Byrne: So Patrick, what would you do if you were an applicant today and wanted to work in the tech industry?
Moran: There are probably two things to look at. If you want to get into tech, I think the first issue is what role do you want to play and then the second is the stage of company you want to work for. Typically, business school students will land in either product management, marketing, human capital, or engineering. The requirements to get into any of those roles are slightly different from each other. Having an analytical background would certainly help in all those areas. The other dimension is the stage of the company. The majority of the companies that come to business school are established large companies that can afford to train and onboard someone for six months.
So Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. But on the other side of the spectrum, there are pre-seed startups where you’re expected to hit the ground running, and there’s not a ton of structure. And in the middle, there’s a lot of other companies, in post Series B, C, and pre-IPOs. Some are a little more structured than others. Some are about to go global. Understanding those two things coming into business school will probably help you better navigate what you want to learn more about after school.
Byrne: Dayna, are there things that you would recommend a pre-MBA applicant do if he or she is focused on finance?
Moser: In any area within financial services, I think it’s important to read the daily news or some type of curated news stream, following major macroeconomic events and news. You need to get an understanding for the markets to help you sound knowledgeable. You don’t necessarily have to have all of the answers but you need to position yourself as someone who’s out there asking intelligent questions and showing an intellectual curiosity about the subject that you are pursuing a career in.
Cathles: Yeah, I was just going to add to that. That business as a whole, across industries right now, your industries are converging. So the more that applicants can learn about whatever industry they’re trying to go in, the better position they’ll be in terms of interviews because they can ask better questions.
Byrne: Patrick, I wanted to ask you how you used the alumni network to get that first eBay job because obviously, that was crucial to you.
Moran: I think being forthright with my questions was probably important. My emails to alumni were short. They were very direct. And I knew exactly what I was going to ask. I said, here are a couple of roles that I found in your company. I found you on LinkedIn. I’m from Michigan as well and I’d love to speak with you about them. At times, I would get responses where it’s like, “Well, this role was taken or yes, I’ll send your resume over.” But other times they would actually respond and asked me if I wanted to chat. Being respectful and direct, and coming into the conversation with some level of knowledge, is a big deal.
Byrne: Elizabeth, have you leveraged the Berkeley networking in a meaningful way since you graduated?
Cathles: Absolutely. The Berkeley network was one of the ways that I got the job that I’m in right now. So one of the people who I’m still very close to actually came to Berkeley for a semester abroad. And she was my connection into Monitor Group, which then was bought by Deloitte a couple of years ago. And she knew that there was a particular office that wanted a particular skill set. I ended up actually just directly applying, and I loved the organization and loved the people but had I not met her through the Berkeley MBA I’m not sure I would have ended up in the same place.
Byrne: So in two cases alumni connections were vital to getting that first job.
Cathles: Vital, absolutely from the job perspective, but also from the perspective of just understanding different industries and different perspectives. I frequently call on good friends of mine from my MBA experience. They’ve obviously advanced in their careers across different industries and different roles, or they’ve founded companies that have now gone through Series B funding. It’s an incredible network to have to call on when you’re looking for advice.
Byrne: Dayna, have you used your network as well?
Moser: I’m in private wealth management so my entire book of business has been built on cultivating relationships for a long period of time before you really need them. I think that’s the key to really successful people. They focus on building relationships for the sake of building relationships, not necessarily because they need something right now. It’s not a transaction. It’s something where you genuinely want to give of yourself, whether it’s dinner reservations or advice on where to spend your time on vacation. And then I think from there, there’s always a time, that I will call back on those folks that I’ve helped along the way, and say, “Hey, I’m trying to get to know this person who I think could really use my services professionally. And so could you introduce us for that purpose?” And I think once you have that relationship in place, people are willing to do that.
And people do have this affection for the University of Michigan. So that network goes just beyond people who attended here. Their father might have been a big football fan. They might have had a child attend here. And so I think that’s the other thing about a university. There’s a strong sentiment around it, not necessarily just from the people who are truly alumni of the exact program you went to.
Byrne: Elizabeth, have you seen a candidate fail in a job search? And if so, is there something that that person could have done differently.
Cathles: Most MBA graduates do end up with a position, but not all the positions they may want. You have to have a strong understanding of the company, its industry and the kind of role you want to lay in that company to be successful. You need to do your research. And you should know yourself pretty well, too. So what are your own skills? What are the things that really make you tick as an individual, not only as a business person but also as a person overall? What do you love to do? Who do you love to interact with? What kind of roles do you like to play on a team? A lot of what you learn as you move through different roles but also as a part of the MBA program.
Byrne: Patrick, how about you? Have you seen people who want something and they don’t quite get it.
Moran: Well, I have seen it myself, especially in tech, and I failed so many times myself.
When I’ve seen MBA candidates not necessarily progress in certain interview sessions, it’s often because there was an internal candidate who got the job or there were just other really good candidates out there. Domain experience is one factor, but the other one is just being quite scripted and looking inauthentic. I think that’s probably a big factor, more than anything else.
Byrne: What role did the co-curricular experience in the MBA program play in shaping who you became and the job that you got? Dayna, were you active in the finance club that set you up for the job offer from Goldman Sachs?
Moser: Absolutely. So I was involved on campus with professional clubs such as the finance club and investment club. And those were instrumental in honing and refining my career search.
I came from a client service career prior to business school. I had to do that soul searching and say, “Do I love serving clients?” And my answer was yes. And so I really was focused on finding a role within financial services where I could continue serving clients directly every day. As a career-changing MBA student, I had to learn all of the jargon and vernacular that goes into the career. I think that your peers are the best source of information on those fronts. I was also involved in the Michigan Business Women’s organization, and I continue to maintain those friendships and relationships even to this day. Your careers often take a parallel path, and it’s nice to have peers in your career field.
Byrne: Elizabeth, how about you at Haas?
Cathles: Absolutely. I co-chaired the Women in Leadership conference. That was a core part of my second year at business school. I spend a lot of time reaching out to alumni organizing and working with a group of other peers and women who were all fantastic and who I’m still relatively close to so that was terrific. It’s really important to get to know people and to build relationships across multiple areas. You should focus on where you really want to spend your time, I was part of a ski house two years running and those are some of my closest friends right now.
Byrne: Are employers interested in co-curriculars?
Moran: It doesn’t generally come up. If anything, it builds a set of interests that you might be able to speak to. Who doesn’t like wine in tech?
Moser: You spend so much time with your co-workers that you want to know that they’re interesting both at work and outside of work. And clients want to know that you do something besides work. I’ve only seen one resume ever that had no additional interest. And I was like, “This is a problem. You cannot go forward with this applicant. They have nothing else to say besides the time they spend working.”