It goes without saying that when you go to MIT you will broaden your network. But what you can’t understand until you are in the program is how close you will be at graduation. Your classmates will become not only good friends, but in some cases an extended family. I now have a personal board of advisors who support me both personally and professionally. The level of support is beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
How does this happen? How does such a diverse and unique cohort of students become a family? It happens in several ways:
The bonding starts right away and grows organically throughout the program. The curriculum is designed so students often work in teams. We are all curious to learn more about each other, so conversations never stop between breaks, events, and evenings out.
One of the first things I noticed about my class was the diverse makeup. Your cohort will consist of leaders from around the world in various disciplines. While we are all experts in our own fields, we all chose to go to MIT to learn and grow. Personal growth requires vulnerability and being able to ask for help. To be vulnerable amongst a group of elite leaders creates inherent trust and builds lifelong bonds.
When I decided to start a business, I asked for help. My classmates have been selfless in their support. In true MIT spirit, two women from my class are helping me as advisors. When I needed help with engineering, one of my classmates stepped up and also became one of my first investors. When I have human resources (HR) questions, I call the HR leader at a large company. And when I need financial advice, I ask a classmate who has been in the space for decades. My classmates and trusted personal advisors exude the MIT motto mens et manus (mind and hand).
I used my startup as the basis for several class projects. Working in a team with classmates opens the door for creativity, innovation, and feedback from world-class leaders.
The MIT EMBA program is only one piece of the MIT ecosystem available during your program. In addition to classes, I worked on my startup at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship using Sandbox funds. The Martin Trust Center is the hub for entrepreneurs. Here you have access to Entrepreneurs in Residence, renowned advisors, programs like StartMIT, FUSE, and DeltaV. And it’s one of the many ‘makers spaces’ on campus. I took courses at the MIT Media Lab, and I connected to various organizations across campus like the Graduate Women at MIT, Healthcare Club, and Design Club.
Your MIT ties do not end at graduation. I quickly realized that Sloan was just the beginning. After graduation I have been able to plug into my local Northern California Alumni Club. Here I am able to give back, volunteer on different projects, and meet other alumni.
MIT, MIT Sloan, the MIT EMBA program, and your cohort provide unparalleled opportunities and experiences.
Riley Rees, EMBA '19, is Founder and CEO of Sofia Health in San Francisco, CA, and a U.S. Air Force Veteran.