I’ve always found complex problems exciting. Your time at MIT will be filled with them. During my time at MIT, I’m often reminded of an undergraduate research project working with a professor to study what factors determine overtime victories in sporting events. Before we dove into the research, my professor and I sat together in his office brainstorming relevant factors and the ways to quantify them. Two factors in particular perplexed us, Inertia and Momentum. While we both agreed they were huge factors in determining victory, neither of us could put the exact cause into words, let alone quantifiable terms. Interestingly enough, I found that those same two factors have driven me along the recruiting process within the SCM program at MIT.
With no disrespect to Isaac Newton, I find inertia to be one of the most hindering forces when viewed through a professional lens. I was a project manager before joining the SCM program, and due to my success at the position, I found myself desiring a career in the same function. Looking back, I realize that professional inertia was preventing me from chasing new and challenging options. Fortunately enough for me, the carefully designed SCM curriculum pushed me into challenging situations unsolvable within the boundaries of my previous skillset. I was forced to dismiss my reservations and venture beyond the comfort of my professional background, unveiling undiscovered strengths and potential. As a result, I found myself shifting my focus during recruiting from a typical project manager role to looking into other options. Something that I found particularly interesting was management consulting, but I had no idea how I could make the leap.
I believe at this point, momentum took hold and carried me through the fall recruiting season. Despite my delayed epiphany in terms of career choice, I was able to catch up through the help of my classmates. The beauty of the program is that there are 40 young, successful professionals who all want you to succeed. They bring different perspectives and advice as to where you may stand out and what you need to work on – all without the ulterior motives of a manager or employer. My classmates who were also interested in management consulting helped me prepare for interviews, share company research responsibilities and set up calls with alumni. Somehow, I could feel the elusive force guiding me through unfamiliar terrain and powering me through emotionally trying situations. In the end, I was fortunate enough to land a position with one of the top management consulting firms, allowing me to continue building my career. I can say with confidence that I would never have moved onto a second interview with any consulting firm, let alone the most prestigious, without the encouragement and support from my classmates.
Seven years after that brainstorming meeting, I still can’t think of a way to correctly define the all-important factors of inertia and momentum. I can confidently say that after only four short months at MIT, both factors were leveraged to create an optimal recruiting process. We all gravitate towards comfort and to move forward we must shed our fear of the unknown and dare to try something new.