The Rady School of Management immediately stood out to me as the top choice among business schools in the US. I was drawn here because of the school’s focus on entrepreneurship, as I myself have been an entrepreneur for the last six years. I am now a second year FlexEvening Student graduating in March 2020. While going through my classes, I’ve realized that there’s so much to learn from big companies, especially those that value entrepreneurship within their organizations. As I transition away from my first company, I’m looking for opportunities within mid- to large-sized corporations that would suit my skill set and give me the opportunity to contribute to a team. The Bay Area Trek felt like the perfect opportunity to take the first step in that direction.
The Rady Graduate Career Connections organized the Bay Area Trek, arranging visits with dozens of incredible companies, including many Fortune 500 companies. The team sent out a survey where students each allocated 100 points to the various visits they’d like to attend. I chose to visit PayPal, LinkedIn, and Google San Francisco. There was a Bay Area Trek prep meeting about a week before the trip where logistics and etiquette were addressed. Each student also received detailed information and contacts for each company, along with a student point of contact for each visit. Every detail was covered for us; all we had to do was get ourselves over to each location!
My first stop was PayPal, where we were greeted by Megan Harvey, university programs manager. After getting proper security badges, we were given a warm welcome by Jim Van Over, experiential marketing & innovation specialist, who guided our group through an interactive experience that PayPal calls its Innovation Showcase. PayPal’s mission is to “democratize financial services, and serve the underserved,” and Jim showed us several ways that they’re implementing that mission in data security, risk management, products, and services. We then got to hear from a panel led by Mike Todasco, director of innovation. He and his team talked about their culture of innovation that extends across this global company, and how PayPal works worldwide to enable billions of safe payments without being a bank.
Next I headed over to LinkedIn. I had the pleasure of carpooling with Rady’s outgoing director of Rady Graduate Career Connections, Terra Saltzman-Baker. It was interesting finding our way to our destination because there are about a dozen buildings in one small cluster that all belong to LinkedIn! We observed what looked like LinkedIn’s own little universe complete with bikes, helmets, and umbrellas at the entrance of each building. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by Rady Alum, Anindita Gupta, who is a principal product manager at LinkedIn. I really enjoyed this visit!
After leaving LinkedIn we made our way to the Rady Alumni Mixer at Porterhouse in San Mateo. We were greeted by Yvonne Wu and the rest of the Rady careers team that traveled to the Bay Area. This hosted event was one of the highlights of the Trek experience. I got to reconnect with several recent alumni that I got to know over the first year of my MBA. It was fun to see Chiara Dorigo, who is currently an associate at Schaffer & Combs, and the inaugural president of the Women of Rady. I also got to meet other alumni who all had the inspiration to pass on from their post-graduate journeys at venture capital firms or companies like Gap and Tesla.
The following afternoon I went to Google San Francisco, which was the best way to wrap up this experience. While PayPal and LinkedIn had huge campuses with multiple buildings, this Google location was near downtown San Francisco within a larger building that overlooked the Bay Bridge. There are several other large companies like Amazon located within a short walking distance from Google. Our group was greeted by panelists and UC San Diego alumni, Philip Jia and William Lee, along with UC Berkeley Alum Shahed Sajadieh, all of whom happily shared their stories about how they became “Googlers”. After learning more about Google’s hiring process, company culture and team values, we were guided through the most amazing tour that included a plethora of fun, open, and lively, yet quiet workplaces that were ripe with enthusiasm from the hundreds of employees we encountered. The creativity of this firm was palpable. Each conference room has a fun name and each floor has a theme. Of all three companies that I visited, this one was my favorite!
I’m incredibly grateful for the experience that the Rady School of Management curated for me and my fellow students. I can now say I have a good idea of what life in the Bay Area would be like for a Rady MBA. I’ve gained some clarity for my own job search and made such wonderful connections with both current students and alumni. I appreciate that I’ll have a Rady network, almost anywhere I choose to go!