The Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) is an educational program designed to increase opportunity in business education for high-potential college students making an impact in their school or community. We sat down with Erica Odoemene, a former SVMP participant, to hear more about her experience attending this program.

How did you hear about the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP)?

I first learned about Harvard Business School’s Summer Venture in Management Program during my freshman year of college. A few years later, I was on track to graduate early and complete my bachelor's degree in three years. With my senior year approaching sooner than expected, I saw the perfect opportunity to pursue SVMP. Exactly three weeks after submitting my application, I received the thrilling news that I had been accepted into the program. In that moment, it felt like I was taking the first step towards making my dreams a reality.

What was your biggest takeaway from SVMP?

My biggest takeaway from SVMP was the transformational journey of learning through the case method. It wasn't just about sitting in a classroom; it was about immersing myself in real-world business challenges and learning to think like a strategic leader. What resonated with me deeply was the way each case study became a narrative of decision-making, where we had to navigate through uncertainties and conflicting perspectives. This experience not only sharpened my analytical skills but also helped me understand the importance of ethical considerations and comprehensive problem-solving. It was an experience that I know will stay with me throughout my career.

What surprised you the most about SVMP/HBS?

One of the most surprising and delightful aspects of SVMP was the genuine sense of community and diversity. The warmth and inclusivity of my classmates and faculty encouraged an environment where diverse perspectives were not just valuable but essential in understanding global business dynamics. I initially thought the class would be filled with only business majors, but students came from different schools across the country, pursued various career paths, and had unique hobbies and interests. This diversity made every interaction unique and added depth to our classroom discussions. It allowed me to learn from others, embrace our differences while working in teams for case studies, and connect outside the classroom. It was more than an educational experience; it was a journey of personal growth and building lifelong connections.

How would you describe your SVMP experience? Where did it take you next?

SVMP was a transformative experience. Each day brought new lessons and revelations, as I immersed myself in a world of entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership.

Beyond the academic setting, the SVMP experience instilled in me a newfound sense of courage and determination to pursue my passions unapologetically. I found myself once again eager to seek a position that initially felt beyond my reach: the title of United States of America’s Miss New Jersey. Empowered by SVMP's lessons, I approached the competition with newfound confidence. During my one-on-one interview with the judges, I seamlessly applied the leadership, communication, and networking skills cultivated at Harvard Business School. Now, as I proudly stand as Miss New Jersey 2024, my journey demonstrates the unwavering power of perseverance and self-belief.

Becoming United States of America’s Miss New Jersey was more than just a crown; it was an opportunity to embody the lessons I learned at Harvard Business School and inspire others to pursue their dreams fearlessly. I strive to be a beacon of hope for those who have ever doubted their worth, showing them that with determination and belief in oneself, anything is possible.