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Name: Benjamin Moncivaiz
Job: Fellow at D-Lab
Current City: Cambridge, MA
School: MIT - Class of 2011
Major: Structural Engineering
At the beginning of my senior year, I hit my networks hard with inquiries for an active team working on a real international development project. A particular start-up emerged a couple of times, so among the other followups to other teams, I approached them with my strong interest to join. After a good conversation, we found that their needs and my skills matched well. I began working for them on a volunteer basis half-way through my senior year. The work with this start-up transitioned into a paying position the summer after graduation. Upon hearing the news that I would be moving overseas, I was approached and asked to consider staying at MIT instead and work for D-Lab. Both organizations were in a position to wait until the middle of the summer to find out my decision, so it gave me time to go ahead and either ramp up or peter off my involvement in the start-up.
The most difficult thing to do was to choose between the wide variety of options that presented themselves my senior year. Do I stay in the US? Do I go into a mainstream corporate job? Do I boot-strap for the first year? First, I needed to realize exactly what I wanted to learn coming right out of college…what did I need to build first? My conclusion: I needed more field work experience (and also broadening of my global network, which came in tow). After processing through that, I did not consider any projects that did not meet that goal. Processing through what the missing piece was made it much easier to either rule out complete sectors right away (US-based consulting) or eliminate projects that did not fit (idea-phase projects/start-ups).
I am still working at MIT's D-Lab. I am gaining much field experience, meeting lots of people, and gaining more and more skills and confidence as the months pass.
I wish I would have known that people are pretty open to cold-calls…if you do them right. One must strike the right tone in the email "cover letter" and have a resume to back up the request for them to listen to your unsolicited idea/thoughts. If they really don't have a possibility for a position, they are often pretty helpful in directing you to somewhere else that might do similar work.
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