By Jessi Murray '10
I'm a senior. We seniors do a lot of things-- we work on SCOPE, we avoid SCOPE, we reminisce about our faraway days as freshmen. Most of all, though, we try to figure out what the heck is going on after graduation. In that way, we've almost reverted back to our high school days. Sending in applications, meeting for interviews, and trying to make big decisions without really knowing what we're doing.
I'm proud to say, though, that I know what I'm doing. Starting this July, I'll be working as a Program Manager for Microsoft in the Windows division.
Microsoft recently decided (at least in part due to the success of past Olin grads there) that they really wanted more Olin students. Why? Because Olin's curriculum actually prepares you incredibly well for the Program Manager role. It has been often noted that Olin students enter jobs after graduation and perform as though they had 3-5 years of experience. Essentially, you're getting 4 years of experience while here.
Olin's curriculum definitely does have its flaws; sometimes theory is glossed over in favor of practical applications, and we don't have as much depth as a larger institution. For that reason, those who are aiming to go into research and academia often have to push a little bit harder to get that background (though they are usually pretty successful at it). For industry's purposes, though, Olin has really made me an incredibly strong applicant.
I've worked on academic teams (including across disciplines and colleges) for the past 4 years, building up communication skills. I've been taught how to really embrace user-centered design. You learn how to learn here, and you learn how to fly by the seat of your pants successfully. I think an excellent adjective for an average Olin student would be "scrappy." And, certainly, Olin's name getting me an IBM internship last year didn't hurt when it came time to look at my resume.
It's nice to feel like my gamble paid off. I turned down a lot of big name schools, including that one with the dome in Cambridge. For a while freshman year, I was convinced that I had really messed up. I don't think that anymore.
For now, I get to relax, look for apartments in Seattle, and get as much time in with my puppy back at the family home before I move. It's been a crazy 4 years, but I think it's going to be a crazy next few as well.