The HBS Summer Venture in Management Program, an immersive, weeklong experience for rising college seniors, was developed to increase diversity and opportunity in business education. During their time on campus, SVMPers gain business leadership skills and develop a deeper understanding of the MBA program at HBS. 

But what’s it actually like to experience SVMP firsthand? We connected with two former SVMP participants – Olamide Olowe and Amir Williams – to get you the inside scoop. 

Why did you want to participate in SVMP? 

“As a student at a liberal arts university, I didn’t have many opportunities to take business classes. I knew that if I had the opportunity to attend the program, it would open my eyes to the experience and the value of a business education. I was also confident that it would help me to become a stronger intern by giving me tangible skills and knowledge of business leadership that could be applied to my work.” – Amir

”My co-founder and I launched a skincare business during our sophomore year of college, but we both lacked formal business knowledge so I pursued SVMP because I wanted to refine my skill set and expand my network.” – Olamide

What concerns did you have about SVMP?

“There were so many questions that ran through my head as I anticipated the week. How would I adjust to the case method? Would I be able to add value to the classroom? I quickly learned that each person has a unique and valuable background to offer and it is through the active process of sharing perspectives that allows the classroom to come alive. 

I was surprised by the extent of knowledge and confidence that I gained in such a short period of time. By the end of the week, I was so enriched by the exchange of perspectives and ideas. I truly felt equipped to solve complex business challenges and defend tough decisions from the case with the help of my classmates.” - Amir

What did SVMP teach you about HBS and an MBA degree?

“SVMP taught me that HBS is a place that cultivates leaders who are already doing amazing things in their communities and brings them together to refine their skill sets to make an even greater impact. An MBA degree gives you the leverage to make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way.” - Olamide

What was it like to immerse yourself in the life of an MBA student?

“One thing, out of many, that I loved about SVMP was the authenticity of the experience. Everything we did mirrored the life of an actual Harvard Business School student. Every morning I woke up in an HBS bed, ate HBS breakfast, and attended class with HBS professors. It was all incredible and surreal. 

The opportunity to be taught by HBS professors was particularly significant for me. Under their leadership, there was never a dull moment in the classroom. They guided every class with deep passion, high energy and profound knowledge. With their stimulating questions and insightful expertise, they directed us to think deeply and engage in lively discussion that made each session remarkable.” Amir 

Did SVMP change how you think about yourself and your future?

“SVMP confirmed the value of a management degree not only as a certificate of completion in finance and marketing fundamentals, but as a compass for ethical decision making and leadership. 

Prior to SVMP, I was unsure if I wanted to pursue an MBA, but now I believe I owe it to myself and my community to equip myself with the necessary skills to be a changemaker. SVMP made me realize how valuable my voice and perspective is in the business world.” – Olamide

What was your biggest takeaway from SVMP?

“One of my greatest takeaways from the week was the value of the case method and the diversity of perspectives that so strongly enhanced the classroom. I learned so much from my classmates through exchanging thoughts and building on one another’s ideas. Through their sharing, I was always able to leave the class with new ways to think about the case that I hadn’t realized on my own.” – Amir

“My biggest takeaway was to constantly surround myself with people who will push me to be the best version of myself and challenge the way I think.” – Olamide

Did you become close with the other SVMPers? 

“It is actually so fascinating to me how our cohort became so close in just one week. The SVMP community is truly a family. During the week, we started a GroupMe and still use it to this day! Whenever I need interview tips, resume edits, general career advice or simply a good laugh, I turn to the GroupMe. The chat is active every day, with everyone always quick to offer help and support. This group is one that embodies the African proverb, 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' Before SVMP we were already striving toward ambitious goals as impactful leaders, and now we all have a village behind us helping us to make them reality. I am so grateful for my SVMP community and I know it’s one that I will have for life.” – Amir

”Yes! Everyone is so friendly and inviting. I became close with a lot of the African students like myself who are breaking down barriers in industries like consulting, education, finance, entrepreneurship, and tech. They have been a crucial support system since leaving SVMP. We all celebrate each other's successes and facilitate introductions or referrals to help everyone land their dream job. Our mantra is the whole team should win!” - Olamide

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying?

“I would say that SVMP is an opportunity that you can truly only benefit from. It is a once in a lifetime experience, and if you are considering applying, then I urge you to apply! It will be transformative for you in ways beyond anything you could ever imagine.” - Amir