Paradigm Shifts and Good Advice

I almost didn’t go on Tech Trek.

As a junior who didn’t go abroad, I really wanted to go to Europe over spring break. As all my friends were planning trips to Barcelona or Lisbon, I was debating whether to join them or to go on Tech Trek. I thought the trade off was spending time with friends in a beautiful European country versus developing my career. My perception was a bit off. Tech Trek means spending time with new friends in a beautiful West Coast city while also developing my career. I could not be happier with my decision. Europe can wait—it’s waited thousands of years already—but this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

 

Tied together by our common interest in tech, I couldn’t be more thankful for this group of people. While our specialties varied between product management, marketing, software engineering, and more, it was so important to make friends with people who share a love for tech. The best part was that while we were poised and intellectual in all our meetings, we were also goofy and thoughtful and spirited when the day was done. Sure, I’ll never forget Apple’s glass walls or Google’s ball pit, but the best memories are the laughs over the dinner table, the late night conversations, and the gloriously exhausted bus rides. You all made this trip special.

A huge thank you to Prof Kane, Prof Doyle, Kelsey, and Matt. While the trip itself is the most memorable experience, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out of it if it weren’t for the thorough preparation. Thank you for fostering an environment where we could dive deep into the material and learn together via tweets and comments. Your organizational superpowers helped this trip go by without a serious hitch. I can honestly say this is the first school trip I’ve been on where I wasn’t sprinting through a Nicaraguan airport, completely overtaking a restaurant in Italy that looked much bigger on Yelp, or accidentally eating pig’s ears in Quebec. (On second thought, we did sprint out of Alcatraz, show up at a restaurant with a party of 35 after our restaurant had a gas leak, and ingest whatever was in those bean desserts. Oops.)

 

My biggest takeaway hit me at Google. When Adrian was describing all the incredible things happening with AR, I was mesmerized. I could’ve talked about it all day. I scribbled in my notebook: “I have to be somewhere cool and exciting where I’m continually mindblown every day.” I don’t think I would function well in a stagnant industry. I crave excitement, and the tech industry provides that. Even in the larger, more established corporations, I was still mindblown by Salesforce’s Einstein or Apple’s accessibility features.

 

 

In this time of paradigm-altering confusion, I think we all needed to take a step back and reflect. The advice we heard really hit home with me, and I hope it’s a good reminder for you too. Here’s the best tidbits of advice that I wrote down:

  • Business is the greatest platform for change
  • You’re always interviewing for your next role
  • Have an idea of what you want to work on when you ask for advice
  • Make yourself uncomfortable
  • Build a product and sell it, not necessarily in that order
  • How is the world changing? Where do we fit in?
  • Always have a couple questions in your mind that you are trying to answer. Go into any experience with 3 questions that you want to explore.
  • Don’t half ass 2 things, full ass 1 thing
  • Be low maintenance and high performance
  • These companies didn’t make a mistake in hiring you. You’re here for a reason.
    • This one is really important. I’ve noticed that a lot of BC students suffer from imposter syndrome, especially women. We feel like we don’t deserve the opportunities we have, or that we got here on luck. This isn’t true. Each and every one of us earned our way to BC, to Tech Trek, and to our future careers. We have to train ourselves into being proud of earning our accomplishments—not bragging, but being self-confident.
  • Simple questions are better than complex questions. 1) Why did you start the company? 2) If everything goes right, what will this company look like?
  • Why now? Why you? What are you going to do about it?
  • The three most important things are intellectual curiosity (be willing to try anything), storytelling (paint a compelling narrative, distill the best takeaways), and work ethic (scale and grow, change as you need)

 

 

This trip left me with a lot to think about. It confirmed that I want to go into tech—but it raised more questions and considerations than I expected. I could definitely see myself living on the west coast, but for the duration of my whole career or just the start? I think I would miss the brownstones and cobblestone streets of Boston. I want to do marketing, but product management also sounds really fascinating. While I feel comfortable in the close environment of small companies, I think I would thrive in the networks of a big company. While I’m worried I would get lost as just one of thousands of employees, I would love to be a company that can make a difference at scale. Based on your blog posts, I can tell you all are balancing similar considerations. It’ll work out for the best for us all in the end.

 

 

After rereading my first blog post, one interesting point that I had made was “the community of BC students interested in tech is small but strong.” Sure, we are outnumbered by finance and accounting majors working in New York and Boston, but this trip made me realize that the BC network out west is bigger and stronger than it seems. It was reassuring to see that they kept up the BC spirit, and that they actively encourage more BC students to go into tech. I would bet that the tech industry has the strongest network of BC alum of any.

Another take away from my first post—I really emphasized that I love food. Still true. Still feel free to join me for a #CafeFriday. I’m so glad to have absorbed all this advice and met such amazing people on this trip. Thank you all for everything you’ve contributed!

PS–I took a Spectacles snap at every company we visited, and these were just a few unedited clips. Stay tuned for the video once I have time to edit it!

7 thoughts on “Paradigm Shifts and Good Advice

  1. Katie, I can’t stop reading all of these posts! I should probably be doing other homework right now, but I don’t care. Great final post! Thank you so much for laying out all the amazing advice we got on this trip. I’m looking forward to keeping all these things in mind as my career progresses. I couldn’t agree with you more that I had the same realization at Adrian’s AR/VR talk at Google: I want a job that excites me on a daily basis, one that makes my jaw drop every other moment! I don’t think I’d be able to find this in banking. I also loved your point that the BC tech network may be small, but after this trip no one can deny that it’s strong as hell! I can’t wait to see which of our classmates become the next CEOs of successful startups or the next executives at established tech behemoths! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you better on this trip, and you were a great partner to have on the plane rides! I’ll never forget telling you to lift up the window to see the Rockies, and seeing your eyes light up with amazement. I’m still down for cafe Friday sometime soon 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Katie I can’t wait for edited video! The Spectacles were a nice touch during the trip, so I’m wicked excited to see all the little moments you were able to capture. Like you mentioned, there are a lot of amazing things about the west coast, but there are also plenty of reasons to stay here in Boston. It’s a decision we’ll probably make as it needs to be made, or will maybe be made for us. In the end, everything will work out and I’m excited to see where everyone ends up! And to your point about food, I’m glad that’s how we were able to get so close! Getting dim sum, splitting a Treasure Island and eating tons of In N Out are my new favorite ways to get to know someone. I’d definitely like to keep that going on a #CafeFriday!

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  3. Katie, really great post! I honestly can’t get over how cool those Snapchat Spectacles are – definitely looking forward to seeing the edited video. I really love the list of quotes you compiled – they were so powerful that I actually remember who said it and where for each of them. I was in a similar boat where all of my roommates were in Milan over the break, but TechTrek was so great there wasn’t single time where I felt like I was missing out. While the questions that arose from the experience may be tougher than the questions that it answered, I know you’ll find great success wherever you go!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Katie – I loved these videos! I can’t wait to see the edited video when it comes out. I’m afraid the dilemma you’re dealing with of whether to go to SF for just a few years or move out there permanently is one that’ll follow you for quite some time – I still think about it every day (quite a problem to have, right?). The advice you shared was also nice to read and echos what some of your classmates have written on their blogs too, meaning that it’s really resonating with the group. Welcome back!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Katie! I love this post and had a blast experiencing TechTrek with you! It seems like we got a lot of the same overall messages out of these visits (we have a lot of overlap in our favorite quotes!) and are grappling with some similar questions post-trip.
    Your enthusiasm for tech made me even more excited and engaged throughout the trip. I admire your dedication and drive, and I can’t wait to see you taking the Bay Area by storm in the near future!
    So glad we were roommates and can’t wait for the years of friendship that await!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Katie! I’m so glad you decided on TechTrek over Europe in the end. You have the most contagious energy and obvious passion for tech, and it definitely inspired me throughout class and the trip. Thank you for this wonderful post. You summed up a lot of the same thoughts I juggled in my mind as well, especially regarding balancing considerations about working in a small startup or a company with scale, what role to take on with so many interests, etc. I also agree with you about how incredibly cool the Google talk on VR/AR was. I was certainly blown away. I’m so glad I met you through this class and got a glimpse of your exceptional work ethic and ability to articulate your thoughts so eloquently. You’re going to go so far in life and I’m excited for you 🙂
    And I’m so down to join you for a Cafe Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your post! I still remember your presentation from the very beginning where I could feel your passion about tech. I echo many of your points and I do have similar questions after the trip to think about. And yes, #CafeFriday is great!!

    Liked by 1 person

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