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Giving a fresh look at big tech employers

MIT Sloan MBAs head west in annual job-hunting “Tech Trek”

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 5, 2015--Trendy start-ups may grab the buzz, but MIT Sloan School of Management MBA students making their annual job-hunting, network-building west coast “Tech Trek” this week will also be looking at bigger and more established technology companies.

“While students have strong interest in startups and other sectors, we are seeing a strong interest in established companies,” says Leslie Su, 27, a California native who is helping to organize the early January Tech Trek to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. All of the 10 or so companies her group will be visiting, such as Facebook, Cisco, and Walmart eCommerce, are established high technology firms, she says. Separate MIT Sloan treks target health care, start-ups, and other sectors.

And while the economic recovery has boosted job prospects, especially in the Bay area, the trekkers know that their MIT Sloan credential alone will not guarantee them a job offer. “There is a general sense within the tech industry that an MBA may not be enough to succeed,” says Su, who worked as an economic consultant and for a mobile startup before entering MIT Sloan. “Apple and Facebook, for example, have made it clear than an MBA itself will not necessarily give you an advantage in the tech industry.”

“A lot of the tech companies are looking for people with engineering or computer science backgrounds who can contribute to the innovation and development of new products,” says Shany Alon, 29, a native of Tel Aviv who is helping organize the Seattle trek, with visits to Microsoft, Amazon, and Disney, among other companies.

But even as potential employers are checking out the visiting MBAs, the students will be seeking their own up-close and personal looks at their potential employers. “It may not be the official purpose of the trek, but a lot of people find it very valuable to actually see what the workspace looks like in a company,” says Alon, who was an IT consultant in Israel before coming to MIT Sloan. “Do you work in open space or in little cubicles? Do people eat together? Even small things like this can give you a better perception of what your day to day will be like if you worked for this company.”

MIT Sloan MBAs making the tech treks already average four years of professional experience and take a course on how to understand corporate culture, “so they are quite aware of the importance of culture and company dynamics,” says Su.  “But you can only observe so much from web sites and from doing your own research. Being right at the company, as we do on the trek, can make a real difference.”