For the past four years, students interested in technology careers have signed up for Bowdoin Career Planning’s annual Tech Trek to Boston to visit prominent companies and chat with some of the Bowdoin alumni who work for them or, in some cases, who founded the firms.
This year, for the first time, Career Planning organized a visit to San Francisco and Silicon Valley for three days over spring break. From March 21 to March 24, students visited some of the best-known tech companies in the world, including Airbnb, Pinterest, Google, Dropbox, Facebook, and Apple. They also visited companies that may not be household names but are either influential or on the rise, businesses such as VMware and Collective Health.At every stop, students met with alumni. Aileen Tschiderer ’12, assistant director of Career Planning, helped organize the trip and traveled with the group. She said alumni were generous about dispensing useful advice to the students. She added, “It was fascinating to see different workspaces and learn about what Bowdoin alums do.”
Associate Director of Career Planning Todd Herrmann ’85, who led the trip, said the alumni also helped convince some of the more uncertain students that a liberal arts education was an asset in their world. “[The students] saw that at some of the most successful companies in the world, people with the same education as they have could be successful,” he observed.
In total, 55 alumni were involved with the trip, either arranging visits to their company or meeting with students. On the final evening, Herrmann and Tschiderer organized a panel with young alumni who had moved to San Francisco early in their careers. Students had the option the next morning to make personal visits to the offices of alumni they had connected with the previous evening.
Busra Eriz ’17 was one of the students on the trek. She said she made some genuine connections with alumni, and had her myths about San Francisco dispelled. “This was my first time in the city, and I usually hear about how hard it is to sustain a life there,” she said. “However, after seeing it for myself, I know that there are ample opportunities for Bowdoin students from both tech and non-tech backgrounds.”
Eriz said she plans to seek job opportunities in the city after college. “My favorite part was talking to alumni from different class years who feel a strong gratitude towards the role Bowdoin played in their lives, and their optimism for the future of Bowdoin-educated people,” she added.
Students were selected from a pool of student applicants based on their interest in technology and whether they would have an easy time making the trip on their own, “to do the discovery work or networking.” The trip was funded by alumni donors and the President’s Office.