Current student and Student Advisory Board President, Chloe Tai, is originally from Taipei Taiwan. She came to MEM after earning her Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering at University of Illinois at Chicago. Like many MEM prospective students, Chloe was ready to advance her career, but was unsure of the type of degree that would benefit her most. We talked to her about her decision and how MEM has impacted her career:
What made you decide to pursue the MEM degree?
After working in the pharmaceutical industry for several years, my personal debate was to whether to pursue an MBA or an Engineering Masters degree. After evaluating the degree benefits with my personal goals, I chose to go with the MEM degree. To me, MEM is ideal for technical professionals who wish to continue growing in the technical space while expanding the horizons to learn business and management principles regardless of industries.
With my engineering consulting job, I was fortunate to start learning and practice business aspects of things hands-on. On the other hand, I also wanted to take courses that can provide me with a stronger foundation to practice in the field. I also realized that the technical aspects of foundations are hard to come by unless the job provides you with targeted training. With the MEM curriculum, it was appealing to me that not only does it offer advanced technical courses in various concentrations such as managerial analytics or NuVention on entrepreneurship, it also offers courses that help shape engineers to be better leaders, courses such as negotiation, strategic management, leadership and organization. Another appealing factor was that it allows students to take interdepartmental courses as electives to explore different technical directions. Last but not least, it offers flexibility for students to choose between full time and part time tracks. As I decided to continue working while pursuing the MEM degree, the flexibility of the program has allowed me to take courses at my own pace.
What was the best part of MEM?
I really enjoy learning from my classmates and professors who are working professionally in different industries. I have been in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years now, and sometimes it feels like a small world. When I talk to other engineers who work in different industries and entrepreneurs who are developing their own product/companies, I realize how many more possibilities there are for engineers.
The fact that our student body consists of technical professionals helps because we have similar engineering foundations when we are in the process of developing new skills. I also like that fact that our program is an in-person program, which enables us to learn from each other in person, and develop the management and leadership skills hands-on.
What do you think your experience will contribute to this program?
I think that having industry experience is essential to being successful in this program. My past experiences gave me insight into my strengths and weakness in the professional world and helped me realize the areas in which I need to improve or am interested in developing.
I have not met many in the program who are working in pharmaceutical industries; therefore, I can provide different aspects of experiences from pharma companies, both as an engineer and as a business consultant. Furthermore, I learned that many of our students are interested in consulting jobs after the program; by sharing experiences with the students, I hope I can provide some insight to what it is like to be a consultant and the consulting lifestyle.
What would you tell future students?
I’d highly recommend that future students evaluate their personal goals – why they want the degree and what they intend the degree to help accomplish in their careers. Once you have some idea of what you want, it’s easier to steer your curriculum and development while obtaining the degree. I’d also hope that students realize how important networking is. With such a great and prestigious school, there are many resources the Northwestern community can offer; all that has to happen is to network with others and reach the right people to help you.