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.
This year, for the first time, the SCM program added a degree and provided the option to students to pursue one of two degrees: Master of Applied Science (MASc.), or Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Supply Chain Management. M.Eng. students write a thesis, while MASc. students complete capstone projects.
This article provides an overview of both options, their pros and cons, and some key decision factors from a student’s perspective that may help you decide!
Completing a Capstone Project
Working on a capstone project allows students to solve a real-world problem and make a tangible difference in a company. Projects are sponsored by a wide-range of companies. Some are large and well-established, looking for ways to transform long-standing systems and workflows. Some are mid-sized companies facing a new challenge. Yet others are startups, looking for students to research new concepts. The topics students are tackling this year include blockchain and 3D printing, and many others.
Students work with company-provided data and apply methods learned in class to develop an optimization model or a new forecasting procedure that addresses a specific problem. Students engage in regular meetings with company contacts and often have the opportunity for site visits to manufacturing plants and / or distribution centers.
Companies and SCM faculty present capstone topics to students during orientation. Then students bid on their favorite projects. Each project is assigned to a pair of students who will work as a team. It is not always guaranteed that students will receive their first choice although most receive one of their top two projects.
The pictures below feature students on company-sponsored site visits. Mary Kate Gorman and Bernadette Orende are working on a project with a Fortune 500 company in the consumer packaged goods industry. Hilary Taylor and Russ Miller are working on a project with a start-up company in lot traceability of food products.
Working on a Thesis Project
Thesis projects are longer, have more extensive academic requirements, and are done individually. It is the responsibility of the student to propose a topic that is relevant and original to the field of supply chain management.
The thesis can involve one sponsoring company like the capstone or address a supply chain challenge common across an entire industry. In either case, it is entirely up to the student to research the topic independently and to reach out to potential partner companies or industry groups.
The thesis write-up must include a literature review, a component not required for the capstone project. This section, which will appear at the beginning of the thesis, is typically 10 – 30 pages long. It defines the context of the research question, identifies the gap in current knowledge that the thesis will address, and presents the methodologies that will be used to solve the problem.
Key Decision Factors in Choosing a Degree
Academic & Career Goals If you wish to continue in the SCM program beyond the one-year masters, performing research or working towards a PhD, writing a thesis will help you to prepare for that. If you plan to work in industry or consulting after graduation, a capstone project can provide you with a taste of what to expect after joining the workforce. There are certain benefits to both project options.
Personal Interests Is there a specific problem you want to solve? What better place to research a technical topic than at MIT? While a thesis requires a little extra initiative, it allows a student to be fully creative, drawing upon past education, and work experience to work on the problem that most interests him or her. Writing a thesis is a great way to tailor the SCM program to your individual interests, deepen your knowledge of a particular subject, and learn from experts in other departments across the university. At the same time, you might run into a capstone project that is a great match for you. There are students who got to work on a capstone project that was an interest of their industry and problem.
Competing Time Requirements Grad school at MIT has so much to offer: clubs, athletics, entrepreneurial events, recruiting sessions, cross-registering for classes at nearby universities, free food hunting, and much more.
The SCM program is only 10-months long so you have to prioritize!
There are also other ways to personalize your degree should you choose to forgo a thesis. Students in the SCM Masters are allowed to pursue certificates through the Sloan School of Management. These certificates, in healthcare and sustainability require extra coursework beyond the SCM classes in a concentrated series of electives. Pursuing a certificate and writing a thesis is definitely an ambitious workload to take on!
Branding If you are wondering what employers might think of the two degrees, don’t worry. So far, degree choices have had no impact on hiring decisions. But, it’s ultimately your choice as to which degree will appear on your resume.
My Choice I arrived on campus with a very specific background and set of interests. I had spent almost five years working as a chemical engineer, mostly in the natural gas industry. My career interests are very focused in energy and sustainability.
I wanted to hear all of the company presentations before I made my choice, just in case one might be a great fit. There were some exciting projects for sure, and I waivered when Bruce, Executive Director of the Supply Chain Management Program, asked me whether or not I would participate in capstone bidding at the end of August.
In the end I chose to stay true to my long-time passions. I am writing a thesis on natural gas transportation, drawing upon both my first-hand experience in the field as an engineer, and my freshly-learned skills in supply chain management.
My experience does not apply to everyone in the program. Some students were lucky enough to be assigned to projects in their exact area of interest, yet others chose to expand upon a company-sponsored project and turn it into a thesis, gaining the advantages of both degrees.
The choice is yours and the options are endless. Which will you choose?
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.
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).
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.
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.