Before Shelter-in-Place, Meeting Recruiters in San Francisco
Networking for MSBA and MBA students at 2020 Career Fair
Before social distancing meant business life via Zoom, my M.S. in Business Analytics classmates, Bay Area MBA students and alumni converged with leading companies at the Graduate School of Management’s annual Career Fair in San Francisco.
Recruiters from Facebook, Google, YouTube, Salesforce, Blue Shield of California, SoFi and Visa, among others, had the opportunity to connect with talent early on.
The event was divided into three parts.
First, select companies held information sessions about their hiring process, workplace culture, etc.
That was followed by a panel discussion about the stages of the interview process for analytics roles and advice on navigating the job search. The panel featured managers and those involved in hiring at Google, Facebook, Salesforce, AdRoll, Restoration Hardware, Sojern, Mindstrong and Varian.
Students then met one-on-one with company representatives during the final session.
AGGIE ALUMNI ADVICE
Here are a few of my insights and takeaways from talking with the companies:
MBA alumnus Ty Boruff, who recently started working with Varian as a market research analyst, spoke about the company’s vision and how their culture embraces analytics. He fielded questions about a typical week at Varian, how the company is handling data privacy, the importance of analytics and what candidates need to have in order to become an analyst in healthcare.
Alumni from the first class of MSBA students, Sharad Jain and Sonic Prabhudesai, are living the dream at Facebook. In their information session, they spoke about their roles as a data analyst and client solutions manager, respectively. They shared insights from their experiences interviewing with the global social media giant. They emphasized working hard, developing skills and demonstrating a passion for analytics.
DEMYSTIFYING INTERVIEWS FOR ANALYTICS ROLES
Amy Russell, executive director of the M.S. in Business Analytics program, led an eight-person panel covering aspects of analytics positions in tech, detailed interview questions candidates face, techniques to answering those questions, technical aspects of their jobs, as well as behavioral and case rounds. Important to note: Representatives were sharing their personal views.
A few highlights:
1. What do companies look for in candidates?
The panel unanimously agreed that critical thinking, cultural fit and the ability to learn quickly are key skills.
Jerry Le, a senior strategy and operations manager at Google noted, “Students should make sure they know how to articulate insights from data through code.” Ishan Sarnobar, director of supply chain strategy and analytics at Restoration Hardware, shared, “How well you work with people from other functions [is an important trait for their employees].”
Prabhudesai agreed, “The greatest teams have members with complementary strengths and weaknesses, so be upfront about what you are good at and [what you want to improve].”
2. What if the candidate gets stuck on an interview question?
The panel suggested asking clarifying questions.
“Firms themselves don’t always know the answer. If they did, they would not need you,” said panelist Jimmy Shang, director of marketing analytics at AdRoll. It’s normal if the candidate doesn’t know the answer right away, he said, but prospects should always exhibit a willingness to learn and adapt.
The panelists also emphasized that structured thinking is another important attribute, one that is usually built through doing case prep. When discussing case interviews, Taryn Dukellis, senior manager of data and analytics at Mindstrong, said, “Practice, practice, practice!”
She also said that it’s important to check in with your interviewers and have a structure ready at the beginning of your case.
“The broad spectrum of companies at the fair made me more aware of the not so obvious applications of analytics in the industry.” — Aravind Venugopal MSBA 20
3. What’s your advice on case interviews?
Shreya Surana, a data analyst at Sojern, urged students to ask as many clarifying questions as possible. “On-site interviews can be long and exhausting, and you may need to be there for five to six hours,” she advised.
One final tip was about interview preparation.
The panel said that it’s important to find out who is interviewing you—either in-person or remotely. Ask the company’s human resources department to be better prepared for on-site interviews, since the depth and breadth of the questions will naturally vary by person.
Interviewers tend to be direct managers or department heads, so it’s important to be prepared. It will also provide a base to open a discussion, or an “ice breaker,” and potentially connect on a personal level. Finally, doing your research beforehand shows you came prepared, which many managers like to see.
For the remainder of the evening, students met with industry reps to learn more about the companies and build meaningful connections. Additional representatives joined the panelists for this portion of the fair, including representatives from YouTube, SoFi, Zs Associates, Blue Shield of California and Visa.
Two of my classmates shared about their experience:
“I liked the panel discussion because the question list was exhaustive, and panelists’ answers were helpful,” said Swati Vaishampayan MSBA 20.
“A lot of our burning questions about job searches were answered,” said Japsowin Kaur MSBA 20. “Coming directly from industry professionals, I found the opinions and advice very useful.”
This opportunity to meet industry leaders allowed us to apply what we learned in our fast-approaching career search. It was timely preparation as several students started interviewing with the firms at the fair.