Mary with Matt Hwang and Chris Marra at Olin Commencement 2012.
Mary Schmidt graduated last May from Olin. The interesting thing is that the day BEFORE she received her Bachelor's in Engineering on Olin's campus, she received her Master's of Science in Management with a Concentration in Technological Entrepreneurship from Babson College. How often does THAT happen?
Why did Mary decide to go that route?
Starting a company is something Mary has always wanted to do. Having control over her life and the work she does is an appeal that many people can relate to. "I know that if I do a great job, my life will be exactly what I want it to be. Starting and maintaining a successful business may be tough, but it'll be rewarding."
A traditional "job" didn't seem to offer this kind of control, plus Mary "always enjoyed doing lots of random stuff and different projects," which was part of why she came to Olin in the first place.
With that kind of determination, it's no surprise that Mary decided to enroll in the Babson M.S.M. program, starting the first semester of her junior year. "The business school curriculum was interesting, but I really enjoyed the people I met there - they were fantastic!"
Being exposed to everyone from business executives with 20 years of industry experience to single mothers working multiple jobs exposed Mary to perspectives and ways of thinking that have proved invaluable in her life. "The emphasis at Olin is about getting stuff working and delivering. At Babson, the emphasis is on learning from the people you meet. Instead of focusing on getting a single project working, you build a business from the ground up and pitch it in front of the class. That's what surprised me most about going to Babson. It wasn't about the class - for me, it was more the experience of meeting so many new and interesting people."
"Working with other MBA students has also helped me see the bigger picture when approaching problems, and has shaped my intuition. At Olin, I learned to develop an intuition for mechanical things, but Babson helped develop my intuition about the mechanics of companies. I never thought that I would be able to gauge the health of a company by looking up their financial information."
"Another aspect I really liked about the Babson M.S.M. program was that like Olin, Babson projects are highly interdisciplinary. For one project, my teammates came from marketing, comedy, and computer science backgrounds, and together we built an incredible business plan. Our strengths and weaknesses balanced nicely, and we all brought something unique to the table."
Mary's Olin education helped her at Babson in other ways. "I was able to assess whether or not an idea was mechanically feasible. I could render something in CAD and help other people solidify their ideas. I brought a different perspective to the class and to our projects."
"I'd strongly recommend the program to Oliners who are serious about doing their own thing someday. Taking classes there were helpful in that I had dedicated time to get to know people who had similar goals to mine, but came from very different programs. That made the whole experience a lot more interesting."
Mary is now working as a Customer Experience Engineer for Crashlytics, a startup in Boston, where she is gaining an up-close view of what is involved in starting a company. With her two degrees from Babson and Olin, a couple of great internships, and the experience she is currently getting, the sky's the limit for this fresh grad!