This summer M&T students interning in the San Francisco Bay area got the chance to connect with M&T alumni at a special Student-Alumni mixer event. The gathering was hosted by M&T Director Dr. Gad Allon and Penn alumnus and Greylock partner Joseph Ansanelli. We asked one of our recent alumnus, Reuben Abraham, to share his experience attending the event
1. What prompted you to sign up for the student/alumni event? What were you expecting?
I was eager to meet the other M&Ts out in the Bay Area. The M&T community is one of the brightest groups of people I know and I’m lucky to call many M&Ts my friends. I wanted to catch up with them after graduating and find out what they were doing out here in San Francisco. I was also looking forward to connecting with Dr. Allon again and hearing about his vision for the M&T program, including the role the Bay Area will play.
2. What was it like being at an M&T event as an alumnus vs. as a student?
As a very recent alumnus, I didn’t feel like it was all that different. The biggest difference stemmed from the number of people I knew. I knew the alumni who graduated two to three years ago, and I knew students who were rising juniors. I imagine some of the current students were a little shy about trying to talk to alumni they’d never met. But, there’s no reason to be! The alumni are very friendly and keen to share their experiences. We M&T alumni want to help students in whatever way possible since we all know the challenges of life as a student.
3. Who did you meet? What did you talk about?
I reconnected with a few old friends and met some new people.
One Class of 2016 graduate told me about her path. She started off with a consulting offer but, after realizing she’d rather be in tech, joined a startup in their corporate finance department. However, she felt she wasn’t appropriately challenged in that role and joined another startup as a Product Manager, which she has found far more fulfilling.
Another M&T alumnus told me about his startup and how they are about to release their next product. He told me about some of the ups and downs of working in such an early stage startup, but how he loves that every day is a significant challenge.
A current student updated me on the M&T Innovation Fund since I had been involved as Head of the Value Creation Team. We discussed the challenges that the fund faces and came up with some ideas of how best to proceed. We talked to Dr. Allon about his ideas and vision for the fund as well.
4. Were your expectations met? How so?
My expectations were exceeded! Dr. Allon outlined how the Bay Area will be an extremely important place for the M&T Program’s future since it’s the center of innovation in the world. He talked about trying to bring more M&Ts out West to benefit from the concentration of intelligent, driven people working in technology.
The older alumni who spoke were inspiring. Their tales of following their entrepreneurial dreams were motivating, especially since they achieved great success. They also offered sound advice about pursuing our passions and navigating the world of entrepreneurship. Their advice was useful and helped me reorient myself towards my goal of starting a company a few years down the line.
It was also great to talk to many old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I was pleased to see so many other M&Ts interested in entrepreneurship and excited by the idea of working at startups. Perhaps one day I will reach out to some of them to co-found a company!
5. What advice would you give to current students regarding networking and career path?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most people are willing to help. In particular M&T alumni will go out of their way to help current M&Ts achieve their goals. In fact, most M&T alumni looking to hire M&Ts for their companies!
With regards to career path: pursue opportunities that are going to challenge you. Optimize your choices based on the amount you will learn. I think this involves a combination of high quality mentorship (make sure you surround yourself with smart, motivated people) and the ability to make an impact wherever you are working. Take on roles that you are genuinely passionate about because those are the places where you will give 110%.
Reuben is a 2017 M&T graduate. He studied Computer Science and concentrated in Finance and Management: Entrepreneurship & Innovation while in M&T. He is originally from Dubai and is now living and working in San Francisco as a Software Engineer at NerdWallet Inc., working on the mobile team (check out their app!).