Our finals ended on December 11th, but we didn’t have the time to celebrate as we were headed toward the West Coast the very next day! Twelve first-year MBA students travelled to San Jose and San Francisco as part of the Silicon Valley Trek organized by the Georgia MBA program. The main goal behind this trek was to enable students to get a feel of the work-life culture on the other side of the country and make those invaluable connections that will only enrich their professional network. We did all of that, and more.
Over the course of two days, we visited 7 companies: PayPal, Tesla, Facebook and A9.com on Day 1 and Salesforce, Jackson Square Ventures, and Thumbtack on Day 2.
We started the day with Paypal. Learning what goes on behind the scenes of one of the largest online payment companies in the world was so fascinating. You could see all the transactions happening on PayPal anywhere in the world in real time on this screen below in the photo.
Next, we went to the Kardashian of the Silicon Valley, Tesla. It’s always in the news these days, isn’t it? Anyway, if I had to summarize the couple of hours we spent at Tesla in a single word, it would have to be “Woahhh.” We had the opportunity to tour the famous Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA. It’s not only one of the largest buildings on the planet, it is also one of the world’s most advanced automotive plants. It uses 10 of the largest robots in the world. There were so many gigantic robots working seamlessly everywhere in the factory, that even if Optimus Prime (for those living under a rock for the past decade, it’s that big red robot in the “Transformers” movie) showed up there, I would’ve been like, ‘sure, of course he works here.’ Since we were prohibited from taking pictures inside the factory, we took one group picture before the tour began.
We then proceeded to a little-known company called Facebook.
The office environment was very relaxed, and it seemed more like a big startup than a corporate space with cubicles, which I loved. We even went past the old office of Mark Zuckerberg, which had all glass walls. No privacy, huh? Interesting. Here we are, at the famous 1 Hacker Way sign outside the HQ.
The last stop for the day was at A9.com. It’s a subsidiary of Amazon and manages its search engine. It was impressive to see the kind of work they are doing in the field of augmented reality. As a tech geek, I thoroughly enjoyed learning every bit about the company. Below, Rory Partalis, BBA ’04, explains how A9 incorporates virtual and augmented reality into its algorithms.
First stop of the second day was Salesforce. After a small tour inside the Salesforce Tower, we were shown just why Salesforce is regarded as one of the best companies to work for in the world. The culture is unique, and the focus is on the well-being of its employees.
Fun fact: Salesforce Tower is the second-tallest building west of the Mississippi River. With a view like this, who wouldn’t want to work here?
Next, we went to Jackson Square Ventures. The Managing Director of this small venture capital firm, Greg Gretsch, BBA 1988, imparted insightful gems of practical knowledge that you won’t find in any textbook on VC.
The last stop of the trek was a startup called Thumbtack. For me, the best was saved for last as this is the kind of place I hope to work. Technology based, fast-paced, innovative and focused on solving problems of daily life.
Between these company visits, we also squeezed in three dinners with our wonderful alumni. These dinners were partially meant to serve as networking events as well, but the friendly nature of our alumni made these interactions much more relaxed and casual. And, I had a ton of fun!
|Georgia MBA students with alumni Michael Myers, MBA 1995, |
Kurt Klein, BS 1986 and Damian Luna, MBA ‘10.
Here’s what some of the other students had to say about the trek:
“The trip was an eye-opening experience for MBA students interested in technology like me. It is amazing to observe the way PayPal processes and protects billions of transactions around the globe or the strong robot arms grabbing Model 3 cars at the highly automated Tesla factory. I also enjoyed the dinners with our dedicated alumni who helped us learn more about the culture on the West Coast.”
-Eric Nguyen, MBA ‘20
“It was a great opportunity to learn a lot, meet new people and have some great fun!”
-Ayushi Tewari, MBA ‘20
“I never thought I would have such a great chance to visit all of those tech giants in Silicon Valley. I was also amazed to meet wonderful alumni like Bert Niemi, Greg Gretsch, Rory Partalis, etc. Such a great trip!”
-Hung Quach, MBA ‘20
“It was a great learning experience to understand the valley way of life and work. Met some great experts in their fields. This trip instilled in me a confidence on what we can achieve through hard work. The exposure that we got through this trip was invaluable.”
-Ratna Govin, MBA ‘20
Looking back at the conversations I had and the connections I made, I would say this was a truly worthwhile trip and the perfect way to end my first semester.
-Shubham Garg, MBA ‘20