IESE MBA Jared Larkin worked in the US Senate for a year before switching careers to business. He worked under a political aide for a Democratic Senator in landmark buildings in Washington and was surrounded by intelligent politicians. In a year-long political career that looked likely to be the making of a prominent young politician, Jared was inspired by what he learnt as a Congressional intern for the State Office and US State Senate.
He joined the Republican cause at Congress during the 2008 Obama-McCain election campaign. Jared thrived on the energy of that presidential election and wanted to become a politician at some point. Those energy levels in Congress today would surely be hitting fever-point, as the Government suffered its first shutdown in 17 years as the US failed to pass a new federal budget. MBAs and business schools have cause for concern across America.
While the chief of staff for the Senator Jared worked for left to work for President Barack Obama, Jared didn’t rise through the political rankings in the same fashion. He decided to ditch politics for a career in business and now dreams of working in the technology industry. Jared has swapped aspirations of the US Congress for Silicon Valley.
After studying an MBA at IESE Business School, his interests are now vested in computer game technology. “It’s a one-eighty going from working in Congress to going for an MBA,” he said. “But I really like computer gaming and it’s one of my hobbies. It would be cool to get into the industry. Silicon Valley is a Garden of Eden and seeing people talk about the area inspired me.”
Jared’s career path has taken numerous turns and is far removed from a traditional MBA background. He admits that there are only a handful of Political Science majors on most MBA programs, a degree which he studied at Ohio State University back in 2006. At the time, Jared was then set on a law career and he has since worked for Congress, healthcare company Medrad and computer games company Ludium Lab.
Before embarking on an IESE MBA, Jared spent three years working in finance at Medrad, in preparation for a legal career - an option that has since been eradicated by the lure of business. “I originally wanted to go to law school and when I got out of undergrad and went to Medrad, I was in the legal department. So at the time I saw it as an experience before law school,” he said.
“I worked with lawyers, and they were telling me that I might be better doing international business. There was a lot of instability in the company at that point and I was ready to leave.”
Jared decided then that he wanted to study an MBA and applied to various b-schools outside of his home in Pittsburgh, US. “I applied to IESE on a limb and didn’t expect to get in, as I was a younger student,” he said. “I wanted to go to a school that was abroad or internationally focused and I made it happen.”
Jared took up an exchange option and studied at Dartmouth Tuck back in the States for four months. Although a new report by QS Top MBA pits global demand and pay up for MBAs, instability in the European economies and the language barrier that Jared faced meant he wanted to get a foot back in the US jobs makret. “At the time it wasn’t looking like I would get a job in the EU,” he said.
“European economies were poor, and language was an issue. I wanted to work in the UK but the immigration laws were difficult. Because I wasn’t especially experienced at the time, I was thinking: go back to the US. And I had always loved Dartmouth. It was good to mix it up.”
Jared loved the diversity and international element of his MBA at IESE, and since graduating, landed a job within the tech industry at Ludium Lab. He has been trying to raise enough money to head west and would love to live in Seattle. “I have talked to some alumni, but it’s very expensive living up there,” he said. “I love the energy of tech in general, the entrepreneurial attitude and the people in the industry.
“There’s so much opportunity and lots of internationals see Silicon Valley as a place of opportunity.”
They are not wrong. Silicon Valley has become synamonous with tech and internet boom. It is home to industry giants such as Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook and Youtube; it is the playground of the mega-rich. As Match.com founder Gary Kreman told the New York Times: "You're nobody here at ten million."
Opportunity is indeed rife and any MBA with a passion for technology or even computer gaming will find themselves at home in Silicon Valley. But only with the right background.
Jared would love to work as a project manager but feels he needs to gain more experience. “The problem is I’m relatively inexperienced,” he added. “Just from applying for jobs now, I know I’ll have to start somewhere else, maybe in marketing or finance. Down the line I would want to work cross-functionally in teams, and in larger companies.
“I applied to some of the bigger companies and it would be a cool job. The analytic base is appealing. But unfortunately I’ll have to build my profile first.”
Although Jared thinks he has a long way to go to break into the top of the tech industry, he thinks his MBA has been essential in helping him switch career paths. He thinks he was “never going to get” a job in the industry if he hadn’t done an MBA.
Thanks to IESE and Dartmouth Tuck, Jared has a clear goal and has his sights set on the technology industry. From the US Senate to Silicon Valley: it is some career switch.