January 10, 2006 4:00 AM PST
MBA job hunters find Silicon Valley more welcoming
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One thing the tech industry offers that consulting and financial services rarely do is a chance to be entrepreneurial. Many of the business students touring the Valley said they hope to start their own companies, and the best place to do that is likely in tech.
"We want to know what it's like to be an entrepreneur," Prakash said. "Back in 1998, all it took out here was three guys and a business plan and you could get funding. Now, some of the venture guys told us about how tough it is to get funding, all the hard work, and rejection that go along with starting a business. It's not glamorous, but we all want to give it a try some day."
When it comes to luring the top MBA talent, the tech industry still has a few clouds hanging over it. Many business students wonder if the sector will continue to ship jobs overseas, said Yue Cathy Chang, 26, a second-year student at Sloan.
"I've heard comments from people who wonder about manufacturing jobs going to China and software jobs going to India," Chang said. "The high-tech sector is changing very much and some of them may be reluctant to go into that industry because of that change."
And most of the students interviewed lamented the relatively low profile of tech companies on MIT's campus. Recruiters from the banking and consulting industries, which are known for paying large salaries and offering plenty of perks, have pursued students all semester, the students said. Most tech company recruiters are on campus for only a fraction of that time.
"Without any contacts, it would be hard to catch on with a start-up or even a larger company that's 3,000 miles away," said Eric Dittmar, a second-year student at Sloan. "Some people who really want to be in tech may figure that they can spend two or three years in the banks or consulting and use them to get out west."
One tech segment pouring more resources into recruiting is venture capital.
Venture capital firms such as Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital have begun to more actively recruit students from MBA programs, although most of the hiring still revolves around landing lateral hires who have worked elsewhere a few years.
Partly, it's a historical issue. Many of the firms eliminated positions after the crash and now need to restaff. Some are also closing new funds, so they need to hire employees who will be around for the 10-year life of the fund, said Dave Epstein, a partner at CrossLink Capital.
The firms are also investing in media and Internet companies that some old-guard partners may not be in tune with.
"The business has gotten really busy again. A lot of firms are hiring these days," said Raj Atluru, a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
For that reason, many MIT students are encouraged.
"At least two companies have expressed interest in me," said Chang, who was working for Sun Microsystems when the tech boom went bust and saw her company options drop from $52 in value to $2. "I am definitely coming back here, and I know that the growth is slower than in 1999. But this time I know it's more realistic."
CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.
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