Preparing for My Dream Job

Mayank Mathur (MSIT '18) talks about his new job at Expedia and how he customized his Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) experience at Northwestern to prepare for this role.

Mayank Mathur (MSIT '18) arrived in Northwestern's Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) full-time program option knowing he wanted to be a product manager. He customized the program to fit his needs, and now, after graduating from the program, he's doing just wanted he originally wanted to do.

Mathur completed his undergraduate degree in technology in India, where he focused on electronics and communications engineering. Today, he is a technical product manager at Expedia, where he currently works closely with a team of five developers and an engineering manager. He recently took time to talk about the new job, the search process, and how his time in MSIT prepared him for where he is today.

When you were first looking into the MSIT program at Northwestern, what was it about the program that appealed to you?

The Northwestern MSIT program had the right balance of technical and business subjects. Having worked in engineering for Amazon for more than three years, I wanted to get the hands-on experience on the business side of things. With that, I still wanted to be very close to the technology, and MSIT provided that sweet spot.

I also wanted the flexibility to pick courses based on my interest. This allowed me to build my profile around things I wanted to study or improve on. There was also the practical approach of learning with study groups, making a business decision with technical data, and presenting technology and business to different audiences.

The small cohort with dedicated student advisors was also appealing.

What was one of the most important lessons you learned during your time in the MSIT program?

The best way to learn about any concept is by applying it to a project. I learned product management skills in the product management class and applied all those learned skills practically during my entrepreneurship course. This made me much more confident about those skills and gave a good project for me to show my skills during interviews.

When you arrived at Northwestern, what was it that you wanted to do professionally after graduation?

From day one, I wanted to do product management after my degree. The excitement of working on an innovative idea and taking it from its ideation phase to a fully launched product is what I wanted to do. I was always interested in innovation and following new ideas. At Northwestern, I co-founded the start-up Coinscious and worked on it from its ideation to the actual product. The response from the early customers was overwhelming and gave me a lot of confidence.

What will you be doing in your new role at Expedia?

At Expedia I will be doing the following:

  • Lead product strategy for a portfolio of platform products from inception to delivery.
  • Owner of technical product delivery for cross-functional projects for multiple delivery teams.
  • Design and innovative technical solutions that create customer value while serving business needs.
  • Drive organization-wide technology improvement initiatives and cross-platform coordination with stakeholders.
  • Manage trade-offs to drive satisfactory completion of product/project, and facilitation of planning and governance activities with the team.
  • Run agile ceremonies and define new processes for the team.

How would you describe your job search process?

Job searching is hard, and the process while also studying full-time was painful. But as you continue to ask questions of interviewers and learn, you become a better interviewee day by day. I used the "test and learn strategy" for the job search process and improved with that. I asked for consistent feedback on my resume, profile, and portfolio from industry leaders. I also reached out to people and asked about the role I wanted to be in to understand what was missing in my profile and how I could improve on it.

In what ways did MSIT and McCormick, in general, support you during your job search?

Engineering Career Development in McCormick Engineering helped me with some of my initial resume content reviews and provided networking opportunities. Northwestern Career Advancement was also available, but I did not use their offerings in my search.

What interviewing advice would you give to current MSIT students, particularly full-time international students such as yourself?

Before going for an in-person interview, check out a few LinkedIn profiles of the people who are already in the role you are applying for and learn about their day-to-day activities. Also, if there is any time left toward the end of the interview, always try to pitch an idea. This idea could be anything, from solving a problem the company is currently facing to offering an idea for a new venture.

What do you think differentiates a Northwestern MSIT degree from other comparable programs?

The flexibility to develop the skills needed for your job requirements. MSIT does a good job educating students about new technology trends and topics, and it opens students to many current and future opportunities to network with MSIT alums.