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Members of the Olin Technology Club, along with the Weston Career Center, organized a two-day career trek to Silicon Valley in October 2019.

A chorus of first-year MBA students contributed to this post for the Olin Blog, sharing their experiences on a career “tech trek” to firms on the west coast.

In October 2019, the first-year MBA students of Olin embarked on a journey to Silicon Valley to witness firsthand the energy and enthusiasm that moves the technologies building the world around us.

We visited industry leaders from different backgrounds: digital manufacturers such as Cisco, payment gateways such as Visa and Square, user-obsessed Google, transportation maverick Uber, fashion leader Gap Inc. and the biggest hosting service provider, Amazon AWS.

Day 1

We started our day in the sunny California from San Jose, making our way to Mountain View before finally reaching the scenic San Mateo.

Cisco, written by Shreyas Jajoo

Give your ego a day off. This was the single most important core value of Cisco that rang multiple bells in the ears of my trek mates. This is among a unique set of ideals followed by Cisco that helps it to maintain among the lowest attrition rates in Silicon Valley.

The intent to give back to society and the monetary sum allocated to every employee to utilize in whatever form of charity they wished was a unique trait that spoke volumes to me. Cisco firmly believes and acts on creating a better, more connected and inclusive world for humankind.

We had a conversation with Rick Butler, BSEE ’80, PMBA ’86, hosting us at the company. That talk revealed to us how we could further Cisco’s goals in roles created for MBA graduates.

Students gathered at Cisco’s headquarters during the 2019 career tech trek.

Google, written by Gina Wang

At Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, we were hosted by Neil Hoyne, the global head of customer analytics at Google, and Flora Wang, MACC ’12, who is working as the financial analyst in Google.

We were hosted for lunch at Google’s cafeteria, after which the group moved for the Q&A session with Neil, Flora and Micheal Nordlund, MSF ’10. It was great to learn about the collaborative culture within Google, where almost everyone is approachable despite their functions and roles.

During our interaction, we found out that Google has invested heavily in diversifying their revenue streams and creating a huge portfolio for meeting the personal and professional needs of today’s users.

Visa, written by Timothy Brandt

On our visit to Visa, we were exposed to a breathtaking view of the bay. Similarly, Visa’s stock price growth of more than 45% since 2018 has simply been breathtaking.

Visa is a leader when it comes to innovations through the Internet of Things wave and acquisitions of companies. While cash is considered Visa’s biggest competitor, they are making sure to differentiate from Mastercard through value add in offering fraud services to merchants.

We found more about Visa’s mission to empower individuals and businesses, and facilitate economies to thrive and the upcoming platforms to support merchants and markets in the unbanked populations of the world.

For MBAs, Visa highlights its rotational development program, which focuses on roles within the finance department as well as opportunities within the Visa consulting team.

Speed networking round with Olin alums

We ended our first day on the tech trek by interacting with Olin alums from different walks of their careers. The food was delicious and speed networking format helped every member get face time with the alums and to have their queries answered. The networking helped the trek members create professional relationships and bond over food and common interests.

Day 2

We spent the first day in the Bay Area and on the second day of our trek, we literally trekked the San Francisco downtown area.

Square, written by Karen Chen

During our visit to Square, we talked a lot about the capital services branch, which helps sellers gain access to business loans through partnerships with industrial banks, and how it is connected with real-time payment and point-of-sale data.

The presenter, an alum of WashU Olin, also talked about their considerations in determining the length and annual percentage rate in this business. They wanted to share their vision for Square and the role Square has played in empowering small business owners to scale up and improve their offerings.

Square’s Anil Bridgpal and Thorsten Jaeckel, MSF ’11, spoke to us about their passions and how they had been inspired to work and commit to Square. 

At Uber headquarters for career tech trek 2019.

Uber, written by Rohit Pandit

At Uber, we were hosted by Logan Lacy, who walked us through the MBA internship hiring program and the qualities and skill sets Uber looks for in an ideal candidate. Later, we had an opportunity to listen to an entrepreneur turned senior product manager, AJ Balance, whose firm was acquired by Uber few years ago.

We had a great discussion on the various strategic and management issues that Uber is trying to solve across the globe. The broad points of discussions ranged from how Uber maintains brand loyalty for drivers and riders to which strategies Uber adopts in tough markets such as China and South Korea.

When it came to acquiring roles at Uber, we were strongly urged to display core competencies—especially analytical and learning abilities—which are the guiding principles for anyone aspiring to succeed at Uber.

Amazon AWS, written by Shantanu Pande

Next we visited Amazon AWS offices, where we were hosted by Alex Rosenberg, BSBA ’10. He spoke to us about the growth mindset, which has been a crucial factor in Amazon’s incredible rise as one the biggest brands in the world.

He even touched upon the entrepreneurial mindset, which makes it possible for Amazon to innovate continuously and create new products for the end users.

We ended the session by taking part in a mock BPT discussion to see live how Amazon employees brainstorm solutions in their day to day lives.

GAP Inc., written by Shreeyeh Rajan

Our last company visit was to Gap Inc., located along the Embarcadero with an unforgettable view of the Bay Bridge. Scott Moore, EMBA ’08, and senior manager for university recruiting, hosted us with a tour of all of Gap’s five floors, from the sewing machines to the operating offices.

Scott mentioned that Gap has been more sustainable than other clothing brands because of its usage of cotton, a renewable source. GAP stands out from other companies as it stands for gender equity in terms of its pay, with auditors verifying that its male and female employees with equivalent experience earned the same salary.

It is strongly rooted from the beginnings of Gap with its founders—husband and wife Donald and Doris Fisher—having an equal 50% in GAP.

The whole two-day visit was an eye-opener for most of our international students. Witnessing firsthand the energy that moves the biggest tech companies in the world has motivated them further to look for opportunities with these companies.

The whole experience would not have been possible without the efforts of the Weston Career Center and Olin Technology Club leadership team. Special note of thanks to Gregory Hutchings, Satish Pawar, Braden Zoet and Shreeyeh Rajan for the efforts put in to make this a successful venture.

Lastly, we would like to thank all of the alums who took time out from their hectic schedules to interact with us and guide us.

Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Felicia Kola-Amodu who worked at T-Mobile as a retail organizational and human strategy intern.

How I prepared for my interview and landed the internship

A few months before school started, I knew a few of the companies I wanted to apply to and T-Mobile, where I ended up interning, was one of them. Therefore, I started researching early. I researched the company, I looked at hundreds of interview questions on Glassdoor, spoke with a highly-qualified friend at length and did mock interviews with him as well.

How I’m using what I’ve learned at Olin during my internship

One of the most profound things I have re-learned at Olin is the power of being myself and building genuine relationships. These were things I knew before Olin, but being in such a business environment and among very knowledgeable people can be daunting.

But by the end of my first year at Olin, I had learned how to be more comfortable in my own skin, be very affirmative while open-minded and to think bigger than what I can see or feel at that moment. I also learned a few “power plays” in Peter Boumgarden’s Power & Politics, that were very useful during my interactions with different people in different positions.

I did not think I learned a lot in Critical Communication, but there were a few things that helped me formulate my ideas and thought patterns better, that I know I learned during Cathy Dunkin’s CritiComm.

How the internship is preparing me for my final year at business school

In the last year, I have mostly worked with students, done school work, and have generally been away from a professional environment. This summer, working on real time, real life projects opened my mind a lot more before. I have learned to be more open minded.

Something I did not think I would learn is building better slide decks and it is safe to say I am now a “slide deck buff.” I am learning to see setbacks as learning curves, not just complete failures that usually wear me down. Lastly, I am understanding the meaning and art of connecting and networking with people.

A day in the life

Interestingly, my days varied a lot. I would either walk in and just get down to a new project or something I had been previously working on. Other days, I walked in with zero clarity or expectations of what I would be working on that day, while on some days I walked in and it was one call or meeting to another and me trying to stay awake all through.

How the internship is shaping my long-term career goals

Something I have been thinking about for a while is how to connect my communications and journalism background and degrees with my MBA, I realize now through a chat with T-Mobile’s EVP for communications and community engagement, that it is more than possible.

Also, a look into the different teams, work streams and people here have expanded my mind to see beyond the traditional MBA career paths. Lastly, “doing good by doing well” is a phrase I latched on to, listening to Ambassador Symington last semester, during his visit to Olin.

I have seen people live this everyday at T-Mobile and it has greatly reshaped the way I think about my long-term goals.

Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Rebecca Matey who worked as a JD/MBA intern for Baker McKenzie Law Firm.

My internship was nothing short of amazing. As a JD/MBA, I was able to merge my business and legal interests working in the Chicago office of Baker & McKenzie, an international law firm. I primarily worked in the banking and finance practice group on projects and deals regarding private equity fund formation, mergers and acquisitions, refinancing, private placements and much more.

This summer confirmed my passion for banking and finance, and I will continue to pursue taking such classes during my final year at Olin.

To secure the internship, I knew I had to align my interests with the firm’s. I quickly learned Baker McKenzie was primarily a transactional firm that focused on helping its clients pursue global legal and business endeavors.  I also researched my interviewers and tried to find noteworthy aspects of their lives and work that intertwined with my passion and goals.

Lastly, I made sure to introduce myself to the head of the summer program and show off my personality. Although she wasn’t an attorney, I knew interns spent the most time with her and knew she had the ear of the hiring committee.

Prepped well with Olin coursework

As a result, showcasing my global identity, interest in international transactional work, and ability to understand legal and business issues helped me secure my dream internship.

Courses such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Power & Politics, and the numerous finance classes I took positioned me to understand concepts and issues in great detail. I could ask questions about the makeup of particular private equity funds and follow the numbers our business partners drafted for acquisitions.

Also, navigating the politics of which attorney to work for or go to lunch with was equally vital in extracting the most value from my experience.

I made sure to meet attorneys and partners who worked on projects that intrigued me and expressed interest in working with them even if it meant listening in on calls. Being proactive not only introduced me to substantive legal work, but also enabled me to get to know partners on a personal level.

Working at Baker & McKenzie exposed me to how corporations operate in a multitude of jurisdictions such as Thailand, Nigeria, Honduras and more. I have a greater understanding of how the business and legal worlds intersect, especially from an international perspective.

Baker McKenzie is the perfect firm to pursue my global development goals because of the immense exposure to industry leaders across the world. With more experience, I hope to position myself gain the necessary expertise to pursue larger projects within Africa.

With an established African practice, Baker McKenzie is poised to support me in these endeavors. I am ecstatic that my dream internship ended with an offer to pursue my dream job.

Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Shaun Vaid, who interned with Google.

How I prepared for my interview/landed the internship

I can’t opine on how I landed the internship. To be honest, I still have a hard time believing I got the offer! Google is interesting in its recruitment process insofar as they don’t really weigh networking into their decision about whether to hire a candidate. In fact, I spoke with exactly zero Googlers before submitting my application.

I will say, however, that I made sure I would not be caught off-guard by any questions that came my way—market sizing, P&L analysis, technical skills, etc. Here’s how I prepared for the interview:

  1. Read Case in Point.
  2. Interviewed for an internal consulting role with a large pharmaceutical company and bombed it.
  3. Read Case Interview Secrets.
  4. Practiced case interviewing with a highly qualified friend.

The combination of familiarizing myself with the case interview format, failing a live interview and then readjusting my approach with a different set of tools allowed me to perform well enough to receive an internship offer from Google.

How I’m using what I learned at Olin during my internship

I learned about influencing tactics in Politics and Power in Organizations and feel like I use those fairly regularly in my internship. I hold very little position power, but I need people across the organization to assist me with various aspects of my project. Figuring out how to exert influence has been critical to my success in the role thus far.

How the internship is preparing me for my final year in business school

  1. Being hypothesis-driven keeps you focused and allows others to follow your work.
  2. Leveraging deep technical expertise to craft data-driven narratives prevails over anecdotal story-telling. If you don’t have deep technical expertise, then find a way to add it to your skill set. Once you have that expertise, get used to telling the story behind your data—it takes practice!
  3. Schedule all meetings for 30 minutes and respect start/stop times.
  4. Always set aside 30 minutes for somebody who wants to talk to you. Some of the people I’ve had the opportunity to speak with have created products that one-third of the world uses, yet they took my call and didn’t check their phone for incoming messages.
  5. Respond to emails and texts within two hours. Show respect to the people who need answers from you. Still working on this one, but it’s a goal of mine!

A day in the life

On many days, my team works at locations other than our home office, which requires commutes on the gBus. The kind of day I outline below is typical of a day where we are in our home office.

6:00 a.m.: Wake up and check in with my partner as she drives to work.

6:15 a.m.: Check Instagram (who doesn’t?).

6:30 a.m.: Sometimes play NPR’s morning update, mostly play NBA-related podcasts on my phone while I get ready for work.

7:00 a.m.: Out of the door for my walk to the office.

7:45 a.m.: Workout at on-site gym.

8:45 a.m.: Eat breakfast at the cafeteria and grab a coffee on my way to my desk.

9:00 a.m.: Meet with one of my hosts to discuss project updates and hurdles.

9:30 a.m.: Gather, synthesize and analyze data for project.

11:00 a.m.: Daily string cheese and second coffee break.

11:15 a.m.: Reconnect with one of my hosts to ask clarifying questions, get feedback.

12:00 p.m.: Lunch at one of Google’s cafeterias with my team or another MBA intern.

1:00 p.m.: Coffee and email catch up.

2:00 p.m.: Google Video Chat (GVC) with full-time Googler outside of my internship team to learn more about opportunities at organization.

2:30 p.m.: Take a walk to the Ferry Building and get some fresh air.

2:45 p.m.: Craft narratives around data I’ve collected and incorporate qualitative feedback from second- and third-party stakeholders.

5:00 p.m.: Out the door for my walk home.

6:00 p.m.: Check in with my partner post-STL dinner time and say hi to my puppy who has probably forgotten me after nine weeks of being away from me.

7:00 p.m.: Eat a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s.

7:30 p.m.: Personal life admin time—tweak resume, complete lessons on DataCamp, call family, network with non-Google contacts, eat ice cream.

9:00 p.m.: Watch something on Netflix.

9:45 p.m.: Tell myself I’ll just watch one more episode.

11:45 p.m.: Go to sleep.

How the internship shaped my long-term career goals

The Google brand expands my career opportunities in ways I could not have imagined 12 months ago. Whether I return to Google, join a different firm in a different industry, or choose to pursue my own entrepreneurial idea, I am in a position to say that I’ve seen how one of the world’s most innovative companies solves problems and treats its people. I couldn’t have selected a better place to spend my summer from the perspective of living up to my own career aspirations.

Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Nathan Boerneke, who worked as a business management intern for the National Park Service.

I had an opportunity this summer to spend my time assisting and learning within an organization I have always been passionate about: the National Park Service.

The business plan internship is a consulting internship focused on solving complex problems while navigating the nuances of a mission-driven service. I was teamed with a fellow intern to create a strategic plan for Buffalo National River in Northern Arkansas.

I prepared for the interview through case prep practice and speaking with former interns from various MBA programs. Most importantly, I clearly understood how I aligned with the mission of the park service, which allowed me to communicate my passion for the role.

Olin prepared me with the skills to provide immediate value to the park. I continually fell back on my education to address challenges in a formulaic manner. Additionally, my project with the Center for Experiential Learning was a fantastic precursor to assist in managing executive communication.

The internship was a great opportunity to apply the skills I am learning in the classroom and from my peers. It renewed my excitement to take advantage of every opportunity available at Olin as I enter my final year. 

A day in the life

I started every day by waking up in a national park. My co-consultant and I drove the 5 miles of dirt road out of the park and commuted to headquarters located in the big city of Harrison (population 13,000). The morning typically consisted of data analysis regarding visitor information, financials, and various other park specific data pools.

The afternoon entailed driving around the park to interview staff and see how areas of the 135-mile-long river way are utilized. After leaving the office, I typically spent my time further appreciating the Buffalo River by either canoeing, fishing or hiking around the park into the late evening.

The National Park Service internship left me with two primary takeaways.

First, understanding the mission of an organization is critical to provide value and ensure professional growth.

Second, the knowledge and skills taught at Olin are translatable to nearly any opportunity.