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Fridays from the Frontline: Navigating the Career Pivot in Tech with Anderson

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In this week’s Fridays from the Frontline, UCLA Anderson MBA student, Tracie Liu, walks us through her journey to a career in tech and how the MBA program supported her career change.

Student Perspectives: Navigating the Career Pivot in Tech with Anderson

By Tracie Liu, UCLA Anderson MBA ’22

In February 2020, as a freshly admitted MBA candidate of 2022, I finished my first Parker advising session before school started in August. I walked out of the Marion Anderson Hall with more excitement than ever, envisioning career opportunities in tech, but at the same time with a million questions and reflecting on myself. Coming from a consulting background, I have worked for high-tech clients and knew that I wanted to get a stronger footing in the industry. But I was hesitant choosing a function that could best align with my interests and passions. I’m sure most of you planning to pursue a career in tech will encounter similar situations. Hopefully the following can help smoothen your journey and prepare you the best for your next career endeavor.

Stay close within the Anderson alumni network.

Right after I was admitted to Anderson, I was paired with an alumni buddy who worked for a leading technology firm. This buddy program really helped me gain first-hand industry insights and distinguish areas that I was interested in early. Starting from differentiating ‘product manager,’ ‘program manager,’ and ‘project manager’ (believe me this will be your first knowledge check in the tech world) to evaluating industry culture, I couldn’t be more appreciative of how much I’ve learned from my alumni buddy and figure out my career path early on. During the fall quarter, I was super excited that my buddy came back to Anderson for the DOJ week and represented her company to recruit on campus! Even if your alumni buddy has a different career background than your target, staying connected and taking time to cultivate that relationship will help you learn beyond what you are seeing now and grow long-term.

Gear up with Anderson career resources early.

The kick-off of the summer quarter is one of the most exciting moments for most first-year students. New faces, new events, and a brand-new start of yourself. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw so many career, academic, and student club resources landing in my inbox every day. I wanted to try out everything but then I quickly learned my lesson on prioritization– a key piece of advice here is to focus on areas that matter the most for your targeted development. I prioritized recruiting the first half of the quarter. Parker Career Center definitely played a significant role in my journey. Not only did we meet with second-year TAs weekly but also could schedule appointments with Parker advisors based on our chosen topic. Since everyone came from diverse backgrounds, these one-on-one conversations indeed helped tailor the focus and made it more efficient. When I was debating between the operations and the product management tracks, both my advisors Phil and Mef provided me invaluable advice on my strengths and weaknesses. In addition, Parker developed a structured course to help first-year students stay on top of their recruiting preparation including but not limited to resumes, cover letters, informational interviews, and etc. These tasks may appear tedious at first, wiping out the school kick-off excitement, but trust the process that there is a reason for each assignment and the goal is to prepare you the best when the fall storm kicks in. If I were able to go back to the summertime again, I wish I could be more proactive in completing each assignment and spend more time revising each exercise rather than crunching the deadline.

Your classmates are your best support and power. Learn from them!

You might have been tired of hearing “share success” but the past few months have truly proved to me that it is a real thing at Anderson. My classmates and my learning team are my go-to places whenever I encounter ups and downs. Through the AnderTech club, I’ve had my IPT (Interview Prep Team) partners who were willing to spend the entire winter breaks with me practicing interviews even on Christmas Eve. They are the people who encouraged me through the most challenging times and provided me critical feedback and kept motivating me to improve. In class, a simple question on Slack always impressed me with how smart and knowledgeable our classmates are. Either a fully automated excel model for technical classes or well-crafted review notes, everyone contributes their best and adds value to the community. We never hesitate to offer help, show empathy, and always have each other’s back. That’s the Anderson community!

The past nine months have been an incredible journey. I look forward to the new adventures with the current, the past, and the future AnderFam!

Student Blogger: Tracie Liu ‘22

About Tracie: Tracie Liu (’22) is a first-year FTMBA student at Anderson. Prior to business school, Tracie worked in tax management consulting with a focus of data analytics and management for high-tech firms.  Outside of school and professional work, Tracie devotes herself in community work, loves exploring food culture across the world, and enjoys hiking along the rivers and forests!

Undergrad: UCLA ‘16

Pre-MBA: Deloitte (Tax Management Consulting)

Leadership@Anderson: VP of Career Development Operations, Strategy and Operations Management Association (SOMA); Director and Student Ambassador, Admissions Ambassador Corps (AAC)

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