Aamil Razia Shakri
Thinking of IAP, an amalgamated smile of exhilaration mixed competitive adrenaline runs on our face. And now that we have experienced one – sharing the fun, frolic and fatigue of IAP.
IAP provides with a unique opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities, including how-to sessions, forums, simulation games, lecture series, industrial tours, research expo, career opportunities and contests.
When you arrive for the IAP, you are exposed to broad multicultural diversity. It provides an indigenous platform to understand cultures and work environment of other countries. At the same time, it gives you the liberty to build your own SCALE network.
The first and foremost is the VISA application and its approval. Visa application can be a bit tricky and luck oriented. We came across various situations this year during VISA processing. While Citizens of many country need not apply for a VISA, it is suggested those who need one apply for the US Visa from their home country. Chances of securing a VISA is higher from home country, as we faced few initial rejections.
Valid documents showing strong ties with your home country or the country you reside in is one of the important aspects that is looked for. In order to establish the same, one may show property in one’s name, ancestral property, strong family ties (Wife / Children) at home country, prospect of job in home country, sabbatical from company or any document to prove the point. Students belonging to Countries such as Pakistan, Iran & India faced a higher level of scrutiny during the process. In 2014 batch, many students had prior US visa and did not re-apply.
The interview is most crucial aspect of the VISA process. It depends on the VISA interviewer’s perception of you. How much ever prepared you may be with your documents, what and how you pitch in front of the interviewer is of greater significance. If he/she feels that you are trying to hide something or trying to be deceptive or may become an immigrant in US, then he/she has the full right to reject your application. One needs to put all documents in order and right perspective. Besides the obvious documents mentioned above, a secondary ID and appointment letter is must for the entering the embassy. Step by step application procedure is given on the US immigration websites.
The key to cracking the interview is to be polite, confident and well versed with your documents and future prospects. Few of us faced rejection during the first round while most of us sailed through without any glitch in the second application. The officers make a note of all the points you discuss and at any point your statements should not be contradictory. At the same time the officers are trained in psychometrics to analyse human behaviour. For instance, during my second application interview, I was asked to talk about myself without the blink of an eyelid and without looking at the documents, while the interviewer stared critically analysing my behaviour and expressions.
Once the US VISA was secured, we booked our respective tickets given the timeline to reach Boston. Most of us had ample time to visit our home or travel to other countries prior and after the IAP. It is quite obviously beneficial to book the round trip ticket from KL ($1200-$1600) or any other country. Kayak.com / Skyscanner.com are few suggested sites. One can directly fly to Boston or fly to New York and then catch a Boston bound Coach (20$ approx.).
Travelling to USA would require certain amount of obvious precautions such as proper attire to battle the cold – overcoat or layers, woollen caps, gloves, muffler and boots. There is heavy penalty on extra luggage, so one needs to be careful with heavy woollen clothes. One should possess passport on him at all times. Travel and health insurance certificates are arranged by MISI before leaving. Flu shots are to be taken before flying to US either from Malaysia or home country. KLINIK MENARA, address at Ground Floor No 10 (Jalan Pelapik CU8/C), 40150 Bukit Jelutong Shah Alam, tel 03-7843 9101 and about 2 km to MISI, provide Flu Shots
Depending on respective budget, most of the students carried a mix of cash and card for expenses in US. International Forex cards are also available.
Jetlag can be torturous and on a long flight such as ours, it is evident. Many of us faced jetlag on reaching US. During the initial days at IAP, Kurt used to get up at 3 in the morning and ask Arm to talk to him, while many slept sleepy by during the noon.
Deputy Director of CTL, Jim Rice while his visit to MISI shared with us his recipe to battle jetlag. Here it goes. Hope it would be of help.
Personally I feel, one can tackle jetlag by managing and synching sleep during the flight with the destination schedule.
Many of us faced high level of frisking and questions related to US visit on airports such as London, Brussels, Amsterdam and other stop overs. One should have all documents when being interviewed by the US immigration officer at the airports. This is another official process that needs to be given the same attention as the one for VISA Application in the US Embassy. None of us faced any baggage related issue but one needs to be cautious and keep the check-in ticket with care for the times of despair.
IAP EXPERIENCE – Lodging, Food & Hospitality
Well the weather in Boston can sometimes drive you crazy, especially in the winters. Most of us arrived In Boston to break few records. Newspapers flashed the first week of January to be the coldest in two decades. A snowfall of more than 24inchs in just two days left us playful in the eyes and stranded at our respective lodgings in Boston. Still there were many who had not made it to Boston and were in different cities in US. The flights were getting cancelled and bus services denied. Such was the fury of white snow that a group spent the night at the train station in New York. Soham, Prashant, Tabiash, Manish & Kurt shivered in the cold during that dreadful night they spent seeking ways to reach Boston. Their bus to Boston was cancelled due to snow and they had no option but to wait with patience. The following day they caught the train to Boston paying a whopping $100 for the ticket. Finally they reached the warm and cosy hospitality of Marriott Residence.
Such was the wrath of weather God that the Niagara Falls froze, but that did not stop many of us from travelling and see places around. While Sanchit, Arm and Eason wandered around in New York in their multilayer and heavy artillery of clothes, Arun, Aaron & I gathered courage to travel around in Boston. Farhan in Dallas, Shekhar in Michigan, Haci in Mexico, Stanley & Abhay in the west coast were at ease but all were apprehensive about their respective flight cancellation. With God’s grace, all reached well in time.
Residence Inn by Marriott , our humble abode for the entire IAP, is located at 3-4 minutes from host building. It is well equipped and managed to provide utmost comfort and satisfaction. The rooms are spacious for 2 persons with a Queen bed, a convertible bed-couch, TV, dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine and cooking utensils. Free-Wifi service is provided through out the stay. In case you are a cooking enthusiast you are proved with a Micro wave and a cooking hot plate. All necessary utensils are available for one to ignite their taste buds with self-cooked food. However, that taste entirely depends on your enthusiasm and culinary skills. A reminder about the super sensitive smoke detectors. While our stay the fire brigade dropped by thrice to stay hello. Any cooking smoke from kitchen or cigarettes can make you rush to the ground floor in your wonderful half-clad attire.
And those who don’t wish to cook such as myself, can easily escape and survive. Breakfast was served every morning till 9:30am. Variety of food is served but over the time it may grow less tasty as menu remains the same. However, one could pick few of the items for lunch from the breakfast. Three of the week days (Tue,Wed,Thurs) evening snacks was provided which took care of our dinner. Residence Inn also organised a party for all the IAP participants to strengthen the association. It can be noted that the food here is not Halal and not Kosher. There is good scope for vegetarians though. Besides, you cannot stay hungry in the land of Pizzas and if you have access to Dominos.com. Pizza is available at your beck and call and they are economical and tasty. There are other delivery options as well. Checkout on Yelp.com. Moreover, there are a number of restaurants around the place – Chinese ,Thai, Mediterranean, Desi, Mexican etc. Ethanol lovers, needless to say, can find many hotspots and buzz grounds. Boston is very well connected through metro/subway/tube/T. The small school across the river, Harvard, is just 2 stations away.
As expected, we were overwhelmed with the magnanimous and hectic schedule throughout the IAP. We saw several leisure slots but somehow they were also occupied by the tasks given. Though sessions were power packed, we had an opportunity to make friends and learn how to work with newly met and embrace their working habits in short period of time.
Several speakers from industry joined us to shed light on the trends and challenges of the global supply chain. VP and Senior executives from BASF, Starbucks, UPS, Hershey and Dealer Tyres shared their hands on experience. Their talks were in the form of interviews where the students too had a chance to put forward their thoughts and questions. The experience indeed was of great value and learning. After every talk, there was another round of recorded interview where the guest interacted with the few students from SCALE centres. This gave a very valuable platform to the students to directly discuss and interact with the bosses in the professional world.
The many games played and group tasks during the IAP gave a great opportunity to connect with peers. Each task was performed in a group 4, each group comprised of students from all centres of SCALE Network. The favourite and most talked about was the fresh connection. The Fresh Connection delivers the value chain learning experience and helps to understand the power of alignment and a well-articulated supply chain strategy, supported by tactical skills and knowledge. After months of toil we finally retour fellow Fresh Connectors during IAP to take up the challenges of the next round. Fresh Connections is an online simulation game which the MIT SCALERS play to apply their supply chain knowledge. Teams of 4 are formed comprising each member from one of the SCALE centres. In total 12 rounds are played. 6 online from our home centres and 6 rounds during IAP. And believe me, there is a whopping reward for being the top team. Stanley bagged the top slot from MISI. Besides TFC, we played several other simulation games such as SCM Globe, Jim Curry Simulation, Manhattan Slotting Game by Manhattan Associates etcetera. Each game taught us a lesson in practical domain.
APICS Case competition organised by APICS society, Boston chapter, witnessed a lot of vigour and energy in the participating team. Case study on the Maquiladoras and its prospects in the ever dynamic Global economy left all pondering, researching and planning. Stanley and Prashant were among the top 3 teams who bagged the prize. Another crucial case on Panama Canal Expansion was introduced. The Panama Canal is in the midst of a $5.25 billion effort to expand its locks to meet current transit volumes, expand vessel transits supporting global trade growth, and to accommodate larger vessel sizes afloat today and in the future. Since many of us visited the Panama Canal after IAP, the case study served as an opening window.
We also had an opportunity to listen to the research works of our professor. Each presentation flooded us with mysterious questions, dazzle and next level of bafflement – research in the field of Logistics cluster by Dr.Sheffi, changing demographics towards small, grey& female by Joe Coughlin from AgeLabs, impact of social media on tracking consumer behaviour by Marta Gonzales, significance of cyber security by Abel Sanchez or research on Sustainable Development by Jason Jay. Industrial tours to Quiet Logistics, Walgreens, New Balance, ABINBEV & Boston Scientific allowed us to better understand the impact of technology and automation in the supply chain domain.
However busy and occupied we were, we did squeeze out time to enjoy and live the moments. The bonds grew fonder with the after class parties – few official and few spontaneous. Over the weekends a bunch of students made their way to ice clad mountains to Ski (Thank God nobody broke their bones) while some drove off to other locations. Amidst the fun and fatigue, even the MISI SCALErs got together over a lunch to catch-up with our mentors Dr.Singh and Dr.Ata. Dr.David Gligor joined the bandwagon and shared his experience and invincible jokes.
Soon arrived the Big Day of our Research Expo. Months of toil had gone behind to prepare and exhibit the research being done. Prior rehearsals were conducted for the expo and we learnt about each other’s interest and work. On the day, fine gentlemen and ladies stood next to their posters, demonstrating to the industry representatives their effort. The MIT Media lab hosted several thought provoking discussions among the members of the floor. Nitipum received the best poster prize from MISI. Indeed it was an evening of immense pride for all SCALErs. Many companies had come around looking for students who fit company’s requirements. Besides, there were interviews and placement sessions conducted by many companies prior to the expo.
Sometimes, we come across events which get etched in our mind and heart. The experience of IAP is such an episode in our life that we all will cherish and apply the learning in future.
-Aamil Raza Shakri
Here’s Places to Visit in Boston (Suggested by SCALE Network)
• Museum of Science (any day):
• Frog Pond Ice Skating – we may coordinate an activity here
• Monster Sledding at Fenway:
• US Figure Skating Championships at TD Garden:
• There’s always Brewery Tours:
• Freedom Trail Tours and Walking Maps:
• MFA / Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum (wealthy arts supporter home from the 1800’s)
• Newbury – has high end to medium end boutique shopping
• Prudential/Copley shopping malls
• Outlet shopping – should look up transportation
o Celtics (cheap for seats, stubhub.com)
o Patriots – expensive, expect >$200/seat + transportation, use craigslist.org for last minute opportunities
– use Yelp.com to find places, below are some suggestions
Italian/North End: North End – 150+ Italian Restaurants, mostly on Hanover St.
• Giacomo’s is the most popular place, expect to wait in line
• Assiago – http://www.assaggioboston.com/
• Bricco – http://www.bricco.com/
• The Original Pizzeria Regina – best pizza in Boston – http://www.reginapizzeria.com/
• Modern Pastry vs. Mike’s Pastry – An ongoing Boston debate about who makes the best cannoli
• Shabu-Zen – 2 Locations, Boston (Chinatown) and Allston – http://www.shabuzen.com/index.html
• Hei La Moon – Boston – http://www.heilamoon.com/
• Brown Sugar Café – Boston/Allston – http://www.brownsugarcafe.com/
• The Similians – Cambridge – http://www.thesimilans.com/
• Eagles Deli – Boston/Brighton – Cleveland Circle – http://eaglesdeli.com/
• Pour House – Boston – http://www.pourhouseboston.com/
•B & G Oysterhouse – http://bandgoysters.com/ (Little pricy, but great quality food, and I think they might have specials during the week?)
•Legal Seafoods – Lots of these in Boston, and in Cambridge. Get the clam chowder
• Top of the Hub (top floor of Prudential building) – get a drink, not food
• Drinking – sort of classy: Boylston St. (Mass Ave Tavern, Cactus Club, Dillons, Pour House, McGreevy’s, Whiskey’s
• Medium classy – Fenway – Cask n Flagon, Cornwall’s, Yard House, Jerry Remy’s, Baseball Tavern
• Lower classy – Faneiul hall – Bell in Hand (oldest bar in America, Union Oyster House next door is oldest restaurant), Hennessey’s, Hong Kong, Clark’s,
• Ned Devine’s in Faneuil area is popular w/ college students for fun dancing
• Craft beer scene (near your hotel) – Cambridge Brewing , Lord Hobo (bar opened by the winnings of MIT students beating Blackjack in Vegas, they made a movie about it called ‘21’),
• Royale – http://royaleboston.com/
• Storyville – http://storyvilleboston.com/
• Rumor – http://rumorboston.com/
• Bijou – http://bijouboston.com/
• Eemerald http://www.emeraldultralounge.com/
• Cure http://curelounge.com/
Aamil Razia Shakri
Class of 2014