January at Sloan: IAP, DIP, and other things MIT

First off, congratulations again to the Round 1 AdMITs: we can’t wait to meet you in February and April! And to the Round 2 applicants who submitted their applications earlier this month: congrats to you, too. You’re one step closer to Sloan!

My favorite photo from IAP: Hanging out with some MBAs at a recruiting event for L’Oreal’s consumer products division in New York City

My favorite photo from IAP: Hanging out with some MBAs at a recruiting event for L’Oreal’s consumer products division in New York City

When asked by friends and family–and more often, prospective students–what MBA students do in January, I echo the locally-famous words of Anna Costello, my accounting professor from the core semester when referring to just about everything in business: “It depends.”

The short answer, though, is that here at Sloan, two acronyms define our January: IAP and DIP.

IAP, or the Independent Activities Period, is the official name for MIT’s January term. During this time you’ll find Sloanies doing some combination of working, traveling, and recruiting–often simultaneously.

For those who already miss being outside of the classroom, there are plenty of course offerings during IAP across the Institute, from more structured modules to casual film screenings. A member of my core team, for example, took “Beyonce: Black Feminist Thought in Popular Culture” last week, and another friend of mine took a “Distributed Leadership” seminar.

Many Sloanies do monthlong internships with companies in and outside the Boston metro area. If part of your MIT dream involves getting hands-on work at a startup, IAP is a great time to do it, with many companies at the Trust Center for Entrepreneurship keen on leveraging some business brainpower for the month. In a parallel universe version of this month, you’d have found me studying French, taking the Beyonce class with my core teammate, and interning with the folks at Grove Labs.

A good number of Sloanies can be found traveling around the 50 states and around the world during IAP. Abroad, you’d find 2nd-year MBAs visiting their G-Lab clients and 1st-year Sloanies wrapping up their SEID social enterprise projects all across Latin America and Southeast Asia. Within the States, you’d find many students on club treks visiting different companies–mostly on the West Coast. Earlier this month, the Tech Club was touring Seattle and San Francisco and the Entertainment and Media Club was studio-hopping in Los Angeles. Right now, Healthcare and Retail Clubbers are soaking up sunshine in San Francisco while we in Boston are shoveling snow.

As for DIP? DIP refers to Sloan’s Dedicated Interview Period during which a select group of companies host interviews on campus during the month of January. While much of campus is quiet, the MIT Sloan Career Development Office stays busy, conducting mock interviews with students and entertaining recruiters looking to snag some Sloanie talent for the summer.

Students participating in DIP tend to be those who are recruiting for internships in finance, consulting and big tech, though there are a some retail, healthcare, and industrial companies that interview on campus later in the month. For the first two weeks of January, in particular, study rooms of E62 teem with Sloanies poring over case preparation materials and practicing their responses to the old standby of, “Tell me about yourself,” and more challenging behavioral questions like, “Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from it.” At times, interview prep was as exhausting as my standard coursework, which meant indulging in a proportional number of study breaks to balance things out.

My favorite IAP study break: making homemade cereal from scratch!

My favorite IAP study break: making homemade cereal from scratch!

I’ve been fortunate that for me, DIP and IAP weren’t mutually exclusive: I was able to interview a little bit and travel a little bit. Even as my summer plans remain uncertain, I’m grateful for a January that has taken me to California and New York for both business and pleasure, and–weather permitting–will take me to Colorado before the month is through.

Pending further flight delays, tomorrow I’ll be heading on my first big trip since coming to business school, the annual “Breck Trek,” where over 200 Sloanies will be ringing in the new semester slopeside with a healthy dose of skiing, snowboarding, and socializing.

In short: January at MIT Sloan can be many things. Boring isn’t one of them.

Originally published at mitsloan.mit.edu on January 28, 2015.