MIT Sloan MBA Areta Shum on the Seattle “Tech Trek”

After a fun and rigorous core semester, it’s finally winter break, but I’m not hitting the slopes or soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere warm. Instead, I signed up to go to Seattle with 17 other MIT Sloan students on a technology career trek. While this may sound like an unusual way to spend our vacation time, it’s actually a great opportunity for MBA students to learn more about the technology industry and what it would be like to work for a tech company.

During the trek, we visited Adobe, Microsoft and Amazon. Spending about two hours at each company, we had plenty of time to tour the facilities, talk to recruiters, and even participate in panel discussions with employees. Q&A sessions with employees were particularly helpful, as students’ questions ranged from how that company is reacting to particular challenges in the market to what it’s like to work there on a day-to-day basis.

I was amazed at how educational the visits were. We gained great insights into how each business works, their unique cultures, and how different roles and functions work together within companies.

At Microsoft, its large campus was almost like a small town with great restaurants, shops and even soccer fields. Amazon has a beautiful urban campus where you could feel the energy in the air. It’s obvious that a lot of exciting things are happening in that space. And at Adobe, once we got past the gorgeous lake views, we noticed the pool table and 3D TV, which are effective – and fun — ways to draw people out of their offices and encourage collaboration.

The visits also helped us think about where we envision ourselves working after graduation. What kind of company culture would be a good match? What type of business would inspire our best work? Where do we want to contribute our efforts?

In addition, the trek was a good introduction to Seattle for those students who had never visited before. Between company visits, we toured a Boeing factory, had lunch at Pike Place market, and explored the Space Needle. At night, we enjoyed connecting with MIT alumni in downtown Seattle.

I’m so grateful to the companies that took the time to participate in our technology trek. The insights and connections gained from our time in Seattle will be incredibly helpful as we return to campus and begin exploring internship opportunities for this summer.

Seattle is such an amazing city and I hope to be back soon!

Areta Shum is a member of the MBA Class of ’13

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