No matter if you are passionate about the disruptive innovations made by Uber and Airbnb, or just seek a work-life balance on the west coast, an increasing number of MBA students are landing jobs in the technology sector. At Kellogg, Tech club has grown to be one of the most popular clubs with 800+ members. Meanwhile, almost all the big firms have established their MBA recruiting programs, holding on-campus interviews or posting their positions on Kellogg’s job board. Those positions include PM (product manager), PMM(product marketing manager), Corporate Strategy, Corporate Finance, Business Operations, etc. Some students are also looking for positions at smaller companies or starting their own tech startups, which requires more networking efforts and always lasts for a longer time.
I would like to share some resources and personal learnings. Hope it could help inspire you to think about your own recruiting plan and career goals.
We have amazing resources available to students willing to work in tech. The major supports are from CMC, Tech Club and the 2nd years. I personally prioritize them in the following way
• Tech IPG (Interview Prep Group)
Holding by Tech Clubs, two or three 2nd year students lead a group of 6~8 1st years to horn their recruiting skills, such as resume, cover letter, pitch, cases and mock interviews. The group works closely together for around 6 weeks, providing you a holistic view on tech recruiting and some practical skills. Tech IPG is a must-have if you aim at finding a summer intern in tech.
• Coffee chat
Don’t hesitate to chat with 2nd years who interned at your target companies. This is the most direct way to gather information you are most curious about. Kellogg has a very collaborative culture, and the majority of 2nd years are extremely open to share their experiences and perspectives.
• CMC Coach session
You can book your one-on-one 30 min sessions with CMC coaches. They are the experts on resume, pitch, negotiation and behavioral questions. They can also help put you in touch with alumni or 2nd years. You can try to have conversations with several coaches in fall quarter and find the one you feel most comfortable to work with.
• CMC Librarian session
Small group sessions introducing how to leverage online resources for your recruiting or industry / company research. The most useful reports I’ve used is the “Marketline Report” which includes the basic information and SWOT analysis of your target companies.
• Peer Coach / Others
There are also some IPG-like groups initiated by 2nd year students or other clubs. These activities may start early in October or be launched in April. Different with IPG, the quality of those groups may vary a lot depending on who your peer coaches are, but just bear in mind that they volunteered to help you while also living a super busy MBA life.
• “Tech recruiting starts late”
Especially for career switchers or people dedicated to tech, make sure to start your preparation as early as possible. I got my first phone interview right after Thanksgiving when I hadn’t even prepared my pitch. No wonder I screwed it up with unstructured answers and shaking voice.
• “Networking is not important for tech recruiting”
Somewhat correct, but in January you may find some guy without an outstanding background getting twice more interviews than you, and suddenly you can recall the moments you saw him taking every opportunity to approach recruiters proactively.
• “Technical background is required”
For a very limited number of positions, such as PM at Google and Facebook, technical background is a big plus. Nevertheless, no more than 5 students in my year get this kind of positions, while there are over 100 people are going to work in tech in the summer. Positions like corporate finance and strategy are definitely prefer interns having related background; some companies even prefer ex-consultants over ex-engineers for the product management roles.
• Focus, Focus, Focus
Each tech company is so different in terms of products, business model, SWOT, financial statement, key technologies, etc. For positions that really matters to me, I need at least 8-16 hours to do my company research and sometimes extra hours to get my personal opinions about their product and strategy. Therefore, I decided to focus on only 3 companies in the first few weeks of winter quarter rather than spread my efforts out too thinly. Fortunately, I got into the final rounds of all the three and finally chose to go to a big firm in Cupertino, CA.
• Walk the extra mile
How to stand out from your competitors as an international students? I think the best way is to walk the extra mile to get a deeper view on the topics you may be asked in your interviews. Tech industry is so broad, even having years of experience in consumer electronics, I felt totally lost in other fields in the tech sector.
Reflecting on my experience, there were three stages while going through the learning curve. At the first stage, I just knew some buzz words, talked about them all the time but could barely speak the same language with the real techies. At the second stage, I digged deeper into the theories, applications and current trends, but what I was talking about still sounded like something you’ve read 100 times from the tech news. In other words, I brought nothing to the table. The next thing I did was trying to connect the dots of buzz words, business models, social trends and my personal experiences from a customer-centered point of view. On basis of the frameworks I learned from tech club and a book called “cracking the pm interview”, I analyzed several cases/products by myself, generating my own opinions and trying to find opportunities to talk about these cases/stories in the interviews.
• Bring self-marketing to a new level
You are what you did, but marketing yourself is still necessary and highly skillful. CMC and 2nd years are the best resources to help you polish your MAB application package to a new level for internship recruiting. Don’t be too shy to showcase your skills, stories and personality. Be confident (+ a little bit boast) and be true to yourself. I personally prefer not trying too hard to map myself to the job descriptions, because at the end of the day a true fit is much more important than 10 job offers.