Carnegie Mellon University

Photo of a man surrounded by a tour group, mid-discussion on steps

February 01, 2018

Students “Trek” to West Coast for Winter Break

Carnegie Mellon University student members of the Business and Technology Club (B&T), Graduate Entrepreneurship Club (GEC) and Students at Tepper for Astronautics, Rockets & Space (STARS) spent the final week before the spring semester began building their professional networks in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Tepper School of Business Media & Entertainment Club (M&E) held their second annual Los Angeles trek the week prior.

“The COC has been partnering with the Business & Technology Club on our tech treks for more than 15 years,” said Stephen Rakas, executive director of the Career Opportunities Center at the Tepper School. “The experience can be career-changing for many of the attendees and it’s a testament to the commitment of the Tepper Alumni Community that many former trek planners are now eagerly acting as our corporate hosts.”

These annual treks are designed to engage current students with corporate visits and ample networking opportunities — both with other students and university alumni at prominent companies. Each club plans and coordinates a trek that is tailored to their particular career interests: B&T toured Silicon Valley tech companies; GEC visited startups and venture capital firms; STARS attended events with firms in the space industry; and M&E ventured on studio tours at prevalent entertainment organizations.

“Our annual treks to Seattle and Silicon Valley are key elements of the career development journey as it relates to our tech-focused MBA students,” said Scott Scheible, associate director of the Career Opportunities Center at the Tepper School. “Students who attend these treks not only acquire important information about working in the tech industry, they also have the opportunity to connect with Tepper School alumni and grow their networks.”

Business and Technology club trek

“This trek is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in pursuing a tech career,” said Shavak Asthana, a second-year MBA student and vice president of the B&T club. “The connections that Tepper and the university have with Silicon Valley are incredible. The alumni out there are truly invested in helping current MBA students to succeed and building pathways for them to do so.”

B&T students maintained a busy schedule throughout the week, with visits to Asana, Autodesk, Cisco, Electronic Arts, Google, GoPro, Intuit, Juniper, Paypal, Salesforce, Uber, Veritas, VMware, Walmart eCommerce and Western Digital.

They had additional opportunities to connect with area alumni at evening events, including a fireside chat at VMware moderated by Dean Robert Dammon and featuring Tepper School alumnae Christine DeFilippo, MSIA ’94, director of map operations at Apple Inc.; Emily Mui, MSIA ’95, senior director of SAP Cloud Product Marketing; and Cindy Padnos, MSIA ’80, founder and managing partner of Illuminate Ventures. The discussion highlighted trends in technology and entrepreneurship, and the panelists shared their experiences as women involved in the tech industry.

Graduate Entrepreneurship Club trek

GEC students, including Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows and Innovation Scholars at the Swartz Center, kept busy as well, with visits to innovative startups such as Anki, and Trance and to startup accelerators like Plug & Play. They also had the opportunity to visit the venture capital firms Accel Partners — started by Tepper School alumnus and prominent donor James Swartz, MSIA ’66 — and Bessemer Venture Partners, the oldest venture capital firm in the U.S.

Swartz Fellow and MBA student Grant Vandenbussche, who is also the president of the GEC, said “This has been a fantastic experience. Face-to-face interaction is so rare at times with some of the newer startups and founders, so to not only have the opportunity to see them in action, but also connect with and learn invaluable information from venture capitalists out in Silicon Valley, is worth so much to aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Students at Tepper for Astronautics, Rockets & Space

New this year, students involved in STARS traveled out to the West Coast for a parallel trek with their classmates. In addition to joining GEC on visits to Bessemer Ventures and Planet — a company producing satellites to capture daily images of the Earth’s surface — STARS students attended events at Made in Space, Masten Space Systems, Relativity Space, Boeing Satellite Systems and Virgin Orbit.

Second-year MBA students Mike Provenzano and Anna Lawrence created STARS last fall to bring together MBA students and other students from across the Carnegie Mellon campus interested in pursuing new opportunities in the space industry. Many of the companies that STARS visited on this trek, as well as one earlier this fall in Seattle, were newly introduced to CMU and the Tepper School as opportunities for recruiting efforts, and Provenzano said that the companies are eager to work with STARS again next year.

Tepper Media & Entertainment club

The Tepper School Media & Entertainment Club held their three-day long second-annual trek in Los Angeles the week prior to the Silicon Valley treks. Tepper School students participated in studio tours and MBA career sessions at Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate Studios. 

The group was also hosted for site visits by Hulu, Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment, and the Tepper School Los Angeles Regional Alumni Group hosted a happy hour in Santa Monica. The whirlwind three-day agenda was a welcome change from the bitter cold on the East Coast.