What I Wish I Knew as an MIT LGO Applicant

Hi Future LGOs!

Thank you for reading this. I hope my post helps reduce some stress and demystifies the LGO program & application process for you! First, before we get into specifics, I will provide some context into who I am.

  • Who am I?

After graduating from West Point in 2012, I served on active duty for eight years as an Apache Helicopter Pilot in the US Army. I had the opportunity to serve my country in Afghanistan and Korea. I love kiteboarding, snow skiing, Cleveland sports, and most importantly, my beautiful wife, Hannah! I am currently a first-year LGO student pursuing my MBA and MS in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering.

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Selfie with my wingman (left), Our dog Lucy! (middle), My wife and I on our wedding day (right)
  • Why LGO?

I was drawn to LGO for the opportunity to be at the intersection of technology and business. It is tough to beat the value of getting two degrees from MIT in two years! You learn great foundational skills in data science and computer programming (and do not fear, I had no experience with these before LGO!) to complement your MBA and engineering curriculum. There is no other program that better equips you with practical skills to solve real-world business problems. You even get to put these skills to the test in a 6-month internship with one of LGO’s elite partner companies!

  • What is special about LGO?

First, the experience is fully customizable. You have the opportunity to learn about leadership, operations, and analytics from top faculty at a leading business school, while honing your technical skills at the best engineering school in the world. You can craft your own personalized learning experience with engineering major selection, MBA course selection, internship focus, research scope, action learning labs, treks & travel, clubs, conferences, etc. It is great!

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Second, the LGO community and experience is unmatched. There are 10+ full-time LGO staff members dedicated to making the experience for the 50 LGOs per class memorable. You bond closely with your 50 LGO classmates (even if you start all virtually!) while also being as immersed as you would like in both the Sloan MBA experience and the MIT School of Engineering. There is even a lounge inside the business school exclusively for LGOs to collaborate and do schoolwork. Lastly, as a longstanding program founded in 1988, the LGO alumni are actively involved in the class. Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s Consumer Division (LGO ’93), delivers an annual guest lecture to our Introduction to Operations class, as an example.

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A snapshot of hybrid class (I wore a mask at home so I wouldn’t feel left out!)

Third, LGO is all about giving you practical skills – we do not waste time discussing hypothetical situations. Each one of my classes this summer has involved solving real world problems, like examining COVID data and optimizing Netflix watching experiences. Also, the LGO internship enables you to take a deep dive on a real-life business problem for six full months. You have the potential to make a vast impact on a variety of different projects through your research with one-on-one oversight from MIT faculty, who are truly authorities in their respective fields. This program will equip you with the skills you need to thrive in any business situation. Fun Fact: MIT’s motto is Mens et Manus = Mind and Hand: practical learning!

  • Who is LGO for?

LGO is for anyone longing for a transformational experience and for those who like solving hard problems. LGO gives you the toolbox to navigate complexity and understand problems. With all the uncertainty in the world, the LGO program develops your leadership skills, business acumen, and technical expertise, so you can be a change agent. There is no one defined career path for LGOs post-graduation and no job opportunities or industries are off limits. LGOs go into working in operational roles for partner companies, start their own companies, work in private equity and venture capital, work for MBB consulting firms, and many other opportunities. Whatever your goals and aspirations are, LGO can help get you there.

  • Application tips/considerations:

General Thoughts:

YOU CAN DO THIS! Not everyone who goes to MIT is like Good Will Hunting. Furthermore, MIT LGO values cultural diversity across races, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, gender expressions, gender identities, sexual orientations, and religions. If you are a thoughtful, grounded individual who wants to make a positive impact on the world through technical leadership, then MIT LGO is perfect for you! And although you do need a technical undergrad background, do not fear if you have no engineering work experience. LGOs come from varied and unique backgrounds. I have a former I-banker, multiple MBB consultants, an individual who worked for an agricultural startup, and many more in my cohort!

School selection recommendations: 1.) Determine what you are interested in 2.) Find schools that are world leaders in those subjects 3.) Find a school with values and culture you believe in/enjoy 4.) Find a school with faculty, staff, and students you want to work with.

-MIT embodies my Operations professor’s mantra “Simplify and Accelerate” in all facets. The written application is intentionally shorter and more pragmatic than most other schools. Be genuine and convey your authentic self – use every square inch of the application to highlight what makes you, you!

-Focus on your impact! Sloan/LGO view that “past performance is the best indicator of future success.” It is okay to not know exactly what you want to do (I surely did not!) after you graduate. The LGO experience will help you hold a mirror to yourself, shape your skillset and ultimately shed light on what your future career will hold. Going through the LGO curriculum, you will have limitless options! If you apply knowing what you are passionate about and how MIT will fit into that vision, you will be successful.

Some specifics:

-When/How to apply. I would recommend applying in the earliest round in which you can fully prepare your application. I applied through Sloan, as do most LGOs. However, some LGOs do apply through the School of Engineering. It just depends on what you want your primary plan to be. Quite simply, if you were only accepted into either Sloan or the School of Engineering, which one would you prefer? Apply using that application. For your awareness, Sloan, the School of Engineering, and the LGO staff all review your application, regardless of which application you utilize. Also, getting waitlisted in R1 is not a bad thing! Many LGOs get in off the waitlist in R2 as the School of Engineering starts their broader application review process.

Engineering Department Selection: Select the engineering major that interests you! You just need to have a coherent and sensible rationale for why you are picking the department you are picking. I did Aero/Astro since it fit my profile (Mech-e undergrad with focus in aeronautics, helicopter pilot, drone experience, interest in working in the future of urban mobility, etc.)

Test Scores: Sloan and LGO have released a flexible plan (see the application for more details) to enable your success on the GRE or GMAT during this COVID-19 era. On the test, do the best that you can. However, please remember that test scores are only one portion of the application, so do not stress if your score isn’t as high as you’d like!

Video Statement: Remain calm! Let your personality shine! I filmed mine while standing in front of a helicopter while in Korea. I made sure to throw in a few corny jokes. Plenty of my classmates filmed theirs with just a white wall background. Do whatever enables the admissions committee to meet the real you.

Org Chart: Don’t overthink this. Use the example provided. Do your best to show where you and/or your recommender(s) fit inside of whatever organization to which you belong. Many of my classmates have had no direct management / supervising experience and that is totally ok.

Resume: LGO is looking for people who have strong potential for technical or operational leadership – this involves successful culture-building and contributions to a community, as much as measurable outcomes. Use this space to highlight your impact, skills, and recognition.

Technical recommendation: Use someone who can explicitly say that you are someone that would add value to “X” graduate engineering department. This part was tough for me, because I did not work in a technical role before LGO. I used a professor from undergrad who I had for thermal-fluids and served as my senior project advisor.

Financial Considerations: You get two degrees for the price of one and every admitted student gets a fellowship (on average, this covers at least 55% of total tuition) to lower your overall cost! The ROI of LGO is incredible!

  • Parting Thoughts:

LGO is an unparalleled experience that will help you to maximize your potential! I am so thankful to be a part of this community, and you can be a part of it too. Lastly, please feel free to reach out to current LGOs with questions…we want to help you succeed. I will see you around campus in the near future!

What is stopping you? Just submit an application!

Borchick Blog August 2020 app tips
This could be you next summer on the first day of 17th grade (Context: all 49 of us coordinated to dress like this on the first day of virtual classes!)

By Dan Borchik, Class of 2022 (with help from my classmate, Pranav Vangala, Class of 2022, and my wife, Hannah)