With the academic year coming to an end and everyone finishing final presentations and papers for various courses, I look back and feel blessed to have spent a wonderful first year with some fantastic people at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business. One of the things I feel passionate about is serving as an MBA Ambassador. It gives me a chance to speak with prospective candidates from across the world, show them our campus, and take them for coffee and lunch while sharing my perspective about our program and school.
I recently took the initiative to build a new “career trek” to Seattle. My motivation for creating a new career trek targeting tech companies came from innumerable phone calls I answered while working with the Admissions Office during my first semester at Fisher. Many students asked if we have established connections with organizations on the West Coast, and I always wanted to say “Yes!” This consequently led to the development of a formalized trek to Seattle.
As soon as I decided to undertake this initiative, I approached a current second-year student, Thais Batista Ronconi, who interned at Amazon and will be joining Amazon in a full time-role this year in Seattle. She was enthusiastic about the idea and was happy to mentor me throughout the development of the trek. We approached the process step by step and started reaching out to alumni and talent acquisition heads/recruiters at various organizations in Seattle. In the meantime, we gauged interest from current students and started working on the timing.
The response we received from students was massive — something that kept us going even after hearing “no” from some of the organizations. After working with companies for almost three months, we got our final “YES” list: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft and Expedia. Yes, the Big 4 in Seattle.
The timing worked out well with the organizations. We visited in mid-March during spring break with a group of 15 first- and second-year MBAs.
Day 1 started at Starbucks! As soon as we entered Starbucks’ board room, we received a bag full of coffee and goodies for each of us. We started with a session from one of the executives on Sourcing and Global Operations and then learned more about how Starbucks is differentiating itself by investing in technology. We toured Starbucks HQ, which was one of a kind. Every wall illustrated the company timeline by connecting Starbucks’ different product releases with prominent historical events. Also of note: employees can contribute to the less fortunate by buying coffee at a special store inside the building. People from across all departments also meet weekly to discuss how they are impacting people’s lives. From its coffee-tasting space to roasteries, everything at Starbucks is distinct.
We commenced Day 2 at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. The first activity took us to the visitor center, a place that has a neat display of everything Microsoft (it features all of Microsoft’s current and upcoming products). From Xbox to Surface book, and from HoloLens to Microsoft’s Age Detection API, we experienced everything.
We were introduced to some cool initiatives at Microsoft and learned how it is utilizing technology to make the world a better place to live. One of the projects that stood out was how Microsoft is helping to find missing children in China. After spending some great time with the recruiter, we met a panel of Ohio State alumni who answered our questions about “all things Microsoft.” Concluding our visit with lunch, it was overall a great day spent in sunny Seattle with our alumni members. Big shout-out to Rafael Williams, university recruiter at Microsoft!
Expedia welcomed us with an overview of its organization and later gave a detailed description of its global network of brands. The best part of the visit was a Q&A with the recruiter, who answered more than 50 questions from us.
Amazon came at last — marking a perfect ending to our Seattle trek. This organization never fails to surprise me — it has now surpassed Google as the best place to work in the United States, according to one survey. We started at Amazon’s “Day 1” building (they consider every day at work to be the first day creating an entrepreneurial start-up environment) with a panel discussion featuring the head of Product Management and a mix of people covering different areas at Amazon! Conversation with each of the panelists gave us more clarity on what Amazon is seeking from its future employees and how its current employees live those 14 leadership principles in their day-to-day work.
After touring the building, we went to the newly opened Amazon Spheres. These spheres serve as a “haven of carefully tended nature geared to letting Amazonians break free from their cubicles and think disruptive thoughts.” Going through each of its floors while experiencing more than 400 different species of cloud forest plants from all over the world was an exhilarating experience. It is definitely a “must-visit” for everyone visiting Seattle. Amazon will soon open the spheres to public.
It was absolutely a delight to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event and to learn new things about all these organizations. I hope this new trek becomes a legacy at Fisher College of Business.