Master of Business Administration students from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business travelled to California this January through an annual student-funded program, CalTrek, to visit companies and alumni centered in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The two-day trip, organized by Georgetown’s MBA California Business Alliance, an organization of Georgetown MBA students interested in internships and employment in California, started over 15 years ago with the aim of educating students and giving them networking and recruitment opportunities in California. Admission to the trek is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and admitted students must pay for their accommodations and the CBA’s membership fee to attend. This year, 37 CBA members participated in the organization’s immersive trek to California.
This year’s CalTrek trip was planned by CBA’s President Valaree Tang (MBA ’16) and Eric Young, director of entertainment, media, sports, manufacturing, transportation and technology for the MBA Career Center. Together, Tang and Young planned a comprehensive schedule that offered attendees a choice between two companies per time slot, allowing them to tailor the schedule to their own interests.
During visits to the companies, the MBA students had the opportunity to meet with current employees of each company, as well as Georgetown alumni. Each visit lasted roughly an hour and consisted of a presentation on the company, its work culture and recruitment process, and a question-and-answer session or panel discussion. According to the MSB website, attendees visited major companies such as Adobe, Chegg, FreeWheel, Andreessen Horowitz, Google, HP, J.P. Morgan and Kaiser Permanente.
Young said the local Georgetown alumni in California were vital resources for planning the trip, as they helped coordinate each visit and gave attendees a firsthand perspective on how California’s tech-related industries and unique business culture work.
“It is awesome to get people out of the classroom and in front of alumni who truly embody the ‘Hoyas helping Hoyas’ spirit,” Young said. “It is a chance for students to explore classroom theories in corporate boardrooms with industry professionals. It is also valuable for students to hear from alumni who share stories about their careers and inspire the next generation of business leaders.”
Charles Gallo (GRD ’17), an MBA student from South Africa with an interest in financial technology and entrepreneurship, attended this year’s CalTrek to learn more about California business culture and gain an understanding of what working in different business-related industries entails. Gallo said he learned that big, innovative ideas are widely accepted in the California business world.
“One of the key takeaways is that they want to change the world,” Gallo said. “If you are an absolute dreamer that wants to do something radically different, a lot of other places will shoot you down, whereas in California, they love that.”
The CBA CalTrek is just one of the many “Tech Treks” that pass through Silicon Valley, run by MBA programs such as London Business School, Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. MBA students on these treks are constantly evaluated and compared to other MBA students who are competing for the limited, but highly coveted, internships available at these companies.
However, according to Tang, with efforts like CalTrek, an expanding alumni base in the Bay Area and the high quality of the Georgetown MBA program, Hoya success is on the rise.
“When companies hear ‘Georgetown,’ they think, ‘Wow, that is a great school!’ and they get excited to host us,” Tang said. “They have their core California schools that they recruit from, but most companies are very receptive to Hoyas.”
Young said CalTrek should be used to maximize success not just in California, but everywhere.
“As amazing as the Hilltop is, students need to get off campus,” Young said. “They should meet some alumni, employers and businesses in their headquarters. It complements what they learn in the classroom, but students should take any opportunity they can to see what else is out there. It will broaden their network, horizons and ultimately help them find jobs that match who they are.”
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