It's been awhile (2+ years) since I've put up a blog post, but I think it's a good time for one. My LGO experience has been on my mind the last couple of weeks for a couple of reasons - first, the LGO Alumni conference is coming up on May 1-2. It's in San Francisco, where I am, and I'm helping organize. More on that later. Second, I recently spoke to someone who was admitted to the Class of 2016. Although he was leaning towards enrolling, he wasn't 100% sure and wanted to speak to an alum to help him decide. There may be others in the same position, so I wanted to offer some perspective.
To be honest, my initial reaction when I was told that this person was on the fence about enrolling was "You must be crazy." When I got the acceptance phone call from Don, I was ecstatic. It was a no-brainer. My LGO experience was awesome, and so far has offered me the exact type of opportunities I was looking for. Why would anyone pass it up?
I thought about it some more, and I realized that (1) everyone has different personal circumstances prior to LGO, and there are a lot of factors involved in making the decision, so it may not be a no-brainer; and (2) I tend to have a biased memory and selectively recall positive experiences, so maybe I'm just not fully considering why someone might be hesitant. After thinking through these things, I'm going to revise my reaction to "You are probably crazy" if you've been admitted but can't decide if you want to do it.
I started in LGO after working in finance in New York for 5 years, looking to do something more tangible. I had no desire to move to the West Coast, and there was no one industry I was particularly interested in. It was really everything about the LGO program - being constantly driven and motivated by my classmates, learning from generally awesome MIT faculty, and access to a great LGO and Sloan alumni network - that contributed to me ending up where I am.
I'll leave it to the current student blogs or some of my older posts if you're more interested in what it's like to be in the program, but I wanted to focus on my experience since graduating in 2012. I've been at Apple in the Worldwide Supply/Demand Management group, working on iPhone. My group is at the intersection of operations and business planning, and is ultimately responsible for matching supply with demand in order to get the most iPhones in our customers hands when they want them. It's an enormously complicated challenge on a daily basis, but really interesting and rewarding. In short - it's what I was looking for.
In addition, being in the Bay Area is great, especially as an LGO and Sloan alum. There are so many exciting things going on and ideas being worked on, and you can be a part of it. Former classmates of mine are at some of the coolest, most innovative companies out there - Tesla, Amazon, Google - and others are starting their own ventures. If I want to talk to someone about a company or opportunity, I've found that I'm at most one person removed from being able to make a connection. The ability to do that is invaluable, and I think something that most people overlook when doing cost-benefit analysis of leaving work and going to grad school, especially LGO. On a related note - our alumni conference is coming up on May 1-2. The theme is "Innovation in Manufacturing and Operations," and we have a great speaker list lined up. I'm looking forward to being able to see many of my classmates and other LGO alumni.
When I look back on my decision to join LGO and my experience during my two years there, there isn't much I would do differently. Yes, the program is challenging at times and will probably push you to your limits academically, but you wouldn't be applying if you were looking for a two-year break, and you'll be prepared to tackle all sorts of complex problems because of it. Yes, you'll have to give up making money for a couple of years, but the ROI is so high, especially when you consider that you basically eliminate a lot of downside risk for the rest of your career and open an enormous network of opportunity. Most importantly, you'll learn a ton and build relationships that will last a lifetime.
If you're interested in learning more about the program or my experience in it, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who've been admitted to the Class of 2016, hopefully you make the right decision, but feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.