Life

MS Technology Management : Decoded

It might be a late night with no action in Las Vegas that has prompted me to write this, but, I wanted to put this up for many reasons..

1) Frustration
2) Information
3) Education
4) Entertainment

Like our Marketing professor taught us, I am trying to segment, and then target different audiences of this blog: prospective students for MS Tech Program, bored internet blog visitors, and fellow people looking for jobs 🙂

So first the history: I was working rather well at naukri.com (India’s biggest jobsite), when my boss kinda motivated me to quit my job. Alongside, I was very enamored by the product team at naukri, for it seemed they had the best of both the worlds. There was also a person called Sujith Nair. He was a dynamic project manager at naukri, who was someone I usually looked up to. But being the Taurean that I am, I didn’t wanna take that much time (which was anyhow short) to get to where Sujith Nair was. Simultaneously, there were these new chaps recruited from ISB into naukri at seemingly ridiculous salaries… (grrr) and above all, I wanted a change!!!

So came into picture Technology Management.  My research on the internet for Technology Management (on  edulix.com, etc ) showed me a bunch of options, including MBA in Technology Management at Berkeley, MIT, EPFL Lausanne, and MS – Technology Management at UIUC (with one year course duration). I liked MS Tech at UIUC because the College of Business was ranked at 38 in the world (financial times), the program was at UIUC (a campus which has GREAT reputation), and this was a quick one year program (so I could get to earning money sooner). At that time ISB wasn’t ranked in the global rankings (now in 2012 it’s somewhere around 11 in the world), and IIMs were somewhere in the 100s… (plus I flunked CAT more than once 🙂 )

I applied, kinda after the deadline, and made it in. I was very ecstatic about it!  And then the program started… The fact that MS Technology Management was a one year program made it a very intensive course work. And before we had even unpacked our bags, we ran into our first and most critical Fall career job fair. I did my part of selling, and got interviews from many great companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook (which I couldn’t attend, and it turns out to be a VERY expensive mistake 🙂 ), Expedia, Cashnet USA, Capital IQ, ZS Associates etc, and got great feedback from all of them. It seemed they were very interested in the Technology Management program and what it had to offer…But there were 3 things which stood out after this:

1) They weren’t sure about what this Technology Management program was all about, and consequently there was a confusion about what profile they wanted me for.Some even asked me ‘So where do we place you’!. So some companies interviewed me for a software engineer position and some did for pure marketing… a major mismatch.

2) I wasn’t prepared enough with the MBA (which is what Technology Management is wrapped around) training to handle the interviews as yet. After all, it was just 4 weeks since we had come in, and were thrown in to compete with the one year MBAs… I was given a case interview when I didn’t even know what that was…

3) I wasn’t prepared even for the interviews where I thought I had a good chance. It takes at least 6 months ( in my opinion) to crack interviews at top companies, and I had only 1-2 months of clueless preparation effort. What I learned from this was that you MUST find out the ‘what to dos’, and ‘how to dos’ of interview preparation. Use career services, including engineering and business, your contacts and alumni to find that out.

As the program progressed into Spring semester, the whole course started to make sense. It is a great program in terms of what it teaches us… The bigger picture of technology and its management became clearer. I could now see the business value in the code I wrote, which till now I evaluated only on how smart it was and what cool things it could do… The holistic picture of Technology from Innovation, Supply chain, Process Management or financial perspective (like how should we value a dotcom) started appear clearly.

But sadly, there were more things happening in the ‘happening’ world, and the problem was multi-pronged:

1) some greedy people borrowed too much money and built houses with it, and caused the sub-prime crisis. (why does it always rain on me!!)
2) The fall semester job fair was gone and spring was mostly for internships (which we don’t have scope for, unless one goes out of the way and extends the program)
3) The career services department seemed as clueless about this program as the companies were :p

so ‘long story short’ as a speaker in marketing class said, we have to search for companies, educate the companies about the MS Technology management program, fight the recession (by praying to God) and keep looking for jobs everywhere… The final thing I realized was that this is NOT an easy job.

But with all that said, we went to HP Labs for a visit and made a presentation about commercializing a technology they had developed. They were really impressed with the multidimensional analysis of the technology we presented. So I think we are on the right track… what we need is a lil bit of hard (harder) work, and a lil bit of luck…

For all the people who want to come in to technology management stream, ( from anywhere in the world) please make sure that you have a good amount (around 5 years) of technical experience, so that u have the technology in ur head before coming here to see how to manage it. It also depends on what u wanna be after you graduate from the program (don’t join this program to ‘enter’ the management line). Also ensure that you understand what you want from the program, coz this is NOT a regular MBA and if you want to get into finance, accounting, marketing etc, this is NOT the program for you. this is simple and pure general management with a ‘technology’ focus (especially at MS Technology management- UIUC). So ur expertise will still be the technology u came from. Next, use UIUC’s brand image and network. Make sure u make great contacts in fall semester, coz I m not sure how many would land great jobs then. Use these contacts later when u r ready to take the technology management interviews. Job hunting is mostly going to be a year long exercise, and u must start as soon as u get here. You will get better with time, but start making those contacts as soon as possible.

Good luck. (pray the recession gets over soon)

PS: I did land a job by the end of the may 🙂 I joined this company after my OPT was processed, rather dramatically (But that needs a blog post of its own 🙂 )

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