I remember glancing over the syllabus before the first day of TechTrek and feeling both nervous and excited to dive into the world of tech and entrepreneurship. I had not been keeping up with business current events as much as I should, and the list of discussion topics from artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and cryptocurrency seemed daunting to me. These topics were fascinating to me, but I always assumed they were better left to computer science majors and professional software developers.
However, as TechTrek forced me to truly learn and engage with the tech industry through regular tweeting and blogging, it did not remain simply a homework assignment, but something I was passionate about. I found myself not counting my tweets per week, but instead scrolling through and retweeting articles during my spare time. I became totally invested in finding the latest startup or technology and loved the way these advancements are transforming the way we live our daily lives.
After our first Trek into Boston to visit Wayfair, Acquia, and LovePop, I was so exhausted I could not imagine visiting over 20 companies in 3 days on the TechTrek trip. However, when the time came to venture into New York, my excitement to explore each company took over. Even though every company was in the technology industry, each office was vastly different from the previous. This leads into one of the most impactful takeaways I had from this trip: Culture is Everything.
I’ve heard plenty of companies talk about their culture, but I never understood the importance of workplace values until this trip. Visiting over 20 companies in 3 days has definitely caused some of the tours to blend together, but the one aspect that I vividly remember from each office was company culture. Two of my favorites were TED and Ceros:
- The moment we walked into the TED office, everyone was smiling. Granted the employees were about to embark on an exciting company-wide retreat, but as we strolled through the various departments of the two-story office, every employee looked up and smiled at our group of 25. Our guide also brought us to several stations such as the TED Education wing where a woman happily chatted to us about her role, and the collaborative and free workspaces for the entrepreneurs who were exploring interesting topics such as underwater photography. It was clear from simply touring the office that TED is a think tank, and is true to its slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading,” in that the collaborative and friendly employees were excited and passionate to be part of the team. We also briefly met Chris Anderson which was super cool.
- The brutal honesty that Ceros CEO Simon presented to us was a stark difference from many of the other presentations that we were given. Instead of presenting on how his platform and company operations work logistically, Simon began a very real discussion on the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, including the “trough of sorrow.” Hearing Simon talk about the hardships that come with starting your own company definitely brought some of us back down to reality. This is why, as Simon said, passion is so important in his office. In order for a company to overcome the “trough of sorrow,” it needs a dedicated team that will stick with the company’ because it believes in its mission. This brought us to the story about the chicken suit, in which a Ceros employee was so passionate about the company that he even wore a chicken suit to a meeting to make a sale.
The TechTrek trip was notable not only because of the company visits, but also because we were able to see the strength of the BC network firsthand. I have heard about how connected the BC alumni are, but I never imagined so many top executives and busy professionals would take time out of their day to set up a presentation for a large group of students. Additionally, many of the alumni we met were hired because they reached out to another BC grads at the company. The willingness of alumni to help other BC grads amazes me, and it felt great to hear so many alumni at the Tech Council event open an invitation for us to reach out them.
Overall, TechTrek has been an experience I will never forget. In only half a semester, we had the opportunity to meet with top executives and BC alumni at over twenty companies in the tech industry. We were able to learn more about how important company culture and passion are in the workplace, get insights into my personal career interests, and discover that the tech and entrepreneurial industry is something I want to be involved in.
Thank you to Professor Kane, Professor Doyle, Kelsey, Julia, Rohan, and my classmates for an amazing semester, and definitely my favorite class at Boston College!