As recruiters get in line to snap up the top MBA grads from business school, consulting and finance firms have historically dominated the recruitment pool.
Hot on their heels, however, is the tech industry, which is fast rising as one of the biggest recruiters of MBA grads. Tech giants Amazon and Google respectively recorded a 75% and 67% increase in the number of MBA graduates they hired between 2015 and 2018.
The likes of Google, Apple, Facebook, and many other tech firms, have a large presence in one of the startup capitals of America: Austin, Texas, also known as the Silicon Hills.
Tapping into this tech industry is an alluring option for MBA grads at The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business—offering fast-moving work experience at the forefront of a rapidly growing market. In the graduating class of 2018, 30% of full-time MBA students accepted jobs in the tech industry, not only in Austin, but many also in the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest.
For career switchers, the MBA can be a chance to broaden one’s skill set, explore a different side of business, and ultimately find employment in some of tech’s biggest organizations.
Moving from finance to tech
With a bachelor’s degree in finance, a CFA qualification, and experience at Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays—Omer Mukhtar Ahmad (pictured) seemed destined for a career in finance.
Yet it was working at Unilever, managing the skincare portfolio in his home country of Pakistan, that opened Omer’s eyes to the wider possibilities for his career.
“I got an exposure to business and how manufacturing concerns operate on a global basis,” Omer remembers.
From here, applying for an MBA seemed like a natural step, knowing that he wanted to progress his career but not knowing exactly into which industry he wanted to pursue.
Texas McCombs’ wide selection of elective courses on offer piqued Omer’s interest to discover more. Texas McCombs MBA students take core curriculum in the first semester, while the following three semesters offer the chance to customize your degree with a wide range of electives in over 20 different academic concentrations, including high tech marketing, and strategy and innovation.
“I tried to pick as many courses to learn different things—everything from operations strategy to business analytics.”
While his strengths were in finance, Texas McCombs MBA career management helped Omer to frame his skills towards successfully landing a summer internship at Apple in an operations role.
“We see a good amount of career explorers,” explains Stefani Sereboff, a director on the MBA career management team at McCombs, “They spend a lot more time working to understand and communicate their value proposition.”
Texas McCombs has designated career consultants for each of its MBA degree programs, whether full-time, part-time, or executive, spanning a broad understanding of different industries. Part of the service is individual coaching, including interview practice and application assistance.
“It’s about understanding where they want to go and how to make that happen,” Stefani adds.
The internship, for Omer, was a clear launchpad into employment. In addition, Texas McCombs offers part-time Working Professional MBA programs, allowing students to complete an MBA alongside their full-time job—still providing coaching and resources to help working professional MBA students advance within their existing organizations or to make a transition in their career.
Following a successful summer internship, Omer is going to work at Apple full-time after his graduation. Ultimately, he sees the Texas McCombs MBA as invaluable to this achievement.
“It was a necessary stepping stone for me to jump high, and to achieve a goal which I may not have been able to achieve in my home country,” Omer enthuses.
Launching a tech startup
For Angelise Hadley studying an MBA was more to do with getting her own business off the ground.
With experience in retail and consulting, Angelise’s real ambition was to launch her business EmbraceBox, an e-commerce subscription service aimed at young girls with curly hair. While the idea was strong, Angelise lacked some fundamental business skills.
“When it came to marketing, accounting, or making the business run smoothly, I felt like I was tripping over myself and didn’t know what I was doing,” Angelise reveals.
For a digital entrepreneur like Angelise, Austin’s reputation for tech played a huge role in attracting her to Texas McCombs.
The MBA, moreover, gave her the skills and confidence to build her business. She drew upon one course in new venture creation, where students spend the duration of the semester working on a business model for their own enterprises.
Support in setting up her business extended to practical advice and help from faculty. The Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship offers entrepreneurs like Angelise mentorship, legal advice in setting up their business, summer fellowship funding, as well as monthly events and talks aimed at startup founders.
While she continues to grow her business, Angelise—who interned at Amazon in the summer after her first year—is set to start a permanent role there in September.
“I don’t think that opportunity would have been as easily accessible if I were not at McCombs,” she says.