If you ask our UPOP alums, years after graduation, what they most remember about their sophomore UPOP year, you’ll often hear: “My mentor!”
UPOP is renowned for the quality of its cohort of mentors. These remarkable people, mostly MIT alums, return at their own expense year after year to spend a week coaching teams of students during our intense experiential Team Training workshops, which are held over January’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) and in early spring.
When MIT founded UPOP (the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program) in September 2001, it was with the intent of bringing the “real world” to the students, providing abundant opportunities for them to practice skills that will be essential to their success in the professional world, such as communication, decision-making, and teamwork.
Who better to help the students understand the importance of these skills than those who can share years of experience, building companies from the ground up, working in complex teams creating innovative products, sending a camera to swing by Pluto, running a corporation or a university department? With backgrounds varying from entrepreneurial to intrapreneurial, corporate to startup, global to local, our mentors have included the head of mergers and acquisitions for IBM, the CEO of Bell Helicopter, the COO of Pioneer Resources, senior VP's of 3M and Bayer, the founders of MobiTV, SynQor, Mitek and Menlo Innovations, an astronaut, a surgeon, an internist and medical informatics entrepreneur and a documentary filmmaker. Our students spend a working week being coached by and getting to know CEOs, CTOs, COO's, senior recruiters, VC's, government officials, scientists, Wall Street investors and bankers, and more. Many students stay connected with their mentors for years.
"The only people who get more out of UPOP than the students are the mentors themselves. I found my role as a mentor to be not only gratifying but a personal journey of self-discovery."
— Steve Projan ’74, Snr VP R&D Innovative Medicines, Head of Infectious Diseases & Vaccines, MedImmune
“Over the years, I have kept in touch with both of my UPOP mentors, who have introduced me to numerous people in the industry. They have been incredibly supportive and helpful!”
— UPOP Class of 2013 alum
UPOP mentors change our students' lives — and have a lot of fun at the same time, as you can see from these team photos.
Read the mentor bios from our recent workshops to learn more about the amazing volunteers who work with our students!
For more information on engaging with UPOP in this important role, please contact:
UPOP Mentor Liaison and Outreach