Early this October, students received the much-awaited email containing the list of companies that we would be visiting throughout the upcoming Bay Area Trek. The Bay Area Trek is a two-day event organized by the Rady School of Management where students have the opportunity to visit companies located in the Bay Area. This time around, students could visit Kaiser Permanente, PwC, Charles Schwab, Black Rock, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flex and Electronic Arts, among others. As a computer science student and an enthusiastic user of social media, I opted to visit Facebook and LinkedIn. I was very excited to have the opportunity to visit companies that have redefined the way people maintain personal and professional relationships in the world today.
In the days leading up to the trip, I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared and ready to put my best foot forward. I spent some time reading up about Facebook and LinkedIn and how they became the organizations that they are today. Doing my research beforehand gave me a better idea about what I could expect, and made me feel more confident and helped me think of questions that I could ask when I met them in person.
The first company for the day was Facebook. On my way there, I was able to experience first-hand the rush-hour traffic that the Bay Area is famous for. I was amazed to see how much the Facebook campus resembled a mini-city. They had their own shuttles, cycles and cabs for traveling within the campus. After checking in and having some breakfast, we sat down to listen to the team. They spoke about what working for Facebook was like, what their favorite things about the company are and how it is different from working at other organizations. They stressed how important the ‘learning mindset’ is, and how the abundance of resources enable them to produce their best work. This was followed by a campus tour where we got to see all the restaurants, the arcade and the store.
After lunch, I walked down to the LinkedIn office where I met the rest of the group. First, we had a panel with prominent leaders for LinkedIn. They talked about what their roles in LinkedIn are, their career paths and the work that The Economic Graph was producing. This was followed by a Q&A session where they answered questions about career trajectories, work, how LinkedIn had changed since it was acquired by Microsoft and what the future meant for LinkedIn. This was followed by a campus tour where an employee talked about all the perks available to LinkedIn employees and how all employees were expected to spend a day each month investing in themselves and learning something new.
After the company visits, our group headed to the Rady Alumni Mixer at Porterhouse in San Mateo. It was amazing interacting with our peers and Rady alumni, and to see how their journey had been since they graduated from Rady.
In all, the Bay Area Trek was an amazing experience. It made me realize how much I missed traveling and meeting new people. It gave me a unique insight into what working at Facebook and LinkedIn was like, and what values drove the culture in these two organizations. It was also interesting to see their own products played such an integral role in forming relationships within the organization, and how it gave everybody a sense of belonging and community. In today’s climate, where there is harsh criticism about the role of social media in our lives, we often tend to forget why they were created in the first place – to help everybody feel a little less lonely.
Manjushree Yethirajyam is an MSBA student at the Rady School of Management. With a background in computer science, she wants to use her skills to help organizations understand people better.