Meet our graduates | Lauren Green, BS '21
July 6, 2021. Interviewed by Linda Esquivel. Edited for length and clarity.
As part of MS&E's 2021 graduates podcast series, we chatted with Lauren Green, a recent graduate of the bachelor's program in Management Science and Engineering.
Growing up in Silicon Valley, Stanford became one of the first colleges Lauren learned about at a very early age. She also swam competitively throughout her childhood and high school years, and decided that Stanford was the perfect place to continue her athletic journey. Lauren's interest in engineering was sparked by her parents' stories about her grandfathers, one being an electrical engineer at IBM, and the other an engineer who worked on top-secret government projects. These stories and interactions with her family made a significant impact on her academic plans. Lauren also shares stories about her time at Stanford, what led her to MS&E, and her plans for the future.
I'm Lauren. I'm a senior studying Management Science and Engineering, and I'm concentrating in operations and analytics.
Can you tell me about your background, such as where you grew up?
I grew up in San Jose in a neighborhood called Almaden; it’s 30 minutes away from Stanford. Growing up there definitely played a big role in my interest in attending Stanford; it was one of the first colleges I knew of. I went to the local public middle school and high school and lived with my mom, dad and older brother who went to NYU.
How did you become interested in engineering and Stanford?
Stanford has a huge presence in San Jose. Growing up, you hear of its reputation, and that was something I definitely wanted to achieve, to attend this high level of academic institution. I also swam competitively throughout my childhood into high school, and Stanford’s team is very good; they've won many national championships. That was definitely another interest of mine, trying to get recruited and swim at Stanford.
In terms of engineering, I was exposed to the idea of engineering from a relatively young age. My grandpa on my mom's side unfortunately passed away before I was born, but I heard about how he was an electrical engineer who worked at IBM. And then my grandpa on my dad's side was a mechanical engineer who worked for the government on satellites. His job was top secret, so we didn't really know much more than that. As a young kid, you really look up to your grandparents, so I was intrigued by the idea of being an engineer before I even knew what that meant. Also growing up, I was naturally drawn to STEM and really enjoyed my math and science classes.
Can you tell us about your area of concentration within MS&E?
I'm concentrating in operations and analytics. I had declared my MS&E major at the beginning of sophomore year, but I was unsure what concentration I wanted to pursue. I ended up asking my parents for some advice, and my dad, who works in operations at Facebook, recommended O&A because he thinks that it can be applied in a wide variety of careers, and it's definitely good to have an analytical side. Going forward, I definitely think that it was the right advice, the right decision. As I took more O&A classes, I just really started to appreciate how it can be applied anywhere I go.
For example, I'm interested in eventually entering healthcare, whether that be through operations or medical devices. I’m taking classes on both, and they've really shown me how much data and analytics can change the healthcare system for the better. I’m actually currently in a class on healthcare systems design, and I'm working on a project with Stanford Healthcare’s supply chain. We're using data analytics to help improve their demand planning and help their medical supply better meet clinical needs.
How has the pandemic affected your last year at Stanford?
Like everyone else, this year has definitely not been the senior year I envisioned, and I think overall, it's been relatively tough. I'm a student athlete at Stanford; I'm a member of the varsity swim team, so I have two main aspects to my life at Stanford. I have my academics, and then I have my athletics. For academics, they're definitely very impacted just by having to transition to a remote setting, but luckily I did have a place to study at home. I think the MS&E professors did a great job at transitioning their classes to a remote setting and were honestly just super empathetic to everyone's different situations. It was a fairly smooth transition; the classes are also just well-suited to be given remotely. The biggest challenge is definitely Zoom fatigue and being on your computer all day.
Then I have the athletic side, which was definitely more chaotic. There were times where I would commute to Stanford from San Jose to train. I also had to live off-campus at one point in East Palo Alto in order to train. We really had to make do with what we were allowed to do with COVID regulations, so at some points that meant we would lift weights outside. There was even a period of time where we didn't have locker room access when it was 30 degrees outside. That was pretty tough; we were at 6am practice and it was 30 degrees and we're changing into our swimsuits outside. So our season was definitely impacted. We never really knew what was going to happen, what was going to get canceled last minute. Luckily, we were able to have PAC-12s and NCAAs, but it was without fans and then wearing a mask every moment that you're not racing.
What are your career plans after Stanford and how did you decide on them?
After Stanford, I will be starting a full-time job in August at PayPal. I will be a business systems analyst, which is on the program management track. I'll be working in their infrastructure organization helping manage their portfolio. I ended up with this job because I had worked there as an intern the past two summers, and then I was extended a full-time opportunity. Working as an intern there, I really enjoyed the culture. Everyone is super kind and super willing to help, and I also think PayPal has an important mission of reducing barriers to financial services. So when I was extended a full-time offer, it felt like a no-brainer for me to accept.
What are one or one or two things that most excite you about your future?
I'm just really excited to explore and try new things, whether that be in my career or just in life generally. For my career, I'm excited because MS&E gave me a wide variety of skills that will allow me to work in different industries, different positions, so I'm excited to see where that takes me. And then on a more personal note, I just moved to San Francisco, and I'm excited to explore the city, make new friends, and try all the restaurants near me.
Do you have advice for current and future students? How can they make the best use of their time while at MS&E and Stanford?
Generally, my biggest advice is don't be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone and take classes that might seem out of your skill set or sign up for things that you assume you'll just get rejected from. At Stanford, it can be easy to get intimidated by its reputation and feel like you might not be good enough or smart enough to try these new things. I think it's important to set those feelings aside and just really go for it, try new things.
Specifically for MS&E, I would definitely recommend taking as many classes in different areas as possible. MS&E is a great major that has classes on a huge range of subjects, so definitely take advantage of that.
Were there any unexpected classes that you took?
I took a class, MS&E 263, Healthcare Operations. Some backstory is I went into Stanford like a lot of people do, thinking I was going to be pre-med, thinking I was going to be a doctor. And I found out that wasn't the path I actually wanted. So I transitioned to MS&E, but I still felt drawn to the healthcare system.
It is kind of intimidating, signing up for a healthcare operations class when I didn't have any healthcare background. Joining that was super interesting, and I really felt like that was something I wanted to pursue. Taking that chance and signing up for something I found intimidating led me to that class, and from that class I took more healthcare classes, and I'm now in a continuation of a class which is partnered with Stanford Healthcare.
What will you miss most about Stanford?
I will miss the diverse community at Stanford. You'll be in classes with Olympians, aspiring scientists, politicians, artists and CEOs. Everyone brings all these unique perspectives together, but they're also so willing to meet new people and have all these conversations. I don't think you'll really find an environment quite like that elsewhere. I’m definitely going to miss that.
Another thing is just the small moments at Stanford, biking to class with friends on a sunny day, study sessions at the law school terrace, and just being on such a beautiful campus.