Fall break is typically a time for students to unwind and relax after a whirlwind semester. For ten Case Western Reserve students, however, this break was an opportunity for networking and building connections on the west coast.
Undergraduates from Case School of Engineering and Weatherhead School of Management participated in the first annual Innovation Trek in San Francisco. The expedition, underwritten and hosted by CWRU alumni, aims to educate students on career opportunities and facilitate alumni-student engagement in the area.
Selected through a competitive application process, students from a spectrum of educational and professional experiences traveled for the two-day trip which included visits to powerhouse companies like Apartment List, Slack, LinkedIn, eBay, Facebook, Mayfield Fund, Kiwi Co. and Plug and Play.
The first stop on the trek was Apartment List where host, co-founder and CEO of the company John Kobs, BS ‘03, shared his journey from CWRU undergraduate to CEO of a tech company.
“If we’re not failing, we’re not taking a big enough risk,” Kobs said, outlining some of the challenges he faced which ultimately provided the experience he needed to successfully launch Apartment List.
At Slack’s headquarters, students heard from alumna Magda Marcel, BS ’10, who led a session that included dialogue on how organizations manage growth and maintain a culture through a transition from tech startup to publicly listed company. Rachel Stone, BS ’15, MA ’15 from Salesforce joined the discussion at Slack to outline how she made her way from New York to San Francisco after graduation.
“My biggest takeaway from our visit at slack were when Magda and Rachel shared their career stories,” said Nsisong Udosen, who double majors in Human-Computer interaction and Business Management with entrepreneurship and innovation concentrations. “I learned about embracing ambiguity and fostering an environment for successful innovation.”
Stops at other organizations gave the students insight into professional opportunities at venture capital firms, venture capital-backed startups and very early stage organizations.
Parv Sud, a senior chemical engineering major minoring in business management, called the trek a remarkable experience that opened his eyes to new career paths.
“Meeting with alumni that run successful ventures in the area was a rewarding experience,” Sud said. “Interacting with them in a smaller groups and having them answer our questions allowed for a unique perspective to help visualize future career opportunities.”
Michael Goldberg, associate professor of design and innovation at Weatherhead School of Management who accompanied the students on the trek says these interactions can have personal impact.
“At the end of the day, we expect that many of these students will parlay these newly created networks into internships and job offers,” Goldberg said. “My hope is that for those interested in professional opportunities in the Bay Area, this exposure will be a catalyst to pursue the career they desire and came to CWRU to prepare for.”
Many thanks to Weatherhead and CSE alumni John Kobs, BS ‘03; Magda Marcel, BS ‘10; Rachel Stone, BS ‘15, MA ‘15; Rishi Mahalaha, BS ‘00; Ron Guha, BS ‘14; Tejas Maniar, MBA ‘09; Sandra Oh, BS ‘97; and Marc Bouchet, BS ‘18 for opening their doors to CWRU students.
Thank you to Joe Mandato, university trustee and DM ‘04, Anand Swaminathan, university trustee and BS ‘97 and MBA ‘99, and Laura Swaminathan, BS ‘99 for their generous support of the Innovation Trek and student travel.
To learn more about future Innovation Treks, contact Michael Goldberg.