5 Things I Love about MIT Sloan

Year one as an MBA has come to an end, and summer is here. The second-years have left the building, and it’s up to the Class of 2015 to take the reigns. No more core courses. No more first-year blues. Just summer sun and internships and one more year of adventures.

There were ups and there were downs this past year, but there were a number of traditions and traits about this place that stood out. Here are my top five favorite things about MIT Sloan. Looking forward to more of this next year!

1. Insightful Class Discussions

MIT Sloan Class Discussion
Before I got to Sloan, I sat in on a few classes and was excited by the back-and-forth discussion in class. I wasn’t sure at that time, though, if I was just overwhelmed by a new experience, or if it would be as exciting conversation as a student.

Having gone through my first year, though, I can say that class discussion is in fact one of my favorite aspects of graduate school. I’m amazed at the diverse backgrounds my classmates came from, and when you get us all together in a room, some insightful comments emerge. From investment bankers and insurance agents to startup founders and consultants, we have it all. I wouldn’t trade this mix of people for any other.

Some of my favorite classes, as pictured above from upper left and clockwise, included 15.394 Dilemmas in Founding New Ventures with Matt Marx, 15.911 Entrepreneurial Strategy with Scott Stern, and 15.S07 The Singularity and Other Topics with John Little. Not pictured, but worth taking, is 15.390 New Enterprises, led by Bill Aulet.


2. International Treks

MIT Sloan Japan Trek
This year, I was happy to have been involved in three treks: The Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship & Innovation Track Trek, the Silicon Valley Venture Capital Trek organized by the Sloan Entrepreneurship & Innovation Club,  and the Japan Trek. Traveling to Silicon Valley (twice) was quite fun and educational, full of VC and startup visits and many learning opportunities. The Japan trek, though, which covered five cities (Tokyo, Kyoto, Atami, Nara, and Osaka) and accommodated 120 Sloanies, was absolutely jam-packed with adventure.

A crew of our classmates with extensive Japanese experience — shoutout to leaders Tomo, Takeshi, Keiichi, Take, Hiro, and Diana, and unofficial, tag-along leader Jumpei — put the trek together to accommodate nearly everything you could do or see in Japan, all within a 10-day trip over spring break. Temples, noodles, geishas, nightclubs, parks, shopping centers, wildlife… we saw it all. Spring break wouldn’t have been the same without a trek. To all the incoming first-years: Make sure you book an international trek at least once during your time at Sloan!


3. Diverse C-functions

MIT Sloan C-functions
I love dancing and performing, and the C-functions — Sloan’s weekly cultural [and consumption] events — were my outlet for getting that out of my system. Not to mention free food and beer on a near-weekly basis. Absolutely epic.

Throughout my first year, I participated as a dancer in the Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) C-function, and modeled in the Indian, Chinese, and Japanese C-functions. I also made it a point to dress up in red, white, blue, and leather for the American C-function, which had the most amazing t-shirts and shades of the year. A few more highlights: The Brazilian C-function had Sloan-branded Havaianas, and the Latin C-function had the best music and dancing (of course). You can’t go wrong with C-functions. Attend. Them. All.


4. Beautiful Boston

Beautiful Boston
I chose Sloan in part because I wanted to get to know the Boston startup scene. During year one, I’ve gotten to do that through my involvement as a student partner at Rough Draft Ventures, a student partnership that invents in Boston-based, student-led startups. Along with my Rough Draft colleagues, I created a monthly meetup, deemed the Rough Draft Sketch Meetup, which brings together student entrepreneurs to discuss the pains and pleasures of starting and running technology startups.

Beyond the tech scene, though, I’ve come to learn so much about Boston’s offerings, including the food, entertainment, and learning opportunities in the area. From the Somerville Theater to myriad of dive bars and cheap eats, I’ve come to enjoy the time I get to wander around the city. Living and attending school at Kendall Square on the Charles River, too, has been an inspiring experience in itself.


5. Greater MIT

Greater MIT
MIT Sloan’s biggest asset is its existence within greater MIT. Some of my favorite moments of this year took place outside of Sloan’s glass walls, including taking 15.390 New Enterprises in the Seuss-like Stata Center, sending my roommate a Valentine’s Day serenade from the MIT Muses undergrad a capella group, volunteering and participating in t=0 innovation week put on by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and taking 15.376 Media Ventures in the Media Lab with Joost Bonsen.

All of these experiences gave me the opportunity to work with students from other departments and learn about new areas of study that I hadn’t come across yet. It’s these growth moments that remind me why I came to MIT. Though it was a challenging first year at times, I am grateful to be here and am looking forward to another round. Let’s do this, guys!


Erica Swallow

Erica Swallow is a technology writer, startup entrepreneur, and status quo wrecker. She is currently an MBA candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management and her thoughts have been published in a number of esteemed outlets, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post, among others.

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