Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

Jaspar Siu, Class of 2015
Jaspar Siu, Class of 2015

Every January, MIT has a unique mini semester called “Independent Activity Period (IAP),” where most students get a month off to learn or study whatever they want.

For us, IAP is when all of the MIT Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Network come together to meet for the first time. Students from the GCLOG program in Latin America,  the ZLOG program in Zaragoza, Spain, and MSCM program in Shah Alam, Malaysia all fly into Boston to network with other SCALE students, learn from industry speakers and MIT professors, and work on team projects.

SCALE Class of 2015 at Research Expo
The SCALE Class of 2015

One of the speakers, Robert Blackburn, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Technology at BASF, shared one of his life’s mottos: “Luck = preparation + opportunity.” This statement struck me really hard because I think it’s definitely true. When you say to someone, “I think you are very lucky to achieve something,” is it true the person is just lucky? Or did they work hard to prepare themselves well and then proceeded to pursue opportunities? I think it’s usually the latter.

By this time of year, prospective SCM students, you should all feel very lucky because you have worked hard to prepare your applications, aced your GMATs/GREs, and sought after this SCM program. Deservedly so, you have officially been granted the opportunity to join one of the most prestigious programs in the world.

SCM Class in Panama
SCM Class in Panama

Take a moment to congratulate yourself, because you are about to embark on a life changing journey that is full of amazing opportunities. However, don’t stop here because the next year will fly by really quickly and before you know it, you’ll be almost done. If you haven’t heard already, once you get here, it’ll be like drinking from a fire hose – basically you’ll be given much more than you can swallow. Sometimes all you can to do is just keep marching forward – there is no time to stop. But to truly obtain the most out of the program, you should do your preparation before arriving.

  1. Besides the thesis, the two main components of the MIT SCM program are coursework and recruiting.
  2. In terms of your academics, try your best to go through all of the assigned Khan Academy pre-assigned lectures. This pre-work is especially valuable for those of you without a math-focused undergrad major. The payoff will be well worth it when you can spend less time reminding yourself of formulas and more time focusing on new concepts.
  3. For career changers, really try to figure out what industry you want to get into, what companies within that industry you want join, and what positions you want to get. Figure out if you want to go into industry or consulting. Also figure out whether location really matters for you. From there, take the list of companies that hire from this SCM program and figure out which companies you want to target. There will be a lot of companies who come recruit students from SCM and MIT. Knowing in advance which companies to target will put you way ahead. Whether you are going into industry or consulting, you should be polishing up your resume and practicing your interview skills prior to the program. When you get here, you will be bombarded with so much going on that interview preparation will be another heavy workload on your plate. If you’re interested in consulting, start reading up and practicing your case interviews prior to the program.
  4. Once you have narrowed down the industry, company and position, you can start looking at what classes MIT and/or nearby schools offer and take the classes that will best prepare you for your future role or fill any skill gaps you have.
  5. Sloan has a ton of clubs too. Know which ones you want to join and try to stay active within that group. If you have done all of your preparation prior to joining the program, you will be way ahead and become really lucky because chances are, you will land your dream job.

As for my fellow SCM family, I want to congratulate each and every one of you, because you are all very lucky to be nearing the completion of the SCM program and starting new career trajectories post-graduation!

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Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

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