It is hard for me to look back and remember when my passion for sustainability started, but it has always been there for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I worried about environmental conservation, and as I grew older I started to ask myself, “How could we create better living and working conditions for people in general?” At the beginning of my career in supply chain, I realized its potential for making a difference in sustainability. So when I decided to apply to grad school, I sought a program that would not only teach me the best tools and practices but also expand my knowledge on the relationships between supply chain and sustainability.
How to Get the Sustainability Certificate
In order to receive the sustainability certificate, students must complete 5 different courses: introduction to system dynamics, sustainability lab, capstone seminar in sustainability and two electives. For sure, it is a lot more work than just doing the regular master’s program, but it is definitely worth it!
All classes discuss sustainability from a holistic perspective considering social, economic and environmental factors. We analyze how different sectors can contribute to a more sustainable world, and our responsibilities as individuals. Several guest speakers talked about their career paths in sustainability, and how they promoted change in their companies. We looked at the businesses that are leaders in sustainability and understood how they got there. In the sustainability lab class, we worked on projects with big companies to improve their sustainable practices. Additionally, I had the chance to meet many students with interests very similar to mine and develop a strong network with people passionate about sustainability. One of the alumni also wrote about his experience in pursuing the Sustainability Certificate, which can be found here.
Now, a week before commencement, I can say for sure that I made the right choice. The master’s in supply chain was an amazing program and the sustainability certificate was the icing on the cake. I have no doubt that supply chain is one of the key areas to bring sustainable practices to businesses. I understand that any company, independent of its size and business model can make a difference. I also now appreciate the impact of our choices as individuals to change business and society. And now, more than ever, I feel prepared to go out and make a difference.
To those who wants to see “Congratulations!” in the MIT admission letter.
This is the word you want to read first when you are waiting for your admission results.
This is a truly special, once in the life-time moment. One year ago, 1st of August 2017, I was sitting with my friend Alyona and waiting for my results. We had a nice dinner and prepared a bottle of wine to celebrate …or to just have a drink in case I wasn’t admitted. Well, after a few hours the bottle was empty but still no news from MIT. My MM SCM friend Bona and I had an email countdown of the days before the decision announcement. Waiting for so long, being nervous and no message on the 1st of August! It can’t be good. At 2 a.m. on the 2nd of August I took my bicycle and went home …I was very sad.
Well, next morning I woke up for work, automatically stretched my hand to grab my phone, opened my mails and suddenly saw this word “Congratulations!”. A few seconds I was staring at it without understanding what does this mean. However, eventually I got the message, jumped out of my bed and started to run around laughing and dancing. Six months later, my classmates and I shared this experience of reading “Congratulations!”. This was the first second of being a part of this wonderful SCM family. And for everyone this second was very special.
But let’s come back to the 2nd of August. With the message of admission, we received the guidelines how to proceed next. The next step was to confirm the admission and you have one month to do it. One month is not long! There is a number of requirements to meet for the confirmation.
$2,500 deposit transfer (which is a part of your later tuition payment)
Official Transcript of Records
Proof of funding for the tuition, medical insurance and living expenses
The $2,500 deposit is non-refundable. If you pay and then decide to drop the program, you won’t get this amount back. However, if you have a very good reason to postpone the program for one year and the admission committee grants the postponement, this deposit will serve as the “reservation” of the seat in the program. Once you join the program, this deposit will be set off against your tuition.
The official Transcript of Records can be easily managed from your former university. However, I had a few difficulties with mine. It was a while ago that I graduated with my first master’s degree. By that time, it was not common to issue an electronic Transcript of Records. As I asked, the International Office from my former university – University of Mannheim – requested from me a list with all my subjects, teaching persons, number of credits and grades. Help! I had over 50 subjects and I couldn’t possibly remember all these details! It took me a week of research until I completed this list. Subsequently, this list was supposed to be checked and used as the source for the official Transcript of Records from the university. This should take another week. Having only one month for confirmation and spending two weeks to get the Transcript of Records requires time management. Plus, you should keep in mind, that MIT needs the original document. You need to send it whether in paper by post mail (which is not the most secure way from the remote countries) or as a direct electronic mail from the student offices of your former university – add a few more days.
The most interesting and challenging requirement is to provide the proof of funding . To get the proof you need the funding in the first place. Well, my classmates and I don’t have a clear answer to this problem, but we do have our experience. Please keep in mind that all the recommendations are unofficial, without any guaranty and without any feedback from MIT and CTL in particular.
And that’s what we did….
Starting with the easiest: some of my classmates were able to save enough money and just needed an official letter from their home bank with the statement of the current amount in the checking/draft, savings, or certificate of deposits accounts. This letter is an official document stating the exact required amount in USD and must be signed by the bank authorities. For more details see proof of funding.
MIT Scholarship: try this option. We could not meet the deadlines due to our late admission (1st of August) and confirmation (1st of September) dates. But since you have similar dates as the residential SCM applicants, you should definitely try this. Here are some other scholarship options listed on the MIT site
Fellowships: When applying/ registering for the program, you were asked (or will be asked) if you are interested in fellowship. I somehow thought I wouldn’t get any support, so I didn’t even try. But some of my classmates did and got the student fee partially covered. It doesn’t hurt to put the mark into this option and see what might happen. The criteria for the fellowship are your grades (GPA and/or MM SCM) and personal factors, which can be everything. For instance, you are the first student in this program from your country. This is a little bit like a lottery. Try it! SCMb fellowship application has no clear criteria and no written rules, but SCMr criteria could help you as guidelines. Check the general MIT fellowship options here as well.
Company sponsorship: you have applied for the SCMb program which means you must have submitted a research project proposal. This is mostly based on some ideas from your work environment and your company might be interested in the results of a comprehensive study in cooperation with MIT (this is a very good selling proposition!). In some cases, large companies are aware of the MM SCM program, sponsor this and would be probably interested in full or partial coverage of the SCMb program tuition. Push it internally! One of my classmates went this way and got the 80% sponsorship for the student fee and living expenses from his company.
Informal applications for funds – companies, research institutions, philanthropic organizations: send emails or even better letters to the companies which a. could be interested in the project you propose; b. could be interested in you as their future employee. One of my classmates had sent letter, which is genius! An email would most probably never pass the mail box of the assistant of the executive manager you are trying to reach. But a letter, printed or written on paper, packed into an envelope, will eventually land on the table of the target person. This person will open it and see how impressive is your proposition and how clever you were to use this way of communication;) And that’s what one of my classmates would like to recommend you:
“As soon as I received the acceptance letter from MIT, I thought that financial help could be found. Hence, I designed my strategy: searching persons or institutions eager to help students of good universities with valuable stories or backgrounds, I was able to make a list of about 30 individuals, namely banks, philanthropic foundations, lobbies, etc. The way to approach them was the most important element of the plan: written letters. Nowadays everyone receives thousands of e-mails. Everyone has a spam folder in their inbox. Very important people may have assistants who help them managing their inbox so certain e-mails would never reach these persons. But, what about hand written letter? It is not common anymore. If you receive one, would you read it? My understanding was that I could have more chances to have those persons reading my message by written letter rather than e-mail. The result was that one philanthropic foundation of my country found my story very interesting and granted me funds to pay all my tuition fee.
Now, I would kindly ask you to think about your personal story as a blended student. I do not know a word about it, but, given the characteristics and requirements of the program, I know your story is unique, peculiar, interesting and worthwhile to know more about it, Try to explain other your story! You are going to do a great program on one of the best universities in the world. Try to get some funds! Be creative, expand your mental boundaries about your funding!”
Crowdfunding: one of my MM SCM classmates who became our SCMb fellow from Zaragoza ZLG, Dima – Dmytro Rizdvanetskyi – compiled a detailed story of his journey through the triple AAA – Application, Admission and Arrival in two super interesting blogs. Google translator will give you an approximate description of his application, admission and arrival experience since Dima comes from Ukraine and posted in Russian. Except of the funding endeavors, I had a similar experience and the way of thinking. I guess many of us did. In his blog, Dima says:
“By the time [I considered to pursue my further education at MIT], the tuition was around $100,000. I had approximately $150 in my pocket.”
Once admitted, Dima started to apply for fellowships and sponsoring programs in his country. In parallel, he established his own crowdfunding campaign, which is in my opinion a brilliant idea! Dima decided to go for the program in Zaragoza, which requires funds of around $25,000. By the time he posted his blog (26th of September, 2017, 26 days after the final confirmation), he got 15% of the tuition funded, 10% of which were bitcoins:) He has successfully finished the program at ZLC by now, which confirms that he was able to get the necessary amount for the tuition on time. He thanked some of the sponsors officially in his second blog from the 27th of March. So don’t forget to thank the persons who have helped you to fulfill your dreams! By the way, Dima will post his graduation and post-graduation experience. I am sure, this will be extremely exciting! I recommend to follow him online.
Local student loans: some countries support education programs by granting student loans with small interest rates and postponed pay-back. Usually, the state steps in as the guarantor for student’s credit standing towards the bank. In Germany, we have a few interesting options to receive a student loan. The interest rate is between 1.5-4% (if any of you are Germans, these are the information pages: Studienkredit, myStipendium, Deutsche Bildung. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet the requirement to receive such a loan. I was over 35 and had a good job, which disqualified me for any options. Or maybe I should search further!
U.S. student bank loan:
Usual: There is a number of banks offering student loans. The requirement are in general everywhere the same: provide information about your credit scores, GPA from previous university program (or results from your MM SCM), information about your current job and salary etc. Additional challenge: for an U.S student loan you need an American co-signer. The average interest rate is around 7-8%. Just check online.
Special: Prodigy Finance with almost the same conditions but without the need for an U.S. co-signer. This is really an interesting option, if you have difficulties in your own country!
Just a bank loan: since I could not meet the criteria for the student loan in Germany, I took a usual private loan. If you live in EU, this might be an option. Currently, the European interest rate is kept quite low. Furthermore, in Germany you can take a private loan online up to 50,000 €. I used Smava, which was rated in Germany as the best platform to get an online loan without a special reason, e.g. for new furniture. I just recommend you to keep your education plans out of the information flow between you and the bank. I was rejected by one of the banks even after providing a statement from my company that they grant me a six-month educational leave to MIT. The next bank gave me a loan as I said that I need the money for a private matter. All I had to provide were my salary statements from the last three months, the declaration of my monthly expenses (rent, car, other loans etc.) and the proof of my identity. You can have more than 50,000 €, but in this case the banks are looking a little closer at how you are going to pay the loan back.
That’s it for the time being. I am sure you will find new interesting ways how to fulfill your academic dream. Please, share them with the next generations! Let’s stick together and make the SCM programs great and famous! If you are interested in the 3rd A – the Arrival at MIT – blog. Please, let me know and leave a comment. I would share with you the experience between the first kick-off meeting of the program and until the arrival on campus in Cambridge: research deliverables, housing, visa application, etc.
P.S. All of us “failed” to meet the last of the requirements in the admission letter – to attend the first orientation program day on the 4th of January, 2018:) We had no chance, because the wild Boston winter had other plans. MIT was closed due to a huge snow storm…This was magic, white and frosty outside – the Dome was empty, but open, lit with light and promising me some of the hardest and the best months of my life….
Special thanks to Rafaela Nunes, who helped me to collect the information!
I had a great job as a training operations manager at Amazon. I helped launch four fulfillment centers in the last year, and still had energy to support more. The hard work translated to a promotion and a top performance rating from my management. My team worked well together. I was thoroughly enjoying the people, the work, and the growth.
So why did I leave to go to grad school?
To sum it up in one word – faith. Not in the context of religion, but instead in the context of my future. I was young and hungry for growth. I feared that if I did not act on my intuitions now, that I would slowly drown this flame out. I also worried that I would wake up one day in my forties, full of regret for missing out.
In the scheme of things, I realized that one to two years is negligible in the span of a career.
Grad school was exactly what I needed. In exchange for the risk of giving up income for a year, I was thrown into an environment of like-minded peers. We shared the same drive, faced the same fear of not living up to expectations, and pushed each other relentlessly. I was exposed rapidly to concepts and material that I could never have learned on my own. Within a matter of months, I quickly acquired and applied technical skills and programming languages without hesitation. But the value of my time here did not lie in the acquisition of marketable skills.
Surviving MIT courses with classmates has formed a special bond that I am certain will extend far beyond the classroom. For life, I know that I have a tight group of friends that I can reach out to for help. If I forget how to apply a specific logistics model or write a piece of code, I know I’m covered. If I am ever in need of life advice, I know exactly who to turn to. MIT helped forge my new family.
There is absolutely no price that can be placed on that.
Being in the pioneering SCM Blended class is very exciting! Maybe as exciting as being the very first MM SCM Alumni (Supply Chain Management Review, MIT News, Supply Chain @ MIT). On the other hand, we had to make each of our steps into the darkness – unknown future for us without precedent.
Let me share with you some of my experiences. If you will follow the same path, it might be useful. This blog is about the part one of the MIT SCMb AAA logistics problem – Application.
Besides the MM SCM completion, CTL.MIT requires:
Proof of an undergraduate/graduate education (all you have)
Two reference letters
For international students – IELTS or TOEFL test
Research project proposal
Introduction video addressing four (pre-defined) questions
It doesn’t take long to create a proper resume and provide a proof of education. However, you really should start working on the other requirements early.
I started to reach out to my former university professor and to key persons in my company 1 year before I applied. Luckily, my professor remembered me and I needed just 2-3 more reminders during the application period to get her reference letter. The professional reference letters shouldn’t be a problem. Currently, you don’t need academic reference, as far as I know. But still, talk to senior managers in advance and explain to them your idea. At the right point in time, you can reach out to them for a reference letter.
As preparation for my IELTS, I remember taking Edx courses in the summer 2016. This course was offered by the University of Queensland. It certainly helped me to get an idea of the style of the exam. Even if you speak well, you might be unprepared for the method of language testing by IELTS. For academic writing test, it is expected, that you know how to structure an essay, how to understand statistical results from charts and tables. The listening test is recorded in various regional dialects such as Irish or Australian way to speak. You shall be able to understand it and to get all information needed to complete the exercises in real time. For reading test, you shall be able to read several papers in a short period of time (60 minutes), understand the essentials and answer a number of specific questions. The speaking test is a recorded fast pace interview e.g. about further education you plan to pursue. In November 2016, I was ready and after 3 hours of paper-based tests and a 15-minute interview, I successfully passed my exam with minimum requirement of 7 points.
The elaboration of the research project proposal was much more challenging. For four months, I reached out to various persons in my company before finally catching the attention of the VP Supply Chain Europe. I had to “sell“ my idea and promised to promote the company’s success at MIT. In the following 6 months, I informed her monthly about my progress and provided some research ideas. Don’t expect anybody to give you an idea for research. You have to find your own one and convince the key person to support you. Try to find something feasible with data access because otherwise you will really suffer later in the program (no time!). The research proposal itself must have exactly two pages. I compiled it like a mini-academic research project, with an introduction, research question, relevance, relation to the sponsoring company, and solution proposal. If you want to have a few more insights and experiences from my classmates, please read the Blended research project insights. Our residential classmates had a different experience with capstone or thesis research projects. This part was not one of their application requirements. But the decision making process and the selection of topics might be a similar one. If you are interested, then you definitely should read Lauren’s blog. Hier are some of the thesis or capstone project examples. As the last word of advice in regard to your project proposal in cooperation with a sponsoring company, keep in mind that a standard Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) between the sponsoring company and MIT must be signed once the project will start. Many companies propose their own NDAs so the negotiation can take a substantial period of time. Try to clarify these aspects as early as possible.
My video statement was the last of the requirements I worked on. Originally, I planned to spend not more than a few hours on it. I realized later this was the case for some of my peers. Since I wanted to be the best and didn’t know the “competition,“ I tried to differentiate myself. Four different areas should be the stages for the four questions to be addressed. I chose my former university, the place I worked, a park nearby, and a local port. My best friend sacrificed his leisure time for me as cameraman and helped to cut the video. On the end, we spent three days for this requirement instead of one.
I hope I have given you an idea of how to organize your application. Everyone has her/his own way. All I want to stress is: don’t wait too long on the preparations for the application. You can be surprised by the amount of time you will invest in it.
If you want to know more about the other A and A – Admission and Arrival at MIT – please comment this blog and let us know!
P.S. we will give you some interesting information about the funding options for the MIT SCM master’s program in our next blog!
I earned my first master’s degree in Master of Business Management at the University of Mannheim focusing on marketing but was lucky to start my carrier in logistics. I have worked in heavy industry for Alstom and GE as supply chain manager and I am passionate about solving customized strategic problems. After completion of my second master of Engineering in SCM at MIT, I plan to dive into more analytical field of supply chain management. Outside of the classroom and office, I enjoy to go scuba diving, running half-marathons and drawing portraits.
The short answer: YES (if you’re ready to work). Originally from Los Angeles, CA, I am currently a student in the inaugural class of the SCMb (Supply Chain Management Blended) Program. While I have only been in school for three months, I can say that the experience has been invaluable. You have to come ready to work (sometimes from 9am-9pm), but in return you will learn how to operate under a deadline, juggle multiple team projects, work on diverse teams (some great, some not so good), listen to some incredible lecturers and guest speakers, and make some lifelong friendships. Just as important, doors open for job opportunities and additional graduate studies when you join this program.
Here’s my advice to a prospective student:
Did you enjoy the SCx classes? If so, then the on-campus program adds another dimension to your education. The first month (January) you participate in a series of mini-courses with students visiting from MIT-affiliated supply chain programs around the world. Starting in February, you begin the regular full semester classes. I can say that the classes on-campus continue the technical learning (optimization, linear programming, data analytics), but add in equally important management classes and team building activities.
Look at the curriculum on the SCM website (SCMb curriculum). Click on each class to see a description of the course. Are you interested in learning the material? Here’s an insider tip: SCM students can also sign up for classes at MIT’s Sloan School of Business. While some classes fill up quickly, you still have access to the majority of the classes MBA students take at a fraction of the cost.
Find recent alum. Google search “scm resume book mit” and you will find a link to the resumes of last year’s class.
Select an email in the resume and send that person a message to ask about the program or just email me (see email address below)
You already have this piece of advice covered: read theMIT SCM program student blog (blog) to hear first-hand experiences of previous students.
Can you handle the cold weather? It can get chilly in Cambridge during the winter months.
So, what are you waiting for? Get researching and see if this program is for you. At least for me, it was one of the best career decisions I have ever made.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the MicroMasters here. More about the blended SCM program here.
We are leaders. We are THE first cohort of students to have been successfully admitted to the Blended Masters in Supply Chain Program at MIT after completing a rigorous 16-month online program. We showed the world how we can balance supply – “Time” and demand – “a Full-time job, Family and Study” with two constants – Grit and Determination.
Cambridge extended a warm welcome to us on January 4th 2018 with a snow-storm. We 40 students came from different parts of the world and met in a cozy coffee room in E40. The room was buzzing with energy and excitement. President Reif welcomed us and reminded us of the great responsibility we had as the first cohort – to show the world that this new form of “hybrid” education attracts the smartest and the best people who embody the values of MIT that are Integrity, Meritocracy, Diversity, Creativity and Collaboration.
We embrace diversity. We represent 23 countries and we believe that we can conquer the world with the strength of our combined experiences. We have in our class an ex-Chief Officer for a 42 tonne Maersk vessel, a retired Olympic athlete, someone who ran Analytics in the office of the CEO for a multi-billion dollar company, ex-Management Consultants, entrepreneurs and more. With almost a decade of experience behind each of us, we are all experts in our own fields. However, we are all humble and eager to learn from everyone.
We are ONE team. Through the first four weeks, we all have become more self-aware, and learnt to collaborate and empathize with each other. As the President of the class, I wish that this Blended Master’s program is successful not just for each of the students but for MIT as well. We will be paving the way for universities globally to offer more such “hybrid” programs in years to come.
Deepti Kidambi, an ex-management consultant from Accenture, has over 9 years of experience in Supply Chain. She has a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from BITS Pilani, India and is going to be joining Google’s Resource Infrastructure Optimization Team after MIT. Outside of work, she enjoys biking and taking her 2 kids to playgrounds.
Aceil, my wife, has done the test and it’s come back, not with a grade but two little blue lines: She is pregnant. That’s the best news I have heard while at MIT. Having a baby when you are a student is as exciting as it gets, but it can be overwhelming. Lucky for us, MIT has a lot of resources for new parents. MIT offers the Spouses & Partners Connect, Pediatrics meetings, Post-Partum Support and Breastfeeding Classes, prenatal yoga in addition to top medical care right on campus.
As a father to be, my favorite class by far is a Childbirth class taught by Wendy Mackey-Kydd an experienced birth companion. Both parents attend a very small class once a week. The class is fairly intimate with 4 or 5 other couples. Wendy, covered the fundamentals of childbirth such as relaxation, position practice, massage and breathing and we left with a “toolbox” of support techniques and lots of practice. We were also introduced to breastfeeding and early postpartum.
A tour of Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA was included. The birth center is family centered and is considered to be one of the most prominent Massachusetts. It was an opportunity to see the birthing rooms: Mothers stay in one room through labor, delivery, and recovery, and rooms are equipped with private baths and showers; some rooms even have Jacuzzis. (Aceil’s favorite)
The class gave us an opportunity to meet other new parents, hear their stories and learn from their experiences. It was a chance for my wife to meet other mommies to-be and bond over what is supposed to be the greatest gift of all.
There is more at MIT than just homework and exams; It is an inclusive community both for students and spouses that will support and nurture you so you can get the best out of your 1 year as a student, both inside and outside classrooms.