Applying to a dual degree program can be stressful and sometimes scary for prospective students. Amidst your work and life commitments, you also find yourself pouring over the GRE or GMAT prep books, hustling to get your recommendations on time, and trying to craft your video essay so that it truly captures your essence.
We caught up with some LGO students reflecting on their admissions experience. They’ve gone through the ups and downs and red pen edits of their application and are now happy to share what they have learned with you as you prepare for your LGO application. Meet Fatima and Taylor!
I was born in Guinea, West Africa and moved to Atlanta, GA in 2008. I have a Chemical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech. Before MIT, I was working as a capital project manager at WR Grace, which is a specialty chemical manufacturing company. I was responsible for the design, procurement, and construction of a catalyst plant in southwest Louisiana. During this time, I realized that I wanted to deepen my technical and leadership skills in operations management. After attending LGO Preview Day and meeting with current students, I knew that LGO would best help me achieve these goals. I was also excited about the opportunity to network with partner companies through the 6-month internship. Additionally, the small LGO cohort provided me with an opportunity to really get to know my classmates and develop a strong support system during and after LGO.
Newport News, VA will always be my true home. However, after graduating from Columbia University with a Mechanical Engineering degree, I moved to Hartford, CT to work for Pratt & Whitney (an aircraft engine manufacturing company). While at P&W, I participated in a rotational program to gain exposure to multiple sides of the company. As a result, my passions for technical products and complex designs were solidified. However, over time, I realized that I wanted to take on roles that were more strategy-focused and team-driven than solely design-oriented or solitary. Yet, to develop the skills needed to transition into managing technical products, I knew that an MBA with a focus on technology would prove to be invaluable. The Leaders for Global Operations program meets my desires to remain technically grounded while overseeing diverse teams. Lean/Six Sigma tools, systems optimization, and data analysis are vital skills that are transferable to a variety of industries. From Day 1, I knew that LGO would set me on a bright path and surround me with a strong, supportive network.
1. Choose the Engineering Department that is right for YOU
We recommend applying to the engineering department that not only interests you but also the department in which you have some prior work or academic experience. Many LGO students join an engineering department that is different than what they studied as an undergraduate student. It can be helpful to research the department’s faculty and course catalog and admissions requirements on the LGO website beforehand. Feel free to reach out to LGO admissions officers and current students with any questions. Additionally, the LGO Ambassador Program is a great way to attend classes with current LGO students and experience the LGO culture first-hand.
2. Get ready for some serious self-reflection
Fatima: The first step of the application process was to self-reflect. It was important to take the time to reflect on my past experiences and think about what I wanted to do not only while at MIT but also after the LGO program. I also needed to reflect on my personal story, my values, and how these aligned with the MIT culture. This process helped me refine my story, understand my motivations for the dual degree and identify the leadership skills I needed to develop, all of which were crucial during the application process.
Taylor: I was a participant in an MBA preparatory program called Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT pushed me to develop my personal story, elaborate on my passions, and to think deeply about why I truly wanted to pursue business school. This overall process is comparable to the Lean concept of asking “Five Why’s.” To sum this briefly, ask yourself a question such as “What truly makes me happy?” Answer this question, and subsequently ask yourself “Why?” Continue this process until you have asked “Why?” five times, allowing you to better understand your intrinsic motivators in a simple, yet effective way. During this process, I also researched and visited multiple schools, spoke with current students and alumni, and spoke with people who already worked in roles that I wished to perform one day. Having all this information available enabled me to put together a thorough and cohesive business school application.
3. Be Yourself
The essays are your opportunities to let your voice shine through. They provide the admissions team with a window into how you think. Merge your passions and past accomplishments with how MIT will specifically help you progress towards your goals. In the statement of purpose, we both outlined why the Mechanical Engineering Department interested us. Whether it was for the distinguished faculty, unique opportunities in product design/manufacturing/operations, or possibilities for diverse collaboration, we clearly stated what motivated us to apply to the MechE department. We used the technical essay to highlight how we overcame a technical challenge in our respective careers, emphasizing the lessons we learned. Lastly, the optional essay is just that: optional. Use this space to explain any inconsistencies in your application such as a gap in employment, prior academic performances, or any other personal situations that created extenuating circumstances.
1 Minute Introduction Video:
Consider approaching this from the viewpoint, what would I like my potential classmates to know about me? Accordingly, use the introduction video to convey your personality, hobbies, and/or whatever else matters most to you. There is no need for anything extravagant so do not overthink this. Keep it simple and authentic.
Ultimately, what surprised us most was how quickly the LGO cohort became a supportive family over the summer. While the entire class was divided into ‘summer teams’ of six students, everyone encouraged one another with humility and patience. For example, we held multiple, student-led sessions on best modeling practices in Excel and Python. We also held multiple “What Did I Do” sessions during which we shared our past experiences, our biggest accomplishments and the challenges we faced pre-LGO. Additionally, we all come from diverse backgrounds and this brings a wide range of perspectives into the classroom. Having genuine in-depth conversations with our classmates has made us realize others’ passions and helped foster a truly authentic and awesome LGO experience.
By Fatima Diallo and Taylor Robinson, LGO Class of 2020