Road to Tech Jobs Not So Smooth for MBAs

Susan Hall

Though the benefit of getting a business school degree often is considered the network developed there, straight-out-of-school MBAs tend to find themselves outsiders in the insular world of tech, according to CNET. Writer Caroline McCarthy quotes new graduate Julia Davis saying:

You have to build your own network. If you want to go from MBA into consulting, that's a fairly easy transition, whereas the MBA to technology, a lot of the tech companies-every tech company I speak with-they want to hire from inside their network. I usually have conversations with people because I've been introduced by a friend of a friend, or I know someone who works at that company.

Though much has been written about the "war for talent" in tech, that's focused on software engineers, the article says. MBAs, not so much. It says business types have to work harder to be noticed, especially if you don't come from a business school known for producing talent for tech companies, such as Stanford or MIT. (Entrepreneurial students in Silicon Valley, though, are getting a whole lotta love.)


Christopher Muir, an MBA student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is quoted saying:

Entrepreneurship and venture capital are, like, two of the hardest things to break into out of business school. I know this just from trying to do it myself, and seeing friends.

McCarthy says the startup hiring also doesn't fit the pattern used by larger companies that hire students months away from graduation. She writes of startups:

When they realize they need to fill a job, they fill it. Planning ahead often doesn't happen because a year-old company likely has no idea what'll be happening in six months.

She expands on efforts by student groups and business schools to make themselves more visible in the startup community. And one way to get into a startup is to create one yourself. And she offers this advice:

... you're going to need to know how to hustle. For the tech industry, it's a particularly deft hustle: not just going to class but also to local technology meetups, learning what startups and venture capital firms are getting talked about, and browsing Facebook to see which high school and college friends might be working at tech companies where they could make a few intros. The strategy required in navigating the tech job world as an MBA, one could say, is not at all unlike the creative effort necessary in the day-to-day work at one of those companies.

Meanwhile, first-year MBA students at Harvard took a page from Google's "hackathons" - they've since been expanded to "hackamonth" - to win the HCL MBA M-Prize, a competition to reinvent management. Students Alka Tandon and David Roth proposed having teams of employees spend an entire day to focus on how to turn ideas into action plans, Bloomberg reports.


And with investors Yuri Milner and Ron Conway offering $150,000 to all companies in the Y Combinator startup program, there should be more startup jobs out there. GigaOM reports that applications are up by 40 percent and that more experienced, non-technical MBAs are applying.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 12, 2011 12:48 PM Ann All Ann All  says:

I've interviewed quite a few CIOs with MBAs. I think MBAs are of the most value to folks who already have some IT experience under their belts and want to make the move into upper management or another more sophisticated position. The way to win respect - and jobs - in IT is to get some hands-on experience. Maybe the "perfect" combination is an MBA student who also spends his/her free time running an e-commerce website or writing mobile apps.


Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.



Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.