Here’s one you may not have heard: A business student walks into a room full of geeks.
And everything works out fine.
In fact, a significant percentage of business school students regularly head off to work in tech, and, increasingly, in the wake of the financial crisis, are choosing that sector over finance. Across the country, business schools are seeing record numbers of graduates jumping into tech. From Yale and Cornell universities, the share of business graduates entering the tech sector more than doubled from 2011 to 2013, while the proportion going into finance fell, the Wall Street Journal reports. At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, a record 15% of this year’s class of MBAs landed strategy, marketing and corporate finance jobs at tech firms, up from just 4% in 2009. Amazon and Microsoft are now among the top tech firms hiring at Darden.
Poets & Quants for Undergrads spoke with two students, one undergraduate and one graduate, from quite different backgrounds, but sharing with a great many of their peers a desire to get inside and work at one of the most sought-after employers in America, Amazon.
The Seattle-based company last year placed 14th in Universum’s rankings of U.S. employers preferred by undergraduate business students, ahead of Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Amazon hires hundreds of MBA and undergraduate business interns each year, far from unusual for big tech companies.
At companies like Amazon, business interns have the opportunity to work in a business environment among colleagues more familiar with data streams than capital flows.
Two summer interns – an undergraduate and an MBA – both said this was one of the most interesting aspects of the experience.
Here is what they said about interning at Amazon:
ANTHONY LI, UNDERGRADUATE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
How He Got There:
Anthony Li is a rising senior and finance major at the University of Washington in Seattle. He lives just outside the city, so his summer internship at Amazon is just a public transit ride away. Convenience isn’t why he’s there, however. If he had lived far away and needed to relocate, Amazon would have covered the cost. As it is, they pay for his commute.
When looking for summer internships, he sent out six applications, and says that he was interested in Amazon because the company frequently visited his college campus and he liked the descriptions he’d heard of the work environment. Interviewing only took one day, though it contained five interviews over several hours.
“The hardest part was a case question with a theoretical scenario. They told me: ‘The manager’s coming to you with a promotional strategy and you have to say if it would be profitable.’ If it wasn’t, they would ask more questions, like if Amazon should do it anyway. So it opened up a conversation, because there wasn’t just one answer. They wanted to see how I think,” Li said.
It Opened His Eyes To The Work Force:
Now hired, Li is in a project management position, and begins each morning by looking over what projects need to be worked on and planning out the rest of his day. The latter half of the morning, he says, is for meetings, where he tries to strategize his work – to figure out what he should be working on, and how he should be approaching each project, based on instructions and advice that people give him in the meetings. After that, he just works until everything is done.
“There’s no 9 to 5 schedule, it’s just doing what you need to do, so I really felt like I was part of the company – not just clocking in hours.”
He also says that about half of the things he’s worked on have been new to him. “The technical skills on the finance side – I learned that stuff in school. But I’m in a project management position, and I learned all the soft skills on the job.”