Tech Trek: A Trip to Remember

When I was first introduced to Tech Trek last semester in my Computers in Management class, I couldn’t be further away from being interested in technology or considering pursuing a career in the field. I was under the impression that all tech companies were either filled with ping pong tables and bean bag chairs, or stationed in some suspect basements filled with computer whizzes and robots. That’s definitely not a scene I could imagine myself ever working in; nevertheless, I decided I needed to go on Tech Trek East to experience the technology scene in my home city. In hindsight, that might’ve been one of the best and most formative decisions I’ve made thus far in my college career.

 One of the biggest takeaways from visiting about 20 companies in three days, each differing in goals, culture, and size, was just how challenging it is to consistently overcome changes in trends, rapid advancements in technology, and increased competition from other companies in the industry. As I mentioned earlier, I always considered tech companies as almost self-serving — once the technology has been built, it must just work flawlessly on its own, and exist as an application on everyone’s phone. That’s where I was very wrong. The smart, passionate people employed by these companies are driving the product, making sure it’s top notch and constantly working to scale its presence and popularity among the intended consumer market. Real people (not robots), from data scientists to engineers to marketers to human resources coordinators, who are enthusiastic about the work they do and the company’s mission, are what make companies, succeed.

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Along with having smart, driven, and enthusiastic workers, comes the idea of creating, implementing, and conserving corporate culture. As the CEO and founder of Ceros, Simon Berg, and many other leaders and employees of other companies had said, if you don’t instill a culture that you care about early on, you will never be able to create a culture somewhere along the line. It’s much easier to create and instill a corporate culture that goes in line with the goals of the company, but it’s much more difficult to conserve it and ensure that new employees will believe and follow this culture as the company grows from 10 people in a tiny office, to, for instance, an international brand with hundreds of employees.

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The culture that is evident amongst employees of a company will surely determine how willing to work and passionate about the product the workers will be. Ultimately, your culture is your brand. I found it interesting that every company we visited had such different cultures, but each was somehow fitting to the environment and kind of work that was being done. For instance, Simon Berg of Ceros created and continues to implement a culture that focuses on the importance of being candid, brave, and “wearing your chicken suit.” Google, a much larger and older company, too has a strong culture that has remained constant throughout its lifetime. The employees at Google love where they work, and feel that their jobs keep them constantly learning and enthusiastic about their respective fields and Google as a whole. It’s quite impressive for such a large company to maintain the same vision and culture that was instilled years ago, by just the founders and a few initial employees who believed in their vision.

Of (almost) equal importance to the success of all these companies is the data they collect, analyze, and rely on. Michael Wystrach, CEO and founder of Freshly, a food-delivery application, discussed the importance of data in his company, which he believes to be 60% data, and only 40% food. This theme was prevalent throughout the visits, regardless of the type of service the technology companies were offering. Furthermore, as artificial intelligence and machine learning technology continue to advance, data will become even more heavily ingrained into the work that goes into creating and perfecting products of technology companies. Hugh Dineen, Boston College alum and current Chief Marketing Officer of Metlife, stressed the importance of companies, from traditional insurance companies like Metlife to small technology start-ups, preparing for the tremendous impact artificial intelligence will have in the near future. In his own field, Dineen says he is already seeing an artificial intelligence marketing revolution, allowing for better targeting, personalization, and higher returns on investments. The data-driven technology is ultimately an enabled for productivity, and will continue to allow companies to have stronger data analytics, as well as constantly challenge them to keep up with technology advancements.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 5.52.23 PM.png    Aside from learning about what drives success in tech companies, I also realized the importance of networking and the importance/scale of the Boston College alumni network. It was very helpful to listen to the experiences of people working at various companies, in different chapters of their professional careers, who all had a Boston College background in common. As someone who is constantly worrying about what kind I’ll be doing in 5 years from now, it was nice to hear that no one really has it figured out throughout their undergraduate years. In addition, I was able to speak to and network with a number of alumni at the Tech Council event, who I hope to remain in touch with throughout my time at Boston College, and into my professional life. It’s great to know that so many alumni are willing to help out, and are willing to have a conversation as long as I am willing to reach out!

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Overall, Tech Trek East was a fantastic experience.  I not only learned a lot about tech and the professional world in general,  but also had a wonderful time and made so many great new friends. The trip exceeded all of my expectations and I am very grateful for this opportunity, and even feel inspired to consider a career in the tech world, as its constant innovation and fast pace truly excite me.

4 thoughts on “Tech Trek: A Trip to Remember

  1. I also took away these lessons from the trip, and it was great to see how these companies utilized data in their everyday operations. I am so glad that you were able to experience the tech world in your home city, and your mindset was changed through this class and trip! NYC was definitely previewed a large hub of companies that treasured technology and leveraging it to increase their company brand and value. Thanks for a great semester; I loved being in your small group discussion! Hopefully we have more classes together next semester and beyond!!


  2. Rebecca I couldn’t agree more with your takeaways from the trip. Hearing about the different companies culture’s, journey’s and use of data were all things that made me even more excited about hopefully joining a technology company someday. The trip exceeded all of my expectations as well, and I can confidently say that the lessons I learned will stick with me forever. Additionally, i think it is so important to mention the fact about how phenomenal the BC network is. Seeing the impact BC alums can make on the professional world, as well as their willingness to help out and pay it forward, was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was a blast!


  3. Thank you for sharing Rebecca, I really enjoyed your post! I really agree with your takeaway about data. It seemed as if every single company we visited said that they were basically a data company. That proves how important and impactful data has become within technology companies so they can iterate and maximize their efficiency and competitive advantage. I also really enjoyed your comparison of the culture that Simon Berg instilled at Ceros with Google. Both of which have great cultures, but I think a key point here is that each company must have their own unique culture to be successful and no two company cultures are the same.


  4. I totally agree Rebecca! One of the most impactful takeaways for me was company culture as well. It truly plays a huge part in positioning the company’s brand. Thanks to TechTrek, I was able to learn this during my internship search, and I know factor culture into my application decisions as well. Altogether, this trip opened my eyes to the technology industry and the great opportunities that are available to work for companies we are passionate about. So glad we got to go on this trip together!


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