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

Silicon Valley, overlooking Mountain View

Silicon Valley, overlooking Mountain View and the Googleplex   – Ethan Baron photo

“The ways of doing business here in Silicon Valley – blowing up people’s phones to get them to respond – is not going to play in Peoria,” says Eskenazi, whose list of investment successes includes several companies sold for hundreds of millions of dollars as well as managing a venture fund that was the first investor in internet-radio service Pandora. However, Eskenazi suggests to the students, opportunities abound beyond Silicon Valley and the American tech industry. “There are pockets internationally which are every bit if not more exciting than the U.S. We are 320 million people. India and China are going to add that many people in terms of smart phones in the next couple of years alone.”

Eskenazi urges the new Tuckies to manage their expectations when internship season rolls around. “If you go into summer employment with the attitude that it’s really hard to get a meaningful experience over the summer in an eight- or 10-week process, you’ll do better than if you keep the bar high and expect the sun and moon and stars to align and that you’re going to find a super meaningful and fulfilling experience in such a short time. Keep the summer work as a tactic that’s part of the overall strategy of spring and summer 2017, i.e. full-time employment. 

Looking further, Eskenazi highlights the blistering pace of technological change. “Social-media marketing five years ago didn’t exist,” he says. “By the time you graduate, there will be hot industries, hot jobs within those industries that probably haven’t even been created right now. Keep your eyes and ears open, keep your mind open.”


While tech companies are ramping up hiring of MBAs, the MBA output into tech has become wildly inconsistent across schools, regardless of tier. In some MBA programs, the percentage of graduates taking tech jobs after graduation has skyrocketed, while at others it has plummeted.

In November, TechCrunch published an article making the dubious claim that MBAs are “fleeing” tech, based only on the Stanford University Graduate School of Business 2014 employment report, which showed the number of grads entering tech dropping to 24% from 32% in 2013. That result could well be a blip, and isn’t matched by data from nearby U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business, which saw a record 43% of MBA grads going into tech in 2014, up from 33% the year before and 31% in 2012.

Still, Yale’s School of Management in 2014 reported a considerable drop – to 10% – in graduates entering tech, after the percentage almost doubled the previous year to 17% from 9%. Harvard Business School’s MBA contribution to the tech industry dropped a point in 2014 to 17%, although that percentage remains significantly higher than the 12% from 2012 and 11% from 2011. At UCLA Anderson School of Management, tech has been the top hiring industry for the past three years, with the percentage of students going into that sector more than doubling over four years; however the percentage remained static at around 26% from 2013 to 2014.

Drops in the percentages of MBA graduates entering the tech sector cannot be attributed to an increase in rates of new MBAs launching ventures, although certainly some graduates who have done so would have otherwise entered tech: there’s no overall correlation between decreases or plateaus in the proportions of graduates choosing tech and the proportions starting enterprises. At Stanford GSB, for example, the percentage of graduates not seeking employment because they were starting businesses hovered at 17% and 18% in 2014 and 2013, while the percentage entering tech dropped significantly in 2014. At Yale, the new-business percentage went up 14% in 2014 from 10% in 2013, while the percentage entering tech dropped, but when the proportion of grads choosing tech almost doubled from 2012 to 2013, the percentage launching ventures shrank only 2%.

Numbers from mid-tier schools reveal similar inconsistencies. At the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business, the proportion of MBAs heading straight into tech had more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2012, hitting 14% from 3%, but then dropped for two straight years, to 11% in 2013 and a meagre 6% last year. The University of California Marshall School of Business saw 17% of MBA grads enter tech in 2014 – but that’s a number little changed from 16% in 2010.

Yet a stunning 43% of Class of 2014 MBAs from Arizona State University Carey School of Business started tech jobs upon graduation, a massive leap from 25% the year before. And MBAs from Texas A&M Mays Business School went into tech in 2014 at more than double the rate of 2013, with 37% entering the sector last year compared to 2013’s 17%.

Regardless of the muddled picture on MBAs’ career destinations, two Silicon Valley firms, Google and Apple, are considered the “most attractive” companies in America by MBA students, according to a 2015 survey of 1,300 students by employer-branding firm Universum.

But of course there’s another world within Silicon Valley, and MBA students’ interest in entrepreneurship has taken on the characteristics of a world-wide mania. The Tuck boot camp reflects the reality that Silicon Valley is not only Tech Heaven, it’s Startup Heaven, too. At Funding Circle, an online platform for small-business lending, boot campers heard from Tuck alum Chris Selden on “Growing a Mid-Stage Startup.” Small group dinners on a Thursday evening gave students a chance to talk with alumni working in the startup world, and the following day’s events featured a “startup recruiting panel” of Tuck alumni who went through the recruiting process at new ventures.

“This is a really great time to get to listen to people who either transitioned into a startup after the MBA or went to a bigger tech company and then moved to a startup,” says Machado of Tuck career services.

Eighteen per cent of Tuck’s 2014 grads went into tech, and about 16% of those entered startups or early-stage enterprises, according to school data.


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