nascent scientific concepts through tailored funding mechanisms like sponsored research agreements. This was a proactive stance designed to allow budding ideas to mature into future therapies.

For my specific summer project, I had the exciting, albeit daunting, task of forecasting the future landscape of gene editing—a field close to my heart. The goal? To pinpoint where Eli Lilly could judiciously invest today to be at the forefront of tomorrow's medical breakthroughs. It wasn't a simple trend-spotting exercise; it entailed identifying both existing and forthcoming bottlenecks in the field and coupling those with tangible, actionable opportunities that Lilly could seize upon. And the stakes were high: my findings were presented to Lilly's leadership during my final week, providing a stage to demonstrate the melding of my longstanding scientific know-how with my freshly honed business acumen.

Navigating the complex corridors of a multinational's existing strategies was part of the game. My recommendations needed not only to be insightful but also to harmonize with Eli Lilly's broader roadmap. By summer's end, I felt like a conductor of sorts, orchestrating a symphony of scientific innovation and business strategy. All in all, my stint at Eli Lilly was an invaluable exercise in integration, taking me beyond routine team tasks to spearheading a high-impact project that challenged and honed my abilities to synergize scientific vision with pragmatic business planning.

As summer gives way to fall, I can't help but reflect on the incredible journey that this internship has been—a journey not undertaken in isolation but as part of the vibrant, inquisitive community that comprises the MS/MBA Biotechnology program at HBS. Our summer internships weren't mere stepping stones; they were experiences that expanded our horizons and offered us tools to navigate the labyrinthine yet exciting landscape of biotechnology.

The tapestry of our collective experiences—ranging from startups to multinational behemoths like Lilly—illustrates our shared resolve to contribute meaningfully to the field. We’re unified by a mission: to alleviate human suffering and drive innovation. As we look toward the future, each on our unique yet interconnected paths, we do so with a sense of anticipation, armed with the skills, insights, and, most importantly, the curiosity to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.

As we reconvene in the academic halls of HBS, we know that this isn't the end but merely a new beginning in our ongoing journeys. My path, continually fueled by curiosity, passion, and a pursuit for excellence, is far from being completely charted—and I couldn't be more excited to see where it leads next.

Aaron Edwards (MS/MBA 2024) is a student in Harvard Business School's MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program.