UCLA Anderson's MBA program features many opportunities and experiences for those interested in entering the Tech. In fact, nearly 1/3 of our UCLA Anderson MBA students enter the Tech Industry. So in honor of #TechTuesday, here's an article about UCLA Anderson MBA '13 alum Charlotte Baxter Maines and how she leveraged her UCLA Anderson MBA degree to successfully make the career switch from Real Estate to working in Tech product management at Amazon.
The below is an excerpt from a full interview blog post that originally appeared on the UCLA Anderson blog. Read the full post here
Q: What was your background prior to attending UCLA Anderson?
Before Anderson I was a real estate developer, and one of the reasons that I went to business school is I knew that I wanted to get into tech. As a real estate developer you’re very much a project manager, quarterbacking these big (in my case) hotel development projects. You spend two years, 20 million dollars, really going all the way from finding the empty land to having fully stamped and approved architectural plans, approved by the city council and engineers. That whole process involved managing something from A to Z, which I really enjoyed, but the real estate industry itself and being in that space wasn’t my passion — whereas I was really interested in tech. I decided to go to business school in order to facilitate that transition.
I went to Anderson because it is a great school, it’s on the West Coast, there are lots of good things about it. When I got there I just really dove in immediately trying to make that transition to tech, which was a little bit tricky. There are a lot of things on your resume when you’ve been a real estate developer for seven years that don’t really jump out to tech companies when they’re trying to decide who to interview and who to talk to for a summer internship. That’s why it’s great at Anderson to be able to leverage the career nights, the things that the clubs are doing and the tech treks. Anderson is a top school that tech companies come to for recruiting. You get the chance to make connections with employees who are currently working there and that helps facilitate getting interviews.
Q: What resources at Anderson were most helpful to you in making the transition to tech?
Anderson was invaluable in enabling me to make a full industry and function switch. From the very beginning, I acknowledged that a lot of work needed to be done and that I wasn’t sure what it was. I had to go and see what resources were there and be proactive about making the time. Beyond that it was very much the input and the time provided largely by the folks at Parker Career Management Center. My advisor was David Cooley, who is now in the alumni group, and I was in his office for an allotted hour every week, plus additional time that he made for me. In the very beginning it was, let’s talk through what I really want to do in tech. What does that mean? What companies should I be targeting? What are the skill sets and strengths that I bring from my previous careers? And then it was the painful exercise of taking a resume that was filled with real estate acronyms and turning that into something that someone from a tech company wouldn’t look at and immediately throw into the “we don’t need to talk to them” pile. So that was a really arduous experience but I got through that.
There are also a lot of other resources, whether it’s the club events or mock interview sessions. I took advantage of the fact that the consulting association (MCA) brings in experts who will help you practice consulting cases. Even though tech cases aren’t as intense and structured as consulting cases, it’s still great practice. Going on in the background, in addition to working on how I present through my resume and interview, there’s also what you do to actually be able to connect with the companies.
Anderson is a top-tier school that brings in all of the companies you could possibly want to work with in tech and lots of other industries. They come to campus and do presentations and they make time for informational chats, they’re willing to host us on tech treks, and they send folks back out for career night. Those were all the ways I built relationships that enabled me to get interviews and get a chance to talk to the tech companies and let them know that I had a skill set that’s very translatable to product management, even though it may not look like that on paper. I was paired with someone in Amazon’s on-campus “office hours” with whom I had a good connection and he thought that I would be a good fit. I continued to build that relationship. When I came up to Seattle for the tech trek, I took him out to coffee. He told me later on that he had walked into the resume debrief late and looked at the pile of rejected resumes and saw mine. And he said, “No, no, no! We have to talk to her, I’m convinced she would be an amazing product manager.” And they said, “Well, she didn’t really seem to have relevant experience.” He was, like, “No, we’re talking to her.” And then the interviews happened and I got an offer. It was because of that relationship, and I would not have had that relationship if it wasn’t for the opportunities that Anderson provided for us to interact directly with the employers. I think the resources there are invaluable.
Want to hear more about Charlotte's story? Read the full interview here.