Launched in 2001 with 73 students, MIT’s Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) helps prepare students for the world of work they will encounter when they leave MIT — a lesson that MIT students want to learn. This year, 503 sophomores — nearly half the Class of 2015 — signed up for the year-long professional-development program.
"We’re thrilled with the strong enrollment, and the chance to help MIT students develop the 'street smarts' they need to complement their core disciplinary studies,” says Susann Luperfoy, the program’s executive director. Now 11 years old, the program has built a strong reputation not only on campus with students, but with employers who return every year to hire UPOP sophomores as interns.
Through a curriculum of coached learning through practice, UPOP prepares students for the many “real worlds” they will encounter when they leave campus. The program introduces the knowledge, tools and cognitive frameworks students need to translate their training in engineering, science and math into valuable skills for the workplace. UPOP students practice engineering specification, team decision-making, project management, user-centered product design and awareness of micro-culture differences with guidance from faculty, staff and MIT alumni — seasoned professionals from a range of professions. With coached practice in professional networking, principled negotiation and reputation building, students take active control of their careers two years before graduation.
This year, UPOP alumni will be returning to help teach current UPOP students — including Drew Houston, CEO and founder of DropBox and this year's Commencement speaker, who will return in January to speak with sophomores about team entrepreneurship.
UPOP accepts sophomores from all Institute majors with all career destinations. This year’s UPOP class includes students from all five schools. For more information, visit http://upop.mit.edu/.