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Silicon Valley Trek 2019

By Nikki Fillingim, MBA '20

This past semester, eleven fellow MBA students, two staff members, and I explored major companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco during an annual ‘Silicon Valley Trek’. We visited a whopping nine companies in the bay area ranging in business functions from financial services to healthcare to technology. During the jam-packed three-day trip, my classmates and I developed relationships and connections I will value for the rest of my life. While it was tiring at times (since the trek started a day after final exams commenced), we persevered, learned about the way Silicon Valley businesses operate, networked with alumni, and bonded as classmates.

Day 1:
We first arrived at San Jose and got settled into the hotel before jetting off to our first networking event: dinner at Il Fornaio. This dinner gave us a taste of delicious Italian and what we should expect over the next few days. This event also provided us with the opportunity to network with established Silicon Valley managers, directors, and rising stars – all who either serve on the MBA Program’s Silicon Valley Advisory board or were recent alumni of the MBA program. Each attendee lent advice on how to thrive in Silicon Valley and how to differentiate yourself and make connections in such a competitive job market. Each attendee was enthusiastic, engaging, and eager to share their stories.

Day 2:
Throughout our second day, we visited three Fortune 500 companies, eBay, Facebook, and Tesla; and Loop Commerce, a Synchrony subsidiary. At each visit we gained in-depth insights on company culture, how to get your foot in the door, and how these companies continue providing value to their customers. One unique tip offered from Jenny Jeansonne (MBA, 2015), who currently serves as VP of Strategic Partnerships & Corporate Giving at Loop Commerce, is to never be afraid to ask for what you want and to always advocate for yourself and people within your network. After a long and exciting day of company visits, the team headed to NOLA in San Jose to continue networking with alumni, all who were as equally engaging as the company hosts.

Day 3:
Our final day on the Silicon Valley trek consisted of visiting Netflix, AirBnB, and Slack. During the day, the group also split up to visit Genentech, for those interested in healthcare, and Intel Capital, for those interested in financial services roles. The hosts and panels exhibited incredible hospitality and willingness to provide insights into their company’s competitive advantage. Later that evening, we grabbed dinner in San Francisco where we continued networking with our Silicon Valley connections.

This trip was incredibly insightful. I concluded the trip with a newfound appreciation and respect for Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. The area is so heavily concentrated with bright minds working towards a brighter, more innovative future. One can hope every student acquires this sort of exposure during their MBA journey.


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