Tuck | Mr. First Gen Student
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Hopeful
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Darden | Ms. Environmental Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Go-Getter
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Columbia | Mr. Global Healthcare
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Airline Developer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.48
HEC Paris | Ms Journalist
GRE -, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
Stanford GSB | Ms. Social Impact To Tech
GMAT -, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. First Gen Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 Auditor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD Explorer
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Automotive Project Manager
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
NYU Stern | Mr. Honor Roll Student
GRE 320, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
MIT Sloan | Mr. AI & Robotics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Social Entrepreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Industry Switch
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. Irish Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10

Can An MBA Help You Break Into Tech?

tech1

As a technology career coach at the Ross School of Business, I am often asked by prospective MBA techies if business school is right for them:

  • “I work at Google already. Will an MBA help me rise the ranks faster?”
  • “It would be awesome to work at a hot startup. Will an MBA help me get my foot in the door sooner?”
  • “I want to launch my own startup. Will an MBA help me get started more quickly?”

And my answer, perhaps surprisingly, is often: “Nope!”

Because tech is weird when it comes to business school. Even though there are lots of MBAs in this space, two expensive years of graduate education is often looked down on compared to two years of:

  • Building real experience at Google
  • Hustling to meet and influence startup founders
  • Taking that $100,000 of tuition money and using it to launch your own venture

And that’s because, more than most industries, tech is a “show me” field. As in, “What can you actually do to help my company succeed?” Not just, “What credentials do you have?”

But there is one scenario in which I wholeheartedly recommend business school to would-be techies. And that’s because it’s the one I’ve lived myself: Being completely stuck on the outside of tech, looking in.

THE STORY OF A YOUNG NERD

That’s where I found myself seven years into my career. Because even though I had grown up as a tech addict — I remember my mom yelling at me to get off the phone line when I spent too much time on CompuServe (“It’s only a 9600 baud modem, ma!”) — I never thought my hobby would have any connection to my profession.

And so, after getting my start as a kindergarten teacher in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, I was firmly on the education/nonprofit track. But no matter where I went in that field, I never lost my childhood passion for all things tech. In fact, whether I was building a blog for my classroom or managing databases at Teach For America, I found myself gravitating to the very nerdiest margins of my role.

So after years of deferring this passion, letting it rattle around in my subconscious and stir up all sorts of occupational fantasies, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge into tech. After all, how hard could it be to get a job doing what I loved and was good at?

Hard, it turns out. Really, really hard.

I’ve since lost track of exactly how many applications I submitted to Google and its peers over those years of frustration, but, suffice it to say, I became very familiar with one particular email:

GOOGLE rej

Because this is the only email I ever got back. And I got it a lot!

So there I was, stuck on the outside of what appeared to be an amazing tech party, peering through the window and feeling lonelier with each passing rejection.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Now fast-forward 12 months. I’m about to finish my first year of the Ross MBA program. And I’m suddenly juggling offers from Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Say what?

Let’s rewind the tape a bit.

After finding myself stuck in a professional rut, I broke down and took the B-school plunge. Not that I really knew anything about MBAs as a former kindergarten teacher, but it seemed like the career equivalent of taking out a balky Nintendo cartridge and blowing all the crud out. Like I said, I’m a pretty big nerd …

And sure enough, within weeks of arriving in Ann Arbor, all the same tech firms that wouldn’t even send me a single personalized rejection email for years, now wanted to talk to me.

Which meant that all those generic “dings” started to get replaced by much happier “ding, ding, dings!”

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.42.10 AM

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.