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MIT grads to size up Silicon Valley

More than five years after the dot-com bust, tech sector hopeful of luring fresh talent.

Bay Area technology companies will get a crack this week at enticing some of the brightest from MIT, something that used to be much easier for Silicon Valley.

More than 70 business students from MIT's Sloan School of Management will tour nearly 40 companies, including Apple Computer, Salesforce.com, Google and Hewlett-Packard as part of an annual meeting.

For the students, it's a chance to kick the tires on the technology sector. Some have plenty of other options, including a career in consulting, working for influential and high-paying firms, such as Bain or McKinsey, said Paul Denning, spokesman for the Sloan School. But money won't be the only factor the students consider.

"This is an opportunity for them to get a bead on what sort of new technologies are out there," Denning said. "They'll be looking out for the next big thing. Besides visiting a lot of large companies, they'll be meeting with some start-ups."

For the companies, the meetings are important in helping to fill the talent pipeline. Executives hope to build relationships with sought-after students. In the late 1990s, the lure of stock options and the chance to work on the bleeding edge of technology drew scores of top business students to the valley. When the dot-com bubble burst, the job of luring top talent became more challenging.

Yet, even during the darkest days after the shakeout, the sector never fully lost its luster, Denning recalled.

"High tech offers a diverse experience and a large number of our students will end up working out there," he said.

The meetings, which have taken place for more than a decade, will start Tuesday and go through Friday.