Do you need grad school?

Written by: Muching Zhang

muching

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!

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Do you need grad school?

The 2017 SCM Panama Trip

written by Qiao Chu

qiao-chu

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

joe-lucido

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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First Impressions and Orientation

Andy Brown Class of 2017

Orientation may actually be a bit of a misnomer; it’s probably more accurately of a reorientation to university than anything else. We had our famous day at Thompson Island, and then it was down to learning, relearning, and working. But when orientation was over, what I remembered most was making 42 new friends.

The day of orientation was what you might imagine: Bruce talked to all of us, gave us the requirements, and made a few jokes. We laughed, we ate together, we made as many friends as we could. The second day of orientation was our annual trip to Thompson Island. A clear, hot day in August, we all boarded a ferry and were treated to a different view of Boston and Cambridge than we had previously seen. Filled with leadership and team-building exercises, the day on the island was spent getting to know new people and trying your best to remember everyone’s name. Of course Maine Lobster was served afterwards, and we all laughed at everyone who had never had a lobster before struggle to understand how to eat it. By the end of it, tired out from activities and well-fed from the dinner afterwards, most people knew each other’s names and at least a little bit about them.

The following Monday, we were thrown into the deep end. Team work and individual homework assignments on both new and old subjects were assigned regularly; by the end of orientation, I had worked (or at least visited) with almost everyone else in the class. We had exercises on how to speak and write, and ultimately get the best job. We shaped our stories, got comfortable with each other and groups, and really spent time just learning the right way to speak to potential employers.

Even now, I don’t remember the exact assignments. I remember that some were harder than others, and that sometimes I felt short on time. I remember studying for the final test and realizing that I had to remember how to actually study. But what I remember was working with my new friends for the next year, procrastinating about the work while pretending to do it, instead getting to know each other better. I remember getting hot pot for the first time with a few experts. We made time to do some exploring in Boston, like walking the freedom trail.

Ultimately, orientation is about working together as a class. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and everyone had assignments in both columns. Teamwork made everything achievable and friendship made it fun and worth it.

First Impressions and Orientation

Hello from the SCM Class of 2017!

We (Caroline Bleggi & Patrick Scott) cannot wait to share the perspectives and experiences of this year’s Supply Chain Management cohort.

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We could not have a more diverse or talented group of professionals. We have students from Kazakhstan, Finland, Singapore, China, and Brazil – and that’s only the start. Prior to joining the Supply Chain Management program, one classmate was leading sailors under the sea while serving as a submariner in the United States Navy. Another was assembling a team for a new tech startup. While our classmates are undoubtedly accomplished, they are also welcoming. Bruce, Kirsten, and Sue do an excellent job of building community within the SCM family and the Center for Transportation and Logistics as a whole.

The great strength of the program is the SCM family. You will hear ideas and analysis from classmates with a foundation that ranges from oil and gas to Disney. Each individual brings a unique perspective that shapes our cohort. Although we came to MIT from different countries, educational backgrounds, and cultures, the connection and friendships began before first day of orientation. We frequently have Salsa Fridays and Dim Sum Saturdays This past Saturday we even went apple picking as a class.

From Day 1, the program is packed with action. Outside of classes, thesis sponsor presentations, recruiting activities, and events around Boston leave no down time. This program creates a truly tight knit group with close friendships developing almost overnight.

We hope to share the community within the SCM program through our blog posts this year. Expect to see posts about the application process, SCM vs MBA (as well as MBA + SCM), orientation, life in Boston, thesis experience, and more.

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