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MBA Students To Test Valley's Employment Waters

MIT Sloan “Tech Trekkers” begin annual visits to Silicon Valley, Seattle and Boston Jan. 4

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As they embark on their annual job-hunting, network-building “Tech Treks” next week, more than 150 MIT Sloan School of Management MBA students will be testing the employment waters in the wake of the Great Recession.

In separate Treks to Silicon Valley, Seattle, and the Boston area, the MIT Sloan MBAs will visit dozens of companies, from startups to industry icons including Apple, Starbucks, Facebook and Cisco. They will explore the job outlook in sectors ranging from social networking to life sciences and technology.

“We have lined up an interesting mix of companies,” says Jaclyn Loo, a Honolulu native who is participating in the West Coast Treks. “Some are just starting out, while others are global players. Given that the MBA may have taken a hit in the past couple of years, it is up to us to prove to these companies that the true value of the MBA lies in what we do with the degree moving forward.”

The students know they face stiff economic winds in today’s job market. “While jobs are out there, I hear from second-year MBAs that it has become more difficult to get them,” says Kavitha Sivasailam, who grew up in Chennai, India. Sivasailam, who helped organize the Treks, said one advantage for the Trekkers is that MIT Sloan alumni hold positions at many of the firms being visited. “In this economy, networking with alumni has to begin earlier,” she says. “As long as one can distinguish oneself from their peers and offer tangible skills to an employer, one can succeed in this job market.”

She also thinks the MBA brand remains strong. “Though I enjoy technology, I am more interested in product strategy than in pure technical work. An MBA gives me the credibility to take on such a role, while grounding me in the fundamentals of business. The treks are a great way to get a pulse of the tech landscape in a short period of time.”

Hilda Tang, a Sloan MBA from Vancouver, says she sees some increasing optimism in the job market. “While the economy is still weak and many sectors are suffering from lay-offs and job losses, tech companies have weathered through the crisis and are slowly picking up growth,” she says. “Many of the large companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon, have already come to campus for presentations and post-summer intern positions.”

The Treks offer a look not only into employment opportunities, but the overall economy, says Loo, who is looking at a career in ecommerce “as a way to fuse my background in technology with interests in marketing and retail.” Though the economy may be different this year, she said one bedrock aspect of MBAs remains unchanged. “Entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature,” she says. “The economy and evolution of venture capital over the past year has forced start-ups to rethink their priorities and execute more strategically than ever before. On these Treks, the MBAs will see the true evolution of start-ups and how we can take our own ideas from concept to execution and growth.”

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