TechNext 2018 San Francisco trip

Maggie Blaukamp

Going to San Francisco to learn in this experiential style was mind opening. This style of learning is so beneficial because you are immersed in what you are learning. In the same way that the best way to learn how to ride a bike is by getting on one and doing it, the best way to learn about something is first hand. In the case of this trip we learned about entrepreneurship, startups, business, and technology by going to its center of innovation. This class allowed us to see the cutting edge technology we learn about in class first hand and in use. An additional advantage is we get to learn how it is currently developing, something a textbook cannot teach. We also got to talk to people who have worked their way up through many different positions. These people are successful business men and women who have excellent advice. Listening to their insight and being able to freely ask questions as a team was an impactful way to learn.

Favorite part of the experience?
My favorite part of the trip was learning in a new place that has a culture different from here. It allows your mind to grow in a different way and it personally made me more eager to learn. After the first company visit I realized this trip was going to be powerful. It was exciting to wake up every morning not knowing what would be taken from the day. This experience broadened my view of the world and showed me that life is different outside of the Midwest. San Francisco is a place that is changing the world. Being taught right in the middle of that is intangible.

What did you learn about entrepreneurship and innovation? Did any particular part of the experience change your ideas about entrepreneurship, innovation or technology companies?
The best part of the trip was the raw information we were given. The company visits were more than rich people boasting about their companies. Our hosts gave us real information and let us in on the good, the bad, and the ugly involved in entrepreneurship. Many of our hosts talked in some way about how they had failed at some point in their entrepreneurship history but how that failure contributed to where they are now. We learned about the stages of startups, the exiting parts and the hard, and were given tips about how to get through them all successfully. I also learned that innovation is constant. There are new possibilities in technology everyday, seeing this first hand definitely changed my ideas about innovation and technology companies. I had a basic conception that these big data companies were boring offices filled with coders typing away frantically on their screens, never communicating. It was amazing to see the reality of how intricate technology companies are and how many different people and positions are involved in producing products in this industry. It makes me excited to start working in it.

What experiences from this trip will you take with you into your future career?
Our alumni and company hosts provided me with great advice. Some of my particularly favorite advice I received was from an alumnus, Ashley McDermott. She explained that although the tech industry tends to be male dominated not to be afraid to be an outspoken female. To learn fast, work hard, and make my voice heard when I have a valuable contribution. It was also great hearing from company visits what they look for in people to add to their team. These visits gave us tips that will help us in finding a career and that will be applicable once we are in them. We were told characteristics that companies look for in prospective employees, and favorite interview questions they ask. We were also taught that it is important to be motivated and willing to take on new challenges. Working in a startup can be unpredictable. The teams of people working on them may be small and my job description may not be set in stone. Although this may be difficult, this is a time where great learning can happen and many new skills can be acquired.

How did this experience compare to your expectations of the experience? What did you learn about yourself in the process?
This experience greatly exceeded my expectations. Barcley Johnson is a highly intelligent man, so I had no doubt that with him as our leader this trip would teach me something. What I did not expect was the personal take away. Before this trip I wanted to be a nurse, maybe working my way up to some sort of administrative level some day. After this trip however, I plan to take a different route after graduation. Seeing the innovation and technology there inspired me to think I can do more for the world than be a nurse. There are so many possibilities for healthcare with this new technology and I want to be a part of finding those possibilities. As my graduation date is approaching that is definitely the biggest thing I discovered about myself through this trip.

What would you say to a student interested in participating in this experience in the future?
If this student is interested in technology, how the world is developing and changing, how businesses run, and is willing to work extremely hard I would suggest they do everything they can to become a part of this team. The selection process is tough and the work load is nothing light but the payoff is so great. Learning this way is impactful. Also, everyone who goes on these trips takes something different away. Along with important curriculum, experiential learning allows you to learn what you need to learn for yourself and your personal growth.

What did you learn from interacting with business alumni at the alumni event?
It was great interacting with business alumni because they were able to give me insight on topics I had no one to ask about. When I graduate I want to pursue a career out of state but I have no family or friends that have done this. Having the networking dinner to ask them questions about the best way to prepare to find a job out of state and then find success in that job was so important for me. It was especially great because not only have these people done it, they have done exceptionally well in doing so. An additional bonus is that they are alumni that want to see us succeed and do well. It was great how many of them gave me a way to contact them if I needed any assistance finding connections or any additional advice for my job hunt.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I am extremely thankful to George Hoyem and Professor Johnson for their dedication to us. Without them being willing to spend their time this way, I never would have learned all of these valuable lessons. This trip made me feel so much more prepared to graduate. It is also so amazing have the opportunity to be building connections in Silicon Valley while I am still in school. I am also appreciative of Dean Deshpande and Dr. Landeros for accompanying us on the team and encouraging programs like these. Without the help of the Business College, I would not be able to afford such travels and opportunities as this.

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