Saturday, January 21, 2012

B&T West Coast Trek

One week of school has concluded but I feel it's important to impart what I did for the last couple of weeks of break.

The Business & Technology Club holds a West Coast trek annually to tech companies in the West Coast. This year they combined two sets of locations - Seattle for three days and then the Bay area for a week. From my understanding, the Seattle trek is usually held in the Spring Break timeframe. I went on both sections.

We visited a number of companies here. Usually the visit consists of a tour of the office and a Q&A panel, sometimes a presentation. I'll note if there were exceptions.
- Boeing: Got the VIP tour of the factory floor. A couple of alum work in strategy.
- Expedia
- Amazon: This was very popular. Tepper is a core school for Amazon, and we have a lot of alumni here. The competition for internships is intense.
- T-Mobile: Again, just a couple of alum here. The Qs focused a lot on the failed AT&T deal.
- Microsoft: I think we were there with a few schools, but again, we have a fair amount of alum. We got a tour of their MSHome vision (although our tourguide did confess that it was about six months from being torn down and re-imagined), and a demo of the new Windows 8 and X-Box. At the time, I don't even think Steve Ballmer had seen what they had yet, so it was pretty amazing we got a peek.
- Philips Medical Devices

 In addition to visiting companies, we had a couple of alumni receptions. Two prominent alums usually sponsor a dinner over on Bainbridge Island.

Bay Area
This was a bit more intense as there were a couple of days where we visited three companies in a day as well as participated in networking events in the evening.

- Medallia: We got a T-Shirt with an awesome slogan: "One time I punched mediocrity in the face."
- HP
- LinkedIn: We were the first MBA group they had ever hosted. I believe their campus is across the road from the hangar where the fellows from Mythbusters blow stuff up.
- EA Games: I'll confess... I nerdgasmed all over this place. It was kinda messy. However, I play a lot of EA games, so it was really awesome to see the new Star Wars artwork plastered all over the place. What was even more incredible is the CEO himself came and chatted to us for a while. The HR peeps had to remind him to leave. I know EA has a bad reputation, but it really shows the personability of the CEO that he came down and did this. I was very impressed.
- Yahoo
- Juniper Networks: Again, the founder came by and chatted with us. He's a CMU alum.
- VMWare
- Google: the highlight of a lot of peoples' trip
- Zynga

I also participated in a CMU annual networking night. Holy moly. Nearly every person I met just launched a start-up 4 months ago and was looking for engineers. One person I met, whom I chatted with nicely, ended up saying that he probably needed business people for his startup and won't I come and work for him? It felt a little awkward being on the other side of the fence; normally, I'm the one pushing for the job :)

It was a great time, but I don't think they're going to do the same thing again next year. I know for sure the companies may change, but joining Seattle and Bay area probably won't work. I think there was talk about moving Seattle forward to the week between mini 1 and 2, now that there is going to be one week free purely for the treks.

P.S. for those who were wondering, all students had to pay for the trek out-of-pocket.

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