University of Southern California

Getting Technical
Marshall MBAs Trending Toward Health Care and High Technology
October 8, 2013 • by News at Marshall

Are opportunities in health care and high technology growing, or do USC Marshall MBAs simply have the skills that these industries demand? The answer may be a combination of both, but one thing is clear: USC Marshall MBA students and graduates are securing internships and careers in these fields. We talked with MBA Career Services, alumni and students to find out why.

First, a little background on the industries: The health care industry makes up 18 percent of the U.S. economy and is expected to create 5.6 million new jobs by 2020, according to a 2012 report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce. In California, healthcare employment makes up 10 percent of all jobs.

While tech companies have boomed over the past six years and tech startups continue to emerge, the Los Angeles Times reported in August that the sector’s growth rate has been declining. Still, California leads the way as the second-fastest in growing high-tech jobs after Washington, D.C., beating out Seattle, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, according to a report by the Praxis Strategy Group published by Forbes.com.

This past summer Marshall MBA students completed summer internships at Apple and Ebay while 2013 graduates have scooped up jobs at powerhouses such as Amazon, Amgen and Booz Allen.

Gary Fraser, assistant dean for the full-time MBA program and career services, offered some insights: “Our accelerated core allows students to cover all the functional areas like finance, marketing, strategy and operations, all before they interview for summer internships. This not only is a huge advantage over other MBA Programs but it allows students to take industry specific courses of interest in the semester before they start their summer internships. The growth and dynamics of these industries also make for good case studies in many of our courses and ultimately the reason why they are so popular with our students.”

Among the companies that actively recruit at USC Marshall are Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Deloitte, Ebay and Intel. At Keenan MBA Career Services, students have access to job postings from these companies and many others. The center also collaborates with company representatives on networking and recruiting events, industry nights, career fairs, receptions, interviews and other opportunities for students and companies to become acquainted.

Making a Difference for People and Business

MBA student clubs also sponsor events focusing on various industries, including lunch and learn sessions, career panels and company visits. For instance, the USC Marshall Healthcare Leadership Association organizes the annual HLA Symposium, which features speakers from the health care industry and academia. The HLA is an industry-specific club focusing on biotech, pharmaceuticals, devices and health care across all functions and providing the opportunity for graduate students from USC’s schools of business, medicine, pharmacy and policy to network and learn from each other, alumni, recruiters and health care practitioners.

Dan Wright, a 2014 MBA candidate and president of the HLA, secured an internship in strategy at Genentech. Wright is part of a marketing team at a pioneering biotech corporation that will launch a new anti-cancer molecule later this year. Specifically, he has designed thought-leader engagement strategies that will increase physician awareness of the drug.

“While designing strategies, I had to consider both long- and short-term implications, take an incredibly high-level view and anticipate how our drug would fit within the changing health care ecosystem,” Wright said. “In short, it made me develop a process to approach complex problems in a world of uncertainty.”

A former scientist, Wright believes that health care is the most exciting field to get into right now and plans to work in it after graduation. Like many Marshall students who gravitate toward this field, he aims to use science and technology to make a difference—to improve both lives and businesses.

“Health care has serious challenges to overcome, which will require an incredible degree of innovation,” Wright said. “I am all about innovation. I think some of the most exciting opportunities will be outside of the life sciences: developing better distribution methods for primary health care, empowering patients to take control of their own health and maximizing use of existing resources are problems that must be solved.”

High Technology and the Human Touch

The high-tech industry is a fast-moving environment where the company culture can be loosely structured. Beyond a solid grounding in technical and business knowledge, companies look for the kinds of soft skills emphasized in the Marshall curriculum, like an entrepreneurial mindset and collaborative team spirit.

Veronica Chen ’13 was never a “techie,” but after earning her MBA at Marshall she joined AT&T as part of its Leadership Development Program (LDP), a prestigious program designed to develop future leaders for the company. Participants rotate through three positions that are strategically chosen based on individual backgrounds and goals. Chen is currently manager of network services, where she leads a team of field service representatives.

“For the longest time, I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a modem and a router,” she said. “Technology is a daunting field for those who are not naturally gifted in it, but what I love about AT&T is that it is so consumer-friendly.”

Chen’s background was in education, and she applied to Marshall because she wanted to change careers. She learned about LDP at a presentation given to Marshall MBAs by AT&T.

“Marshall’s AT&T recruiter for LDP was absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful in telling me what I needed to know,” she said. “I did my research, networked with USC alumni at AT&T and even talked to a manager at an AT&T retail store to understand the business. All of that showed in my interviews, and I got the job.”

Chen said her courses in communication, organizational behavior and operations were all vital in preparing her for this position, which involves more than understanding and facilitating daily operations.

“As LDPs, we are considered fast-trackers and have to balance delicate relationships with our peer managers and direct reports, who know we are leaving when our rotation is over,” she said. “Being able to communicate with them, show them respect and listen to them go a long way. At the end of the day, the basic human relationship is what matters, no matter how much technical knowledge we have or don’t have.”


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.