What Is It Like to Go Back to School? Everything you need to know about the SCM Orientation

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Written by Eugene Sohn

Thompson Island

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“I never thought I would make it to the top, but I did in 60 secs. I never thought I would create 40 friends in a day, but I created a family. Lesson Learned: Step out of your comfort zone. Now.”  – Hanin Aboutaleb

On the first day of the orientation, one thing you notice right away is the diversity of your classmates. They come from different cultures, industries, and even generations. I was awed by the diversity yet afraid it might hinder my ability to connect with them and make new friends. That fear vanished on the second day of the orientation when we traveled to Thompson Island, just off the coast of Boston. On the island, we played a game to learn about our leadership style, and we were encouraged to practice different leadership styles to get out of our comfort zone. With that lesson in mind, we participated in various team building exercises such as Human Calculator, Spider Web, and Rock Climbing, etc. Imagine you are rock climbing for the first time and you are getting belayed by another person who’s also never climbed before. You’re forced to trust the other person! After a full day of those activities, you leave the island with newly forged friendships.

 

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“The most exciting part of the program is meeting new people, and at the MIT One Banquet I was able to meet the smartest and nicest people from different programs: PhD students in Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Data Scientists, and some more.” – Nina Arizaleta Valera

GSC Orientation 2017

In addition to MIT SCM activities, Graduate Student Council held GSC Orientation events from August 28th through September 5th. The events included grad panels from various departments on topics ranging from academics to social, a Boston city tour, a Cambridge pub crawl, White Mountains hiking, apple picking, and the OneMIT Banquet. Through these events there are endless opportunities to meet graduate students outside of SCM and learn about what they do. For example, there is no other place where you casually learn about a nuclear fusion reactor at a pub other than in MIT.

Academics: Analytical Methods for SCM and SCM Leadership Workshop

To prepare for the rigorous semester, we took two courses during orientation: Analytical Methods for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Leadership Workshop. The analytics course is a foundation for all things you will learn in the fall (and probably spring) semester. You want to do well in this class. The course is very fast paced, and we struggled often as a class. Through those struggles we formed deeper relationships, and I learned what MIT SCM was all about: one big family helping each other. The analytics course can get intense, so if you have some time prior to the program, I highly recommend taking the SC0X Supply Chain Analytics online course. I personally only had time for completing through Week 3, but that helped me tremendously during the orientation. You can thank me later.

The SCM Leadership Workshop was more manageable. We learned about different leadership styles, gave a 2-minute speech, and most importantly, played the infamous Turducken game that almost ruined all of those hard-earned friendships. I won’t give away any more details, but all I have to say on the Turducken game is that the chicken farmers were anonymously reported to the FTC for price collusion (ahem, Justin).

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“SCM’ers take a break from the books to enjoy Thursday Night Karaoke at the Thirsty Ear MIT Campus Pub. Between the air guitars and Broadway quality solos from Les Misérables- It was a treat for the eyes AND the ears.” – Melissa Medina

Near the end of the Orientation was a final exam where a lot of students including me stayed up late trying to digest the exorbitant amount of information our instructors had thrown at us. Although the exam was difficult, we all got through it and celebrated happily afterwards.

Social

Oh boy, where do I begin? If there is one thing to be said about MIT SCM Class of 2018, it’s that we know how to have fun. Although we were busy with recruiting and academics, we always found some time to take a break and partake in activities such as sailing, Ashdown Dance Party, Karaoke. If you want to know more about things to do in Boston, one of our alumni wrote an extensive article about it.

So, what is it like to go back to school? Well it’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a lot of great people. You get to make lifelong friends and possibly future roommates. In five years, looking back, I know I will be reminiscing about all the struggles and fun we had together as a class.

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What Is It Like to Go Back to School? Everything you need to know about the SCM Orientation

Introducing the MIT SCM Class of 2018!

by Lauren Sittler & Eugene Sohn

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Hello from Cambridge! It is early November as we are writing this first blog article, and the Boston weather has just turned. Some of us from colder climates were prepared, some of us less so (looking at you, Singaporeans). We were lucky enough to have extended warm days this year that allowed us to get out and explore the area. In future articles, we will introduce some of the fun leisure and cultural activities that Boston has to offer through the summer and autumn seasons!

It’s been a hectic three months filled with orientation, classes, recruiting, and capstone/thesis projects, and right now we are celebrating the end of midterms!

Through the SCM blog we hope to share a little of our story, introduce you to the fascinating people in the program, and give you a peek into what it’s actually like to be an SCM student at MIT! We will showcase our experiences, insights, and the challenges we face over the course of this year. We hope that you gain a broad understanding for what the program offers and that our thoughts may help you find out if MIT is a fit for you and your graduate school experience.

Talk to you soon!

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Lauren Sittler
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Eugene Sohn
Introducing the MIT SCM Class of 2018!

Do you need grad school?

Written by: Muching Zhang

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After weeks of staring at a blank screen, I was jolted awake at 3AM with snippets of words and phrases forming in my brain for this post. What was supposed to be a quick recap of my grad school decision-making process has instead inched ever closer to a novella. Because I never met a listicle that I didn’t like, here are the 3 questions I kept coming back to.

  1. Do you need grad school?
    • My work experience was internationally focused and the companies I worked at had a way of ensuring that just as I started feeling antsy and wondering if I should go back to school, a new role or exciting project would crop up. I loved my job, but eventually it hit me that for the industry I saw myself in (healthcare), I now had enough years of relevant experience for more senior roles, but those almost always required a graduate degree. However, I don’t think that is the case across the board, especially if you want to move up within a certain company. Be warned, the institutional knowledge and years you gain are not as relevant if you plan to be changing industries completely.
    • In terms of when in your career to do this program, my personal view (having been closer to the opposite end) is the earlier the better. The bump in seniority and salary is great at any level but to get there at 25 could truly catapult you on a different career trajectory altogether. However, the trade-off is that earlier on, you may not have a defined idea of what you want to do yet, which makes it harder to evaluate all the companies and job descriptions floating by.

 

  1. What do you want to get out of a program?
    • Like many of you, I initially thought that an MBA was the only viable option, given that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, doctor, or academic. However, within a business function, the core classes and tracks that appealed to me were operations-focused in any case.
    • One of SCM’s most underrated qualities though is that it is basically a choose-your-own adventure story within MIT and Sloan. If anything, the issue is that the pace of a one-year program makes the class-taking FOMO real—we recently had 3 snow days and there was some grumbling about having classes canceled!
    • One of the biggest assumptions I had coming in was that this was a program where everyone else, who already had deep experience in a specific supply chain function, came to be groomed further into demand planning/forecasting/analytics ninjas. As it turns out, this was not necessarily the case. My classmates come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and I am actually one of just a handful who came in having worked in a direct supply chain industry; some had not worked directly in this field at all. As a class, most of my classmates are also not necessarily looking to work in operations roles after graduation.
    • Be aware that the coursework is designed to aim for breadth over depth, which makes sense given the accelerated pace. Bruce and the team work hard to ensure that we get exposure to all the concepts and tools that are used in industry. But then certainly, should you want to delve deeper into the machine learning/3-D printing/UAV world, you happen to be at a place where the recent Nobel winner or the person who led the latest game-changing development in the field, could be in front of you at Chipotle.
    • I also find the wider MIT/Harvard/Boston area incredibly inspiring as there is no shortage of panel discussions, lectures and symposia happening all around you.

 

  1. How does it fit in your ‘Life Project’?
    Yes, yes, this is a professional program and you are doing this to further your career, but take a minute to consider what this degree will mean for your ‘Life Project’. My good friend Meli coined this term (she assures me it is a very common term in Colombia), which I think is a beautiful way to describe what she envisions for her whole life, personal and professional. Part of why I chose MIT was because it was the perfect transition to the next stage of my Life Project. Browse around the jobs and locations of where alumni end up and make sure that makes sense for where you want to be.

Every morning as I ride my little Hubway bike share past the Tootsie Roll factory en route to school, with the scent of chocolate wafting in the crisp morning air, I know that MIT is where I belong, even if imposter syndrome and the stress and discomfort that is part of the learning process sometimes have me feeling otherwise. MIT SCM has been a great experience for me, and as co-President I am always looking for ways to ensure that the rest of our SCM family feels the same.

Good luck with wherever you are in the process!

Do you need grad school?

The 2017 SCM Panama Trip

written by Qiao Chu

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I have travelled to over 20 countries so far, with family, with close friends, or by myself. None of the trips have given me the same level of experience that the SCM Panama trip has given me. If there is one thing you need to know about how much fun this program can offer you, you need to know about our Panama trip. It’s educational, worry-free, wild, and full of surprises.

Weekdays:

Escaped from the freezing Boston, our trip started in Colón city with a warm welcome at an old colonial hotel. Ever since then, our days were filled with different adventures, and our nights were full of salsa, pool and roof top parties. The daily schedule was so well designed that you wouldn’t possibly feel bored. Educational visits to logistic facilities and companies were shuffled with trips to Fort San Lorenzo, fishing port, pineapple plantation (where I had the best pineapple in my life), wild jungles, and much more. One moment you found yourself strolling around the narrow streets of old Panama City shopping in small boutique stores, the next moment you could be in the center of downtown surrounded by skyscrapers.

Oh yes. Of course we saw the Panama Canal with Panamax passing through the locks. It was a sunny afternoon. We finished a fancy lunch with the breathtaking ocean view. The breeze came with the perfect temperature. We stood by the edge of the observatory watching the giant Panamax lifted by the locks. That’s when we felt so proud of what mankind could achieve.

Weekends:

Our class decided to stay for an extra weekend before school started. We picked an island in Bocas Del Toro. Can you believe that we were the only ones on the entire island and the sea area around it? I have never lived in such a remote condition before. Everything was super natural. The water was clear and calm. When we were swimming in the ocean, the wild dolphins were jumping 15 meters away. When we were hiking in the jungle, the baby sloth was chilling on the tree beside us. Diving, snorkeling, kayaking, partying or just lying in the hammock falling asleep while watching the stars, it was a paradise, our paradise.

Post trip:

If you think that after the intense orientation, a whole semester of study, the two-week “social period” (IAP) with the scale network peers, people already knew their classmates well. Trust me, we felt exponentially closer to everyone after the panama trip. We started our weekly game night after the trip just to maximize the time we could spend with each other before graduation. We knew things changed when we could talk in tons of inside jokes developed from the trip, laugh at the embarrassing moments, eager to plan our next trip together, and wish the time goes by slower. We are a family now.

I absolutely love our Panama trip. There is only so much that I can describe to you, so you have to experience it yourself. Thank you SCM for making it happen. It is going to be a lifelong memory, for each one of us.

The 2017 SCM Panama Trip

Does the MIT SCM Program live up to the hype?

Written by: Tom Heyward

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I write this post to describe my experience of deciding to attend the MIT SCM program and how the program lived up to my expectations. As a disclaimer, my experience is very specific to me, but I hope that it illustrates some basic themes that many of you face and can relate to.

First some background to set the stage for the decision. I am a mechanical engineer with ten years of experience in the offshore oil and gas industry. Over the past few years, I became interested in making some changes to my career path. I wanted to work in a different industry and I wanted to break out of the engineering role into something more related to the ongoing business operations. Making a direct transition from my current job into a new job in a different industry and functional role proved more challenging than anticipated. I considered getting an MBA to help cross the industry and functional role chasm.

I decided that a residence program would best meet my goals for getting into a new industry in a different part of the country. Doing an executive program didn’t seem to give me the exposure I wanted outside of Houston and the oil and gas industry. I started meeting with everyone I knew that had an MBA to ask them about their experience. The feedback I received gave me some minor, but surmountable, concerns about the fit of an MBA program with my specific career interests, which were predominately focused on a manufacturing context. The cost of not working for two years with a family of four to support plus the cost of tuition also gave me pause.

Around this time, I had completed my first attempt at the GRE and was receiving marketing emails from both business schools and other programs I had not previously considered. Mostly, these other programs I ignored, but when I received something from MIT’s Supply Chain Program it immediately grabbed my attention. Researching the program and reading blogs such as this one, the program started making a lot of sense for my interests in business operations, my background in engineering, and my desire to afford school. However, I was wary of the old “too good to be true probably is” cliché. How could I spend only one year to get a masters and get to a seemingly similar place (at least for my purposes) as a two year MBA? Needless to say, I decided to pursue the option. It lived up to the hype and I am very pleased with the results so far.

In December, after four months of school, I found the job I wanted in one of the top industries that interested me. Access to the Sloan business school classes gave me access to typical finance and strategy courses. At the same time, I am learning specific analytical techniques and tools that equip me to analyze business data and optimize business processes. The program offers a lot of flexibility in the skills that you can grow and develop and the experience at MIT’s SCM program has definitely met my expectations.

Hope this helps and good luck as you explore options to make changes in your career!

Does the MIT SCM Program live up to the hype?

Why I choose Sustainability in Supply Chain Management

Written by: Joe Lucido

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Before coming to MIT, I was searching for a program where I could learn about the innovative methodologies to combat climate change and where best to implement them.  This lead me to Supply Chain Management and pursuing the Sloan Sustainability Certificate.  I came to the realization that supply chains are one of the biggest offenders to climate change.  Their global nature, requires enormous transportation networks and inefficient suppliers all along the chain.  Since my background in the Navy was mostly oriented around engineering management and operations, I knew Supply Chains would be an area I could excel in.  Therefore, with the added business knowledge from the SCM program and Sloan’s sustainability certificate, I felt I would have the tools I needed to achieve my goal of mitigating climate change on a global scale.

In the past week alone, Boston had 3 days of record high temperatures for the month of February.   Besides the great beer drinking weather, this wasn’t the first time I noticed the effects of climate change.  Global warming is something that I was tracking since I decided to become a Nuclear Engineer back in high-school. I’ve always had a passion to move our society towards carbon neutral energy sources to mitigate the effects of climate change.  As a nuclear submarine officer about to transition out of the Navy I wanted to apply that same passion on a broader scale.

In the program, I have worked on several sustainability projects that allowed me to put theory taught in the classroom into practice.  Specifically, in the S-lab classes, I am in a team paired with a renewable energy company who wants us to attack their inefficiencies throughout their supply chain. Not only will the results of our project provide a reduction on their global footprint, but we will also increase the profitability of the company.

I will say it is very comforting, even on these warm winter days, that when I leave MIT I will possess the tools to help companies reduce their impact in a sustainable and profitable way.  I believe, as climate change becomes more pronounced and moves to the top of more companies’ agendas, that I will have the experience and the know-how to further combat these problems. I give full credit to the environment fostered here at MIT and the faculty and students that share the same passion as me.

Why I choose Sustainability in Supply Chain Management

Of Snow, Friendships & Learning

Written By: Priya Andleigh

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Early in January, as the storm deposited a fresh layer of snow on the MIT dome, preparations continued in full swing at the Centre for Transportation and Logistics for Independent Activities Period (IAP). After all, 107 students from SCALE centers in Latin America (GCLOG), Europe (ZLOG) and Asia (MISI) were joining us for an action-packed 3 weeks!

As we welcomed our friends from around the world to Cambridge, little did we know that one-part snow, two-parts group projects with a sprinkle of field trips would be a perfect recipe for cross-continental friendships.

Days began on a high note with an impressive line-up of speakers, with senior leadership from renowned companies – GE, Walmart, BASF, AB InBev and Flex – sharing their supply chain wisdom with us. Speakers from various schools at MIT fascinated us with everything from 3D printed airplane engine parts to demographics of the future. It was a privilege to listen to not just the inspiring speakers but also the enriching discussion with such a diverse audience.  There were ample opportunities to put all the learning to practice. One of the first group projects was the Boston APICS Case Competition. In teams comprising students from different programs, we wore our entrepreneur hats to seek innovative applications of new technologies such as Blockchain, 3D-Printing, Internet of Things etc.

As teams battled through, a simulation game “Fresh Connection” was introduced to us. We were handed a company struggling to make profits and had to turn it around in 6 rounds! Sounds daunting? Oh it was, but with the whole package of learning and excitement. Using our supply chain knowledge was important, but communicating effectively with our team was key. As some of us felt the pain of negative ROIs while others reveled in their company’s rising profits, the game taught us how to function well as a team. Lessons learnt during our leadership communication workshops certainly came in handy.

When not fretting over the financial statements of our fictitious company (with VERY real prizes at the end!), we visited warehouses and distribution centers around Boston to see supply chains in action. There was something for everyone – a visit to Walgreens DC, AB InBev Brewery, Amazon Robotics, Quiet Logistics and Boston Food Bank. To top it all off, we got an opportunity to present our research projects to the supply chain community during the flagship event – Research Expo 2017.

Along with bonding over academic activities, we stole some time for letting our hair down (my Spanish song knowledge achieved new heights, thanks to our Spanish and Latin American friends!). And lo and behold, 3 weeks flew by. The snow around us had melted, as had our program boundaries. IAP had not just helped us enhance our supply chain knowledge and hone our leadership skills, but also given us many new friends, and even more memories.

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