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Looking for a Match: MIT Sloan MBAs Hit the Road in Annual Job Trek

As more than 70 MIT Sloan School of Management MBA students begin their annual job-hunting, network-building, bi-coastal “Tech Treks” just as the new year begins, some say that job expectations – both their own and those of their potential employers – are changing.

In past years, especially during the financial crisis, “students were particularly sensitive to compensation and lifestyle factors,” says Ziheng Zhuang, who is joining the Trek to Silicon Valley. Today, factors other than pay drive such career decisions, says Zhuang, who worked in sales and trading for Citigroup in New York before enrolling at MIT Sloan. “In today’s market, candidates can once again allow company culture, professional development, and the challenging nature of one’s work to be determining factors in their job selection.”

Philip Simko, a native of Portland, OR, who did business development at a software startup before coming to MIT Sloan’s Cambridge campus, agrees that today’s MBAs “are more concerned with purpose and less with the compensation bottom line,” says Simko, who is trekking to Seattle. “We want to learn from engaged, curious people and be consistently challenged.”

During their visits to Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Boston, the Tech Trekkers will meet with established corporate heavyweights as well as newer ventures. They will also network with MIT Sloan alumni. In Seattle, for example, they will meet with officials at Amazon, Microsoft, and T-Mobile, but they also have a stop at Big Fish Games. In Silicon Valley, the list of firms includes Google, Gree, Intel, Facebook, Apple, eBay, and LinkedIn, while Boston companies on the Trek list include Skyhook Wireless, Hubspot and LevelUp.

Just being an MBA is no guarantee of a job or employment success, says Vitor Silva, who is going to all three cities. “Employers are looking for people who can make a difference,” says Silva, a native of Brazil with consulting and marketing experience in several nations. “At this point in our careers, we should have at least demonstrated that.”

Today’s employers demand more than just specific skill sets such as IT and marketing, says Zhuang, who grew up in Maine and Massachusetts. “With so many qualified candidates in a challenging job market, employers are placing increased focus on selecting candidates who truly fit with firm culture and live and breathe the values of the firm over traditional credentials. They recognize that it will take a collaboration of different skill sets and perspectives in order to successfully innovate in today’s competitive environment.”

That requires MBAs to prove that they can handle all kinds of changing circumstances, says Akshay Luther, a native of India who has worked in technology on three continents and is participating in the Silicon Valley Trek. “In today’s environment where ‘software is eating the world,’ employers are increasingly looking for the ability to pivot quickly. They want us to be able to adapt to a business landscape that is being transformed rapidly.”

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