MBA Students Take Virtual Career Treks Across the Country
Each year, Tepper School of Business MBA student clubs host treks to cities across the U.S. during their academic breaks in the fall and winter, bringing Carnegie Mellon students to network with companies and alumni in major cities.
In light of the current pandemic, there was uncertainty about how the treks would look this year. The Masters Career Center (MCC) team quickly pivoted their planning efforts to ensure that students would have the opportunity to participate in treks virtually.
“These annual treks can truly be career-changing for our students,” said Stephen Rakas, Executive Director of the Masters Career Center at the Tepper School.
“I’m very proud of the hard work and nimble thinking of the MCC team. They quickly worked to create solutions where others would see roadblocks. By moving to a virtual setup, students still had the opportunity to learn about industries of interest and to build strong, lasting connections within the Tepper alumni community.”
Students visit both existing partner companies who may already recruit at the Tepper School for MBA interns and graduates, as well as cutting-edge companies that are of high interest to current MBA students during the treks.
While students missed some aspects of the traditional treks, such as traveling and office visits, many were pleased with the streamlined, flexible approach of the virtual treks, the ability to visit companies around the country in the same day, and for the first time, a large portion of Tepper School Part-Time MBA students were also able to participate.
Business and Technology Club Trek
Pre-COVID-19, the Business and Technology (B&T) Club hosted a trek to Silicon Valley in the fall and another during winter break to Seattle, Washington, in addition to smaller treks throughout the academic year. This fall, the B&T Club organized 10 visits to various technology companies, including Adobe, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA, PayPal, T-Mobile, Uber, and Western Digital.
For first-year MBA student Alejandra Rovirosa, the virtual format did not hinder the experience.
“All of my recruiting experiences have been virtual thus far. Compared to virtual conferences I have participated in, the trek provided a more intimate experience to ask insightful questions while also getting to connect with alumni at the company. It was better than the conference experiences. I was able to get more attention and get genuine responses,” she said.
The trek visits included numerous Tepper School alumni who hosted break-out sessions targeted to specific functions for students to learn and network. “The trek demonstrated the strength of the Tepper network,” said first-year MBA student Peter Park. “Our alumni work in a variety of roles and companies and the trek was able to showcase that diversity."
Tepper Healthcare Club and Operations & General Management Club Treks
The Tepper Healthcare Club and the Operations & General Management Club held a daylong line up of concurrent virtual visits with companies spanning healthcare, technology, and manufacturing, including Apple, Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cigna, Highmark Health, and ThermoFisher Scientific.
“As an MBA candidate pursuing a career in health care, I thought it was great to have representation from Apple and their work in health tech,” said Kara Buggy, second-year MBA student, Healthcare Club’s Vice-President, and career trek leader. “I really enjoy the intersection of business, healthcare, and technology, so this event was of particular interest to me.”
“The pro of being virtual is that we were able to get alumni and speakers from around the country. It would not normally be possible to connect with them if the event had been in person,” said Michael Kong, a second-year MBA student.
Graduate Finance Association Trek
Noreen Fischer, a second-year MBA student and Graduate Finance Association board member, remarked that the virtual trek made it easier to interact with companies outside of the typical trek locations.
“This year the virtual corporate finance trek was 100% online, but because it was online, we were no longer limited to only attending companies that were located in New York City. We had the opportunity to hear from seven alumni from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and one alumni representative from ABInBev, IBM, American Express, and AT&T," said Fischer.
“As a first-year MBA student, I did not get the opportunity to attend last year’s in-person trek and while of course I was disappointed that we were not in New York City – a trip back home for me – I feel that there are strong advantages to the virtual format,” said John Crelli, a first-year MBA student.
“As students and alumni are not restricted by travel, the virtual format opens up more opportunities for conversations that may have been limited before, attracts more students to the trek by removing a potential hurdle, and provides additional flexibility. I expect future treks will continue to have a virtual element for those reasons.”
For first-year MBA student Brian Farrell, the virtual trek was extremely beneficial. “The trek helps MBA students understand the vast array of career opportunities available in the world of finance. It is one thing to read a job posting online, but it’s a completely different experience to have alumni present their own personal experience in a particular intern program or role,” he said.
“These types of presentations whether in person or virtual provide an MBA student with a springboard and important information to initiate follow-up conversations with the alumni, who are willing to share more about their experience on a one-on-one basis.”
Fischer noted another silver lining to the virtual trek experience: “Plus students were able to save some money by not having the pay for travel and housing. Not a bad way to learn during the unprecedented times of 2020 and 2021!”