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Student Trek Fall 2007

Students hit tech and finance hubs in whirlwind networking tour 

For the student who is interested in building a career in asset management, Boston was the place to be over the fall mini-break.

Given that the Red Sox were staging their World Series championship run at the same time, it couldn’t hurt to be a sports fan, either.

“We had a great week,” reports Jackie Goslin, associate director of the Career Opportunities Center, who led two treks to Beantown in October — one for members of the Tepper School’s BioPharma Club, the other focusing on finance.

MBA students spent several hours at each of three companies meeting with portfolio managers, research analysts, and human resources professionals, all in the name of learning what the day-to-day work of an asset manager entails. No question was off-limits.

“It was a really intimate experience for the students, and it better prepared them for their job search and, hopefully, for interviews going forward,” says Goslin.

A similar trek to New York, led by Career Opportunities Center Executive Director Ken Keeley, focused on careers related to the selling side of the business on Wall Street. Goslin notes that careers in finance are a perennial favorite among the Tepper School’s students, making the treks valuable as a means of networking and building knowledge that can later be applied to a job search.

“It is an avenue toward opportunities as the CFO of a company; it opens doors to the venture capital world,” Goslin says of finance. “Understanding finance can open many doors for our students down the road.”

A trek to Silicon Valley by members of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club demonstrated that “the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well,” says Mike Farrell, the club’s president and a second-year MBA, who was instrumental in planning the trip. “I came away impressed.”

A certified public accountant who has worked in London and Zurich on mergers and acquisitions as well as due diligence, Farrell reports the energy levels in Silicon Valley remain high and seem untouched by problems related to the subprime crisis.

Dr. Matthew Hawryluk, vice president of the EVC Club and a second-year MBA student, also helped plan the Silicon Valley visit after contacting and meeting with several West Coast venture capitalists.

“This trip was a great opportunity for us to leverage these contacts to put together an exciting agenda, meeting with many potential mentors and contacts in the industry,” he says.

“As MBA students, we are uniquely positioned to connect with venture capitalists who may be out of reach post-graduation,” agreed Farrell. “We knew it would be a real value add for the (EVC Club) members.”

The idea of the trek is to “really get our personal impression as to what is the pulse of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley,” says Art Boni, director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School and John R. Thorne Chair of Entrepreneurship, who accompanied the students on their West Coast trek.

“It’s basically all about connections,” adds Boni, who is also associate teaching professor of Entrepreneurship. “What we’re trying to do is establish a dense net. The challenge will be to keep the connections active. Time goes by, people change, things change, so it’s really a matter of keeping up a constant interaction.”

A Sunday-through-Tuesday trek to Austin, Texas, was a first and involved 19 students from the Business and Technology Club.

“We wanted to look at cities out there that have strong technology centers, and we also wanted to look at cities where we don’t have as close a connection,” says Steve Rakas, associate director at the Career Opportunities Center, who joined students on the Austin trek.

Ed Shelton, a second-year MBA who helped coordinate the Austin trek, said criteria for selecting companies included businesses that are seeking MBAs for technical roles, student interest, and strong company or alumni relations.

To prepare for the trip, second-year club members offered to review the resumes of first-year students. They also reviewed which companies are more presentation-based, and which favor a question-and-answer format; and what they should ask and listen for during the visit. The club prepared a trip packet for each participant that discussed the history of each company as well as logistical information on transportation and dining.

Shelton reports that Tepper School alumni and others who met the students were refreshingly candid about their experiences, giving a more complete overall picture of what is currently happening in Austin.

“Overall, I think it was a success,” he says. “One of the big things that students took away from it is what technology companies in Austin are all about.”

Participants say they’ll ultimately measure the success of their treks not solely in job or internship offers, but also in the more qualitative benefits of heightened awareness and better communication between the companies and Carnegie Mellon.

“We’d love to bring back all of these companies to recruit on campus,” says Rakas.

Goslin agrees. “With 22 students coming out from Pittsburgh, it says a lot about the commitment of our students, particularly given our small class size,” she says.

Farrell believes there are many ideas among his colleagues that could come to fruition with the help of the knowledge gained on the trip.

 “The MBAs at Tepper are extremely intelligent and creative. There are a lot of amazing business ideas that are being talked about within the walls of Posner Hall,” he says. “This trek will give attendees the opportunity to learn how to position themselves for VC jobs, gain contacts in the industry, and focus on the most important aspects of their business ideas.”

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Mark D. Burd

Director of Public Relations

Tepper School of Business
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213-3890

Tel: 412-268-3486
Fax: 412-268-7824

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