Foster Students in Silicon Valley – The 2015 Bay Area Tech Trek

Today we have a guest article from Peter Kazarian, Class of 2016! You may remember Peter from his story about his amazing experience at the MBA Study Tour to Japan last spring. In October, Peter organized and led the annual Foster Technology Club’s Bay Area Tech Trek, a student-run event that takes Foster MBA students on a tour of Silicon Valley tech companies. Read on for Peter’s recap of the event!

2015 tech trek twitter

San Francisco. The Bay Area. This little patch of land in Northern California that gave us great bands (Journey, Smash Mouth) massive burritos (copied decades later by Chipotle) and the tech industry as we know it.

High tech is responsible for 11.4% of US private sector payroll, and grows every year, just like Foster’s B-school ranking. Our largest student club, Foster Tech, organizes an annual trek down to the Bay Area to meet with some of the biggest brands you use every day. We see geeky product demos, we chat with recruiters, and we hear from local Foster alums – on what the MBA experience looks like at a tech firm.

As a Silicon Valley native and a VP of Foster Tech, I was part of the team in charge of the Tech Trek this year. We wanted to give our member students, especially first-years, the best experience they could have. Business students can really benefit from a thorough understanding of the industry, especially as we approach hiring season for full-time and internships.

So 50 of us bought tickets, rented cars and hotel rooms near SFO, and spent 3 days driving to 18 different companies like Google, Box, Zynga and others. Foster took the Bay Area by storm with one of our largest and longest Tech Treks on record. This was the first year we went to three days of content, but with local connections and plenty of help from our Career Management Office, we felt good about our chances.

And we wanted to build the Foster brand in the Bay. We’ve been climbing the rankings in US News and World Report, Businessweek and others, but we’re located a bit up the street from San Francisco. Exposure in front of firms hiring from our peer schools was a key goal. And with this year’s additions of big players like Facebook, Twitter, and WalMart’s ecommerce arm, we can say mission accomplished.

2015 tech trek - facebook

Three experiences stood out to me, as an attendee:

  • We were lucky enough to tour Facebook’s campus and hear first-hand from the team that originally launched ads on their social network Instagram. You know, the one social network people still love to use? I really appreciated the data-driven and community management approach they took to monetizing 400 million monthly users. This was one of my favorite stops.
  • Business to business firms were also high on our list – we were able to visit Salesforce & SAP, two titans in the storage/CRM space. We were able to visit them in the same day, actually. And it was really, really interesting, hearing each firm talk about its competitor, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the competitor business model. It was like seeing a business case study argued in real life. “These cloud guys, they mainly target the sales people and ignore IT people – which is good here but bad here.”
  • Then there were some great product demos. We stopped into Dolby’s San Francisco office and watched the Star Wars VII trailer in a specially designed sound lab. We visited NVIDIA and saw some live-rendered physics scenarios at 4K resolution with graphics horsepower like I’d never seen. And my dad works at NVIDIA. We heard about the business applications of things like graphics cards in mobile, feature films, and even automotive displays.

2015 tech trek dolby

It was a great trip. On top of the business side we had daily alumni happy hours where we were able to bond and network with area graduates. Multiple cars were able to make a pit stop for In-N-Out Burger (try it if you haven’t) and I was able to take classmates to my favorite Indian food truck from my time in SF (Curry Up Now). A great experience to be sure. With dozens of Foster grads scheduled to head to the Bay Area in 2016 and beyond, it looks like this tradition’s only going to pick up steam.

About the Author

peter kazarian Prior to Foster, Peter Kazarian was a lifelong Californian and veteran of the LA/SF digital/ad agency scene. As a digital strategist, he focused on web strategy, e-commerce and database-driven marketing for major nonprofits like the American Red Cross and the City of Hope cancer treatment center. 

After winning a few industry-specific awards, he came to Foster to move fully into consumer marketing on behalf of for-profits. He really enjoys his UW education and bonding with classmates and alums, and he had a great time working at Starbucks HQ doing Brand and Channel marketing this past summer. When not networking or studying, he spends his time cooking, hiking, and going deep in the blogosphere. And trying to adjust to the PNW’s weather and lack of Mexican food.