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Career Management Office hosted a San Francisco Trek during spring break, March 15-16. The students visited Paypal, Samsung, Layer, Google and Plug and Play. Weatherhead alum Arnindam Jha hosted students at PayPal, alum Jamie Wheeler hosted students at Layer and alum Alicia Sanchez hosted at Google. CMO is thankful for the relationships of our alumni and employers who gave their time to show students what it is like to work in Silicon Valley. Some of our students who participated in the trek share their experiences and thoughts on the trip below.
Ashwin Mendhi, MBA Candidate
I recently returned from an exciting San Francisco Trek organized by the Career Management Office at Weatherhead School of Management. As part of the trek we visited various small and large companies and got an opportunity to interact with alumni, explore career opportunities and experience the unique Silicon Valley culture.
Day 1 started with a visit to PayPal headquarters in San Jose. We were hosted by Weatherhead alum Arindam Jha who, along with one of his team members, took us through a day in their life at PayPal. They also talked about their career progressions and what mattered along the way. We then visited the Innovation Center where we looked at different PayPal products and services and how these products and services work together to create maximum value for PayPal.
Our next stop was Samsung Research America (SRA) in Mountain View where we learned about the kind of research SRA is doing in different technologies and industries, especially healthcare. We also discussed some ways in which Samsung is fostering innovation within the company and how they are currently creating opportunities for employees to innovate.
Next, we headed to downtown San Francisco to visit a startup called Layer. The conversation started off with how Layer is enriching the interaction between businesses and customers using Artificial Intelligence. Alum Jamie Wheeler, our host, (and his wife, also Jaime Wheeler) went to school in Cleveland and now live in SF. They had a very interesting story to share about the journey they took and the cultural differences they experienced in these two cities. Layer, for me, had the perfect Silicon Valley vibe that I had heard so much about. They had a small rustic office (which used to be a creamery) that looked friendly and casual with couches and string lights with employees chatting and working in groups. We met Remi, Jamie’s dog, who looked a little confused while we were in our discussions. By the time we were done at Layer, it was time for an Alumni Reception and Networking event. Apartment List, a startup by Weatherhead alum John Kobs, hosted the event that was attended by more than 20 alumni from the region. It was a great experience and we all made many valuable connections. We ended the day on a high while exploring the streets of downtown SF.
Day 2 started with a visit to Google’s San Francisco office. First up, some of us who had arrived a little early headed to the cafeteria, led by our host alum Alicia Sanchez. There were delicious looking breakfast items all over the place. We got ourselves some coffee and headed to a meeting room. We discussed Google’s culture, their interview process and Alicia’s work and journey within Google.
Our next stop was at Plug and Play Tech Center—a startup accelerator in Sunnyvale. At Plug and Play we got an opportunity to witness a pitch competition where startups where pitching to raise money from Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists. We also toured the facility and saw all the facilities/resources that startups have access to and rooms and desks that they can rent to function as their office space. Our visit ended with a group picture in front of one of the many walls painted with the names of startups that have called Plug and Play their home.
This trek to San Francisco will definitely be one of the highlights of my time at Weatherhead. This was my first ever trip to the Bay Area and I met some amazing people, visited successful companies that are redefining their respective industries and experienced the distinctive workplace culture in Silicon Valley. I have new-found motivation to someday work in the Bay Area and the trek made me realize that it’s not a far-fetched dream.
Luiz Vieira, MBA Candidate
The San Francisco trek was a great experience for the different perspectives I've learned.
I really enjoyed visiting all the companies, but two stood out for me: Layer and Google.
At Layer I was surprised by Jamie Wheeler's dynamic professional approach and how he is always looking for ways to innovate and add a lot of value to it. His trajectory of persistence and capacity to drive his future and to create things very fast taught me a lot.
Google was a brief but fruitful visit. Alicia seemed very transparent and her work was something I never expected. I was amazed by her vision and to learn what Google is doing to create new tools for the platform.
San Francisco is probably my favorite place in the U.S.; I have yet to find another place like it. The business opportunities there are tremendous, especially when it comes to innovation. I truly believe that this Trek should be repeated every year, and I hope that more students will continue to participate in this amazing experience.
Lauren Nelson, MBA Candidate
The San Francisco trek was everything that I expected it to be. I got to explore the city, meet alumni in the area, and get the inside scoop on major Silicon Valley companies. Going on the trek really made networking with people on the West Coast a lot more approachable!