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At Tepper, Women Find Tech More Appealing

Tepper students visited VMware in Palo Alto, California last week and heard presentations from company representatives. Courtesy photo

Like many schools, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business sends annual deputations to the West Coast to genuflect at the altar of tech. But the MBAs who eventually graduate from Tepper and join the world of Silicon Valley or its increasingly viable East Coast competition are unlike those from other top B-schools in one key respect: most are women.

An analysis by Tepper of the last five years shows that 33% of the school’s female grads accepting a job within three months of graduation did so in the tech industry. Not only did more of Tepper’s entire Class of 2016 (33.54%) find jobs in tech than any other industry, but fully 45% of the women graduating from the school last year went into tech (compared to 29% of men) — by far the most of any industry. The next closest fields for Tepper women were consulting and consumer packaged goods, both with 17%.

It’s clear that for Tepper’s women MBAs, tech has become the go-to market in which to look for — and find — work.

“I think Tepper attracts a lot of women who are either in the tech or engineering fields, and who have an interest in learning about the tech industry in general,” says Shweta Aladi, first-year MBA candidate and one of those women with an interest in learning more about the tech industry. “Since the Tepper program and the CMU brand also promote analytics and technology as a part of the curriculum and employment opportunities, more of us are able to build the skills and interest to go into tech.”

TREKS: LEVERAGING NETWORKS, MEETING EMPLOYERS, SEEING THE COAST

Shweta Aladi

Aladi, a native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was one of about 90 Tepper students in the San Francisco Bay Area this month to tour a series of tech businesses, meet alumni in the industry, and get a general feel for life and work on the West Coast. Most were members of the Tepper Business and Technology and Graduate Entrepreneurship clubs, and more than a few were already veterans of other treks, whether to the Bay Area or to Tepper’s other top coastal destination, Seattle.

A member not only of the Business and Technology Club but the Data Analytics and Tepper Women in Business clubs, as well, Aladi helped organize January’s trek, which made visits to 14 businesses in five days, ranging from Cisco, Facebook, and Intuit to VMware, Salesforce, and Autodesk — or as Stephen Rakas, executive director of Tepper’s Career Opportunities Center, says, “a nice mix of software and hardware.” For her part, Aladi says the trek is not only a boon for MBA candidates looking to leverage Tepper’s networks and meet potential employers; it’s also a great chance to size up the way business is done on the West Coast.

“The treks are a big draw to prospective students coming into Tepper,” says Aladi, who earned her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Waterloo and worked in software development for Citi before joining Tepper in August. “When I was considering business schools to apply to, the treks to Seattle and Silicon Valley were very exciting to hear about, as I’m focused on the tech industry and have never been to the West Coast before. Not only is it a great opportunity for current students to meet graduates and find out more about the roles and industries, it’s also a great way for us to get to know the Bay Area. We’re able to explore San Francisco and the surrounding areas, and get a chance to see what life could be like if we move here for our internship or full-time employment.

“I really enjoyed being given the responsibility of reaching out to companies and alumni to plan the trek and work with my classmates. Being a trek planner is a lot of work, but I’m glad the trek is organized by the B&T club, as it allows us to decide what companies we’re visiting and the format and content of the visit. And it’s great to meet the alumni who are in the Bay Area, both at company visits and during the alumni events. I’ve received a lot of excellent advice on how to take advantage of my remaining time at Tepper.”

TEPPER TECH FTW

Stephen Rakas

Technology has been creeping into the lead as Tepper’s top industry destination over the last few years, pushing aside consulting in 2014 — and the school’s women have been neck-and-neck with men in accepting tech jobs since 2012, when 21% of Tepper’s graduating women took tech jobs, compared to 20% of men. (The class that year had 122 men and 52 women.) In the Classes of 2013 and 2014, women again led men into the tech sector, though by a slim margin (28% to 27% in 2013 and 33% to 32% in 2014), and in 2015 the school saw 37% of both male and female MBAs take jobs in tech. But last year the doors blew open.

As Tepper inches upward in the rankings — it was 18th on the latest US News and World Report list, up two spots, and 15th in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek ranking, up three — many see the dominance of the school’s women in securing tech jobs as a net plus not only for grads but for the school, too.

“I think that this is a great sign for the school,” Aladi says, “and we will continue to leverage our alumni and connections in tech to build Tepper’s reputation.”

Rakas adds that while he knew Tepper was strong for women in tech, “I was shocked that over the five years as a percent of each population our women are about 28% of each class — but of that, 33% of our women went into the tech industry over five years versus 29% of men. We’re very proud of that and excited, because even the class of 2016 it was very dramatic — 45% of our women went into tech, ranging in roles from sales to IT. It’s a real positive for the MBA program.”