From MOOCs, To Bootcamp, To MIT: A Learning Journey To Become A Social Entrepreneur
I am a social entrepreneur. My passion lies in building high-tech start-ups to improve the quality of life for the underprivileged. As an autodidact, I was attracted to the learning opportunities provided by edX in the area of entrepreneurship and I took MIT edX courses Entrepreneurship 101 and 102 eagerly. These turned out to be invaluable and instrumental in the social start-ups I have been working on. Students from the two courses also had an opportunity to attend the MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp – an intensive one-week in-person training where a group of brilliant people comes together to put entrepreneurship knowledge to practice. I hesitated because of the cost, but after hearing alumni describe it as life-changing, I took the plunge and applied to the Bootcamp in the summer of 2015.
Needless to say, the alumni were right. It was energizing to find like-minded individuals with vision and passion for changing the world. It also got me plugged into a wealth of entrepreneurial support and opportunities. It opened up a whole new world for me.
However, I also came to the realization that many of the entrepreneurship opportunities and services the MIT Bootcampers were exposed to were available only to official MIT students. Hence, I was ineligible to take advantage of these opportunities.
Around the same time, Andrew, one of the Bootcamp staffers, informed me of a program at MIT that just launched called Integrated Design and Management (IDM). It’s a two-year Master’s program that draws students from design, engineering, and business backgrounds to collaborate and learn together from top industry experts. The program is geared towards social entrepreneurs and offers incubator support in the second year of the program. As someone from both design and engineering backgrounds with a focus on social entrepreneurship, I was immediately drawn to the program. However, as an autodidact, I was hesitant to go back to school as I found self-learning to be much more effective for myself (and cheaper too!).
As I started to learn more about the program, I started to realize that many of the learning opportunities at IDM require extensive hands-on practice using equipment that would not be easily accessible to autodidacts. With that in mind, and wanting access to the abundant entrepreneurial opportunities and support at MIT that I have been missing out on, I decided to apply to the program.
The application process was nerve-wracking. It is MIT, after all. I asked for a lot of help from the Bootcamp staff. Despite their busy schedules, they were extremely supportive in writing reference letters, looking over my application, and giving me valuable feedback. Having an internal network at MIT because of edX and the Bootcamp experience really helped. They gave me invaluable advices and a glimpse into what the MIT student life looks like. Today, I’m happy to say that I will be starting the program in fall of 2016.
Thank you edX and the MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for making this possible. It was (and is) indeed life-changing.
Jin Wu, P.Eng.