“Selfie” Take 2: A reflection

When struggling to decide how to structure this final blog, I looked back on the first post I wrote for this class during winter break. This paragraph in particular really stood out to me:

“Put simply, after taking this class, I want to be able to go on a twenty-minute rant when someone mentions the phrase “Silicon Valley” in a casual conversation. My goal is to gain as much knowledge as possible in the classroom and on our field study about technology firms and the industry that surrounds them. Additionally, I want to get to know and learn from all of my classmates. I know that you get out what you put into this class and I hope it is a positive, unique, challenging, and rewarding experience”.

I can confidently say that I accomplished all these goals since we began this journey at the beginning of the semester. For the rest of this blog, I want to dive deeper into each of the elements I brought up a few months ago in my first “Selfie” Post:

The Ranting

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Yep. I honestly feel bad for anyone who has asked me about what I did over break or how I enjoyed San Francisco. Most people expect a simple “Great. Relaxing! How was your break?”. Instead, I can’t help but respond with a long-winded account of our time in Silicon Valley. Although it has been only a week since we came back, I find myself constantly using examples from the trip in class discussion or conversations with friends. When blockchain gets brought up, you know I’m going to talk about Jesse Clayburgh’s work with Filecoin and of course, Veem.

Classroom Knowledge

Going to Cushing 208 every Wednesday this semester was a truly an enjoyable experience. I loved how the class was structured and that discussion was student led. Keeping up with the latest tech news on Twitter did not feel like homework and it is something I plan to continue doing (Long Live #BCSTT!). As someone who loves efficiency, having each person specialize in a company and then teach the class made perfect sense to me. Even though we didn’t end up visiting Optimizely, the company I presented on, I was able to ask a great question during the Split visit that I could never have brought up without my prior research. Additionally, although January Kipp would probably not be saying this, doing some preliminary work over winter break was definitely something that paid off in the long run.

Field Study Knowledge

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Me at every visit

Walking over to Salesforce on Monday morning, I was a bit nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I was confident about my knowledge of the company but was worried about maintaining the strong reputation of Boston College and the TechTrek program. For that reason, I treated the Salesforce visit like a typical employer information session because that is what I was used to, having attended about fifty of them in the fall semester.

Luckily, after a few visits, I realized that I needed to alter my strategy. I learned to do more listening and take fewer notes. More importantly, I learned to ask questions about topics in which I was genuinely interested, rather than ones that made me seem “smart” or “eager to work at the company”. Put differently, I channeled my inner-Don Valentine.

My two favorite visits on the trip were True Ventures and Sequoia Capital. While I am interested in venture capital and can see myself in the environment a few years after graduation, I mostly enjoyed the format of these visits: an opportunity for all of us to introduce ourselves, a quick presentation, and then all Q&A. Christian at True Ventures and the panel at Sequoia both knew we did our homework before coming to visit. Therefore, we didn’t have to waste any time reviewing what was already mentioned in class. Rather, the long Q&A sessions allowed us to take a deep dive into the company and shift the conversation to where we wanted it to go.

My Classmates

Honestly, what a squad. It was a pleasure to get to know each and every one of you. I am so glad we all clicked as a group from the minute we got to the airport to the minute we got home. I just wish we had gotten to know each other earlier! I miss having my phone blow up with GroupMe notifications but I am sure the end of TechTrek does not mean the end of our group. Throughout the semester and during each visit, I learned so much from everyone and was thoroughly impressed by all the thoughtful questions you guys asked. So, for that, I thank you.

Getting out what you put in

If you ask anyone who has taken this class, they know this is absolutely true. In fact, this really hit me when we visited WePay. Before starting his presentation, Rich asked what we wanted to hear about throughout his speech. I, along with a few others, provided thoughtful and specific talking points that blew Rich away. He even asked, “Did you guys write these down ahead of time?”. At that moment, I was grateful that we had all done preliminary research. Had we not, we may have been in for a pretty generic presentation. Instead, we got an amazing talk.

A positive, unique, challenging, and rewarding experience

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Yes, all of that and more. In just seven days, I had so many new experiences that I struggle to remember them all. Throughout the trip, it was sometimes tough to ignore my east coast biases or focus on one company at a time on days with five visits. However, I am so glad I went into this once in a lifetime trip with an open mind and extensive notes in hand. Believe it or not, there is a world outside of audit, tax, and advisory that I am so lucky I saw before searching for a full-time job.

So, what’s changed from “Selfie” Part 1 to “Selfie” Part 2?

I can’t say that I am ready to rescind my acceptance for an internship at large consulting firm this summer. I also can’t say that I am ready to drop everything and move to San Francisco the day after graduation. But, what I am ready to do is re-shift my career focus.

I am still confident consulting is the path for me after graduation. However, I plan to evaluate my potential employers based on their dedication to technology and innovation. A company stuck in the past and unwilling to try new things is not a firm I want to be a part of.

Personally, our trip to Silicon Valley taught me a few more acronyms, attire doesn’t mean anything, and timing is everything. Furthermore, I was inspired by the way many companies and individuals were able to tell their story effectively. Telling my story, whether it be in an interview or when talking to a stranger, is something I want to improve upon going forward.

To close, I’d like to offer some simple advice to anyone reading this who is currently on the fence about taking this class: 100% do it.

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3 thoughts on ““Selfie” Take 2: A reflection

  1. Great post, Kipp!! I was actually shocked by how spot-on your initial expectations were, but I’m glad we could dive even deeper into them. I too caught myself falling into treating the company visits like employer visits here, but it was crazy how much more you absorb when you really try to listen instead of scribble down every note. So lucky that we all became friends, and I can’t wait to continue our #BCSTT feeds and GroupMe meme’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every great speaker/company we visited had the power of great storytelling on their side. You mentioned it at the end of your post and it really made me think about why certain talks were more compelling than others. Even Pat Twomey from Uber mentioned that storytelling is key, whether you’re working with numbers or words. This is definitely something I want to improve on and appreciate you pointing out. It was awesome getting to know you and I think your question about asking questions was one of the best of the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Storytelling” is a buzz word that actually stuck with me after trip. It is so true that from product manager to analytics to just about everyone emphasize the ability to tell a compelling story. For me, I think it helps me to think and validate the value and the meaning of what I do and is really rewarding when I can tell a good story.

      Liked by 2 people

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