MIT MBA Students: Amazon, Google, and T-Mobile Are Hiring, Expedia Isn’t; Microsoft “Super Interesting,” Apple Is “Sterile”

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big layoffs. But it sounds like the Redmond company has MBA internship slots open in product planning and product management, in its Server and Tools division, and others. And it certainly knew how to put on a show for the visiting students. “Microsoft was super interesting,” Wepfer says. “They took us through their ‘home of the future.’” (One other perk: Bill Gates used to have a gathering at his house for all the summer interns; now Steve Ballmer does it.)

Of course, this is not necessarily indicative of the broader hiring situation at the company. Sloan student Andrew Lei points out that Microsoft has a longstanding relationship with Sloan. “I’d think they’d want to maintain the internship program,” he says. “Perhaps a year or two from now, [the economy] will be fine, so they don’t want to stop their internship program now.”

Meanwhile, impressions of RealNetworks were mixed. Students I talked to were somewhat surprised to learn of the company’s increased focus on the business-to-business market. One said it seemed “more like a startup, with a lean cost structure.” The company indicated it will hire about eight to 10 MBA students out of a total of 20 to 30 interns, including engineers. But one student said she didn’t feel people came away excited, in part because the company’s value proposition is “a little scary…They seem unstable, or handcuffed to AT&T and Verizon.”

Reactions to Adobe, which has about 400 employees in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, seemed a bit more positive. “They’re working on very interesting problems,” Thurston says. “They seemed more competitive [than other companies].” (I took this to mean its corporate culture, not its market position, or pay.) Tang adds, “They have very good project management.” The students said Adobe typically hires about 20 summer interns in its Seattle office, but it didn’t have specific positions open yet.

That’s better than Expedia, which didn’t host the students on this visit. (It has in previous years.) Apparently the company isn’t hiring MBA interns this year—at least not from MIT.

[Clarification and comment from Adobe added in this paragraph on 1/8/10—Eds.] One other issue came up: several students said that certain companies, including Adobe and Cisco, are not sponsoring international students for visas this summer. (Juliya Alvarez, a recruiter at Adobe, disputes this claim, saying Adobe is sponsoring international students and always has.) Presumably it’s an issue for companies because of the costs and the possible reputational risk associated with employing foreign nationals, Tang says. On the plus side, several students singled out Microsoft, saying it “works really hard” to sponsor international students.

Today’s meetings will include Amazon, which is hiring for interns in operations and product management, and Starbucks, where the students are meeting with a representative from the company’s global staffing group. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is already interviewing intern candidates today for a position in finance.

But overall, the feeling about the job market is that “there might be positions,” Thurston says. “‘Here’s our golden carrot, here’s what’ll make you happy, but we don’t have our job postings yet.’” What’s more, none of the companies yesterday addressed the role and value of MBA degrees in the current recession—what Thurston calls “the big elephant in the room.”

“For traditional industries like finance, an MBA will prepare you,” Thurston says. “For technology, it’s more in your hands. You’ve got to do the groundwork, you have to reach out to companies, leverage your network, talk to the right people, and then land the right internship. Then it’s like a three-month job interview. It’s definitely not a good market for people looking for work—people with no experience coming out of an MBA program.”

Tang adds, “But an MBA will prepare you for soft skills. A lot of roles have no direct reports. You have to have influence and get people to agree with your ideas, persuade them. An MBA prepares you for that leadership skill.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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