As a bachelor degree holder in chemical engineering, the reason I chose the MSTM program was simple. I wanted to understand the manager’s vision behind each project or product. While engineers in industries have an ultimate goal to produce more accurate and cost-effective products, sometimes they are unaware of what the market need is for the products. On the other hand, managers who understand the structure of their own industry and market needs are able to picture the future direction of industry development but they may lack of specific knowledge about technology. The communication between engineers and managers can be difficult sometimes due to their specialization and thus I had a strong urge to enter the MSTM program so that I could bridge the gap in industry.
I started my MSTM program from a bit different path. My first semester started with an internship in a Japanese trading company which mainly dealt with optical products. As an intermediary between the factory and brand producer, the trading company requires an understanding in both technology knowledge and market overview. During a 7-week long internship, I was assigned into the international trading division that deals directly with Japanese brands and Chinese factories such as creating trading documents, translating contracts and contacting suppliers and customers. As as a trading company worker, I worked on strengthening our connections to various producers and customers. By creating additional value to both producers and customers, we were able to strengthen our relationship by providing more than just a trading platform.
The additional value I created during the work was safety and communication. As intermediate traders, we provided secure trading method with credible and rigid trading documents. Another frequent risk occurrence in international trading is miscommunication. Our company sent specific agents for every transaction and deal to investigate various problems regarding documental/contractual translation, on-the-spot investigation, report submission and etc. Both quality and speed needed to be insured in order to provide satisfied services.
The experiences in my internship have helped me developed a better understanding on how an industry creates value chains to other participants. After my internship, the following courses in MSTM program continue to provide a more comprehensive and analytical perspective about industries through case studies and simulations. As an U of I engineering student, I was able to learn very quickly how industries should be viewed through a manager’s perspective with a combination of theoretical and practical learning opportunities provided by the MSTM program. Moreover, I’m confident about my future career which will be competitive because of the intersectional knowledge of engineering and management.