Looking back on all the classes in my four years at BC, all (with the exception of one) had been taken with the purpose of checking off a box. Whether for A&S core, CSOM core, or my concentration, I signed up for classes semester after semester with a strict list of what needed to be taken. This class was an exception.
It was on the first night of TechTrek when I had this realization. We were talking about which classes to sign up for next semester, and Professor Kane told us to stop thinking about the easy class to take and start taking classes you are actually interested in. Sounds simple, but it feels like we are in this rat race trying to check off all the boxes in order to finish with the “perfect transcript”.
Not having to worry about grading throughout the entire semester was the best gift this class could’ve given me. As a constant worrier of each grade and assignment, I could come to class each day with only one purpose in mind. To learn. And at the same time, I put much more effort into this class than any other class because I was genuinely excited to be there to learn something I’m interested in. The class had some of the brightest minds that I’ve been surrounded by in my time at Boston College, and I was able to learn so much from my fellow students.
One of the major things that struck me on this trip was seeing how happy every employee was. When you think tech company, all the perks come to mind like free meals and game rooms, so it seems believable that they would be the happiest employees on earth. However, they are also working extremely hard. I feel like often times people who have very demanding jobs are miserable, and this is not the case for the people we met with. I think this was true for a few reasons.
- The first is employee culture. Every single CEO we met with touched on the importance of cultivating culture from day one. This can be very difficult for ballooning tech companies like Google and Facebook, and some employees touched on the loss of the entrepreneurial spirit that was present when the company was smaller. However, it remains at the core of the company’s values to retain the original culture.
- The second reason that I believe these employees are so happy with what they do is because of the pace in which the technology sector moves. One day they are trying to build a social media platform and the next they are trying to make strides in virtual reality. One major technological breakthrough in AI or machine learning and the work of these companies completely changes. Every employee is a crucial piece to keep things afloat.
- Now, at the same time I also believe these people are under extreme stress. Simon Berg at Ceros made very evident the cyclicality of his stress levels, and this is surely true for all entrepreneurs. However, if you do what you love and find it interesting, the happiness will follow. Every single person we met with had passion, and passion outweighs all the stressful meetings and late nights you have to endure if you are doing a job that you enjoy.
The Non-tech Opportunities in Tech
I never would’ve thought that I would be signing up for an ISYS class. I’ve always loved technology and entrepreneurship, but the thought of staring at broken code for hours on end sickens me. Therefore, I assumed I would feel extremely out of place on this trip, and honestly, it took me a few classes to feel that I was adequately contributing to this class. However on the trip, I learned of the endless opportunities in technology, and how the roles are not limited to computer or data scientists. At Google, I was exposed to the possibility of working in sales. At Harry’s, I was able to see the exciting work in marketing. At Facebook, I was able to learn about working in client relations. At Sprinklr, I learned about the breadth of work in product management. At every single stop, we saw new opportunities that the technology sector provided. In addition, I really admired how many of the people we met with did not start off in tech. At Freshly, CEO, Michael Wystrach, talked about working in investment banking before starting his own company. At Facebook, Client Solutions Manager, Jordan Bolebruch worked at Citi for 6 years in sales and trading and private banking before moving to a marketing position. It was great to hear how you can try out a few things in your career to find out where your passion lies. This is a major privilege given to us as BC students because of the amazing alumni network. Which leads me to my next point…
(BC) Network Effects
The highlight of my trip was without a doubt the Tech Council event. It wasn’t so much what was said, although everyone that spoke was extremely interesting, but I was overwhelmingly taken aback by the outpouring of support and willful desire of alums to give back to current BC students. I remember looking around during the speeches and getting goosebumps from being so proud to go to Boston College. The range of people standing in that room was astounding, and I really hope that in the future I will be able to help in some way to current BC students.
“Get comfortable being uncomfortable”
Marie Louise Kirk and Lindsay LoBue summed up the trip/class/college/life so perfectly during our last visit to Goldman Sachs. If I gave up on things when I felt uncomfortable or out of place, there is no way I would be where I am today. In fact, if I gave up on this class because I was nervous on the first day, then I wouldn’t get to experience one of the most memorable classes at BC. Lindsay LeBou summed it up perfectly when she said “get comfortable being uncomfortable”. I haven’t forgotten those words since that day, and I know they will continue to stick with me in moments when I’m uncomfortable, nervous, or feel out of place. These are the moments that truly have the power to change me, and this was definitely one of those.