Aug 26, 2015

Techies or Tuckies? The Silicon Valley Boot Camp

By Vijay A. Joshi

Vijay is an incoming T’17. Born in central Pennsylvania, Vijay is making a return to the Northeast after spending the past three years in South Florida. Prior to Tuck, Vijay worked in both supply chain and corporate strategy for Office Depot. Vijay can be reached at vijay.a.joshi.tu17@tuck.dartmouth.edu.

This summer, over 30 incoming T’17s and I, as well as several members of the Career Development Office and the Center for Digital Strategies made our way out to Silicon Valley to explore the various career opportunities and roles that are available to MBA students in technology.  For most of us, the trip served as our first formal Tuck experience, and provided a wonderful opportunity to not only meet incoming classmates, but also network with many alumni in different roles within tech and begin thinking about our careers before the craziness that is the Fall A term.

We kicked off the trip with some drinks and friendly, but competitive games of bocce ball at Campo di Bocce, and the event served as a great ice breaker and informal setting to meet my incoming classmates. My main takeaway from the event (and it was one of the main themes of the week) is to get to know your classmates. On this trip alone, we met investment bankers, consultants, former startup employees, students who worked for nonprofit organizations in Africa, educators, military personnel, and the list goes on. While the trek itself was focused on tech, the amount I learned regarding other job functions and opportunities just through discussions with classmates was just as valuable. You’ll be surprised at just how amazing your classmates truly are.

The week that followed was a whirlwind of activity. We listened to speakers from Nest and Pandora talk about their respective industries and careers, went on a tour of the Google campus, and had lunch with Tuck alumni who worked for Google. We visited Facebook and heard from an ANGEL investor on future trends within tech investing as well as two recruiters from mid-sized startups on what they look for when recruiting MBAs. The tech trek also included discussions with Tuck alums from a mid-sized fintech company focused on lending, Weather Underground and Frog Design, and panel discussions and small group dinners with current (interns) and former students who work in the Valley. Furthermore, companies EnerNOC and New Relic hosted the group and provided insights into the trends within their industries (energy efficiency and app data analytics).

The Silicon Valley Boot Camp was a comprehensive and immersive trip that yielded many takeaways and insights for the upcoming recruiting season and demonstrated why recruiting for technology positions is not like many of the other careers MBAs target. It does not follow a definitive structure, and can be highly unpredictable depending on the size and success of the business. Many of the professionals we spoke to also stressed the importance of networking and maintaining a physical presence in the Valley throughout the year. Moreover, for many early-stage and even mid-size tech startups, while an MBA will help get you a conversation with tech companies, landing the job relies on one’s ability to convey to tech companies how prior experience can be leveraged to help grow the firm as resources are always tight for startups.

For me personally, I made the trip to San Francisco with no true expectation, other than hoping to learn about potential opportunities for MBAs, network with incoming classmates, and to see some of the unique qualities that seem to define the Silicon Valley, and the tech space in general, such as the laid back dress code and creative workspaces. I came away from the trip with an understanding of what product management actually means, the value MBAs can provide to tech firms, how to approach a career focused in tech, and of course, the confirmation that tech offices really are as cool and creative as everyone says.

(Learn more about Tuck's Silicon Valley Boot Camp by reading a recent story from Poets & Quants.)