Full-Time MBA

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Pursuing a Career in Tech

Join us for a live chat with current students and Career Services staff. Get your questions answered from students who are pursuing careers in Tech. Ask about the resources available to help students learn about, prepare for, and land jobs in Tech. Find out about curricular choices, school resources, student groups, peer and alumni mentorship, recruiting preparation and more.

Chat Transcript

Guest: What are the most popular classes that student looking into tech usually take?

* Lovneet Singh: That’s a good question. These classes also depend on the type of role you are recruiting for. Some of the popular classes are tech strategy, pricing strategy (for marketing roles), data-driven marketing, big data, machine learning, new products and services lab (for PMs) and application development. Additionally, we have the option of doing CS classes offered at University.


Guest: Do most tech firms that recruit at Booth sponsor work visas for international students?

* Huneth Lor-Fair: We have a variety of tech firms who sponsor work visas for international students. To name a few firms: Amazon, Twitter, and Cisco are companies that sponsor international students.


Guest: How has participation in experiential learning programs (e.g. Energy and Clean Tech Lab) prepared you for a career in the technology industry or helped you with recruiting?

* Samantha Go: Lab courses are incredibly helpful in that they provide in-depth hands-on experience that is directly applicable to your future potential work. In particular, they typically involve working with corporate clients who have specific projects or ideas they want smart Booth MBAs to help them with. In conjunction, the professor provides frameworks and structures for you to work through the problem in different ways or at different stages of the process as your progress through quarter. This certainly provides students with that real-world experience they are looking for, with slightly lower stakes. Students also often build useful relationships that could be helpful in recruiting. From the recruiting aspect, the lab classes really help you better understand and define what part of the work you find interesting and could develop into a career.


Guest: Is there an opportunity to take classes outside of Booth to use as electives?

* Melanie Chin: Yes — and many students take advantage of this. Students looking at tech specifically may take classes in the Computer Science department, for example, but we are able to take classes throughout the university (School of Public Policy, Law School etc).


Guest: Is it realistic to shoot for a PM role at a large firm like Google without a technical background? From what I know, only Amazon hires non-technical PMs.

* Fern O’Neill: I am glad you asked that question! Many PM roles in tech firms do require a technical background. In addition to Amazon, Adobe and Yelp also have a non-technical PM role, or are open to students with no technical background. So, the message is that it depends on the firm, but the options may be somewhat limited if you don't have a technical background. Of course, there are many other roles within tech firms that are very open to career changers!


Guest: Is joint MBA-CS program mostly for non-tech applicants intending to transition to tech? Does it cater to applicants who already have a background in tech?

* Fern O’Neill: My understanding is that the MBA-CS joint degree is relevant to both career changers as well as those who don't have a technical background. However, I believe that most of the students are looking to transition into a tech PM role from a non-technical background.


Guest: What are the most popular roles and positions in tech that Booth students pursue for internships/full-time employment?

* Huneth Lor-Fair: The most popular is Product Management, but students will pursue careers in Marketing, General Management, Operations, Strategy, or Finance.


Guest: Which firms recruit for PM roles?

* Matthew Kessler: Many firms recruit for PM roles at Booth. Some examples of companies that come on campus include Amazon, Adobe, Cisco, and Google. Many more firms will recruit for PM roles through the "off-campus" process, meaning it is more of a specialized search where you would seek out those opportunities on your own (companies like Yelp, Salesforce, and many more).


Guest: Thanks for hosting this! For PM recruiting — how valuable would the dual master's program in CS be versus focusing on business classes?

* Fern O’Neill: If you are looking to get into a PM role and don't have a technical background, the joint degree could be very helpful. If you already have a technical background, it may not be necessary. Also, there are some tech companies that have non-technical PM roles.


Guest: Which tech companies hire the greatest number of students generally?

* Fern O’Neill: Amazon hires the most of any tech firm. Last year they hired 33 interns. Google hired 8, Adobe hired 6 interns, Microsoft hired 5 interns, Apple hired 3. This will give you a sense of the numbers.


Guest: What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming students looking to pursue a career in the technology industry?

* Samantha Go: I would encourage incoming students to think carefully about the specific roles within each company and the specific area of tech you are most interested in. Many people I think are surprised at just how broad technology roles are, and it can be overwhelming. There are certainly many different areas within the technology sector (i.e. software, Fintech, biotech, etc.), as well as many different types of roles (i.e. product management, product marketing, finance, business development, etc.). I'd encourage you to think about what gets you most excited or what you are most passionate about. Regarding role, I would encourage you think about what transferrable skills you have from your previous positions or what gaps you might look to fill while at Booth.


Guest: What are the typical roles offered in Tech space (Technology consulting or Functions in Technology companies e.g. Corp Strategy in IT service comp.) in general from the companies visiting School?

* Samantha Go: There are wide ranges of roles that tech companies recruit for on campus, but most of them have a strategy component. Many tech companies come on campus to recruit for Product Management, Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Corporate Finance, and Operations Strategy. There are also General Management and Leadership Development programs offered by many companies. It really spans the gamut.


Guest: What kind of roles are you guys pursuing, post MBA? Also, were you in the tech industry before your MBA? If yes, what was your transition like?

* Melanie Chin: There is a wide variety of roles within tech, including product management, finance, marketing, strategy, business development, and operations. Certain companies have more specific roles (one example is Amazon with Retail Leadership Development). I personally was in the tech industry before my MBA, and the transition for me was straightforward, as there were a lot of transferrable skills and industry experience, I could bring to the table. That being said, many people recruiting for tech did not have a previous tech background.


Guest: Do most students looking into tech know they want to enter the tech industry before or during Booth? If during Booth, how does Booth give them opportunity to explore this industry?

* Melanie Chin: It depends — there are some students who know they want to go into the tech industry before they get to Booth, but there are others who explore options at Booth. During orientation and the first few weeks of school, the school hosts many "Explore More" sessions where students can learn about different roles within a variety of industries, including tech. First years can also speak to second year students who interned in tech, reach out to Booth Technology Group, or Career Services about possible career paths they are considering. Booth Technology Group specifically will offer "Lunch and Learns" and corporate information sessions, where tech companies will come present about MBA opportunities they are looking to recruit for.


Guest: For students interested in Data Science, are there a lot of courses at Booth that cover these topics and include actual programming? Or would you suggest CS classes and/or the MPCS dual degree if we want to become familiar with programs like Python, R, PHP?

* Lovneet Singh: There are a few courses at Booth where you are required to learn/use programming languages such as data-driven marketing, pricing strategy, advanced regression, machine learning and application development. So depending on your interest and prior background, you can learn basics of the languages in these classes and if you want to learn more, you can always do electives outside of Booth. As for deciding between CS classes and MPCS, I am not the best person to answer this, as I haven’t pursued the MPCS program. However, you can consider using the link to reach out to students who are pursuing a dual-degree and can provide a better perspective: https://apply.chicagobooth.edu/portal/studentvolunteer


Guest: Do you guys allow campus visits outside of the formal structure?

* Cristina Ochoa: We do not offer personal campus tours. If you would like to visit campus, please register for our Campus Visit Program. You will be able to attend a class, speak with an Admissions Officer during a brief info session, as well as take a tour of campus and eat lunch with current students. You can find more information here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/visit


Guest: Do any education or Ed-Tech companies recruit at Booth?

* Matthew Kessler: We have definitely had students that are hired at Ed-Tech firms, however I would characterize this more as a smaller, niche industry right now and these companies generally do not come on campus, so you would likely need to seek out these roles through the off-campus search process. But the opportunities are definitely out there!


Guest: Hi, thanks for hosting this chat. I have a question about career switch to Tech industry. I am from a tech function (app development and project management) but not in tech industry. I hope to enter tech industry but as a PM role or marketing role, strategy role. Is it possible? How can I use Booth's resource to prepare me for such switch? Thanks a lot!

* Fern O’Neill: Yes, it is absolutely possible! It sounds like you have very relevant technical skills; you just don’t have that experience in the tech industry. The key for you will be to learn about the tech industry and identify your area of focus. I encourage you to do research over the summer about the industry, which will help you make the case with tech companies once you arrive on campus.


Guest: What advantages and disadvantages to students who want to work outside of the US does Booth provide?

* Samantha Go: Booth has many resources to help those students who want to work outside of the US. Firstly, we certainly have a large alumni network who can help you connect with roles and offices outside the states. Secondly, the Career Services office will help you navigate the visa situation along with the company you end up recruiting or working for. Certainly, since this is a US-based school, much of the energy is focused on US-based recruiting. However, many of the biggest, multinational corporations come to recruit on campus and have international opportunities. That being said, if you wish to pursue work outside of the US, you will have a more specialized recruiting search experience than many of your peers.


Guest: How has the vast Booth network assisted you with understanding the various tech career paths and recruiting?

* Matthew Kessler: The Booth network is definitely crucial to the process. Throughout the fall quarter of first-year, the Booth Technology Group holds regular lunch and learn session for students to hear from second-years about their internship experiences at various tech companies/roles. It is a great way to get a sense of the different options in tech and what is out there. The alumni network is also useful and I have found that most are more than happy to help if you reach out through LinkedIn or similar.


Guest: I am looking for a pre-MBA internship this summer. Does anyone have experience applying for pre-MBA internships at tech firms? If so, can you share any insights about the process and timeline?

* Lovneet Singh: Well, the timeline depends on personal preferences. I can speak about mine to give an example. I wanted to finish my internship by first week of July so that I would have at least a month off to relax before I came to Chicago. Moreover, I mentioned that explicitly to firms I was speaking with in order to set expectations. As for the process, I would recommend identifying firms you are interested in and reaching out to people working in those firms via LinkedIn and/or leveraging your personal network. The moment you mention that you are joining Booth will open a lot of doors. I was able to benefit from that. Even here, I would go strategic and reach out to Booth alumni if possible. Another option will be to take advantage of the start-up summer program offered by Chicago Booth to the admits.


Guest: Are there recruiting opportunities for data science focused roles? How many students tend to go through on-campus recruiting vs externally through networking etc., especially for tech?

* Huneth Lor-Fair: There are companies who recruit Booth students for data science focused roles. These positions are typically through off-campus recruiting (i.e. Booth's job board, networking with alumni and personal connections, and other job boards). You can visit Booth's Employment Report for more data: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/employmentreport/


Guest: What is the timeline for internship recruiting in tech for first-years? How early does recruiting start/when are offers generally made? At what point do students start preparing and applying for internship roles in tech?

* Fern O’Neill: The timeline for tech recruiting begins in mid-October with some of the larger firms come to campus for events. Many of these large firms will also interview students on campus in January/early February. For other firms that don't come to campus, they may post jobs beginning in October all the way through May. It really depends on the company. In general, about half of the internships in tech come through campus recruiting and the other half through a more specialized search.


Guest: What types of people/ types of skills are better suited for PM vs. Strategy vs Operations vs Marketing?  What is a good way to try to figure out the right type of role?

* Matthew Kessler: People come from all sorts of backgrounds to transition to careers in tech at Booth. Many firms are open to career-switchers, while some prefer that you have some prior experience. While not a hard rule, I've found that PM and Marketing roles tend to be more open to career switchers, while Strategy roles more often prefer prior consulting experience and Operations prior operations experience. The best way to find out the right type of role is to utilize the Booth Technology Group, which will host lunch and learns with second-years to talk about their internship experiences, and to reach out to 2nd year students when you arrive on campus.


Guest: For those who previously did not work in the tech industry, how did you decide to transition to tech and how important was gaining technical skills during that process?

* Lovneet Singh: That’s a good question. I decided to transition to tech as a.) I am an engineer by qualification and always wanted to go back to the tech space; b.) In my opinion, all companies will be tech companies in the future. It is also evident in the paradigm shift a lot of industries are going through driven by digital transformation. Hence, timing wise now seems to be a good opportunity; and c.) Firms such as Tesla, Google, and Amazon are doing some amazing innovative stuff and I wanted to be part of that journey. As for gaining technical skills, it depends on the role and the company. For example, there are roles such as corporate strategy, corporate finance, sales operations, non-tech product managers, and product-marketing managers where you don’t need to have a prior tech background. That said, it’s always a benefit to learn some of the technical skills if you are recruiting for tech as it will help you increase the skills that you bring to the table.


Guest: Would you say that for applicants with a tech background, the regular MBA program is more appropriate than the MPCS program?

* Fern O’Neill: If you are looking to get into a business role in the tech industry, an MBA is extremely valuable. If you are looking to advance in a technical role, then the MPCS might be better suited to your interests.


Guest: Do VC firms recruit on campus?

* Fern O’Neill: For the most part, VC firms do not hire through a campus recruiting process. While VC firms may come to campus for lunch, learns, and panels, students pursuing VC will land their internships and full-time roles through a specialized search.


Guest: To what extent are coding / programming / technical skills important when it comes to recruiting for and excelling at Product Management / Corp Strategy roles in the tech space? Any tactical actions outside the classroom you recommend folks take to get ahead?

* Melanie Chin: I would say the programming / technical skills can be helpful, but not necessary within the tech space (the only exception to this might be the Technical Product Manager role at Amazon). I would recommend just learning about the tech space in general, as well as the companies you are interested in interning with. There are a number of ways to do this, such as following TechCrunch and other tech news sources, and connecting with current employees. Some people participate in pre-MBA internships, but again not necessary for recruiting within the tech space.


Guest: What are some names and examples of internal consulting groups or corporate strategy division at tech company that recruit at booth? What kind of curriculum at Booth can equip us to fit this position?

* Samantha Go: I am not sure I totally understand your question, but I will do my best to provide the relevant information. I believe you are asking for the specific names of the divisions within each of the companies - in this regard, it is very hard to list them out because basically each firm may hold these roles within different departments and call them something different. Their department names can range from Corporate Strategy or Business Development to specific names of programs like SKIP at IBM or MAP at JP Morgan Chase. If you are asking about what companies have these types of roles, almost every tech firm you can think of has them. Given this type of strategic thinking involved, I would encourage you to look into classes within the Strategy concentration at Booth. Many of the classes there will provide you with the frameworks and structures as well as real-world cases you can apply to future work. Also, classes with an experiential learning component (lab classes) will be very helpful.


Guest: How has the recruiting scenario in Tech Industry evolved in recent years? What roles are more in demand at present and which ones are now obsolete?

* Fern O’Neill: The recruiting scenario for tech has changed quite a bit! As you can imagine, student interest in tech has grown tremendously. For example, in 2013, 13% of students landed internships in tech. In 2017, tech was the number 1 industry with 22% of students landing tech internships. Many more tech companies come to campus AND many companies post roles with Booth. In terms of roles, Product Management, Product Marketing, Business Development, Strategy, and finance roles are very much in demand. Business analytics is a newer area of interest.


Guest: Is there anything you would recommend an incoming student do over the summer/before arrival on campus to prepare for tech recruiting?

* Lovneet Singh: Umm, I would say that you should take this time to relax and travel. However, if you want to prepare, one thing that you can do is read popular tech blogs such as TechCrunch, Stratechery, Wired.com and others just to remain updated on what’s happening in the tech space. Additionally, there are company specific blogs such as WindowsCentral (Microsoft) and AndroidCentral (Google).

Further, you can consider reading books such as Inspired by Marty Cagan, which provide an insight into role of a product manager without going into too many details.


Guest: Why did you choose Booth over other schools?

* Matthew Kessler: There's a lot that stood out to me about Booth. I think the academic curriculum has a reputation for being more data and analytics heavy, which is something that tech companies and many companies value. The most important factor for me, though, was the people. Booth has a strong culture of paying it forward, and I've always found Boothies, both current and alumni, to be super helpful to me whenever I had questions and always willing to help, even going above and beyond what I would have expected.


Guest: What are tech interviews like? Specifically, what are PM interviews like?

* Matthew Kessler: This is a difficult question to answer because it varies so much by company, more so than in other industries. In general, tech companies want you to know about their company and have a good answer for why you want to work there. It is important to be familiar with current events/trends that are specific to the company you are interviewing for. PM interviews tend to be a mix of behavioral questions ("Tell me about a time...") and "mini-case" questions. A common such question for PM interviews is to describe a mobile app that you like, why you like it, what improvement would you make to it, and why. However, as mentioned the questions vary a lot by company.


Guest: I understand there are different roles in tech industry such as Product Manager & Product Marketing Manager. What are the differences between these two? Can I apply to both roles during the recruiting process? Or should I focus on one role?

* Huneth Lor-Fair: The responsibilities can differ for Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager from company to company. Both roles work together but are responsible for different things. Product Managers can be viewed as the CEO of the product, they show all the weak spots, understand the technology, and work with the engineers to get the product on the field. Product Marketing Managers are responsible for defining the marketing position and owning the go-to-market strategy. You can apply to both, but companies will want to know why you are interested in each role.


Guest: Thanks so much for hosting this chat. I'd love to hear about some of the ways Boothies interested in tech have pursued tech-related career paths outside of Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.

* Fern O’Neill: Many students have interest in tech outside of google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. Fintech has been growing and is of great interest to students. Also, many tech startups look to hire Booth students. We host a Startup Networking Night twice a year, which has a huge number of tech related startups looking to hire Booth talent. In addition, many of the smaller tech firms will post jobs with booth.


Guest: I have heard conflicting views about this so was wondering how it really is on the ground... Assuming you worked in the tech company before your MBA, and you go back to tech after the MBA, do you get to keep your "seniority” or do you have to start all over again?

* Melanie Chin: Generally, I would say that if you were staying in the same function within tech (for example, marketing pre-MBA to marketing post-MBA), you would be able to keep your "seniority", and very likely, move up to a managerial role post-MBA. If you are switching functions within tech (for example, marketing pre-MBA to finance post-MBA), it might depend on the specific firm and how flat it is, but regardless, having the MBA will help you!


Guest: What obstacles/challenges (if any) do you see for international students in Tech recruiting?

* Fern O’Neill: Many of the tech firms are open to hiring international students. We strongly encourage our tech corporate partners to be open to hiring internationals students. However, some companies will not hire international students. This may reduce the pool of companies that you can target. Other than that, our students are very successful in all recruiting, which includes tech. The key is to leverage your experience and skills and have a compelling story for what you bring to a tech role.


Guest: What is the most interesting "tradition" that Booth students do?

* Matthew Kessler: There are a lot of fun traditions here at Booth so it's hard to pick just one. A few that stand out to me: the annual Booth Follies show (comedy sketches, dances, etc. performed by your classmates) and the Booth vs. Kellogg Battle of the Bands that takes place each spring!


Guest: What resources are available to students looking to focus on building their own tech companies?

* Melanie Chin: The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a huge resource that many students take advantage of (https://polsky.uchicago.edu). Within the academic space, we also have entrepreneurship courses such as New Venture Strategy and Commercializing Innovation. We also have the New Venture Challenge and Social New Venture Challenge as accelerator programs for companies.


Guest: For individuals who want to go into corporate strategy at a tech company, without prior strategy experience, would it be better for them to apply to a strategy consulting firm with a focus on the tech industry (with the intention to later transition to a tech company)?  Alternatively, would it be better to apply directly to a tech company to do strategy?

* Matthew Kessler: It's tough to say, unfortunately. It will depend on the specific company and role. Some companies are more open to different backgrounds than others are, and I have seen classmates pursue both of these paths, and have success in both of these paths, while others have had to pivot to another option.


Guest: How many trips do the technology-related clubs and groups organize to tech hubs around the country (SF/Silicon Valley, NYC, LA, Seattle, etc.)?

* Matthew Kessler: The biggest organized trip is the Tech Trek organized by Booth Technology Group over winter break. About 70 students will go out to the West Coast for a week to both Seattle and the Bay Area and visit most of the big tech companies as well as many smaller ones. It's a great way to get a sense of what these companies are actually like. I don't have a count on the number of trips but there are often smaller ones that go out to companies in the Chicago area, or to look specifically at start-ups. To my knowledge, there is not an East Coast trek that focuses on tech. But definitely, the Tech Trek is the main event!


Guest: If recruiting starts in Mid-October, is it difficult for those who have not started the MPCS/MBA program to prove they have the technical abilities for the roles?

* Cristina Ochoa: Hi! I would take a look at the transcript from the recent MPCS Chat we had: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/events/onlinechats/2018-03-16-joint-degree-mba-cs-transcript There is a lot of information (from the student perspective) on recruiting and pursuing this dual degree.


Guest: When is the deadline for the MPCS/MBA joint degree program in the fall? When would we find out whether we were accepted?

* Cristina Ochoa: Hi! Take a look at this transcript from our recent chat about the MPCS: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/events/onlinechats/2018-03-16-joint-degree-mba-cs-transcript.  FAQs are there!


Guest: Thanks a lot for answering my last question! I see Booth has a very strong reputation on marketing. Before I recruit for PM/Marketing role in tech industry. What marketing-related courses/events/clubs/labs do you recommend I should join to prepare myself for summer internship recruiting?

* Katie Claussen Bell: The Kilts Center for marketing activities and programming in conjunction with the robust marketing curriculum give you a lot of options. We at Kilts Center work closely with the tech groups and marketing groups to create programming that complements the curriculum. For example, we host an annual product management workshop that helps prepare you for internships or FT roles in PM. The New Product Development Lab is a course that the Kilts Center supports, and according to many students who pursue tech internships, this preps them with a great set of frameworks that you'll use in your internship.


Guest: How does Booth uniquely prepare students for a career in tech?

* Matthew Kessler: Booth provides many tools for students through academics, career services, and the Booth Technology Group. I would say that Booth Technology Group provides a lot of useful programming for students, including lunch and learns with second-years, resume and cover letter reviews, the Tech Trek, and intensive interview prep to prepare for recruiting.


Guest: Are there specific Tech-related clubs, activities, group that you would recommend joining or participating in?

* Matthew Kessler: Booth Technology Group is the most important one to join if you are interested in a career in tech. This group provides all of the recruiting prep for tech roles. Other groups that are worth joining are the Booth Analytics Club (focus on data analysis, R and Python workshops, etc.) and if you are interested in Fintech there is a newly created Fintech Club. I have also found the Marketing Group to be useful if you are interested in pursuing PM or PMM roles.