From one tech hub to another: The annual Bay Area MBA Tech Trek

The San Francisco Bay Area has a well-established reputation for tech innovation, however, it is not uncommon today to speak of Seattle in the same breath as the Bay Area when it comes to tech. In addition to being the home of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle too churns out multi-million-dollar startups and has a booming ecosystem for both established and new companies alike. The Tech Club at the Foster School of Business, along with MBA Career management, has built and strengthened the bond between Seattle and the Bay Area.

As tech boomed and Foster alumni landed in the Bay over the past two decades, the Foster School started a yearly tradition of organizing a Tech Trek to the Bay Area. The Foster tech club has assisted in putting together and managing the trek to connect current Foster students with the growing base of alumni in the Bay Area.

The annual Bay Area MBA tech trek 2019-20

The Bay Area tech trek for the year 2019-20 was held in November 2019. Organized by Tech Club board members (including this author), it has continued to improve over time based on changing needs and student leadership. It was attended by 30 Full-time MBA Students with a balanced representation from both the class of 2020 and 2021. This ensured diversity in the discussions and established a stronger bond between the students.

The visit was laid out over two days with a complete schedule that included visiting 6 Bay Area giants and an alumni mixer. The Foster MBA Career Management Center was an active partner in seeking out the alumni and in programming the trek for the participants to derive the maximum benefit.

Visiting tech titans

The visit started early on a Monday at Walmart Labs in Sunnyvale, CA. Foster alumni and the Walmart Talent Management team welcomed the group. After a quick meet and greet, students learned about various initiatives by Walmart and how it continues to innovate at the intersection of retail and technology. A Q&A session with insightful questions from the participants closed out the visit.

Foster MBAs at Walmart Labs

Foster MBAs at Walmart Labs, Sunnyvale, CA

The next stop for the day was at the HQ of NetApp, a global leader in Hybrid Cloud Services, which was in the neighborhood. After an initial visit to the Executive Briefing Center, participants had the opportunity to meet Foster Alumni in an engaging panel discussion about the future of hybrid cloud computing and each of their journeys. NetApp Talent Acquisition representatives also spoke to best practices that candidates could leverage while seeking a career at NetApp.

Foster MBAs at the NetApp HQ

Foster MBAs at the NetApp HQ

The third and final visit for Day 1 was with Google at their Sunnyvale offices. Foster Alumni organized a group discussion with senior leaders at Google. Exciting deep-dive discussions helped the participants gain better insights about the tech giant. The visit ended with the participants stepping out to the Google offices across the street to play arcade games with the alumni.

The evening rounded out with an Alumni mixer where the participants met alumni from across more than ten graduating classes.

The subsequent day was centered around the bustling Market Street in downtown San Francisco. It started with an exclusive tour of the famed Autodesk Gallery. The next few hours were spent in the company of first, the recruiting team, and then with Foster Alumni and their colleagues from different functions at Autodesk. In a speed-networking event, participants had quick, energetic, and exciting discussions on a myriad of topics ranging from pricing decisions to marketing in a B2B2C environment.

Tech Trek participants splitting up in groups with Autodesk leaders

Tech Trek participants splitting up in groups with Autodesk leaders

The next stop was to the famed Salesforce tower up the street. Participants met up and interacted with Foster Alumni in a panel discussion. A quick tour around the tower concluded the visit.

Clicking a pose with Salesforce's Einstein!

Clicking a pose with Salesforce’s Einstein at Salesforce Tower!

The final stop of the trek was at Uber’s HQ. Foster Alumni, their colleagues, and the recruitment team welcomed the participants. Fast-paced and interactive sessions in a Q&A format helped participants get to know more about how Uber helps the world move.

Being stationary just for a moment at the company which helps the world move

Being stationary just for a moment at the company, which helps the world move!

Leveraging a robust alumni network in the Bay

Throughout the event, Foster MBA Alumni were a constant support in building out the trek, helping with the logistics, and answering queries. They even went the extra mile to seek out leaders, teammates, supervisors, and recruiters for the participants to interact and connect with. From panel discussions to group discussions, participants spent a lot of time in the company of the Alumni. The Alumni, having participated in treks when they were at school, spoke to their journeys and also gave guidance on hacking a career path in the Bay Area.

These Alumni are a constant strength and support for the incoming classes and continue to pay it forward, staying true to the Foster School’s core values.

A growing presence of Foster in the Bay

Over the past few years, as the role of Seattle in the tech world increases, so has the attention of Bay Area companies towards Foster. The number of Foster MBAs interning and working in the Bay Area has grown substantially and continues to grow. With Seattle’s tech and startup ecosystem enabling Foster MBAs to learn through experiential opportunities, it is no secret that Foster students get the best in and out of the classroom experience when it comes to business in tech. These learnings have enabled Foster MBAs to build a solid background in tech while at school, which is invaluable for those who are pivoting into the industry from other backgrounds.

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Note to companies: Foster MBA Career Management is ready to partner with you on your organization’s talent needs. Whether you are seeking to fill an immediate hire role, recruiting interns, or would like to bring on a few MBAs to work on a project that tackles a sticky business problem, please reach out to us at [email protected]. Visit us here to learn about different opportunities to connect with Foster MBAs and see our latest employment stats.

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