My Week at Harvard Business School

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Last summer, I had the opportunity to represent my college at the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) at Harvard Business School. This immersive one-week, residential program offered approximately 160 rising seniors the opportunity to live the lives of MBA students. 

One of the four integral components of HBS’s signature Case Study Method is individual reflection following each class, and in retrospect, I want to share my own from SVMP with you. 

The Case Study Method Simulation

We were divided into two living-learning communities, Section A and B. Section A was the best, if I do say so myself. :) 

We were also sorted into small groups of eight members. We met with our teams bright and early each morning before classes began. 

From Starbucks C-suite executives to Beyoncé, we stepped into the shoes of fourteen protagonists over the week and presented our own recommendations to contemporary challenges and problems executives face in the modern business world - both domestically and globally.

After preparation for each class, we then brought our A-games to the broader classroom discussion, anxiously anticipating a “cold call” (the Socratic method) from the professor.

My Experience:

After learning of a 5% acceptance rate, I asked myself, “Am I good enough – even smart enough to be here?” I’m glad I was able to push those anxieties aside and lean in because the risk paid off, and this is what happened:

I connected with students from diverse backgrounds, offered my own perspectives in classes, and laughed with strangers who have since become family.

One important lesson I learned reflecting on this week is that when deliberating multi-million dollar decisions, discrete perspectives are not only needed – but are necessary. The different backgrounds and stories each student brought to the table were uniquely different and essential.

When we engage in an open and respectful dialogue, we begin to see our own recommendations shift. Mine surely did. And when we combine, not marginalize viewpoints – we have the potential to maximize our outcome. 

It was intimidating at first to see how every student was talented and wildly successful, especially in their early careers. However, I found each and every one to be brilliant and driven, while also humble and genuine. Those are rare combinations, but when you think about it, those characteristics are the ones that exist in effective leaders.

We also had some time to adventure during the week as well. Some of us jogged around Cambridge, analyzed the Starbuck's case in a Starbucks, exercised at Shad, partook in a yacht cruise with the group, and much more.  

Looking back, SVMP stretched my mindset and worldview in ways I never fathomed because of these vast perspectives. The students brought their appetites to learn and contribute and their stories of how they've already made a difference in the world -- which created an enlightening atmosphere.

Renowned professors like Anita Elberse (an expert on the business of entertainment, media, and sports), the genuine admissions staff (who worked tirelessly for us), and the generous donors were also all integral parts of the formula that made this a transformative culture.

Without reservation, I am so grateful for my week at Harvard Business School.

Sam Campbell