Tuck Takes MBA Students To Silicon Valley – Before They Even Start School

Mathias Machado, Tuck associate director of career services, on the Google campus in Silicon Valley - Ethan Baron photo

Mathias Machado, Tuck associate director of career services, on the Google campus in Silicon Valley – Ethan Baron photo

But the boot camp is more than experiential learning: it’s a counterbalance to the “recruiting frenzy” that engulfs students once they hit campus, Machado says. “Students get kind of bucketed into which companies shout the loudest,” he says. By coming to the heart of the tech industry before they’re swamped with recruiter messaging and enticements, the students are much better prepared for the decisions they’ll have to make during the recruiting process, Machado says.

In company visits, in meetings with Tuck students and alumni working in tech firms, in panel discussions with Tuck students and recent graduates, boot camp participants learn about job-search realities in Silicon Valley, and the various roles in the industry that may be open to an MBA. “It helps them target better,” Machado says. “It will help them hit the ground running if that’s what they want to do.”

Although some tech industry roles such as certain product management jobs may require an engineering or computer science background, those positions are an exception, Machado says.

“An engineering or computer science degree for a career in technology is the biggest myth out there,” Machado says. “Students with all kinds of backgrounds get hired into the tech space—liberal arts majors, people with and without prior tech experience. One of the reasons we started the Boot Camp is to have people with a non-tech background realize they don’t need a tech background to start a career in tech. Tech companies hire into multiple roles: operations, human resources, sales, marketing, product management, finance, etc.”

Madeline Dufour, boot camp participant and former senior associate at Bain Capital, says since she hasn’t decided on a post-MBA career field, she appreciates the early introduction into a possible sector. “I think it’s really fantastic that before we’ve set foot on campus that we’ve had the opportunity to learn about the different industries out there,” Dufour says.


Still, although the boot camp’s focus is deliberately away from recruiting, the program provides networking opportunities that can lead to future positions. Tuck second-year MBA candidate Steve Harrington attended the boot camp last year, and received exposure to companies ranging in size from Google to “a startup which was in a basement with a keg and a really excited CEO.” Harrington, who earned an undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania before joining the U.S. Army and ultimately serving in Afghanistan for nine months, had taken more away from a boot camp alumni panel at Google than an introduction to the company. “It was sort of my first introduction to the Tuck network which you hear a lot about,” says Harrington, 27. “I ended up keeping in touch with a couple of them. One of the guys that I had lunch with during this tour ended up supporting me for an internship.”

Harrington, determined to work in tech after graduating, had also kept in contact with alumni at several other companies, who helped him understand the culture and business environment in Silicon Valley, pointed him toward further resources, and even helped him prepare for internship interviews, he says.

Of the 38 Tuck students who did the boot camp last year, 30% took internships in tech, and Harrington is one of them: he’s interning at Google in project management. “Google was always my top choice,” Harrington says. “If you had told me a couple years ago that I was going to be here I wouldn’t have believed it.”

Google employs 42 Tuck alumni, and Facebook three.

At Facebook, the boot campers fill a meeting room for a talk and Q&A with Tuck ’85 alum and angel investor Steve Eskenazi, who discusses the realities and opportunities of the valley’s tech industry. “Big data and especially analytics are not going to go away, and they’re going to have broad applications,” Eskenazi tells the students. 


One boot camper notes the buzz around financial technology, known as FinTech, and asks, “Where do you see opportunity?”

“I don’t see a lot of FinTech as underfunded right now” Eskenazi begins, before describing some new enterprises in that arena. Several FinTech ventures focus on particular demographics, he says. “Your generation and the generation before you, immediately before you, when you look at consumption and spending versus savings, were at the highest ratio of consumption and spending versus savings,” Eskenazi says. “There are a number of startups that are targeted towards either helping people save or plan, because that wasn’t as much in those generations’ familiarity.”

Eskenazi runs down a list of takeaways for the boot campers, starting with “geography matters.”

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