Today’s post is brought to you by Launch Alum, Tak-Ho Lee.
Summer programs are important. They teach you valuable skills you can’t exactly learn in school; they create long-lasting relationships; they introduce you to people all around the world with different skill sets and perspectives.
Knowing these potential benefits of summer programs, I set out to make my last high school summer worthwhile. I knew I wanted to attend a business (especially an entrepreneurship)-focused program with a structured curriculum, because the closest class to business I have in school was AP Economics. Thus, armed with recommendations from upperclassmen and counselors, I chose to apply to MIT Launch along with many other summer business programs.
Launch’s application was like none other; it didn’t consist of the boring, old “Describe yourself in 200 words” or “Why do you want to attend this program?” Instead, the application also asked us to come up with three words that describe us, to rate ourselves from 1-10 regarding specific skills (like leadership), with an interview and even a 90 second video. I found myself introducing “Tak-Ho Lee” more thoroughly than I’ve ever done before. I was chosen for the interview round and was able to explain my entrepreneurial projects with great passion and create a video that encompassed my whole life. Ah, the video.
The video was a very interesting part of the application. It wasn’t only the filming/editing part, but also watching everyone else’s stellar feats on YouTube that was compelling. People were making robots, creating companies with substantial revenues, and winning national awards left and right; I didn’t know how I was supposed to stand out amongst these spectacular applicants. However, as intimidated I was, I also was thrilled about potentially spending four weeks of summer with these talented people of different backgrounds.
Excitement instantly replaced all of that intimidation when I received the acceptance email. By then, even with the choices of other summer programs I had (thankfully), I knew MIT Launch would be the perfect program for me. On top of the fact that no other programs knew me as comprehensively as Launch––ergo knowing I would be a perfect fit in the vibrant community––I knew what kind of people would be attending the program, thanks to the YouTube videos. There was such a diverse group of people, from graphic designers to fine-arts artists, social entrepreneurs, and Python-programmers. There were even students from Kenya to Ireland! I was even more excited to just imagine conversing with all these students conversationally and professionally.
My high expectations for summer 2016 at Launch as an international student from South Korea were far surpassed. I brought in a perspective shaped by my distinct background to whichever project I was working on (to my delight, I was teamed with three other students from three different countries). Even outside the meeting rooms, as the only Korean in the program, I introduced parts of Korean culture to my newly made friends by taking them out to Korean Barbeque and playing Korean indie-music. In addition, I learned about the cultures of not only America, but of Colombia, Kenya, India and more! The attendees had so much to share with their experiences of citizens, entrepreneurs and designers of different countries. Only downside to being an international student? Jetlag.
MIT Launch gave me so much to take back to my home country. Along with the lessons I learned in my team’s startup, all the lectures at Launch were invaluable. I would apply different operational techniques to business competitions, as well as to my own startups in Korea. Last but not least, I cherished the friends (or even potential business partners) I made from all over the world, and the unforgettable memories we made together. The comprehensive application of videos and interviews carefully selected the right people to create a dynamic community and culture; each and every one of us all contributed to make that summer the best.
Special thanks to Renee Ong, another fellow Launchie of 2016!