West Trek Recap, by Career Planning’s Todd Herrmann

At Airbnb, visiting alumni Dave Willner ’03, Sarah Hardy ’02 and Lindsay Pettingill ’02

On March 21, 20 Bowdoin students convened in San Francisco to kick off the first West Trek, a career-based inquiry into tech and related industries in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Anchored by businesses where Bowdoin alumni are currently active, West Trek introduced students from varying backgrounds to opportunities to live, work, and thrive in California’s booming tech ecosystem. Read Bowdoin’s story here.

Day One featured visits to San Francisco-based businesses: Airbnb, Pinterest, Google, and Dropbox. The group was hosted at these firms by Bowdoin alumni working in a variety of capacities, including project/product management, software engineering, people operations, marketing, user experience, business operations, sales, and management. Trek participants were encouraged to think broadly about ways to leverage liberal arts backgrounds in different roles within tech companies. Alumni advised students to be open to unfamiliar job titles or new roles, seek opportunities for growth, and develop skills outside of class and work.

That night a senior alumni panel was hosted by Mitch Zuklie ’91 at Orrick, which featured contributions from Zuklie, Dave Brown ’79, who is a Bowdoin trustee and partner at Oak Hill Venture Partners, and Jenna Goldman ’03 of Oracle. Topics included overviews of the tech ecosystem in California, ways to make yourself marketable to tech businesses, and how to making the right choices when starting a career in tech. Students spent a couple hours following the panel networking with presenters and taking in their years of experience.

Day Two brought the Trek to Silicon Valley with visits to Collective Health, Facebook, VMware, and Apple. Trekkers were exposed to the businesses at various stages of growth from early traction to late-stage success. They were able to explore tech companies focused on business-to-business relationships, in addition to firms with global consumer influence. Day Two highlighted the scope and breadth of these business’s involvements with students’ lives and experiences. The group continued to compare the differing cultures, values, workspaces, and benefits of each employer.

Later, West Trek students met up with 30 recent Bowdoin grads for a networking function. The event featured a panel with Bowdoin alumni new to the San Francisco market. Quinn Cohane ’13, Elaine Tsai ’10, Mason Moss ’12, and Eric Edelman ’13 talked about their transition from Bowdoin to San Francisco, their considerations and challenges in moving out West, and how they became involved in the tech industry. During the remainder of the evening, trekkers spoke with alumni and were able to get candid feedback about the realities of living and working in the Bay Area as a recent grad.

On the final morning of the West Trek students visited young alumni they’d connected with the night before at their place of business to gain additional insight. Students were able to visit the companies Isaacson Miller, Alphasights, Twilio, Kamcord, Two Six Capital, Okta, SoFi, Ampush, Cambridge Associates, and Building Robotics.

The students involved in the West Trek were chosen based on a resume submission and letter of interest. This trip was sponsored by Bowdoin alumni and was targeted at students that would not otherwise have the chance to get this close a look at the Bay Area. There were 10 women and 10 men on the trip. Seven were sophomores, eight juniors, and six seniors. Thirteen of the students were on financial aid. For students on financial aid, the entire trip was paid for by the College and alumni sponsors. Those students not on financial aid were asked to pay for their own transportation to California.

West Trek Alumni

Airbnb
Dave Willner ’06
Sarah Hardy ’02
Lindsay Pettingill ’02

Pinterest
Becky Stoneman ’14
Charlotte Willner ’06

Google
Adrian Rodriguez ’14
Leah Hughes ’11

Dropbox
Ian Brandon ’12
Ali Fradin ’13
Sam Patterson ’14

Orrick: Senior Alumni Panel
Jenna Goldman ’03 – Oracle
Mitch Zuklie ’91 – Orrick
Dave Brown ’79 – OHVP

Collective Health
Matt Neidlinger ’06
Sophie Alpert ’13

Facebook
Isabelle Albi ’13
Richardo Hopkins ’13
Liza Boles ’12

VMware
Brandon Sweeney ’89

Apple
Steve Lemay ’95
Phil Schiller P’17

Alumni Networking Event
Adam Mortimer ’12
Alicia Denton ’15
Andrew Won ’12
Christian Ebersol ’11
Chunyi Zhao ’15
Courtney Chuang ’15
David Vasquez ’14
Elaine Tsai ’10
Eric Edelman ’13
Ian Brandon ’12
Josh Kim ’12
Karl Reinhardt ’15
Liz Leon ’12
Mark McGranaghan ’11
Martin Bouroncle ’14
Mason Moss ’12
Matthew Silton ’13
Max Blomgren ’14
Nick Riker ’12
Peter Yaworsky ’14
Quinn Cohane ’13
Rachel Herter ’12
Ruben Martinez Jr. ’15
Sadie Nott ’12
Sonia Manssen ’14
Tom Flanagan ’11
William Wise ’14
Zita DePetris ’13
Becky Stoneman ’13
Connor Smith ’14
Tyler Patton ’12
Dave Raskin ’13
Dan Zeller ’14
Duncan Taylor ’14

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