My name is Adam Barber, LGO ’23 (MBA/MechE). Before coming to LGO, I served for 9 years as an Army aviation officer and Apache helicopter pilot. Prior to that, I was a mechanical engineering student at Ohio University. I am joined at MIT by my wife, Brittany, and sons, John (4) and Sam (2). My goal after LGO is to be a leader in innovative, sustainable technology to improve the human condition in the fields of energy, transportation, and/or robotics.
Transitioning from the Military to LGO
When I decided to leave the military and started applying for business school, I was an attack/reconnaissance helicopter company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division on the Global Response Force. The operational tempo of my unit was high, I was in a critical position, and we were 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, figuring out how to train and stay ready to deploy without compromising the health of our force. I was concerned about leaving a well-paying job with great benefits to attend school in just a few months, and my family and I have unique healthcare needs that were 100% covered through the military. I was conflicted about leaving my teammates to pursue a new calling and I hoped my next step in life would be as impactful as my time in the military. Looking back, I loved my Army career and miss it sometimes, but I definitely made the right choice for myself and my family. LGO is incredible and the future is bright.
Being a Veteran LGO
Once I was admitted to LGO, I discovered a new mission-focused team, an excellent support system of student-veterans, and continued financial stability. The Student Veteran Association is highly active and welcoming to new members, and LGO is comprised of roughly 15% veterans thanks to the proven track record of past veteran LGOs. Due to the high proportion of veterans in LGO, I feel as if I get to continue enjoying the camaraderie of the military. My veteran classmates and I share a common sense of humor and frequently reminisce about our varied military experiences, while being integral and critical to the LGO class as a whole. In terms of finances, the LGO program provides a guaranteed fellowship in addition to other benefits that most veterans are eligible for such as the GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon, disability, and Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E). Additionally, LGO provides a cost of living allowance for the required 6-month internship, which is both guaranteed and involves an impressive list of partner companies.
LGO Core (Summer Semester)
Summer core is tough. But, you soon realize that it’s tough for everyone. My first impression of my classmates was incredible and humbling at the same time. Everyone was self-aware, talented, intelligent, and eager to lead. All 50+ of us were remarkably similar in our goal of leading teams through complex problems to create a positive global impact, despite the fact that we came from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The classes and assignments are carefully chosen to prepare students for advanced engineering classes and to provide a focus on operations management, both of which were also tremendous assets in the MBA core in the following semester. Most importantly, learning with and from my core team was an unbelievably rewarding experience, and I now consider my summer core teammates to be among my best friends. Starting in summer core, you will have the opportunity to volunteer with various LGO student committees to significantly shape your class’s two-year journey, to include the way internships are conducted, what manufacturing plants the class visits in the US and overseas, and more. As a huge bonus, I quickly found that the tight-knit LGO community is excellent for significant others to make friends and for parents to coordinate for multi-family events.
MBA Core (Fall Semester)
My LGO class is currently in the MBA core, with each of us in a new core team where all the other members are MBA-pure students. The MBA program does an excellent job of curating teams of business school students to provide an incredible learning and social environment. As was the case in the summer, learning with and from the impressive members of my core team has been an important part of my experience at MIT. In this semester, in contrast with MBA students, LGOs can pursue an enormous amount of engineering and business subjects in addition to the four core MBA courses, and a required LGO leadership seminar course. The workload is very challenging, but LGOs deliberately take many of the same courses and join the same clubs, which greatly enriches the overall experience and decreases stress. Finally, this semester is when student clubs, including the Student Veteran Association, start to become more active. There is a mind-blowing number of student organizations within Sloan, the engineering departments, and MIT in general, with no shortage of positions where students can make an impact.
Advice to Veteran Applicants
My best advice to veteran applicants is to:
- Tell your most impactful stories with confidence – don’t discount what you did when you served.
- Find ways to quantify your impact, especially in terms of percent increase/decrease.
- Be very specific with your goals while understanding that you can change your mind later.
- Don’t self-select yourself out. Many veterans are high performers with tons of practical leadership and operational experience, but we take for granted how impressive some of our accomplishments are. Something like expertly managing a hand receipt full of military equipment can be a vital point in your application if it created a meaningful organizational impact. The best way to calibrate yourself with regards to what to highlight in your application is to get other veterans’ stories and resumes. I can say with full confidence that the MIT LGO veteran community will be more than happy to help you in your application.
Finally, I want to highlight that the LGO and Sloan admissions teams do a phenomenal job figuring out who you are from your application, which is comparatively straight forward and open-ended. Rest assured that they will make the right decision based on your application and interview, so be genuine and enthusiastic throughout the process. If you are suffering from imposter syndrome, know that it is incredibly common at MIT. Just apply. If you get in, you deserve to be here.