For decades, MIT has attracted the greatest minds in STEM subject areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as business and entrepreneurship.
My personal love affair with MIT began in the 1990s watching movies like "Contact" and "Independence Day," where the resident genius character had attended MIT. It continued when I was accepted into MIT for my undergraduate studies in computer science & electrical engineering, and is with me today as I continue through the business and entrepreneurial landscape in the U.S. with MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp experience under my belt.
The advent of online learning through MOOCs (massive open online courses) via edX.org and other online platforms allow for lifelong learners to gain expertise and information in a variety of subjects that they might not have easy access to otherwise. The subjects range from history, pure sciences, math, music, computer science, and entrepreneurship, with new courses getting added on a regular basis. Since my educational background is already rich with engineering and art, I looked into business and entrepreneurship classes that were offered by MITx (MITx is the online learning initiative group that interacts with other institutes on edX with the "x" suffix such as the other edX founder, HarvardX). I ventured into the MITx MOOC "E ntrepreneurship 101: Who Is Your Customer?" with little previous entrepreneurship background or business
education, but full of a desire to learn something that I didn't get a chance to explore in school or in my current career trajectory.
Upon completion of Entrepreneurship 101, MITx sent out an email to apply for an on campus bootcamp later that summer in August 2014. I applied because firstly, it would continue my learning on the entrepreneurship path, and secondly, I would get to return to my alma mater. It was an opportunity to experience something completely new while "coming home" to a familiar place. I got accepted into the inaugural bootcamp class, read Bill Aulet's book, "Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup," and applied my newfound knowledge to my startup Altern8 during bootcamp week.
Entrepreneurship is a personal endeavor, yet it cannot be done alone. My team members and fellow bootcampers have great insight and diverse backgrounds. We still talk pretty much every day. The sense of community and mutual learning is still going strong. Not only did I get to dip my toe into an industry I hadn't previously had a chance to try, but also my network bolstered up in ways that couldn't naturally occur at a job or in a degree program at school. Bootcamp was exactly the shot in the arm my career
and lifelong learning momentum needed.
MITx Entrepreneurship Bootcamp is an example of blended learning where an online MOOC can continue offline and in person. The in person component was a very appealing and important component to me. It meant working on an international team with diverse experiences towards a common purpose to deliver a pitch on a newly formed company using the disciplined entrepreneurship 24 steps (fondly called "DE24") by the end of the week. Bootcamp solidified what I had read in Bill Aulet's book and what I watched in the EShip 101 MOOC videos. It all culminated in a presentation of a body of work that I could not do in isolation.
Before MITx Bootcamp in 2014, I frequently worked alone on my own projects, whether it was coding or artistic endeavors. Bootcamp enabled me to work on an international team with different dynamics than what I found in school (MIT is very lone wolf competitive!) but more similar dynamics to what I have experienced at work (timely results delivered in an exemplary manner on a team). As one of the startup projects I chose to work on during the week, I became the de facto project lead, HR contact, and CTO, all while being the resident MIT alum in the class and occasional campus tour guide. It was a busy week, exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting.
I encourage you to apply to the MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in Seoul which will occur March 20-25, 2016. Hope to see you there!
Maggie Oh is a Lead VFX and lighting artist at NVidia Corporation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from MIT in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.