From Airbnb to Uber: An MIT Sloan Tour of Bay Area Tech

Opinion

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showed how seriously they take the security of our personal data.

As for the presentation, we learned what lies beyond finding high school friends and “liking” posts. Facebook is much more than a social network; it’s really more of a big data company. It was interesting to learn about its focus on advertising and growth plans. A helpful takeaway for our group was that while the PM role is often the one most coveted by MBAs, we can add a lot of value in other roles. The presenters explained how Facebook is now a very large business and needs MBAs to strategize how to grow. We can make a significant impact in the strategy area even without a technical background.

Our visit to the tech consulting firm PwC was another good reminder of the different ways MBAs can add value. The presenters discussed overall tech trends like data security and the public cloud, and how consulting provides a great opportunity for MBAs to work on a variety of issues in the industry. While working in a tech company can be rewarding in terms of building products and taking ownership, working as a tech consultant can give you that big-picture view of the market and competitors. That can be immensely valuable in determining the fate of a company.

For the last day of the trek, we moved from the Valley to San Francisco. At Uber, presenters explained how the fast-growing company has more of a startup feel, as roles aren’t strictly defined. They look for people who can go out there and hustle. The vibe is clearly intense and they make no bones about that. I was really impressed by the people and their commitment to the company. A very helpful takeaway was information about MBA internship opportunities in community operations. What’s more, they even gave us the chance to submit our resumes that same day if we were interested.

Airbnb took the prize for the most magnificent office. It’s not a campus, but rather several floors in a city building. However, it’s the most beautifully designed space I’ve ever seen, with conference rooms designed based on properties around the world. Also noticeable was the lack of private offices. Instead there are conference rooms and open work spaces. Airbnb was voted one of the best places to work in 2016 by Glassdoor, but it was disappointing to learn that the company is not currently hiring a lot of MBAs. Nevertheless, we were heartened by the fact that they are looking for people with analytics skills and design capabilities, so MBAs with experience in either area could join in those roles.

Fitbit provided a positive end to the trek when we learned that it is beginning to hire MBA interns for the first time. We had an hour-long discussion with a PM about the company and MBA roles.

Overall, I gained a good sense of the value proposition of these companies as well as whether I would fit into their cultures. I also learned that analytics is the future, everyone appreciates scrappiness, and there are multiple ways for MBAs to contribute to the tech sector. I returned to Boston excited about the possibility of pursuing a tech career.

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Nilanjana (“Nila”) Bhattacharyya is a first-year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She is a former field engineer at Schlumberger with degrees in computer science and physics. Follow @MITSloan

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