Over the last few months I’ve spoken to a number of professors and staff from Chicago Booth and they basically have one general question: “how can we get students better prepared for a job in Silicon Valley?” First off, I’d like to say that it’s great to see Career Services, deans, marketing professors, entrepreneurship centers and various others reach out to me and fellow Booth grads in the Bay Area to get our input. I felt we had very productive sessions. Moreover, it seems like you do appreciate the often candid feedback I (we) provide and are willing to consider our ideas.
One of those idea, frankly my core idea, is that there should be a “Tech for MBA’s” mini crash course curriculum at the school. The goal is to give students a much better understanding of various web verticals (consumer internet, B2B, SaaS, social gaming, social web, etc.) when they start looking for jobs. They should know what these verticals really are, the players, the challenges, how the companies operate, the major buzzwords/acronyms and thus how an MBA could best fit in. It’s not too unrealistic to say that MBA’s graduate and they know how a PE firm works really well, how to market the crap out of CPGs and how to out-buzzword-bingo the company that hired them to consult, but few have any idea of what a tech company actually does.
So to hold up my end of the bargain of the school reaching out – I don’t want to just “complain”, but I want to help – I’d like to facilitate the design of such a curriculum. The current idea is to have a series (5? 8? a dozen?) topics which are taught in one-hour chunks by alumni knowledgable in the field. Delivery method can be anything: in-person if available or via Skype video conference if not (after all, it’s tech we’re talkin’, right?). They should be short, quick, no-credit and somewhat less formal sessions. No coursework, no homework, but laptops off. 😉
As is often done in Silicon Valley, I’m going to crowdsource the topics which might be taught, since I know I don’t have all the answers. Please comment on this post, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or otherwise get in touch with your thoughts. The only request I have is that you tell me who you are – no anonymous stuff please.
To get started, here are some initial ideas for topics, which may not all warrant a full 1 hour session and please feel free to tell me if you think they’re not worthwhile:
- Agile Development: what this is, how it works and comparison to other models
- The 3 R’s: talk about reach, retention and revenue, arguably the the three most important metrics for a web company
- Conversion funnels and designing against friction: we all know how these work, but we also generally overestimate the various gates (this could be done very easily through various case studies)
- A/B testing in reality: why this is important, how to set tests up, multi-variate testing, holdout groups, run through UI and flow examples.
- Social platforms & channels: yes, everyone knows Facebook, but let’s talk about what the different channels actually are and how they’re used. How is Twitter used?
- Internet infrastructure: LAMP, EC2, NoSQL, cloud computing, SaaS, Ruby, Node.js
- Web feature development process: ideas, prototypes, user testing, spec’ing, dev’ing, QA’ing, releasing, iterating. Why is it done that way?
Someone also raised the idea of doing short videos on various topics, which got me thinking Khan Academy. That’s an option too and I’d be curious about people’s take on that.