Carnegie Mellon University

business technology trek

December 06, 2019

Business & Technology Club Sees Silicon Valley Tech Industry

Members of the Business & Technology Club at the Tepper School visited 14 tech companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco during fall break.

With a steady history of sending MBA graduates into the technology industry, the Tepper School of Business provides substantial support for tech-aligned students. One such opportunity is the Business & Technology Club annual trek to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, California, which brings Tepper MBA students to the hotbed of technological innovation in the U.S.

With a strong network of recruiters, the Tepper School offers MBA students ample opportunity to connect with potential employers right from the start of their MBA journeys. Starting in the fall semester, student clubs host “treks” to major cities across the U.S. to connect with companies and alumni in various industries and functions. 

“Career treks are a significant resource for MBA students to gain valuable insights and make important contacts within industries of interest,” said Stephen Rakas, Executive Director of the Masters Career Center. “The treks provide invaluable networking opportunities and we’re pleased to support our student organizations each year in building strong, lasting connections to our Tepper alumni network and the broader business community.” 

On a career trek, students visit companies that partner with the Tepper School to recruit MBA interns and graduates, as well as other leading companies of interest to the students. They may also attend social gatherings to connect with alumni and industry leaders in the area to learn more about the city and build their professional networks.

Tech Industry Insight

The B&T Club is one of the largest MBA clubs at the Tepper School. It hosts events throughout the year intended to help MBA students hone their interview and case skills, meet contacts in the technology industry, and learn about the industry from experts. “The reason I joined was for the professional development and industry insight,” MBA student Chris Wendt said. “I don’t think I could have any substitute for the exposure to alumni and companies, and the professional development.” 

Wendt is contemplating a career as a product manager or product marketing manager, so he wanted to learn more about those kinds of roles with the B&T club. “They’ve done a really good job of offering programming that offers an insight into what it’s like,” he said. Activities have included professional development and mentorship, in which second-year students help prepare a few first-year students for the recruitment process and interviews.

“We just had the second edition of this tech casing workshop where we find out how that’s going to look in an interview,” Wendt said, referring to a frequent interview strategy in which hiring companies pose practice cases for potential employees to demonstrate how they would approach a business challenge. “Tech casing is not something that I was overly familiar with coming into the program, but I feel like I now have a good grasp on how to go about thinking within that framework.”

Thought Leaders in the Tech Industry

Beyond these key skills for the recruitment process, the B&T club also prepares members for their annual treks, including the fall trek to Silicon Valley and a winter break trek to Seattle, Washington. The club prepares documents for trek attendees with information and points of contact for each company they will visit and suggested questions to drive valuable conversation.

Over the course of five days, B&T club members visited 14 companies, including such tech juggernauts as Google, Facebook, and Salesforce. “The opportunity to interface with and have an in-road to these top companies through the alumni put a lot of the hard work we’ve been doing into perspective,” Wendt said. “That was probably the coolest part of the trek, getting to hear from these people who I now have — through Tepper — this connection to.”

One of these opportunities came in the form of a fireside chat on the Google campus coordinated by Tepper School’s Alumni Relations team, which invited alumni at companies like Lyft and Inmpossible Foods to talk about their careers since graduating and how the Tepper School helped them find success in the tech industry. Alumni Relations also organized a reception and roundtable discussion in San Francisco, inviting alumni from Discord, T4, and Beyond Lucid Technologies Inc. These discussions were both led by Tim Derdenger, Associate Professor of Marketing and Strategy.

“Being able to draft that onto my own roadmap for where I think I need to be moving was a really great model,” Wendt said. “Alumni are out there doing the things that you think you want to do when you come into to business school — doing big things and really driving change and acting as thought leaders in the tech space.”

In addition to company visits, trek organizers included networking nights and other social activities in the schedule. Wendt appreciated not only the chance to connect with alumni and other professionals in the tech industry, but also the opportunity to build stronger bonds with his classmates. “One of the key driving factors for why people come to business school is for the network,” he said. “Without that, the trek wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful to me.”