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Real Humans of Google: Sebastian Hooker, NYU Stern Tech MBA ’19, Senior Customer Engineer

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In this edition of Real Humans Alumni, we hear from a graduate of the one-year Tech MBA program at NYU Stern, Sebastian Hooker. Read on to see how Stern Solutions and other aspects of the MBA program prepared him to work at Google.

Sebastian Hooker, NYU Stern Tech MBA ’19, Senior Customer Engineer at Google

Age: 30
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Westminster College, Marketing 
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): NYU Stern Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA, Class of 2019
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 Years, E-commerce for CPG company
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 Years, cloud computing
Current employer and title: Google, Senior Customer Engineer 

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I attended business school for two primary reasons. First, for the skills, network, and career services support that I knew a top business school could provide to help me break into the new roles I was targeting for the next phase of my career. Second, I wanted a higher ceiling on my career’s potential. Having an MBA is still a “must-have” for many roles in senior leadership – even at tech companies!

Why NYU Stern? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Stern offers the one-year Andre Koo Tech MBA Program that perfectly balanced my time away from the workplace and my career goals in the technology industry. I wanted a more targeted full-time MBA from a top school in a shorter amount of time, which Stern’s Tech MBA provided.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
At a high level, I am more prepared to tie business requirements to technology decisions, better at selling my ideas to senior executives internally and externally, and I can lead teams effectively. I am on a journey of continuous improvement in all these skill sets; however, the MBA was a force multiplier in accelerating my abilities and confidence to thrive in big tech.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
The one-year Tech MBA at Stern does not have a traditional internship. Instead, students participate in Stern Solutions projects and courses where they work with partner companies on a specific business challenge for a semester in real-time. My project was working with a digital-native fintech company, and I was able to tie finance concepts taught at Stern with my technology background to successfully deliver a product roadmap for the startup.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose to work at Google because of the engineering-first focus on their cloud platform. The products that are sold to end customers are built by incredible teams who know how to build globally scalable tooling that is also easy to implement. Additionally, Google’s massive engineering presence in NYC and reputation among their top public customers excited me.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
Flexibility has become a more important factor in my professional life. As an employee who is given ample flexibility in a hybrid environment, I find myself being more intentional when scheduling in-person meetings. I do believe that many meetings can benefit from in-person collaboration, but there is also a vast amount of focused work in the technology industry that benefits from distraction-free focus time in a controlled environment, such as a home office. Similarly, not all inspiration flows between 9 and 5, and flexibility around morning and evening hours has led my team to be more creative on their own schedules. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search? Figure out what “side doors” are available for you at your target companies instead of only aiming for the same role as everyone else. Leverage your network and your experience to explore other roles that align with your skills.  

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Don’t get hung up on the largest tech companies or names. There are plenty of great companies that are seeking the exact same skillsets you have beyond the “Big Tech” brands. 

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process? Google recruiters act as champions throughout the hiring process. I was surprised when the Google recruiter approached the process with me as a team. 

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Don’t forget to have as much fun as you can! Rarely will you be given time away from work that is equivalent to the time between semesters to travel and get to know your classmates. Use your time out of the formal workforce as an opportunity to evaluate what you want out of life so you can find opportunities that align with that once you rejoin the workforce.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.