Student Life

Building a family in a challenging and intense journey.

What I have is more than just classmates or friends. What I have is a family with people who are incredibly smart and with the warmest hearts.
Written by Luiz Barreto

Before coming to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), one of the things I heard from everyone about studying in a prestigious university was that it would be highly competitive with a lot of self-centric students. And honestly, I was expecting something similar as well. Why? Imagine that we have a considerable number of people in the world who are trying to come to MIT, and there are only few criteria that can evaluate the candidacy of the applicants, criteria which are measured in individual metrics.  However, after arriving I realized I was wrong.  What I have is more than just classmates or friends. What I have is a family with people who are incredibly smart and with the warmest hearts. 

Since I was young, I was always eager to travel to different places and meet a lot of people from different cultures. Until July 2018, I was confident that I would never go back to the same location twice, since life is too short to keep returning to the same place. But then, my “travel mindset” was entirely changed by a groundbreaking experience: the MIT Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain program (GCLOG). The first three weeks of program at MIT Boston campus in July 2018 and the three incredible weeks of IAP (Independent Activities Period) seminar in January 2019 were the experiences that drove me to the SCM (Supply Chain Management) Program.

The opportunity to meet students from 5 centers of the MIT Global SCALE Network during IAP in January 2019 was fantastic. Even though our agenda was quite packed with classes from 9 am to 6 pm and assignments in our free time, I was overwhelmed by the joy of learning about best practices of the current SCM field, talking to leaders of the industry, and sharing ideas with them at the world’s best institute.

From this unique learning experience, wonderful friendships and partnerships flourished among the students. In the second week of IAP, I realized that I would have to contradict myself for the first time: Although I am an all-time traveler who would not want to come back to same place twice, I did want to come back to Boston. And that is when I made up my mind to return to MIT.

Since I felt so lucky to get into the MIT SCM program, I wanted to contribute to the school using my leadership experience. With  my commitment and my personal objective – transforming a class of 44 students into a huge family – in mind, I was elected president of the SCMr (Supply Chain Management Residential) class.

Jan 2020 – SCM ski trip

At the beginning of fall term we were 44 students from different countries, with diverse personalities and individual strengths, what we all shared were big challenges ahead!. From day one we realized that the only way to overcome hardships and the pressure of studying in the most recognized university in the world was to extend our hands to the next person. In the short and intense period of 10 months, we struggle with frustration and difficulties in three areas: exploring a career, developing the skill set, and juggling with stress.

Firstly, finding the right path after MIT is not an easy task. Since each one of us is a supply chain expert with a diverse industries experience, we ourselves acted as a guide for each other who wanted to explore his/her career in different field. We counted on each other, sharing information about the companies, opportunities, and career fairs, and most importantly, using our free time to help each other prepare for interviews. Not because it was mandatory or the right thing to do, but because we cared about everyone’s success through this program for the people next to us.

Secondly, MIT SCM program throws you a challenge, asking you to drink from a firehose. Considering different background of each student, it is natural that not everyone has the skillsets to perform best in all these challenges, but since everyone has different skills, we could help each other. The roadblock was surmounted easily even before the program started through the formation of study sessions for peers.

Lastly, you can easily feel exhausted from studying at MIT.  It is not an easy journey. We have to deal with many stressors such as planning for the next step in our careers, handling multiple assignments, and managing our personal lives. It is easy for anyone to feel like giving up sometimes, especially for international students who may not have English as a first language; they cannot share their feelings as easily. After we spend time together, all the pressure we face can be alleviated, because we know that whenever we have a problem, all we have to do is go to our friends and ask for help.

I am excited about the evolution of the MIT SCM program that will be made by future incoming students! Once you come here, be ready to shine with your outstanding expertise working as a member of the SCM leadership team (Vice-President, Social Champion, Career Champion, Ambassador, Research Champion, Editor, Academic Champion, or Finance Controller).

Luiz Barreto | SCM Class of 2020 | SCMr Class President