April 22, 2019 Noon - 1 PM CST Pursuing a Career in Technology and Fintech
In this live chat with Chicago Booth current students and Career Services staff, we answered your questions about pursuing careers in Tech and Fintech.
Guest: What are the typical post-MBA jobs in the technology sector?
* Jorge Pelaez: The tech sector has a wide scope of potential MBA jobs. Companies recruit across diverse roles and those roles can even vary from year to another. With that being said, the roles that students most go into are Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager. However, there are roles in Finance, Operations, Strategy, Business Development, and a few companies have General Management rotational programs.
Guest: Are there specific courses that one must opt for to pursue a career in technology? What about FinTech?
* Carolyn Chen: There aren't any required courses for tech, particularly since Booth has a flexible curriculum, but there are definitely a lot of available courses that are relevant for a career in tech. I took a class called "Entrepreneurial Discovery", where you work with a team and essentially develop a concept that addresses an unmet need in an industry and then you test that concept with consumers. In addition, I took a lab class called "Lab in New Products and Services", where you work with an actual client company and help them develop a new innovation within their product portfolio. These classes are particularly helpful if you are going into PM or Strategy roles. There are also other classes like "Technology Strategy", which I plan to take in the fall. There are relevant courses for Fintech, such as "Entrepreneurial Finance", which are part of the non-mandatory courses and completely up to you to choose what to take.
Guest: What’s your main purpose to get into Booth MBA program? What do you expect to learn or get from this program?
* Neil Sethi: Hi, thanks for your question. For me personally, I was working in financial services, in bankruptcy specifically, and I felt that my progression in my career was stagnant. Additionally, there were other industries that I was interested in pursuing, especially with respect to building businesses instead of watching them erode. Primarily, that was why I came to business school - to make the switch. I'm now going to be working in technology strategy for the summer, and the MBA experience helps me succeed in this new industry by giving me various toolkits and frameworks to dissect business problems and find optimal solutions.
Guest: Hi! Can you speak a little bit about the courses Booth offers about blockchain technology and its application to FinTech?
* Allie Lei: Hi, a new class was offered recently at Booth taught by Edward Weinhaus. It is a half unit class called "Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: markets, models and Opportunities". The professor is very connected in the cryptocurrency industry and is an advisor to FinTech Club. The class talked about how the technology is evolving and some ideas that have emerged in the business context. FinTech club also co-sponsored the ConsenSys blockchain competition.
Guest: Hi All! Thank you for hosting this session. What kind of Product Management roles (on the less technical end) do Big Tech companies recruit for on campus?
* Huneth Lor-Fair: Companies that are hiring for Product Managers will list the job title as Product Management. Students will need to review the details of the job description to identify the role requirements, and if it needs more of a technical background. Roles outside of the PM at Big Tech companies can be in corporate strategy, product marketing, biz ops – just to name a few.
Guest: Hello All, my concern is about the international students' employment in USA after the MBA program?
* Andrea Sanchez: Hello, thank you for your question. You can look at the Chicago Booth Employment Report. There you will see that international student internship and international full-time employment overall is on par with domestic students. There are many variables like geographic interest, industry sector, and function that you will be considering in your search, which those may have an impact on your search result. Look at the link for more information. https://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/
Guest: to current students: besides New Products and Services course (and its lab), what are some of the recommended courses that you will recommend if one is interested to pursue career in tech PM?
* Neil Sethi: Hi, great question. There are a lot of different paths that you can choose. However, I definitely recommend Platform Competition with Austan Goolsbee. Platform Competition class is where you learn about the competitive strategy of today's technology platforms. I also think that other strategy classes are useful in understanding how to develop and protect competitive advantages. There are classes on Pricing (such as Pricing Strategies) that are helpful, as well as a host of other marketing classes.
Guest: Thank you for hosting. Is there a recommended background before pursuing Tech/FinTech?
* Tatsuro Hanada: We have various backgrounds before pursuing Tech/FinTech, and we don't have certain 'recommended' backgrounds. Even if you don't have a background in tech/ FinTech, Booth provides various opportunities for the foundation of tech, such as data analytics class, statistics class and project management class. Some prior programming experience might help to catch up faster.
Guest: How is Booth updating and modifying its curriculum to adjust to a rapidly changing technology landscape?
* Carolyn Chen: I think Booth already has a very robust curriculum for technology. However, like you mentioned, the industry definitely is expanding and tech is becoming a more and more popular choice among students. Because of this, Booth is infusing many tech-focused concepts and cases to our general business curriculum. For example, in many of my general strategy classes, we read and discuss cases on Facebook, Google, Tesla, etc. This has been very relevant as I am developing my knowledge of the tech industry and when I was preparing for recruiting with some of these companies. As well, beyond just the curriculum, Booth has strong resources for students pursuing tech. The Booth Technology Group is one of the largest student organizations on campus and provides really robust programming on helping students understand the industry and trends and preparing for recruiting. Booth also brings in a lot of tech focused speakers to campus. For example, Satya Nadella of Microsoft spoke in the fall.
Guest: Hello! I was wondering what are the main opportunities (e.g. clubs) are to take advantage of on campus, if looking to transition from the finance industry to an e-commerce / high-growth company? Thanks!
* Jorge Pelaez: We have a number of different clubs that are available. The Booth Tech Group provides education, networking, and recruiting opportunities with large to mid-size technology companies. The Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital group focuses on helping future entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, but also has a strong network of small technology companies. There is also the Booth Analytics Club that provides more technical training into analytics programs such as R and SQL. If you are interested in more specific type of tech sector such as Fintech or Healthtech, we also have those clubs available.
Guest: Hi everyone, if you previously came from tech, could you share a little bit on what value you have gotten from being involved in tech-oriented clubs/events/courses?
* Allie Lei: Sure, I was previously working in a big Tech company and co-founded my own Tech startup. I have gained different perspectives at looking at new ventures through classes like Commercializing Innovation, and hands-on experience working at an early stage startup through NVC. In terms of student activities, it was educational learning about the wide array of career opportunities in the Tech industry that are open and welcoming to MBA students, which is something that I might not have been as exposed to before Booth. Both FinTech and BTG organize events connecting industry professionals, as well as second year students who have interned in Tech with first-years for us to understand how it feels to work in companies of different sizes, culture and roles.
Guest: Thanks for hosting this event. I have a question for Jorge, could you talk about the Amazon Retail Leadership Program? What's the structure and duration of the project? How many students are hired? What's their responsibility?
* Jorge Pelaez: The Amazon Retail Leadership Program is a general management program that focuses on Amazon's retail business. Once you are hired for full-time, the program involves two 12-18 month rotations within the retail business. The potential roles include Vendor Manager (work with Amazon vendors (ex. Colgate, Tide), In-stock manager (develop & execute inventory strategies), Marketing manager (grow customer base for a specific category on Amazon.com), Category manager (grow revenue for a category on Amazon.com), and Product Manager (define and launch retail features on Amazon.com site).
Guest: How are Booth students connected during their time at booth? What technologies they use?
* Neil Sethi: Hi, are you asking about how students communicate with one another while we are at Booth or connections across the Booth community (i.e. with Alumni and the school)? With respect to students, we use Slack to organize most of the communication. For announcements that are more official, we connect via email.
Guest: What opportunities at Booth are there for folks interested in Product Management in the Tech Industry?
* Neil Sethi: There are tons of opportunities for PM at all sorts of different companies. There is a heavy recruiting cycle in the late fall that focuses on the larger tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.). However, there are also other cycles in the winter and spring for smaller companies. It all depends on what size company you want to work for and what sub-industry within tech you are interested in.
Guest: Hi, thanks for taking the time. I know Booth has recently been boasting large numbers of students going into the Tech space but is a relatively newer trend. Have any of you experienced any issues with finding alumni at the companies you'd like to go to? The smaller Booth Tech network is a concern of mine.
* Carolyn Chen: I haven't had any issues with finding alumni to speak with at all. I believe it's been a few years where there has been very strong interest in tech, so we have a large alumni base in the industry. Furthermore, all Booth students have access to a "Community Directory" where you are able to access Booth's complete alumni database and filter it by company. I reached out to several alumni through this database and all were more than eager to speak with me. On a related note, almost every major tech company comes on campus to Booth and the representatives they bring are typically Booth alumni, so that's a great way to meet and build connections with the alumni as well.
Guest: To my best understanding, Tech companies recruit for product management positions. How viable is it to apply for a position outside of the product management scope? (Example: M&A)
* Natasha Chan: While there are many product management (PM) positions available for students at the MBA level, there are also a wide range of opportunities within the tech space that are not PM related, such as data analytics, strategy and operations, financial operations, and cloud implementation to name a few. It is very much an option!
Guest: Did you take advantage of any opportunities to get involved with tech off campus? What was the process for finding opportunities?
* Tatsuro Hanada: Booth Tech / FinTech club run various corporate networking events, where we can easily connect with professionals off campus. Also, there are some Lab classes in which we connect with people off campus. Polsky Center also runs networking events in tech.
Guest: I have heard some current students talk about doing industry-focused internships/externships while attending Booth (one of the perks of the flexible curriculum). Have any of you participated in any tech-focused internships during your time at Booth? If so, can you tell us a bit about your experience?
* Neil Sethi: I have not done one of these internships before but I do have some friends who have done this before. Many of these experiences are working with a local start up either on a particular problem or as a part time employee (2-3 days per week). The experiences are great to expand your horizons and get some hard skills in an area you may have not worked in before which is useful for people that are switching careers while coming to MBA.
Guest: How does Booth students prepare for tech interviews? I assume one will prepare for standard behavioral questions, why the company question, and why that particular role. Maybe some mini cases especially for PM/strategy roles, but is there anything else besides that?
* Carolyn Chen: It really depends on the role and company you are applying to, but typically, tech interviews will consist of both behavioral and case-based questions (i.e. designing a product, improving a product, defining metrics for a product, etc.). Booth has many resources that will make sure you know exactly how to prepare for the role and have opportunities to practice. The Booth Technology Group organizes many information sessions on the different tech roles and how to prepare. They also set up interview families where a few first years will be paired with a second year who interviewed for similar roles and you will meet on a weekly basis to practice interview questions. We also have Career Advisors and Career Services officers who specialize in tech and you can set up one-on-one sessions with them to prepare and practice for interviews. I used all these interviews extensively and felt extremely prepared going into my interviews. Beyond that, a lot of the first years will practice with each other as well.
Guest: When you first started your MBA search, did you intend to pursue the technology track? If not, what was the reason that led you to change direction?
* Neil Sethi: I was not 100% sure, but I wanted to work in an industry with high growth that had high impact and diversity of opportunities. I would say that there is plenty of time in the fall to explore a variety of options, but it helps to get a head start to think about what you want in a future career. Ultimately, the roles in the companies and the business problems that technology focuses on that impacted my decision to go into tech.
Guest: What professional clubs did you join to help you pursue a career in technology?
* Jorge Pelaez: I joined the Booth Technology Group for networking, educational, and recruiting events/opportunities. I also joined the Booth Analytics Club to learn a bit more about new analytical programming languages such as R and SQL. Although knowing these languages are not at all required for most tech companies, it was one of my goals to become more familiar with them.
Guest: Has anyone made the transition between Consulting Pre-MBA to a Tech Internship/Job during/after MBA? What did you have to scale up on during your time in MBA?
* Carolyn Chen: I came from a life science consulting background and knew coming into Booth that I wanted to move into tech. I was particularly interested in PM or PMM. It's definitely ok, if you don't have previous tech experience. It is more about framing your experiences so that they show skills that are relevant to the tech roles you are interested in. For example, many tech roles look for people who can work well and lead cross-functional teams, work well in ambiguous situations, etc. Being able to show those skills in your resume, cover letter, etc. are important, even if they are not tech specific. I think that was the main thing I worked on when applying to tech jobs. Beyond that, I'll be going into PMM, I chose to take courses I thought would be relevant to my role by taking "Application Development" and "Data Driven Marketing" since. However, there is no required coursework for going into tech, but Booth does offer a lot of really great classes. I think it's more about you showing interested in the space.
Guest: What types of roles in the FinTech space do Booth students pursue? How have your experiences been during the recruiting process?
* Allie Lei: The roles include Business Operations, Product Management, Product Marketing, and strategy related roles. FinTech club tries to actively source internship and full-time opportunities and send these out in our weekly newsletter to help students be aware of recruiting opportunities. As many companies are smaller in the space, students are encouraged to be more proactive at reaching out to companies.
Guest: I know many Booth students come in looking to transition to different industries, do most of the tech-focused Booth students come from traditional tech backgrounds?
* Carolyn Chen: I'd say less than half of students come from a traditional tech background/tech background in general. Most students are generally switching careers and that is what I did as well. I came from a life science consulting background and was looking to switch both out of healthcare as well as out of consulting and into tech. I think most employers expect that students are switching careers, so it's okay if you don't have a tech background. it's more about framing the background and experiences to highlight your skills and show that you have the skills relevant for a tech career. For example, working with cross-functional teams, working in ambiguity, etc.
Guest: can you share more about the FinTech Club? And what resource can school provide to help students find job in FinTech area?
* Tatsuro Hanada: FinTech club provides students with various FinTech opportunities in terms of education and recruiting. More specifically, FinTech club organizes networking events, corporate trek events and lunch n' learns where students can closely connect with FinTech firms as well as finding job / internship opportunities. FinTech club has connections with various FinTech firms regardless of stage/size that students can utilize its resources in such ways.
Guest: Hello! How open are big tech firms (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) to hiring internationals from Booth? Conversations with students suggested that a higher percentage of internationals choose consulting over tech roles. Are there factors other than industry interest driving this?
* Andrea Sanchez: Hi, thanks for your question. Many tech companies overall are open to international students. For example, the three that you listed are open to international students and we have international students who have landed internships and full-time roles at those companies. There are other Big Tech companies that hire international students as well. Overall, in the last couple years tech and consulting have been some of the top industry interests for our students. From the Career Services lens while you want to be strategic and focused in your approach but ultimately you should guide your industry or functional interest based on your career goals.
Guest: What sort of background do Product Management roles look for?
* Natasha Chan: While having a product management or tech background helps; it is not a requirement to apply for PM roles. Strong candidates are able to demonstrate a passion for technology while understanding trends, company culture, and job requirements by speaking with current employees or others with the PM role. They also possess a basic level of technical aptitude. You don't need to be a coder or engineer, but you must be able to understand and communicate to a variety of stakeholders (including engineers) on how a particular product works and operates, especially if you run into errors. They will also have demonstrated strong communication, analytical, and project management skills in their prior roles.
Guest: Hello, I would like to ask if you were already working before doing the MBA program, what was your biggest reason/selling point that convinced you to attend the MBA program?
* Tatsuro Hanada: In my case, having an ambition to make traditional financial institution more creative and innovative was a reason I came to Booth to learn entrepreneurship and FinTech. This ambition is the biggest reason and selling point. The reason varies among people, and this is one of the main points to think about before coming to an MBA program.
Guest: Hello, in your experience, are students at Booth who do not have prior tech experience, successfully able to pivot into tech, specifically PM or is it a challenge?
* Carolyn Chen: Definitely! I, myself came from a life science consulting background and had many interview opportunities with large and mid-size tech firms. I'd say most people going into tech, did not come from tech originally. We have quite a few students who are switching from consulting into tech and almost all are able to make that transition successfully. I think most tech companies also know that MBA students are typically career switchers so they aren't necessarily looking for a tech background, but they are looking for transferable skills from your current role.
Guest: How Booth Career Management support their students in the FinTech and other area?
* Andrea Sanchez: Hi, thank you for your question. As part of Career Management, you will be exposed to programming that helps you prepare for interacting with companies, build a strategy to facilitate your search, and we collaborate with centers like the Polsky Center for speakers that include people from the FinTech space. We also liaise with the FinTech student group and attend Trek (this year in New York, last year San Francisco) to meet with companies. Our Employer Relations team actively works to generate job postings on our job board.
Guest: Hi Neil, Thank you! I mean in what ways do Booth students come together to work on projects? What is the tech community like at Booth?
* Neil Sethi: Oh! I see. There is a strong community of tech here that has been growing substantially over the last 5 years as more tech companies are demanding MBA grads. There are varieties of professional organizations on campus although the biggest is usually Booth Tech Group. Through these clubs and their associated slack channels (and with the Polsky center), many students pair up to work on passion projects together.
Guest: Can I get your take on the landscape of the FinTech job market. Are the major employer startups, big banks, or tech companies? What topics of the FinTech are the most in need of MBA talents?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: Thanks for joining the chat and great questions. There is growing interest for MBA talent in FinTech. As these firms grow, they become more proactive hiring, so it is a great time to explore the FinTech space. There are wide ranges of firms that fall into the FinTech space, but you touched upon the main categories, startups, banks participating in the FinTech space, and larger tech firms that are supplementing their business with FinTech solutions. Payment solutions are engaging with MBAs more than in past years.
Guest: @Neil - Follow up: Are there classes or activities at Booth that focus either on Product Management or UX Design in Tech?
* Neil Sethi: With respect to design, there isn't a specific class that focuses on this. I have learned a lot about app design through professional organizations on campus (shout out to Booth Tech Group) and there are some opportunities in UChicago more broadly, that can be said. I'm currently in an application development course at Booth where I'm doing full-stack development on a mobile app, but that's likely as technical as the pure MBA would get on this front. There are opportunities also through the dual degree with a Masters in Computer Science but again, these opportunities are outside of Booth.
Guest: What tech opportunities are available in Chicago?
* Jorge Pelaez: Chicago has many offices for large technology companies such as (Salesforce, Google, Facebook, etc.). Chicago also has a growing number of growth phase and start-up companies that attracts Booth students. If you want a more comprehensive view into these type of companies in Chicago, you can look through a site that covers jobs and start-ups available in the area: https://www.builtinchicago.org/
Guest: Hi, for those of you without a prior tech/programming background, what kind of technical skills did you find useful when trying to enter the tech/FinTech space? Did you take classes at Booth to build these skills or were these developed outside of class? Thanks!
* Allie Lei: It really depends on the role you are applying to in Tech. One potential technical role is a technical Product Management role, where some companies would appreciate if the candidate has a background in programming or computer science. Some students here are doing the MBA/MS dual degree in computer science, which gives them a strong technical understanding. At Booth, there are classes like application development, which might be helpful, but there is no hard requirement on what classes specifically one has to take to apply to a specific role.
Guest: Are there any EM FinTech companies that come to Booth to speak or is it mostly US based firms?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: Typically, the FinTech firms that would come to campus for recruiting are based in the US, but there are EM firms that post opportunities on our job board. We also have virtual touch points where firms can use our facilities to have virtual coffee chats to connect with students when schedules and resources at the firm do not allow for a formal Chicago visit.
Guest: Is there search for tech jobs at smaller high-growth (series B,C+) companies something which you need to actively pursue on your own or do those companies tend to recruit as well?
* Natasha Chan: Yes! Every year we host two start-up networking nights, which host 50+ tech start-ups and allows students the opportunity to get to know those companies and inquire about internship and full-time opportunities. If you join the Booth Technology Group, there is also the opportunity to participate in employer treks, where students can visit a variety of start-up offices and meet their recruiters, employees, and leadership teams.
Guest: Tech is a broad industry: How would you describe sub-industries within tech and their presence in campus? Is there any particular industry especially well represented in Booth? I assume FinTech may be one, but curious if there are others.
* Jorge Pelaez: The sub-industries within tech include FinTech (FinTech club), start-ups (Entrepreneur/Venture Capital Club), Health tech (Healthcare Group), Innovation& Design (Innovation & Design Club), and Education (BoothEd). There are a number of other clubs that we collaborate with such as Business Analytics Club and even some food/heath related clubs.
Guest: Do you suggest any resources/classes/program before matriculation for those interested in PM? Or just to enjoy the summer before the mad rush starts?
* Neil Sethi: It’s up to you! The first question I would have for you is what sort of experience do you have in PM work in the past? If none, I would use the summer to resume build through something like Start-up Summer at Booth, or working on your own project / volunteering time at a local start-up. Another easy thing to do is start reading tech news and have an understanding and opinion on the latest tech trends.
Guest: Any suggestions on how to get in to the Amazon Retail Leadership Program?
* Jorge Pelaez: Amazon does not look for any specific background or skills. Amazon focuses very closely on cultural fit and guides much of its recruiting strategy through its leadership principles. If you want to see if you would fit into the Amazon culture, you can browse through their leadership principles. You can also talk to students or alumni that have worked at Amazon.
Guest: Thanks everyone! What were the biggest challenges you faced during recruiting, and how did you overcome them?
* Carolyn Chen: I think one of the challenges early on just understood all the different roles and opportunities out there and what each role actually meant at each company. For example, the PM role can be really different at Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon vs. Salesforce. It was important to understand what the role actually meant at each company, and understanding whether that was what I was looking for. I set up a lot of calls and chats with second years/alumni, who were in these roles, to better understand what the day to day was like, then decide whether that's what I wanted to do. I think that can definitely be a challenge since the tech industry is so vast and it’s important to understand the nuances of the different roles and companies.
Guest: Booth offers number of benefits for those recruiting for tech roles (curriculum, resources from career center, student clubs, pay-it-forward culture, etc.). What do you think are the biggest game changer among these benefits?
* Allie Lei: I think New Venture Challenge for me is a great experience to experiment working at a startup and building a new venture. It exposes us to an entrepreneurial environment, which can be helpful in figuring out if we want to work in a big Tech or a startup. The pay it forward culture is definitely great, as second years share detailed experiences in recruiting and navigating their ways in different companies.
Guest: Hi Neil, I saw that you lead the Tech Trek in San Francisco and Seattle. The tech industry has been expanding in NYC. What are the opportunities for a current student to pursue tech in NYC?
* Neil Sethi: Hi, yes! It was a great experience. This question actually hits pretty close to home for me as I'm looking to recruit for technology in New York as well. The blunt answer is that it’s a very hard market to get into. It’s very competitive from the candidate side, and there are less opportunities in NYC as compared to SF. However, there are a lot of great opportunities in New York. If you are focused on wanting to be in NYC, then there will definitely be something there for you. There is a budding east coast tech recruiting following that we will likely be building over the next year. In addition, there are alumni all over the country that are always happy to talk and connect you to other professionals, which is really helpful when trying to break into the community.
Guest: From your experience, what are the necessary technical skills needed to break into typical tech jobs from Booth? Does coding experience help a lot?
* Jorge Pelaez: Most tech roles do not require technical skills. There are a few very technical roles such as Technical Product Manager that do suggest knowledge or experience in software engineering, since you might need to manage or work with engineers; however, this is not a requirement. Some tech companies also use data analysis programs such as R and SQL to analyze data, but you can get some beginner's knowledge at Booth and learn the rest on the job.
Guest: Does Booth partner with the public sector (federal or state government) on blockchain/FinTech projects for students?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: There are a number of ways that the school will engage with firms and projects. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (https://polsky.uchicago.edu/about-the-center/) works with Chicago FinTech firms. Chicago Booth partners with the Harris School of Public Policy (https://harris.uchicago.edu/research-impact) for social impact projects. There are plenty of opportunities of partnership depending on your interest and facility/center project alignment.
Guest: Outside of the courses, what kind of programming does Booth facilitate for students interested in pursuing PM roles? Thank you for hosting the session!
* Neil Sethi: There are some joint conferences held between various student organizations and the kiltz center for marketing. The best resource I would say is Booth Tech Group that provides a lot of support for those that are interested in PM roles.
Guest: which professors have been most helpful in regards to understanding the developing FinTech landscape?
* Tatsuro Hanada: To give an example, Prof. Luigi Zingales, who runs a class 'The FinTech revolution' at Booth, has professional experiences in FinTech and will greatly help us in developing FinTech knowledge.
Guest: Which other groups at Booth are you a part of? How do they supplement each other?
* Allie Lei: In terms of the professional groups, I am a co-chair of Fintech Club, member of Booth Technology Club, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club, and Management Consulting Group. They definitely supplement one another in terms of the skills. For example, learning case frameworks from consulting was helpful in preparing for some Tech interviews in answering case questions. EVC, FinTech and BTG also supplement one another in terms of the career opportunities and company visits they send out to help us understand different segments of the Tech space.
Guest: Following up @Neil, thank you for your suggestion on Tech news. Are there any specific outlets or publications you suggest for brushing up on tech news and trends?
* Neil Sethi: Tech Crunch for sure. Gizmodo, The Verge, Digital Trends are good. I also read NY Times tech section because I'm a fan of the Times. I would actually just set up a bunch of alerts on google news so that you are sent articles every now and then that you can parse through.
Guest: Are there any "need to do" activities/courses/clubs when starting at Booth to pursue a career in Tech/FinTech?
* Jorge Pelaez: There are no mandatory courses or activities to do. The Booth Technology Group is a good group for networking, education, and recruiting for the technology space. It also provides a good way to meet some of your classmates and 2nd years that are interested in the space. There are a number of other clubs for specific tech sub-sectors that you can join. As far as courses, many students have enjoyed New Product Lab, Entrepreneurial Discovery, and App Development. However, none of these courses are must-haves and you can just take any courses you are interested in. It is more important to be passionate about the technology industry.
Guest: what do you expect to get from the MBA program? In career or personality development?
* Tatsuro Hanada: The biggest point I expect to acquire in an MBA is a leadership and entrepreneurial mindsets to change traditional firm's environment. This will help in both career and personal development, regardless of the area I will work at.
Guest: Without tech and computer science background, what roles can be applied in FLAGGING companies (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?
* Huneth Lor-Fair: Big tech firms are aware that some students are career switchers so companies tend to look for candidates who have transferable skills. If students don’t have tech/computer science background then they’ll spend time at Booth to develop their technical skills and knowledge by taking relevant classes, joining the Analytics Club, and more.
Guest: Thanks for hosting this. Do students who tend to pursue a technology in career after MBA also branch out to manufacturing industries like Intel or Tesla, or is it just mostly concentrated towards service industry like Google and Facebook?
* Natasha Chan: Yes! Students pursue tech careers in both service-related companies like Google/Facebook, but also at companies like Intel or Tesla. There is a wide range of similar opportunities across all of these companies, and they are all very interested in Booth talent.
Guest: Follow up: @Allie You and I have the same interests 1:1, wow! During recruiting, have you been able to recruit fully for both Consulting and Tech? Did you have to cut off one industry early because of an offer expiring before the end of that industry's interviews?
* Allie Lei: I was recruiting for both at the same time, but consulting has a more structured timeline. Most interviews take place in the first 2-3 weeks of the winter quarter, and people who get consulting offers will probably have them by sometime in February (for US recruiting, in the typical cases, but there might be exceptions). Tech recruiting can be on a more flexible timeline, because even in April now, we are still getting Tech internship postings. If one is recruiting for consulting and has an offer by February, they will need to decide between taking it or continue recruiting for Tech. A personal experience is that consulting recruiting does take up a lot of time during fall quarter. Time management is important if you are interested in pursuing different opportunities.
Guest: @Allie Follow Upx2: Does Booth have a "First day to accept offers" date that all employers have to subscribe to?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: Jumping in to address the follow-up: Booth asks our corporate partners to extend offers to our students with reasonable deadlines. Typically, that is around 3 weeks from the date the offer was given. Career Services is a good resource to have. Career Coaches work with students to help best communicate with firms their offer timeline, which is needed to wrap up current recruiting processes.
Guest: Do you think quarter internships can be a good way for career switchers to get exposure to tech for recruiting? Is the availability for these internships competitive?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: Depending on the area of your interest. An academic year internship could be a great option depending on the skills that you are looking to improve and your bandwidth to take on projects outside of your core course load and activities. Some firm do not have formal term internships but may have additional project work that could align with your schedules. Students source these opportunities a variety of ways, from personal networking to using the school job board.
Guest: Are you aware of any alumni who pursued career in HealthCare Tech? Which company did he/she join and what is his/her role?
* Natasha Chan: Yes, many of our alumni pursue healthcare/tech related roles. A few examples of these are Product Manager at Pfizer, MBA Intern at Verily, Product Marketing Manager at Athena Health, and Divvy Dose.
Guest: For PM opportunities, would you all suggest we have a basic understanding of Python, C++, R, etc.? If so, should we look for training prior to our MBA or are there opportunities/ crash courses provided by clubs?
* Allie Lei: There are no strict class requirements for PM roles, but there are some technical PM roles or Tech companies who tend to hire students with technical backgrounds, such a computer science or engineering degree (e.g. Google PMs have mostly a technical background). You are encouraged to do some research on the roles you are applying to, and chat with someone on the team to see what skills might be helpful. There are classes in Python and R you can take at booth.
Guest: Is Amazon a big recruiter on campus and if so, which types of roles do they recruit for?
* Huneth Lor-Fair: Yes, Amazon is one of the top three hiring companies at Booth. They've hired students into the following roles: Retail Leadership Development Program, Product Management, Pathways Operations Leadership Development Program, Program Manager, and Finance Leadership Development Program. You can view Booth's Employment Report for additional information at https://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/.
Guest: How active is the Innovation & Design Club? How do they differ from the tech club? Any overlap?
* Carolyn Chen: The IDC is a newer group on campus but they have really been developing their programming over the past few quarters. They have a lot of programming focused on design thinking, which is helpful for people going into tech as well as innovation consulting. IDC also participates in a lot of design challenges with other MBA programs. As well, one of the largest programs that IDC puts on is an innovation design boot camp with Salesforce. This goes on throughout the winter quarter. Students go to the Salesforce office each week to meet with Salesforce employees and learn about design thinking and how to implement it in practice. The Booth Tech Group focuses much more on general tech and traditional roles like PM, PMM, Strategy, etc. IDC does not really do programming around that, since they are more focused on the design aspect. BTG and IDC do have joint membership options. There are a good number of students in both. I am in both and have found them to be complementary.
Guest: can you kindly help to share what area that Booth can help to boost your MBA journey, especially FinTech?
* Tatsuro Hanada: In-class opportunities: In FinTech area, such classes as ‘The FinTech revolutions, Cryptocurrency, and Blockchain: Markets, Models and Opportunities’ started recently. In addition to these, Booth offers various Entrepreneurship classes where students can team up with others having same interests and test the idea.
Chicago Booth FinTech provides students with various opportunities in FinTech, through educational events, networking events and FinTech trek etc. Polsky center runs entrepreneurship events, where people are trying to gather FinTech idea for new business.
Guest: How to get into corporate strategy/business development (M&A) roles in tech companies?
* Neil Sethi: Hi, great question! These opportunities are everywhere including big and small tech companies. I would focus more on what sub-industry within tech you want to be in. The interesting part of being in Corporate Strategy / Business Development / Corporate Development is you are going to be connected to all parts of the organization that work together to bring the product to market. If you don't like the sub-industry, it's going to be difficult to be passionate about your projects. There is a round of recruiting for this role for big tech (Google, Cisco, etc.) at the end of December / January, with more rounds of recruiting for this same role at smaller companies through February and the spring. So also, consider what size of company you would want to do Strategy at for the summer / full-time.
Guest: Are there courses where you can create hands-on financial models that can be tested in live market data, especially related to technology?
* Carolyn Chen: Yes! I am in a class now called Data Driven Marketing. In this class, we use R to analyze sales and marketing consumer data sets. While not all the data sets are specific to tech, the skills you learn with your understanding of R, I believe will be extremely relevant to tech roles, particularly for roles like PMM, which is what I will be doing. We also have financial modeling classes, such as "Managerial Decision Modeling" where students build models in Excel. Again, not all the data you use is specific to the tech sector, but the skills are definitely super relevant for people who are going into a more technical role.
Guest: @Allie, Do the traditional Tech giants (Facebook, Google, Apple, Salesforce, and Amazon) traditionally give offers by Feb? Or do they skate into April as well?
* Allie Lei: The Tech giants typically have a deadline before Feb for applications, but sometimes they give rolling interviews. For example, I know a friend who just interviewed with Amazon in March. Another friend who interviewed in December. Sometimes they also post up until May, as postings typically depend on team needs. Tech companies do not always budget for all internship availabilities the way consulting or banking does at the start of every year.
Guest: @Allie: Do you consider practicing for consulting case interview a good preparation to prepare for tech PM interviews, which may also involve case? Or you think Tech PM case interviews are very different than consulting case interviews so one will be better off prepare for Tech PM case directly if he/she is certain he will go to Tech.
* Allie Lei: If PM were your number one priority, I would encourage you to figure out the type of companies and PM roles you wish to do, e.g. B2B or B2C? What city? What company size? How technical is the team? It will be helpful to chat with those teams to understand their interview structure and needs, and prepare for that. For me, consulting cases help me to be more structured in the way I think, and communicate better. However, just like many other practices we can do, I don’t think it is the key or necessity to preparing for PM interviews. Consulting preparation also take a lot of time, so you need to consider your opportunity costs, also identify the areas you need to focus your energy on.
Guest: Tech companies are said to have a very different culture than other industries. In your experience, does this culture extend across most roles and functional teams, or does it stay mostly within the more technical teams?
* Carolyn Chen: I think the culture definitely varies a lot from company to company. I would say that most tech companies have their own unique culture. In general, tech companies may be different from other industries in a sense that they are a more casual working environment, but beyond that, I don't think they are necessarily that different. Furthermore, I'd say the culture at companies like Facebook are really different from companies like Amazon. It is important you get a good feel of their culture and understand if it would be a good fit for you. Most of these companies come on campus so you'll get to meet with employees and hear what it's like there. The Booth Tech Group also does a west coast trek out to most of these companies so you can see their campuses and cultures first hand. I'd say the culture of the company is generally really strong and prevalent across the whole company, not just the technical teams.
Guest: In your opinion, what are the pros/cons of working for BigTech vs FinTech startup?
* Tatsuro Hanada: Typically, the pros of BigTech is that it's easy to transform career after joining, and it provides wide range of in-firm opportunities to pursue careers. On the other hand, pros for FinTech startup is significant upside potential for growth. In some startup cases, people can become executive faster than usual firms and gaining opportunities to control the firm.
Guest: How often do you see students engaging with professors on some part of their research work? Maybe on topics like new economic models (sharing economy) etc.
* Jorge Pelaez: Professor availability can vary by professor and courses. Some professors are very open to having students come and talk to them about their interests or recruiting. Others might be a bit busy on certain quarters, so might not have as much time. It also depends heavily on the course. There are certain classes such as labs where you work on a quarter long project, and you would have many opportunities to interact with your professor. You would get to know them more on a personal basis and potentially have a research discussion with them.
Guest: For somebody already in one of the big software companies working as a software engineer, how does MBA add value if software engineers can land the same PM roles?
* Allie Lei: I think this is a personal question, because an MBA is really, what you want to make out of it. Some people come here because MBA gives them an entry point to a job they otherwise might find difficult to recruit for, while some others might be in similar shoes. They come here to build skills, connections, and experiences and would go back to a role that is attainable without having MBA on their resume. If you are an engineer trying to go into PM, it might be helpful thinking long-term what are some of the skills you wish to strengthen or build, and see if MBA stands out as the platform to help you attain that. I think it is a 2-year experience that can be highly dependable on how you choose to spend your time.
Guest: Are all Booth’s course (primarily Strategy) curriculum designed focusing on Economics? Are the course and assignments prepared with an Economic lens?
* Tatsuro Hanada: Yes, in many cases, because typical career path of MBA students is business professionals, and economics is a basis of any business activities. On the other hand, Booth provides various opportunities to learn know-how in social impacts. Also, there are some classes where students can learn about firms in non-market environments.
Guest: Following up with Neil, what are the pre-requisitions to get into the corporate strategy/business development roles? Any recommended courses/activities while at Booth?
* Neil Sethi: There are no pre- requisitions in terms of classes for any roles post-MBA. What these roles will consider is your past work history and the skills that you developed, which are relevant to the corp start role. In addition, the interview will be rather case based. Meaning they will give you a business problem, probably within the industry the company is in, and ask you to solve the problem. If you are interested in these roles, I would think about what skills within these roles are needed to succeed, and how have you shown these skills in your past work history. I am mentioning work history most, as these companies will ask many of their questions about work history. Moreover, you could use any experiences within school that have shaped how you think about strategy in an interview.
Guest: Is there a major difference between corporate development and business development? Or is one more M&A focused while the other is internal facing? Or does it differ from company to company?
* Neil Sethi: Yes. Corporate Development is M&A. Business Development is Partnerships. That is largely consistent across different firms, although some places merge the two roles.
Guest: Hello! I’m curious about the experiential learning opportunities for Tech. Are there any treks, competitions, events that allow us to better apply to the industry and potentially use it for management strategy?
* Carolyn Chen: Yes, Booth has a lot of great resources around that! The Booth Technology Group organizes a west coast trek every December. We go out to visit companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Lyft, etc. It is a really fun experience and great to see the companies firsthand and speak to employees there. Beyond the west coast trek, BTG also hosts a lot of office visits throughout the year to local Chicago tech companies such as Shipbob, Enova, GrubHub, and more. Throughout the year, there are also a lot of case competitions that you can get involved in where you will compete with students from other MBA programs. I did a Salesforce Product Marketing case competition that I really enjoyed. There were also ones through Microsoft and Cisco. If you are interested in specific aspects of the tech industry the FinTech Club, Entrepreneurship, and Venture Capital Club also offer treks and programming specific to those industry sectors.
Guest: Is the FinTech club different from the Booth Tech Club? Or are they the same?
* Tatsuro Hanada: These are different. FinTech club specifically focuses on education and recruiting in FinTech firms, in such area as settlement, lending, blockchain etc. In case of overlaps in activities, we often run co-hosted events by Tech and FinTech club.
Guest: Hi, can you share more details about the FinTech trek? Such as what companies have you meet with, etc.
* Allie Lei: Sure, we organized a FinTech trek to NYC last month in March. The companies range in sizes, segments of FinTech and products. They include but are not exclusive to Betterment, Commonbond, Addepar, Axoni and N26.
Guest: @Danielle - Follow up: Are quarter Internships usually with Big Tech firms or local startups?
* Danielle Scoppettuolo: Primarily local start-ups, which lends to the student helping drive some of the project work.
Guest: Is there geographic diversity in tech firm recruiting at Booth, or is it focused on Chicago and the west coast? Are there opportunities in (for instance) the Boston tech startup scene that recruit through Booth in some way, or would those have to be found externally?
* Neil Sethi: There is a variety of recruiting options at Booth, but those that are considered "on campus" are mostly on the west coast as they have the largest size. That being said, there are many people (including myself) that are recruiting for technology elsewhere. For me, I conducted my own off-campus search looking at the east coast, primarily New York. This summer I will be working in Boston at a technology company. There are tons of options - there just may be some that are going to take more time from you to find and recruit for.
Current Booth Student
Allie Lei is currently a full time MBA first year student at Booth. Prior to Booth, she graduated from Tufts University in 2014 with a double major in quantitative economics and international relations. She spent the last 4 years working in San Francisco, joining economic consulting for two years and leading the turnaround revenue strategy for the Twitter's US market in the last two years. Having an extensive Tech experience in Silicon Valley, she was also the co-founder for an AI startup and most recently, a PM intern for JD Finance's facial recognition payment technology. This summer, she is interning in consulting hoping to do more Tech/Digital related work.
Current Booth Student
Neil is a second-year MBA student at Booth. Prior to Booth, Neil was a restructuring banker at Citigroup in New York City, working for 7 years on institutional bankruptcy across the US, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. In addition, Neil founded a legal technology platform with 2 co-founders that connects independent attorneys to start-ups and small businesses. Neil was also one of the 4 leads for the 2018 Tech Trek that visited 15 technology companies in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. At Booth, Neil serves as the co-chair for the Booth Technology Group, and is also involved with the Booth Analytics Club and the Booth Outdoor Leadership Development Group (BOLD).
Current Booth Student
Carolyn is a first-year at Booth, concentrating in Entrepreneurship and Marketing Management, and is an incoming Co-Chair of the Booth Technology Group. She completed her undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania where she studied Health Policy, with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Prior to Booth, she worked as a life-sciences consultant at IQVIA, in both its NYC and Shanghai offices. She came to Booth with the intention of switching into the tech industry and will be working as a Product Marketing intern at Facebook this summer.
Current Booth Student
Jorge studied Economics at Dartmouth College. Before Booth he worked at a software-as-a-service start-up focused on eCommerce analytics. He came to Booth to build analytical, strategic, and management skills for a career in tech. During the summer, he will be working at Amazon as an intern in the Retail Leadership Development Program.
Tatsuro is a second-year student at the joint degree program of MBA and Master’s in Computer Science at Booth. Prior to Booth, he was working in a securities company where he joined a corporate accelerator program to explore new businesses through FinTech. At Booth, he got involved in various real-world projects related to recent technologies such as Machine Learning, Blockchain and Digital Marketing. He serves as a co-chair of Booth FinTech club.