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Best Business Schools to Jumpstart Your Career in Tech—or Advance It

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UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business

Tied with Stanford, with 33 percent of its MBA Class of 2016 headed into tech, was UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business. That represents a near doubling of the prior year, when just 17 percent went into tech. Trailing technology for ’16 grads was consulting, drawing 21 percent of the class, followed by financial services at 14 percent.

In an interview with MetroMBA, McCombs Director of MBA Career Management Stacey Rudnick cited several contributing factors to the huge jump in tech employment. “Technology is a growth industry for MBAs. There’s a lot more hiring of MBAs than there was 10 years ago,” she said, echoing observations from Wharton and elsewhere. “Also, there’s tremendous interest in technology locally in Austin—Austin is a technology startup hub—but just as importantly we also have strong markets in California and Washington, which we’ve been actively working on for the last 10 years.”

Just as Foster’s Seattle location is a strength—and Silicon Valley is a boon for Haas and Stanford—McCombs proximity to the strong entrepreneurship culture in Austin also helps drives the school’s success in tech. “It draws in students who have an interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, and product management, all of which have a strong overlap with technology,” said Rudnick.

Of course, the school also works actively to strengthen its alumni network in both the Bay Area and Seattle as well. For the past 10 years the school has led treks to both technology hubs. “We do pre-term treks in January and, this year, took 45 students to Seattle to visit Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, and T-Mobile. Plus, we took a Bay Area trek with 40 students to see Facebook/Oculus, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe, Twilio, SoFi, Flex, HPE, and Google,” Rudnick added. Student interest was record high, encouraging the school to bump the cap on both treks to accommodate more students. There were also additional micro treks focused on gaming companies and clean tech, with smaller groups of just 10 to 15 students visiting Zynga, Electronic Arts, and TinyCo and PG&E, Nest, and Bloom Energy, respectively.

best business schools for technology
UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business

And like Wharton, McCombs also notes that a full third of its students come from a technology background. “Since so many of our students come to McCombs with technology as an interest or experience in the technology space, it is a natural choice after graduation,” Rudnick noted.

When they get to McCombs, MBA students find plenty of resources to support their study of technology—whether it’s a continuation of prior work and experience or a completely new endeavor. In terms of faculty, the Information, Risk & Operations Management (IROM) department at McCombs counts at least 50 professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and lectures, as well as additional professors emeritus. The Information Management program within the IROM Department is ranked third in the nation by U.S. News and fifth by the Wall Street Journal.

McCombs is also home to multiple centers focused on different aspects of technology. Among them are the Center for Business, Technology, and Law, which examines problems arising at the intersection between managerial decision making and legal or regulatory constraints, and the Center for Research in Electronic Commerce, which supports innovative research into how computer and communications technologies can most effectively be developed, used, and managed by today’s organizations.

Student clubs, meanwhile, offer plenty of opportunities for students to come together, apply what they’ve learned, share recruiting experiences, and more. Student clubs at McCombs of particular interest to those seeking a post-MBA career in tech include the Graduate Business Technology Group and the CleanTech Group.

Like Stanford, McCombs doesn’t reveal a great deal of detail in terms of which recruiters hire McCombs students each year. It publishes a “recent sample of top employers,” on which companies like Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, and Symantec all are listed.

The mean salary for McCombs students headed into tech from the Class of 2016 was $107,044. Mean starting bonus information was not broken out for tech specifically, but the mean starting bonus for the class as a whole was $27,564.

Stay tuned for the second part in this series, which will look at additional schools that have strong programs in technology but send slightly smaller percentages of their overall classes into the industry, as well as programs to watch—that have recently begun devoting significant resources toward training technology leaders of the future.

Don’t miss part two of this series: “More Business Schools Training MBA Students for Careers in Tech” featuring MIT Sloan, UCLA Anderson, Kellogg, Michigan Ross, Darden, NYU Stern, and Cornell Johnson.