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MIT Sloan Student Blog Archive

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BiG Success


Fireside chat.  Photo by John Marcus

Situation:  Last week, we launched the first ever Business in Gaming conference.  Mega success.    

Complication:  Most of the organizers are graduating '09s...  Which leaves a lot of room for the class of '11 to help us make the 2nd conference even BiGGER.  

Solution:  Ping me if you want in!   


Day in the life...

They warned me  that Sloan is going to keep you busy.  That's relative to former work (consulting), other MBA programs, and absolutely.  

I wish I had a major in time management with a minor in prioritization just to stay sane.  

Wednesday (really bad)

5:00-5:30 Dress, breakfast hustle for the T
6:00-7:30 Jog at the Z-center (log minutes for
7:30-7:45 10-min check-in with entrepreneurship lab team
7:45-8:30 Shower and get back to other side of campus
8:30-noon Check email, squeeze in action items from the morning call, a couple case readings and possibly some career hunting activities
noon-1:00 Intriguing lunch speaker or meal carts and socializing
1:00-2:30  Intro to operations.  Be continually amazed by how smart and analytical my classmates are.
2:30-4:00 Marketing.  Try to leave econometrics and behavioral economics research at the door and give the value of conjoint analysis the benefit of the doubt.  
4:00-5:30  New Enterprise.  Laugh at Howard's jokes and make a note to pull down and print class slides because they are gold.  
5:30-6:00  Socialize.
6:00-9:00 Entrepreneurship lab.  Wait patiently for dinner, wishing it would come earlier so I can actually focus on the discussion and class presentations.  
9:00-midnight  Beacon Hill Pub (though I'm usually too hosed to get this far) 

Friday (really flexible)
6:00-7:30 Stream 8 min abs, buns, legs, arms, etc. videos, check email over breakfast and get dressed for school
7:30-8:00 E-lab conference call and follow up to do's then head to the T
8:30-10:00 New enterprise group one-off meeting 
10:00-1:30 Catch part of the sales conference at the Hyatt (Stone from Difficult Decisions, Cialdini)
1:30-2:00 Walk back to campus.  
2:00-4:50 Skip marketing to audit a comparative media studies class on game design.  Hella interesting.
4:50-5:00 Update operation team's factory at the close of the simulation
5:00- go home, make dinner, sleep


The Waiting Game

So there's been a lot of traffic in the back channels regarding what to do if you find yourself waitlisted.  Here are my buddy, Chris' favorite tactics.  

Disclaimer:  This advice was derived from anecdotes from current Sloan students.  The advice has not been reviewed or endorsed by admissions.

* Send one email right away that says Sloan is your top choice (assuming it is) and quickly explaining why

* If GMAT is below 700 consider taking it again and then if score is higher send an update email to the adcom

* Try to find something new to do at work that gives you a leadership opportunity and use that as an excuse to write an update email

* Probably no more than 1 update email per month - any more than that can get annoying

* Waitlist doesn't mean the person isn't qualified. it's more about class profiling at this point - what kind of backgrounds they need to create a diverse class. So updates are good but there is probably no single thing to do to put someone over the hump. Just show committment and hope for the best. 


Beyond Admit Weekend Couch Surfing: Living in Boston-Cambridge

So I'm still recovering from night #3 of living hard with the 2011 vanguard.

To those who had more questions coming off the housing tour buses, I started an informal poll...  

93% are happy or delighted with their living arrangements.  But in retrospect, people wish they'd weighed proximity to campus (42%)  and rent (20%) more heavily in their decision.  They wish they'd cared less about parking (40%).   

Living on campus: 32%

12% Eastgate

8% Sydney Pacific

8% Warehouse

4% Ashdown

Key takeaway:  don't live in Tang

Living off campus: 66%

23% Beacon Hill

19% Central

8% Kendall Square

4% East Cambridge

4% West Cambridge

4% Back Bay

Key takeaway:  Invest in a subsidized T-pass, you'll be splitting your time between beacon hill dinner parties and central square pub nights.

Bonus Advice: 

Inman square area for some great deals. It's a 15 minute walk from school, but you get great value in a very cute neighborhood

Live close to the T, even if you have a car

Live close to the redline (2)

Live in beacon hill. You'll appreciate the separation from campus, and it's a short walk (or T ride) away

Live on campus to save money and time(2)

Sidney Pacific is the first bus stop for the Northwest Shuttle and it has great amenities like gym, meeting areas, kitchen, music room. A great apartment overall.

If you like to get out of the city, having a car is really nice. And if so, being on campus makes a huge difference

Getting away from campus is really nice, especially at the end of a long day during the core.



To thine own self be true. If you know that you are perpetually tardy, do not convince yourself that school will transform you into a punctual bee. Live CLOSE to school, get a car or bike, or learn how to fly. Otherwise, good luck and welcome to be the most underrated of the overrated b-schools. MIT is the s#it :)


Finding Friends in MIT's eJungle

Back in the day, your Ocean meant something.  It wasn't just the 70 or so folks who muscled through your first semester of Core (which, just like high school, came with the full complement of Ferris Buellers and "Statues of Liberty" (ooh, ooh! call on me!)).  Back in the day, your Ocean was your proto-network, the first friendships you made at Sloan.  

And then Gore created the internets.  Use them to make connections with fellow AdMITs before you get to Cambridge.  How else are you going to recruit partners in crime for summer travel and group apartments? 
  1. Google groups.  Admit committee and student senate set a google group up for you.  No admissions committee members are on it, so feel free to speak freely.  The activity on these usually runs at fever pitch over the summer on everything from editorial rants about current events, travel plans and informal gatherings, housing decisions, financial concerns, etc.  Learn from our class and hold off on creating a yahoo group, life is too short for a VHS Betamax reprise.    
  2. Facebook.  Congratulations, Slava for kicking off the 2011 facebook group!  You will probably also find yourself starting/joining Ocean groups, preterm trek groups, and the like.    
  3. LinkedIn.  A twin group usually springs up on LinkedIn to complete the set, but unless Facebook's platform completely collapses, don't expect this forum to be nearly as active.      
  4. FogieNet.  Don't hesitate to contact 2nd years and alums.  I first found my apartment by joining the 2008 listhosts and asking if anyone had sweet digs they were moving out of with landlords interested in disintermediating brokers.  Here are our connections:  2010 google group, 2010 facebook group, 2010 LinkedIn.  And of course, feel free to ping me, my door is always open!  
  5. "Sloan Sprawl."  Argh!  Bookmark any websites the admissions folks send you and note your passwords.  MIT should stand for Must Integrate Tech.  You may not be able to get into all of these sites until you setup your certificates, but here's a preview of what you're in for (in roughly the chronological order you'll encounter them).    
  • Sloanpoint:  a "portal," it doesn't quite port you everywhere.  There are good pre-arrival tips, checklists, preterm quizzes, etc. you should make sure you pull down and work through.  You will never get comfortable navigating this interface.    
  • WebSIS: first it comes at you collecting tuition deposits.  By the end of the quarter, you're coming at it, pecking at the refresh button incessantly like a disappointed pigeon to see if in fact "F is for finance."  You might encounter it a third time if you're a research assistant or teaching assistant on payroll.   
  • Stellar:  a coursework clearing house.  Each class and section posts their syllabus, homework sets, announcements, message boards, etc. More advanced classes may layer on an additional website (i.e. the ideastartup in New Enterprise and the Power and Negotiations' sloanware), but your first semester classes are all contained here.  
  • Career central: manages professional development resources and has a bidding platform for internship/job postings.  You can actually get to this through Sloanpoint.  I'd suggest supplementing your research with the guides provided at the library and your alumni network search with the MIT-wide infinite connection.    
  • Sloanbid:  where you bid for classes (both semester classes and classes you take over the mid-semester 1 week Sloan Innovation Period).       
-Chris Kenney  


Admit's Guide to IAP & 10 Advantages of Sloan Treks

Admit's Guide to IAP

I didn't "get" the concept of the MIT Independent Activities Period (IAP) until this year's was underway.  Here's the inside scoop so you can make the most of yours. 

IAP runs for the entire month of January (it feels longer because finals wrap up mid-December).  During IAP, you have no academic commitments.  According to MIT, "Students are encouraged to set their own educational agendas, pursue independent projects, meet with faculty, or pursue many other options not possible during the semester." 

Right on.  So what do Sloanies actually do?  

Travel Abroad (popularity: high. timing: throughout- concentrated over the holiday season)

International students use this as an opportunity to spend quality time with their extended families.  Independent travelers use this is a chance to hit the destinations not covered by the popular student-organized spring break treks (namely, Japan, Israel, India, China, Brazil).  My Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with enviable photo albums and videos.   

Travel Domestic (popularity: very high. timing: throughout- treks are the first 2 weeks of Jan)

Almost everyone either goes "home," to some place warmer, or to New York at some point over the holidays.  A series of company treks occur in the early weeks of IAP (Silicon Valley, Seattle, Las Vegas, Massachusetts, etc.).  If you're in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation track, Silicon Valley is mandatory.  Even if you're not, join the Mediatech club to stay in the loop- I've listed 10 other compelling reasons to take one or more of the treks below. 

Interviewing (popularity: High. timing: throughout, concentrated 2nd-4th weeks of Jan)

The professional service firms (finance, consulting) lead the charge, followed by household names in technology, consumer products, etc.  Not a day goes by when I don't bump into a friend in full formal on the T or shout a "knock their socks off!" to a suited up roommate as she heads out the door.  They try to schedule these so they don't conflict with the treks, but be prepared for some last minute changes in plans and possible forfeiture of your trek professional standards deposit. 

For-Credit Courses (popularity: Medium.  timing: throughout, heavy in 3rd week of Jan)

Several condensed coursesare taught over IAP.  My pilot (2nd year advisor for my core team) strongly recommended bidding for these because the credit/time invested ratio is so compelling.  I made out like a bandit with 2.5 days working closely with 2 of MIT's most accomplished professors, catered lunches, fascinating discussions, and plenty of breaks to catch up with friends I hadn't seen for weeks and make new ones.  Oh, and did I mention it was worth 5 credits (almost as much as a half semester course) and fulfilled the leadership requirement?  

Not For-Credit Courses (popularity: Low. timing: throughout, you probably will be too busy until the 3rd-4th week of Jan)

Very few Sloanies go this route, so I have to be a vocal minority here.  Do it!  You'll get to meet a lot of students from other departments working on cool things at little to no cost.  I learned how to make chocolate truffles and authentic guacamole.  I tried out improv, learned how to give massage from a pro, participated in a Japanese tea ceremony, visited Curt Shilling's video game company startup, and got one-on-one coaching from a professional life coaching firm.  That's just the tip of the iceberg-- check out this year's listing

Rest & Relaxation (popularity: very high. timing: whenever you can spare)

Someone has to say this because when we run into so many friends doing so many cool things we can feel pressured to fill IAP up like we fill our semesters...  We're being lazy!  At the end of the day, this is a month to recharge and really cement those new year's resolutions before things heat up.  So don't beat yourself up if your calendar isn't as jam-packed as a cruise ship's entertainment menu.  

10 Advantages of Sloan Treks

I participated in and organized trekbooks for Mediatech's Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Massachusetts treks.  Treks usually take 2-3 days and typically involve 3 company visits per day.  Mediatech treks this year had between 8 and 25 people touring companies together.  To eliminate confusion about Silicon Valley, there are 2 separate groups there at the same time.  The Entrepreneurship and Innovation track (a much larger group) splits off  into smaller groups to focus on the start up and VC firm ecosystem.  The Mediatech group stays together and focuses on the "household name" tech companies in the Valley.  Both tracks combine forces several evenings for mixers and supplemental events.  

These treks are a phenomenal experience that you can't replicate by staying on campus, and here are a few of my favorite reasons why:  

Candid non-publicly available info!

  1. How long does it take you to develop your products? 
  2. What's your "funding" status?  (if not public)
  3. No, really, what's your strategy?  Big exit through sale/IPO, steady but modest revenue stream, etc.
  4. Each city had an alumni gathering and most companies tried to put together Sloan alumni representation.  This is a great source of specific advice and can be an entree into companies who aren't recruiting on campus.

 A sense for culture & work life!

  1. What sort of argument is most compelling to champion initiatives in here?  Do I need to focus on data or a vision?  Does the data have to be generated in house or can I use 3rd party? 
  2. What's the pedigree of the typical employee?  Are you a shop full of recovering engineers?  Generalists that learn/hire/offshore expertise?  Guitar heroes? 
  3. Do you look as big/small as you feel?  Have your offices over-run several city blocks?  Is it normal to teleconference between your 40 some building campus? 
  4. Can you accommodate my quirks?  How close to mass transit are you really?  Can Fido come with me? 

Make Friends, Build Teams, Start Businesses!

  1. The neat thing about these treks is you get to meet people with similar business interests as you.  If you also help organize, you get a fast and dirty insider's view to how they work as a team and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  This stuff is gold if you're considering starting your own business, working in a business development role, or just wanting to improve on your course lab/project team dynamics in the coming semester. 

Cross-Company Comparisons!

  1. Compare say Expedia's (Seattle) business model to Kayak's (Mass); Apple (Silicon Valley) to Microsoft (Seattle) to Microsoft Startup/Research (Mass); Amazon(Seattle) to eBay (Silicon Valley); Guy Kawasaki (Silicon Valley) to Apple (Silicon Valley).  The possibilities are endless!  This opportunity to build on what you just learned really cements your understanding about an industry and its dynamics.