Sometimes the desire to attend business school isn’t about the success in the end, but rather the academic setting in which you build your skills. Such was the case with our featured Real Humans: Alumni Jamie Ulrich, who pursued an MBA at The Wharton School and earned the skill set and experience necessary to join one of the world’s most influential software companies in the cutting-edge field of AI. Read on for his story.
Jamie Ulrich, Wharton MBA ’22, AI Consultant at Google
Hometown: Narberth, PA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Haverford College / Political Science
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Wharton, 2022, Operations, Information, and Decisions
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, Manufacturing & Software
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): .5 years, Artificial Intelligence & Cloud Technology
Why did you choose to attend business school?
The primary driver was a desire to build my skills in an academic setting. I spent the early years of my career learning on the job at a startup. This was incredibly valuable, as I got to learn a variety of disciplines through first-hand experience. I did eventually come to feel there were gaps in my knowledge and capabilities that I could fill by going back to school, to an environment where I would enjoy more choice in what to learn. The amazing faculty at Wharton gave me the confidence that whatever I wanted to pursue, I’d have world-class experts at my disposal.
A secondary, but important factor, was the chance to reorient myself. Business school represented an opportunity to get exposure to peers coming from a wide array of industries, with different backgrounds and experiences. In that I saw an environment where I could get a wider view of the business world before deciding what to pursue in my next chapter.
Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Several people who were really influential in my early career were Wharton alumni, so it was always at the forefront of my mind as a business school option. The more I researched, the more I saw that the program at Wharton offered a multitude of ways to learn and grow beyond the classroom. The options to participate in Global Modular Courses, Industry Treks, and the impressive career clubs on campus appealed to me as amazing compliments to the academic curriculum. Also being from the Philadelphia-area, The University of Pennsylvania campus was close to many friends and family.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
I definitely feel very well-served by the breadth of business knowledge I gained. In my role as an AI Consultant, I work across multiple industries, and the variety of cases I covered at Wharton gives me a good starting point in any new engagement. Ultimately, my role and team serve to create value for our customers, so understanding their businesses and industries is critical to developing solutions that improve their bottom lines.
Wharton also offered some really great analytics classes where I learned concepts I use daily today. The Predictive Analytics course was my first hands-on exposure to writing Machine Learning models. A People Analytics course taught me different model frameworks that are highly applicable in my job. Even the more foundational statistics classes offered cases and problem sets specific to business, which was a big difference from my undergraduate experience.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned with the AI Services group at Google Cloud, where I currently work as a Consultant. My internship experience was incredible – I got to work on a really exciting new offering for our team, and I see the impact of that project today as a Googler. The internship also made clear that coming back after graduation meant I would get to work with some of the smartest people I have ever known, all of whom are committed to my personal development.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose Google, and the AI Services team specifically, because it offered the chance to work on groundbreaking, impactful projects. Our work is centered around transforming the way our customers operate. We bring cutting-edge technology to the table and get to partner with the best companies in the world to tackle challenges.
Google is also an amazing place to work. I feel that it’s embedded in the culture to enable employee growth. Developing talent internally is central and Google offers programs for learning new skills and getting exposure to different teams, all with the goal of empowering employees to better chart their course. While the work is definitely challenging, the resources and support to take on difficult things is amazing.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
While I can’t say there was no impact from COVID, I think I would likely have ended up in the same place. Both Wharton and Google did an amazing job adjusting their programs to work in the COVID environment, so I was able to pursue my interests even amidst the changes.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Definitely talking to classmates and alumni about their experience. The MBA opens new connections to people succeeding in basically any industry you might be interested in, and at most companies you might be considering. It’s a huge opportunity to get input and advice from people who pursued a path you’re considering.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
This is obviously really easy to say in hindsight, but I would have stressed less! Some of my classmates with the coolest jobs were in the last group to figure out their plans. The job search feels more important because all of your peers are going through it at the same time, but it’s still just one decision of many you’ll make about where to work.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I was pleasantly surprised by the personal touch of my recruitment experience. When Google first contacted me to interview for an internship, I had a fast-approaching deadline with another company to accept an offer. My recruiter was able to get me through the Google interview process on an extremely accelerated timeline so that I could make my decision armed with all the information. In deciding whether to come back full-time or not, I enjoyed a great relationship with my recruiter, who really worked to understand the factors that mattered to me.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
You won’t be able to do everything! When I started I had this sense of urgency to make sure I was taking full advantage of every opportunity in the program. The reality is there are too many things to do. I was a lot happier when my focus shifted to creating a personal experience, investing more deeply in the experiences that mattered most to me, even though that meant not doing everything.