MIT Sloan Student Life Office connects students across programs

March 28, 2013

The MIT Sloan Student Life Office staff

The MIT Sloan Student Life Office staff

Every day, all day, MIT Sloan brims with a myriad of activities, from morning coffee breaks and lunchtime corporate speakers to nighttime community events and seasonal special occasions such as Spooky Sloan. The happenings go beyond campus, and extend around the globe as international study tours and treks occur during MIT’s Independent Activities Period and spring break. And behind it all, in some capacity, is the Student Life Office, a hardworking, six-person team tucked into the offices of E52-126.

The office, which was created at the end of 2011 as part of a new shared services model, is meant to complement the individual program offices in the School’s portfolio of programs, according to Student Life Director Catherine Gamon. It serves all MIT Sloan students—from undergraduates to MIT Sloan Fellows.

“We developed what we call a ‘shared services team’ to work with students directly and via their program management teams to provide services in several areas,” Gamon said.

In addition to Gamon, the office is manned by staff members Rebecca Bourke, Paul Buckley, Jaime Comber, Jenifer Marshall, and Nicole Mortillaro.

The Student Life Office, in conjunction with the MBA Program Office and the Master of Finance office, designs and delivers many of the major events that are intended to support community development within each program—from AdMIT weekends to Orientation to Convocation and Commencement. But equally important, it provides programs and services to engage students across all the degree programs at MIT Sloan.

The office supports a wide range of student initiatives, working closely with the MIT Sloan Activities Board, the Student Senate, and the 60-plus student clubs at the School. Student Life members advise and coach students who want to develop leadership skills via activities ranging from one-time speaker events to major international conferences. On a practical level, they can help students start clubs, reserve space for conferences, negotiate contracts, organize publicity, and manage MIT account funds in conjunction with any of these activities. Students can visit the MySloan event management site for more details.

In between all of the activities, the Student Life Office members are advising students on a personal basis and sometimes just offering a friendly respite for overworked Sloanies who need a quick word of encouragement or a few pieces of candy at Bourke’s front desk.

“We offer personal advising and leadership coaching to students across the programs,” Gamon said. “If any student is feeling isolated, lonely, or overwhelmed, we can help directly or we can refer students to the many resources that are available at MIT.” Students are welcome to make an appointment with any staff member or drop in at any time during regular office hours. No problem is too “trivial,” Gamon stressed.

Across the programs

Keeping the School’s portfolio of programs in mind, the office has organized a number of OneSloan initiatives in the E62 lobby. However, after some evaluation from last year, the department realized that the students might be better served by more intimate gatherings in smaller spaces. The team recently organized smaller events such as Trivia Night, sponsored by Master of Finance and Master of Science in Management Studies (MSMS) student hosts. Similarly, Course XV Dinners offer the opportunity to enjoy a three-course dinner for 15 students (chosen via a lottery, from all programs) at an undisclosed, off-campus location where they can relax and get acquainted with one another.

“If you are sitting around a table, you are going to talk with everyone, or at least introduce yourself,” Buckley said. “What we’ve found, is that it’s actually building relationships with people. An MSMS student has a chance to meet with a Sloan Fellow … it’s breaking bread together, and it’s connecting people.”

The office also worked with several other departments, including Sloan Educational Services, to find common ground across programs and last semester hosted a Thesis Launch Party, open to all MIT Sloan Master’s students interested in or currently writing a thesis. Nearly 100 students attended the party, where refreshments were served, and thesis-writers had the chance to discuss their topics. The party was so successful that another one will be held.

“MIT Sloan is a business school like no other, in the sense that it has this portfolio of programs that spans a tremendous number of ages and stages in professional development,” Gamon said. “We have a huge, huge opportunity to help people get to know one another and learn from one another both inside and outside the classroom. We are focused on that ‘outside-the-classroom’ part of the experience, and that’s what we are trying to capitalize on with these events.”

For questions or to connect with team members, please email: slquestions@sloan.mit.edu or stop by E52-126. To learn more about the Student Life Office and to join the conversation, follow @MITSloan and use #MITSloanSL on Twitter.