Thursday, June 13, 2013

LGO with a Baby? Are you crazy?

When my husband and I were deciding whether or not to come to LGO, one of our biggest hesitations was delaying starting a family.  At that point, we had been married for four years, owned a home, and I had been bitten by the “baby bug”. LGO seemed like an amazing opportunity so we decided to put starting a family off for a few more years since we felt like we were still pretty young (26 at the time).

At the end of my first year of school, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that I was pregnant!  My due date was the first day of spring classes my final semester at MIT. LGO is already a ton of work and a huge time commitment. Some people assumed I’d just be quitting the program. Apparently the last female LGO to attempt this was 20 years ago! In my eyes I saw this as a huge blessing to be able to be a part of the program AND get to start a family at the same time. 

My first trimester was during the second half of my [off-cycle] internship. I had pretty bad morning sickness and would always have saltine crackers, almonds, and sprite with me to help ease my stomach during status update meetings. When I told the MGH team that I was pregnant, they just figured I really liked saltines!

Since I knew I would have a newborn my final semester, I loaded up on classes that fall. I finished all my engineering coursework and took the maximum number of credits in addition to TAing an engineering class I had taken the previous year. Classes kept me pretty busy despite wanting to sleep all the time!

My pregnancy timing only scared me about one thing- recruiting. I was afraid no one would want to hire me with a baby bump! Turns out that all worked out fine (see Recruiting Advice) and I received multiple offers.

I even went to Camp Sloan as a counselor. This included a 45-minute hike up to the cabin with our gear and it turned out to be dark and snowing during our particular trek up to the cabins!

Six months pregnant at Camp Sloan
The MIT community was so incredibly supportive! My Sloan classmates, LGOs and SOs from the year after than me, and my class of LGOs and their SOs all threw me showers. We were so thankful for their generosity!
Sloan Shower
LGO 13 Shower Hostesses
Noah ended up coming two weeks early which was hugely helpful in recovering before starting classes two weeks after that. I ended up not having to miss a single class due to the birth. (I did end up missing a few towards the end due to senioritis however.) I ended up being able to present my thesis at Knowledge Review five days after giving birth!

Knowledge Review
My mom, mother-in-law and best friend, all flew up and took turns helping me with dishes, watching Noah, and doing laundry. For six weeks all I had to do was feed Noah, go to class, and sleep. It was pretty magical. I don’t know how Brad and I could have handled it on our own.
Mother-in-law Jane
My friend Sabrina
My husband is a fantastic partner in everything we do and having a baby was no exception! He was great at making sure I had enough sleep and supporting me emotionally when things were tough. Just in general, he was extremely supportive through LGO. I couldn't have done half of what I did without him (sometimes literally, as an Mechanical Engineer, he helped me in my mechanical assemblies class).
The Bradford
The hardest part of the semester was writing my thesis. It was due a month after I delivered, so I essentially wrote the entire thing in two weeks with a two week old baby. That part was actually pretty stressful. Here's Noah helping me with my thesis.
Noah helping me :-)

In the end, all my classes were passed and my advisor signed off on my thesis- woohoo!
My advisor signing my thesis
Finally done!
I’m excited to finally get my “maternity leave” over the summer before heading off to work!

Check out all the LGO’s whose wives had babies this year: With help from LGO community, new parents juggle work and family life

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Recruiting Advice

This time last year I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work or what I wanted to be doing but I knew that recruiting season was coming up quickly! In April of my first year I met with Julie Papp from the Career Development Office and asked for advice narrowing down my prospects. Julie explained that there are three primary dimensions to filter on when researching jobs: Function, Industry, and Location. For me, location and function were most important and what drove my career search. Together, we came up with the following “to-do” list for exploring career options:

Create a list of characteristics you are looking for in a job, prioritize them and think about “deal-breakers”
For me this list included over 17 items but some of the things that were at the top of the list were that the role be intellectually challenging, have a clear plan of succession preparing me for leadership, require little to no travel, have exposure to management, and have a good work life balance.

Explore companies in specific geographies
For me, it was important to find a job in a city where my husband either had a job or could easily find employment. For us, that narrowed it down to just a few cities in the US. I did research on which companies were in those cities through “top companies” lists on Forbes, US News and World Report, and the Boston book of lists websites. Once I had a list of companies, I looked through the Sloan and LGO databases to find out if they had recruited at Sloan in the past and gathered information about roles for which they have historically recruited.

Research industries
MIT Sloan has subscriptions to Hoovers and Plunkett databases that have loads of industry information. I looked through those industry lists and created “no way”, “yes, sounds good” and “maybe” lists of which industries I’d be interested in.

Learn about company cultures
Fitting in with a company culture was very important to me and I knew I couldn’t pick that up just from a website or even a recruiter coming to campus. The summer before recruiting season I reached out via my network to find employees at each of the companies I was considering. This gave me an honest view of the company and what it was like to work there.

Going into recruiting season I had narrowed my list of companies I wanted to interview with down to five with specific roles I was interested in. In each interview, I knew at least one of the people interviewing me from speaking with them the summer before. Not only did this put me at ease during the interviews, it also showed them that I was genuinely interested in their company. From the information gathered over the summer, I could speak intelligently about their company and the role they were interviewing for. In the end, much to my surprise, I received offers from all five companies in cities that I wanted to move to, with roles that fit my criteria, in industries I was interested in. It made for a very difficult decision but in the end I chose an internal consulting role with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. I’m very excited about the people with whom I’ll be working and the potential impact I hope to have on their employees!