Everything You Need to Know – LaunchX Summer Application: Part 2
By Laurie Stach
October 19, 2017
Earlier this week, we shared the first article of a two-part series about what we’re looking for in the application for our summer entrepreneurship program. In part one of the series, we discussed the general information section, your school transcripts, and our short answer questions.
In this article, we’ll cover the most important parts of the application—your activities, portfolio, and video. These are the sections in which you get to showcase your experience, initiative, work ethic, and everything else that makes you unique, and a stand-out candidate for LaunchX.
Completing Your Summer Entrepreneurship Program Application
1) Your Activities Involvement
In this section, we want you to give us a sense for your passions, interests, and your ability to create real impact. We want to see that you are motivated and action-oriented in pursuing the things that matter to you. Show us that you are entrepreneurial—an ambitious and purpose-driven self-starter who rises to the challenge.
At the top of this section are a few checkboxes to help us quickly see if you have extensive experience already—is is not expected or required that you check any of these boxes.
You may add up to five activities, plus provide a brief summary of your entrepreneurial experience and other involvements. We care about quality over quantity—you do not need to fill in all five activities and you should be selective in what you share. Pick the ones that are most meaningful to you and those that demonstrate your entrepreneurial aptitude, and provide them in order starting with one most important to you. Within each activity, you will include the following—
- Activity Type: This helps us quickly understand the activity before reading further into the description
- Name of Activity: Most items will have a title, such as the name of a school club (“Hopkinton High School debate club”) or the name of the sport (Los Altos High School gymnastics team), or this could be the name of your startup or the company for which you intern
- Role: Put your current role (ex.”intern” or “team captain”) If you have had multiple roles, please one record your most current position in this field—you may clarify in the description. If you participate in a sport or a club you may put “member,” or if you are on the leadership or founding team you can specify that role. If you are both the founder and president of a club, choose “founder” for this field, as this demonstrates entrepreneurialism.
- Involvement: Record the average number of hours you commit to this activity per week throughout the full year. So, if you commit more hours to a sport in the winter season than you do during the rest of the year, this section should reflect that. Help us in this review by determining the average hours per week, in addition to the number of weeks during the year you participate and the number of years you have participated. Please put the length of time, not the calendar year (example: “2 years”, not “2017, 2016”).
- Description: The word limit for this section is a 100 word maximum, though most successful applicants don’t need anywhere near this many words. In this section, highlight your specific contribution to the club, team, company, or other activity in which you are involved and the impact of this contribution. This is not intended to be a personal reflection on what your club means to you (that’s what the video is for)—simply describe what you did and the impact, or result, of that action. For example, you may say that you led the organization of a town-wide fundraiser for Hurricane Maria releif, resulting in $8000 dollars in donations to UNICEF. Be as concise as possible.
- Summary of entrepreneurial experience: Much like the descriptions for your activities, your summary should be concise—focusing on what, exactly, you contributed and the impact of that effort. Save the personal explanation of why this is meaningful to you for the video.
- What do you do for fun?: What do you actually do for fun? You should not use this answer to showcase an accomplishment. We want to get a sense for who you are, beyond the résumé items.
2) Your Portfolio
When you complete your application, we ask you to self-select if you are a builder, brander, or business developer. The portfolio section is only for those who identify as “builders” and/or “branders.”
|This is the technical cofounder or product developer. Included in this category are makers, mechanical engineers, programmers, developers, hackers, and artisans.||This cofounder connects the brand to the customer through design and marketing. Branding skills include web and product design, graphic design, and writing—the ability to craft compelling messaging for your website and marketing.||This cofounder plans and implements the sides of the business that will make it profitable and sustainable, focusing on internal operations and external sales and customer acquisition.|
Often, people who identify as builders or branders have done cool things within their activities that words just can’t capture. The portfolio is an opportunity to share more about these projects. Your porfolio submissions should include (a) pictures and (b) a descriptions of the project and your role in it.
- Pictures: This does not mean pictures of you at an event or with a team—we only want to see the thing you built or designed. Some examples may include—
- Screen shot of an app you published
- A science fair project
- A prototype of an innovation you developed
- Flyers or logos you designed
- An image of a website you designed or developed
- Description: At the bottom, clarify your specific role. This is especially important for projects that were team-based. Let us know what role you played on the team and which components of the project you worked on so that we have a clearer perspective of your experience. You may also consider including a link to a website if relevant.
3) Your Video
The video component of the application for our summer entrepreneurship program is essentially your opportunity to pitch yourself. Pitching is a key skill for an entrepreneur, so it’s important that you show us your best work.
You are asked to develop a video of 30 to 90 seconds. No, you may not exceed this time limit, and there are no exceptions to the time limit to accomodate your awesome video wizardry. We want you to only share what you think is most important, not your whole life story. We want to get to know who you are and what motivates you.
The prompt is simple—ensure you cover:
- Who you are
- What you care about
- Why you are interested in entrepreneurship
Here are a few key items we love to see:
- Self-awareness—Don’t just share facts about yourself, but elaborate on why these things matter.
- Personability—The best candidates are able to balance confidence and humility when introducing themselves.
- Passion—We love to see you’re are excited by what you do!
Here’s a short playlist of application videos from some of the students admitted for our summer 2017 program. You can also find lots of previous application videos on YouTube by searching “MIT Launch Application.” Please note—the prompt and guidelines have changed each year, so please be sure to read the instructions on the application and do not try to mimic past videos.
Remember, the video is your opportunity to pitch yourself. The most important things that we want to learn from the application are who you are and what makes you tick. Through your video, you’re able to show the person behind the activities and academic achievements, and this can go a long way in your application. The community is such a huge part of what allows LaunchX to make such a powerful impact on all of the students, so it’s also important that we are able to see that you will be an open-minded and collaborative teammate.
4) Entrepreneurial Pledge:
This should be the last thing you submit, since it includes your signature upon completion. Here, we have you confirm that you understand our expectations for the young entrepreneurs at LaunchX—that you will commit yourself to collaborating, growing, and challenging yourself fully. Here’s a preview of some of our alumni reciting the pledge—