Thank You @techtrekwest

“How was your spring break?”

“It was amazing–I went to San Francisco on Tech Trek.”

“What’s Tech Trek?”

And this is where it gets tricky. It’s hard to sum up this class, this trip, and what I’ve learned in a quick, casual sentence or two. Here are just some of the lessons I learned.

Have something to lose. Prior to this trip, I walked into Professor Doyle’s office asking for some advice on how to look for opportunities in San Francisco and what to expect from this trip. After some thorough discussion, he asked what my back up plan for this summer was. I told him I didn’t really have one. “That’s what I love to hear. Because it means you’ll work that much harder to make something happen.” As someone who likes risk but equally likes to be prepared, this was something I was surprised to hear. Now, this piece of advice is what is driving me forward and also exactly what I saw so clearly from founder to founder on our trip to San Francisco. My immediate thought goes to Brava Home. Their transparency was incredible, and the passion they have for their product despite current circumstances truly represented this philosophy. They have something to lose. And in some ways they have lost a little. While that is incredibly difficult, all it means that they are pursuing something big, valuable, and ambitious. That mission and mentality is what keeps those at a startup working harder. It’s also what makes a startup so hard. Definitely safe to say, if you want to build something great in Silicon Valley, safety nets are not only unnecessary but also discouraged.

One of many family photos!! Taken at ThredUp.

Be adaptable. I can’t remember the amount of times I heard the word ‘pivot’ on this trip. Almost every company told a story about how they changed directions or how the market responded differently than expected. Virtually every co-founder we spoke to said that building a company is the hardest thing he or she has ever done in terms of their career. Sitting in these big, bright offices with free snacks, cool art, and another successful round of funding, I initially heard but mistakenly romanticized these stories of overcoming opposition. It’s easy to like them after seeing only the positive results. However, after seeing some startups in the middle of a major shift, I realized that these stories can’t simply be a means of encouragement. Startup life is hard, draining, and takes a serious toll. I remember Trevor Stuart say on our final visit to Split that he lost 20 pounds last year as a direct response to the stress of moving his company to the next level. If that does not speak to the intensity of startups, I don’t know what will. Every company has tough times, but hearing about one versus seeing one in action are two completely different things. Because of this trip, my vision of startup life has shifted, and I have found myself more aware, prepared, and determined to work with adaptability at the forefront.

Taken at Airbnb. Incredible offices, great food, high quality security.

Make friends. The recent graduates in San Francisco told us this. In class, the Tech Trek alums emphasized this as well. “The people you are sitting next to are the people who will help you in your future. Get to know them.” Hearing that so bluntly, it finally resonated. The people you meet at BC, and especially the people in this class specifically, who share similar goals and interests, will be the ones to help you down the road. And you them. I took that very seriously. I went into the class not knowing anyone and left with some of my now close friends. This was more than I could have expected. While the company visits and learning experience make this class incredible, the relationships you build along the way are what make it even more unique and more life changing.

Overall, this class and trip was an unbelievable experience. I now know that this is what I want from a career–the good, the bad, the ugly. (I even changed my concentration as a result!) I know it will be hard and especially risky, but I’m absolutely certain that the tech industry is my type of environment. Somewhere I’ll thrive, make a difference, constantly be learning, and pursue something with passion. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have joined this awesome group of people for Tech Trek West 2019. I am proud to now be an alum, and I am excited for the day that I get to host students on this same trip years later.

First time at In-n-Out. So good!!

Now returning to that initial conversation I mentioned above.

“What’s Tech Trek?”

“If I have to sum it up, it’s where I learned the most, laughed the most, and made more memories than any other class I’ve ever taken with a focus on the tech industry. I can’t recommend it any higher if I tried.”

7 thoughts on “Thank You @techtrekwest

  1. The final quote you used to “sum up” tech trek at the bottom really really resinated with me; I couldn’t have said it any better myself. This trip taught us so much in a fun and interactive way that resulted in lots ( and lotssssss) of laughs. I’m so glad I got to spend so much time with you over the trip :))) PS–what’d you change your major to?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice little comment about the high quality security at Airbnb lol. But actually I thought an important note from that is that you need to find a culture and environment that is a good fit for you. I think this goes to your point about the importance of becoming friends with the people you work with. It is important to be with people you enjoy and in an environment you enjoy, because that is how you will become truly passionate about your work. Anyways see you soon!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “If I have to sum it up, it’s where I learned the most, laughed the most, and made more memories than any other class I’ve ever taken with a focus on the tech industry. I can’t recommend it any higher if I tried.”

    Love it. Sounds like “mission accomplished” to me! Hey, do you mind if I use this in my pitch session to classes this week?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mackenzie, it was so true what you noted about pivoting. It goes back to the notion that in the startup culture, planning is the most import thing, but things never end up going to plan. On top of that, it was awesome to see how the Tech Trek experience really made you realize that this tech culture was something that you really could see yourself a part of. Also, your sum of up what Tech Trek is was spot on.

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  5. Really enjoyed the approach you took to this post! So many people ask about what you did over spring break, and I could go on for hours talking about all the experiences I had on our trip, so it can be hard to sum everything up. But you did an incredible job of it! Thanks for the insightful comments. I’m so glad we had such a fun and passionate group of people on the trip.

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  6. Awesome post Mackenzie! I still can’t believe Trevor loss 20 pounds due to stress. That so much weight. It’s almost as if Split had gone through couple cycles of Brava’s experience. You make a really good point on the balance between risk tolerance and preparation. I also couldn’t agree with you more on the disparity between the pleasant office spaces and the scrappy startup environment. It’ll be interesting to see what our class will be inspired to do in the future. Great trip with you!

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  7. Mackenzie send me that photo from In-N-Out! You are so right that summarizing this class is so difficult, so much work but even more fun. I have never learned more in one semester, let alone 6 weeks! Can’t wait to hear how RippleMatch goes this summer!

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