Special Edition: IAP Student Stories

MIT Sloan students took full advantage of IAP (Independent Activities Period) to explore their passions, travel abroad, take classes, or prepare for their careers. Here are a few student spotlights on IAP 2014:

Leadership Lessons

One of the courses I participated in during IAP was “Leadership Lessons Learned from the Military”. Learning more about the military, its leadership structure and how it all relates to business was such a unique value proposition that I had to take the class. The course was methodically developed by two students, and the experience demonstrated it. There were panels of junior, mid-level and even senior military officials discussing the transferrable leadership and operational skills. We also had a powerful workshop that had us breakdown Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as something beyond the military, and of course, how to work through it as we develop direct reports in our careers. Finally (and the most fun), we spent a morning at the Zesiger Center doing challenging leadership exercises, such as moving (fake) wounded soldiers, tying a human square knot and doing an 8-person push-up with no feet. Pretty great way to start the Spring semester. – Nadir Vissanjy, MBA ’15

First-Hand Experience

Alanna_HughesGiven that I stuck around campus for most of IAP to recruit for internships, I decided that I wanted to take advantage of some of the other opportunities broader MIT had to offer while I was in Cambridge. I ended up pursuing a small independent study with a MIT Media Lab professor where I combined my interests in international development, entrepreneurship, and technology to map out the global landscape of mobile tools that have been developed to make SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in emerging markets more efficient and effective. This was also linked to the company for which I consulted over the fall semester with the Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development (SEID) club, and in the last week of January I had the opportunity to visit our SEID client in Amman, Jordan and conduct some on-site research for my independent study as well as experience first-hand some of the actions our SEID client was taking to introduce her mobile tool into MENA (Middle East and North Africa) markets.  – Alanna Hughes, MBA ’15

Golden Opportunity

Every year, a group of Sloanies travel to Omaha, NE to meet with Warren Buffet TrekWarren Buffett. This year, I was lucky to get this once-in-a-life opportunity! On January 31th, our 20 students flew to Omaha to meet and enjoy lunch with our idol. We first visited Nebraska Furniture Mart, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. Then Mr. Buffett held a two-hour Q&A session, during which he shared his investment philosophy and life experience with us. We were all inspired by his humor, humbleness and enthusiasm in investment. He said, “Of all the things I can think of doing in the world, I’m doing what I love the most and it really doesn’t get any better than that. I hope that you find whatever it is that you love doing.” -Ning Wang, MFin ’14

Funding a Goal

I had an amazing experience in Mexico City working with Échale a tu Casa, a start-up that builds and finances homes for low-income residents throughout Mexico. After over 10 years of building homes using their renowned high-quality, low-cost, community-involved construction process, Échale was looking to scale up their operations. This is where the team of MIT Sloan students and I entered the picture – we were assigned to help Échale raise about 3 million dollars, and to find new funding sources that ranged from banks to foundation and micro-finance institutions. I also had the specific task to use my prior experience as a documentary filmmaker to make a video that could be used to pitch investors in the U.S. and abroad. In the process of making the video, I met with families who echale still 2had recently finished building homes with Échale including Francesco, Échale’s charismatic leader. I also interviewed representatives in Mexico’s National Housing Commission to understand the challenge residents in Mexico face in finding adequate housing. I am now editing the video back in Cambridge, and am continuing to work with the MIT Sloan team team to help Échale reach their fundraising goal.– Phillip Gara, MBA’15 

A special thank you to all the students who shared their incredible stories!