10.1. Emphasizing IT

Information Technology is a hot field these days in the US. According to many companies and numerous articles, there is a shortage of IT professionals, and will be for some years in the future. There is controversy about the subject with some people arguing there is no shortage (see professor Matloff’s page) http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/pub/Immigration/ImmigAndComputerIndustry/Index.html), but the truth of the matter is IT recruiting for MBAs is hot.

The main target for MBA IT recruiting companies are IT professionals (usually computer science, computer engineering or similar graduates) with significant work experience plus a general business training (provided by the MBA). However, there are a few things you can do to join the trend if you have no IT degree or experience:

Concentrate on MIS: if your school provides it, concentrate in Management Information Systems (or similar). This concentration should provide the basic understanding of general IT concepts and issues.

Take courses: at the minimum, business schools provide courses on topics like database management, advanced spreadsheet, electronic commerce and strategy/IT. Take them, as they will prove very useful in whatever you do, including working in IT.

Talk to IT professors: talking to the school’s IT professors will be very useful to find the specific skills sought after in the job market. Additionally, they usually keep strong ties with companies and can recommend you.

Emphasize past experience: bring up, in your resume, cover letter or interview, the times you were involved in projects or assignments were computers were involved. You may be surprised of how much you already now about IT.

Internship: during your internship (in whatever field you choose) try to volunteer for IT related projects or assignments.

Leverage your engineering background: if your background is engineering, try to leverage your abstract thinking, math courses, programming courses, project management abilities and even Internet usage as transferable skills useful for IT.

Learn to program: your School or University, most likely offer short non-credit courses on different programming languages and/or application programs. Take advantage of them, and acquire a new highly regarded skill. You should also try the Internet, as many useful courses are available for a low or no fee.

Join the high-technology club or association: this should put you in contact with industry leaders. If there is not such a club, start it.

Keep yourself up to date: read regularly about the subject. Know the trends and the happenings in the computer business, as well as the technologies widely used to support business strategy. Tip: familiarize yourself with ERP (enterprise resource planning) software (the likes of SAP, BAAN, PeopleSoft, etc), supply change management, Data-warehousing, Y2K (Year 2000 bug), electronic commerce, and others technical specifications.

Remember that IT is not exclusively for nerds. Technology is part of almost every business’ strategy, and can prove being a very interesting and fulfilling line of work.