Deciding to take Tech Trek this semester was one of the best decisions I have made during my time at BC. The only downside was having to explain to so many people what I was doing and where I was going for Spring Break. Overall, our trip to the Bay Area was an amazing introduction to the type of life and work that I want to be a part of upon graduating from BC. I always knew that I wanted to work in tech on the West Coast, and this trip reaffirmed my thoughts. On top of everything that I learned on the trip, it was also awesome getting to know and spend time with my classmates, as well as Professor Kane, Professor Doyle, and Kelsey. All of the meals, bus rides, and downtime were a great opportunity to reflect on past visits and learn more about each other. Everyone in the class shares a similar passion for tech and business, but everyone also has their own unique talents which are what made the group of students so great.
For me, the best visits were the ones that had me captivated both by the people and the business. Some of these visits included Facebook, Nuro, Fanatics, and Twitter. At these companies, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to learn and ask as much as possible. There were other visits that had me excited by either only the people or business, and a couple that didn’t excite me in either aspect. But I’m glad that we were able to visit enough companies to the point where I could distinguish what I did and didn’t like. This is so crucial because where you end up choosing to work is such a big decision. You are basically choosing the place that you want to spend your days. From 12 person start-ups to huge companies like Oracle, everyone has their own unique fit and desires.
Out of all of the visits and events we took part in, the biggest takeaway I got was how important it is to be persistent. Obviously, we heard and saw how impactful the BC network is, but it really matters what you do with it. I will always remember what Professor Doyle said on the bus our last day. He said that it has nothing to do with who you know. It has all to do with what you do with who you know. It was crazy to hear the stat from Salesforce that less than 20 percent of their hires come from traditional job applications. You really need to make connections and leverage them. This is quite relevant to being persistent because we will most likely be leveraging our BC network when we are asking for help or in need of anything. This relates to how most of us have been or currently are on the hunt for internships. Personally, I have always been too worried about whether being too persistent just turns into being annoying for whoever I am trying to communicate with. But after this trip, I understand that there really is nothing to lose, and those that continue to be persistent will be the ones who end getting what they desire. We can look specifically at CJ Reim who was persistent in reaching out to Peter Bell, or to Mike Perry who was initially rejected at Twitter but was persistent in his efforts to work there. BC grads want to help other people from BC, but they also are quite busy, so I learned to not be discouraged if someone doesn’t respond after reaching out. Being persistent truly can only help you, and this lesson is something I will now implement. It is easy to get lost in a crowd, so it is crucial to stand out. We heard from many people during our trip who said how powerful it can be to cold email somebody, or even send a handwritten letter (unless you’re at Oracle because I guess they don’t like that). If you want something, be persistent. It will give you the best shot at achieving whatever it is you are seeking.
On top of persistence, there were a few other major lessons that I took from the trip. I learned that there will be times where you will be asked to do something that you don’t know how to do, and that’s okay. Don’t pretend like you know how to do it, because then you will mess up. Instead, admit that you need some guidance, but don’t shy away from the opportunity. Step out of your comfort zone and always keep learning. You should always learn as much as possible. Don’t do things not to fail.
I also learned how crucial it is to be able to really speak and articulate well. I’m sure the class would agree that the best visits we had were those where the speaker or speakers were extremely engaging and great presenters. Being able to speak and articulate well also will help you in selling. And even if you are not directly working sales, selling is something that is always an integral part of business. If you are a founder, you have to sell investors on your business. If you can sell, you will always have a job.
The final major takeaway I got was how important it is to surround yourself with the right team and management. Almost all of the recent BC grads that we spoke to said how critical your first manager is at your first job. These managers serve as mentors not only for the job you are at but in the future too. In the interview process, it is smart to ask what the management team is like and what are the people like who work there. You are going to be spending so much time with the people you work with, so knowing these things before diving into a job are crucial.
Overall, our trip was an unforgettable experience. Not many students get the opportunity to visit such prominent companies in Silicon Valley and speak with employees of all different ranks, including CEOs and founders. This trip was an amazing introduction to what I see myself doing after BC, and I am extremely excited to see what the future holds. I hope to host a Tech Trek West group soon wherever I end up working!