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2014 Annual Report

Dear Grad Techers, Alumni, Friends, and Supporters:

It is with pride that I look back at the past semester for the Grad Tech Club.  In less than four months, we have accomplished a ton, always toward furthering our mission of equipping our members with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the tech industry, raising the overall profile of the BC MBA program within Tech, and getting our members hired!

Toward the first goal of building hands on skills we have had several initiatives.  Each Friday, MBAs led by GradTech VP Kori Kenerson, plug away at CodeAcademy’s Python course for Code & Coffee.  Likewise, on Thursday evenings, the Product Team gets together to ideate, test, and release a real tech product.  We are currently in the proof of concept phase with a few very interesting ideas.  You can check out our progress here and here.  Finally, each month we take on a new Digital Marketing Channel to explore its options.  So far we have tried Facebook and Linkedin and we are currently exploring promoted tweets on Twitter.  In addition to these, GradTech members are gaining html and web development skills from using WordPress and A/B marketing skills from experimenting with Mailchimp.  We will continue these initiatives as we move forward so that BC MBAs won’t just graduate having done case analyses with hypothetical solutions but will also have applied the skills we learn to real tools and real products in the Technology space.

Our biggest initiative to raise the profile of the MBA program in Tech has been our website and social programs.  We do lots of cool things and then we blog, Facebook, and Tweet about them. From a previous best year of just over 200 visitors, we now get hundreds per month and we hope to break 1000 MAUs in 2015. Among our members we enjoy a sky high Net Promoter Score of 75 and we have had alumni express interest in getting involved, companies reach out to partner with us, and prospect students cite our club as one of the main reasons they are interested in BC for an MBA.  All of these are indications that we are pushing forward but the biggest differences will come from placing our people in meaningful Tech jobs and helping out future Eagles.

To that goal, we continue to push forward.  We have attended job fairs and industry events put on by Microsoft, the Boston Product Management Association, and even sponsored the Startup Job Fair.  We have visited the Cambridge offices or Microsoft and Facebook by ourselves and many more including Spotify and Paypal in conjunction with the Undergrad IS Academy through the TechTrek Boston program.  Furthermore, on campus we hosted Alum Arnie Sookram from XBox and four MBA Alumni from Google, LogMeIn, Hubspot, and Wayfair to talk about the different careers and cultures within the Tech space.  Well attended and highly praised, the Careers in Tech Panel has already led to a number of connections and we hope to hold a similar event featuring even more functional areas in the spring.  Finally, we continue to drive alumni to help our cause through our Alumni Central and Hire an Eagle Page.  We already know of some jobs coming out of these initiatives and we hope for many more.

As we move into the spring we will continue to move forward towards the three pillars of our mission.  Off campus we will visit as many industry events, offices, and career fairs as we can, and on campus we will host another Careers in Tech Panel, an event on What Every Manager Needs to Know About IT, a discussion on Women in Tech, and a Digital Marketing Dinner.  We will continue to develop our product and hope to host a rousing Launch Party in April.

I thank you for all your support thus far and look forward to a fantastic 2015!

Sincerely,

David LoVerme

President, BC Grad Tech Club

David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club

Better late than never: the first BC Tech Club Ad Experiment Results

So we completed our first BC Tech Club online ad campaign last month. It’s a bit late, but I’d like to share with you the results of our little experiment.  As I detailed in my blog post of one month ago (link) we dipped our collective techy toe in to the digital waters with a series of Facebook ads with a goal of driving traffic to the Hire An Eagle page of the BC Tech Club website. To recap, below are the three ads we ran from October 8th, to November 8th. In total, between all three ads, we received 50 click-throughs to the Hire An Eagle page, and generated 2,144 impressions, as well as a paltry 9 likes to the BC Grad Club FB page as a result of seeing the ad. In other words, while only a handful of people may have visited the website, 2,144 unique pairs of eyeballs saw one of the three ads. Facebook counts impressions not just from our target audience segment, but also from target audience members’ extended web of connections. So when someone in our target segment likes our ad, that like makes the ad visible to all of that person’s friend via the news feed, dependant of course on varying news feed settings.

We thought it would be fun to experiment with Facebook’s A/B testing feature by offering all three ads with the same copy, same target audiences, and testing three different ad images. It was our postulation that the ad with the photo of Gasson Hall would be the most successful of the three. Since we were targeting specifically Boston College alums, it stands to reason that (hopefully) positive memories and associations of would draw them like a magnet to click on that picture.

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We discovered however, that we’re terrible at prediction.

The most popular ad by far was the group photo ad, with 22 clicks and 1,734 impressions. It’s impossible to say for sure why this picture piqued the most interest among our target. My best guess is that the photo shows individuals clearly working in a business setting which best matches the subject matter of the ad. The Gasson photo on the other hand, while it might make alumni swell with Eagle pride, does not in any way reference recruitment or business. So the Gasson photo might not stand out amongst the other BC-related FB ads that our alumni audience is probably seeing.

And Now Onto January…

And with these lessons being learned, we’re ready to launch another Digital Marketing Experiment. For the month of January we are going to turn our ordinary ol’ BC Tech Club Twitter account into a PROMOTED Twitter account! The way it works is simple, we set the parameters for the segment of Twitter users that we want to target. These individuals then will see “BC Grad Tech Club” appear under the “Who To Follow” section on their homepage, and our account will show up higher in related searches. The targeting options for promoted accounts are relatively limited, presumably to ensure clients maintain a broad reach. We can segment by targeting twitter-users similar to a specific account’s followers, for example we might want users similar to those who follow @TechCrunch. We can also segment by interest category, and within the Technology & Computing category there are plenty of interests to choose from. And that’s basically it. It’s a very straightforward service to use, and clients are only charged per new follower so we are paying explicitly for desired outcomes, rather than for less meaningful interactions.

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The goal here is audience building; we want to enhance discovery of the BC Grad Tech club among those individuals who would be interested in learning about our activities at Boston College, and who might want to hear what we have to say. We want to increase overall engagement with our Twitter account and increase our followers. Every new twitter follower is a new touchpoint for the BC Grad Tech Club, and a new potential networking contact for all our members.

– Alaina Tucker is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the VP of Marketing for the Grad Tech Club

Let The Marketing Begin!

October Marketing Move: Facebook Ads

Now that the semester is in full swing, and our official Tech Club website is up and running, it’s time to start a little marketing to draw some eyes to the content that we’ll be developing throughout the school year. As the VP of Marketing for the club, I’ve been working with David LoVerme on some ideas for how to raise the online profile of our website and there’s a great many options to choose from so…

As you know, our club mission is to develop and solidify concrete skills through hands on experience, and digital marketing is a huge part of that! Every month we will try out a new digital marketing approach to increase interest in the BC Grad Tech Club through our various online channels: our website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account. We’re kicking it off this month with a goal of driving traffic to the Hire An Eagle page of the website using Facebook ads. I don’t know if any of you have ever given Facebook ads but it’s surprisingly easy for a first timer like myself.  The interface is simple and gives step by step guidance for setting your targets, writing the copy and laying out the ad. We’ve decided to make use of the native A/B testing function built into the interface because, why not? For those unfamiliar, A/B testing involves having two or more versions of an ad, and keeping all elements of the ad constant save for the one element that you’re testing. Often it will be a headline, and image, or a call to action. This allows you to zero in on how each of the small pieces of your advertisement affects audience engagement. We are testing three version of the ad with different pictures, as below. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be using FB Ad Manager to look at the impressions and click rates we’re getting on the three versions. Which of the three do you think will be the most successful?

BC FB ad 1 BC FB ad 3 BC FB ad 2

If you’re looking for jobs/internships…

Our ad is targeting Boston College alums who work in the technology, business and IT industries. We’re looking to reach potential employers who may still feel connected to BC, and the more Eagles we have available for hire the better! If you’re still looking for internships or full time positions please email us and we’ll add you to the roster!

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for new online marketing methods we could try in the coming months? Our budget may be small, but our ambition is huge!

– Alaina Tucker is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the VP of Marketing for the Grad Tech Club

Talking Shop with Facebook PMs

Earlier this week, members of the BC Grad Tech Club had the fantastic opportunity to visit Facebook’s Cambridge office to breakfast with Facebookers involved with the Rotational Product Manager Program.  We learned about the opportunities at Facebook and generally talked shop about what Product Management means at Facebook and how a company with 1.3 billion monthly active users can create a product that can be pushed out globally and still feels incredibly personal and tailored to the individual.  The RPM program is a fantastic opportunity and we are incredibly grateful to Facebookers Ashley Chinn, Greg Marra, and Layla Amjadi for sharing their morning, their insights, and their breakfast with us!

Grad Techers David LoVerme, Nicole Gonzalez, and Marin Rowe in Facebook's Cambridge office

Grad Techers David LoVerme, Nicole Gonzalez, and Marin Rowe in Facebook’s Cambridge office

Even as an experienced product manager myself, I learned a great deal in just a few minutes talking with our friends from Facebook and they were kind enough to allow me to share what I learned here on BCGradTechClub.net.  Over the last year I have talked to hundreds of product managers and gotten a myriad of different answers when I asked what a PM does.  One of the best and most accessible descriptions I have heard came during the breakfast from Facebooker Greg Marra.  “A Product Manager is like a conductor of an orchestra,” he said, even though the conductor doesn’t actually play any of the individual instruments, he or she brings everyone together and coordinates each individual part so that the end result is better than it would be otherwise.  Likewise, a product manager’s job is to synthesize the team so that each individual member can focus on putting their best foot forward.  While some companies have their PM team sit together, at Facebook, each PM is assigned to a Product Team consisting of about 10 engineers, a product designer, an analyst, and a product manager.  Within the team, the PM’s role varies throughout the life cycle of the product but is always related to defining the course and keeping the team on track. At Facebook, product teams follow an iterative cycle of Understand–>Explore–>Execute.  While the team operates as a whole, responsibility for identifying the problem to solve, identifying possible approaches and narrowing in on one, and working with engineering to build it lives with the Product Manager.  Along the way, the PM must plan, set milestones, define goals, and define success.

Interestingly, however, while it really seems like the PM is the leader of the team (after all manager is in the job title!) he or she has no direct reports.  I’ve often heard said, a PM has a lot of influence but no real authority.  Direct reports or not, a PM must deliver and therefore, setting the right vision and rallying everyone to the cause is crucial.  PM’s must be able to adapt their language and mannerisms to their audience, speaking the language of business with executives, technology with engineers, and data with analysts.  Regardless of background, Layla joked, business people are going to think you are tech geeks and engineers are going to think you are business only but if you recognize and accept this and can prove yourself as just a little more savvy than the average bear you will win the respect of everyone and gain the influence you need.  Flexibility, intellectual curiosity, and “strong opinions loosely held” are key to the success in the role.

Grad Tech President David LoVerme at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters on Grad TechTrek West 2014

Grad Tech President David LoVerme at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters on Grad TechTrek West 2014

One of the most eye opening things about our visit was getting a glimpse into the culture of Facebook the company.  With 1.3 Billion users, Facebook is ubiquitous.  Everyone knows the social network and everyone has an opinion.  Lost sometimes, however, is the fact that it is a real company led by incredibly talented and passionate people.  The company’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.  They have a poster on the wall asking the question “Are we a tech company?” without a definite answer but rather as a means to stimulate real self-examination.  Everything the company does is to fulfill the goal of helping people connect to each other and it is the Product Manager’s role to ensure that every product or feature serves this purpose.  The company seeks people with a curiosity about the world who love to learn, are highly proactive, have a high energy level, and who are positive and yet maintain a healthy dissatisfaction about the status quo.

After spending the morning with Greg, Layla, and Ashley, it is no surprise that Facebook is such a highly sought after and successful company.  Having met them and knowing the other BC Eagles and friends of the Grad Tech Club we have in Cambridge, Austin, and of course Menlo Park the company is ripe with highly talented and passionate people and I am very excited to see what the future holds!

-David LoVerme is a 2nd Year MBA at Boston College and the President of the Grad Tech Club