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‘Go West, Young [Wabash] Man’

By Patrick Bryant ’16

A dozen Wabash sophomores and juniors had the opportunity to visit technology and finance companies of various sizes over the course of a four-day Professional Immersion Experience in the San Francisco Bay Area.  It was a great way to finish break and prepare for the spring semester.  First of all, I want to extend thanks to Mr. John Schroeder for his generosity in making this trip happen.  I would also be remiss to not extend thanks to Scott Crawford and James Jeffries of Career Services for their efforts on not only putting this together, but making sure we made our visits in a safe and efficient way.

It could be said that we were the “guinea pigs” for this first trip out west, but the quality of the visits we made certainly made it hard to believe that could be the case.  The two days that we spent making visits were divided between a day in the Silicon Valley region and a day in San Francisco.  The scale of the companies visited varied from the likes of Google, Twitter, Shutterfly, and Wikimedia (the parent company to Wikipedia), to smaller startups like Mei Wu Acoustics and Knack.  Most visits gave us an opportunity to talk to alumni, but very candidly, we found each and every person we met with to be very hospitable, knowledgeable, and happy to have Wabash guys visiting.

Bryant ’16 was very grateful for the access to experts he received during the SF PIE Trip

For an economics major, I consider myself someone interested in and open to learning about technology, but I haven’t had any exposure to any kind of coding before.  This trip opened my eyes in the sense that often those technical skills weren’t the imperatives for the profile of an intern or new hire.  Often it was adaptability or the ability to collaborate.  For any Wabash guy, that’s second nature.  That message was reinforced during our final event, a networking dinner at Lolinda, an Argentinian restaurant in San Francisco.  The variety of backgrounds and stories shared among the alumni that met with us really made this trip something to remember.

I highly encourage programs like this to those alumni who have an interest in supporting something like this or hosting students in the future, or to students who have an interest in applying for these sorts of programs.  What we do in the classroom is so important and vital to the Wabash experience and in furthering the College’s mission.  That said, the opportunity to see in-person and communicate in an environment that forces one to use those classroom-developed skills is an asset to the Wabash education that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Bradshaw ’15 Makes Connections in the City by the Bay

By Ben Bradshaw ’15

Before heading back to Wabash and delving back into classes, 12 fortunate students had the opportunity to embark on a Profession Immersion Experience to San Francisco.  Career Services Director Scott Crawford and Assistant Director James Jeffries planned the trip and traveled with the students.

Bradshaw ’15 and his fellow Beta brothers are all smiles after a day at some of the fastest growing companies in the US

Though the trip was short, it was packed with useful knowledge, new places, and helpful information for the students.  The day of the trip was spent traveling and exploring the new terrain.  A beautiful hotel on the Pacific Ocean acted as home for travelers and provided them with scenic sunrises each morning before taking off for the day.

On Thursday, the group traveled to Silicon Valley.  Here, they visited Shutterfly, Mei Wu Acoustics, Google, Red Rock Coffee, and Knack.  Of these, the first four businesses employed a Wabash graduate who showed us around and asked questions.  While most of these revolved around technology, not usually a strong suit at Wabash, students gained a sense of where a liberal arts degree could take them.  The individuals that make up the student group came from various backgrounds with regard to their majors/minors and activities on campus.

A long day on Thursday did not stop students from hoping out of bed on Friday morning, just in time to see the sunrise over the Pacific as they grabbed breakfast at the hotel.  With Director Scott “Razorback” Crawford at the helm, the group set off for downtown San Francisco.  Awaiting them in the The City by The Bay were a group of exciting businesses, many focusing on technology.  These included Indiegogo, Twitter, Wikimedia, Aon Consulting, and Calypso Technologies.  While only two of these businesses had Wabash men working for them, the employees at all were quite welcoming and willing to offer knowledge and advice.

Friday night was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and because of this, I’ll spend more time reflecting on it. We arrived at dinner after a long day of immersion in different businesses.  Our dinner was scheduled at Lolinda, a Portuguese restaurant in the Mission District.  The food and drinks were phenomenal, but the real treat came with the people we conversed with over dinner.  Approximately 20 alumni and 15 guests from our destinations from our two days of discovery joined us at the table for drinks and dinner.

For the most part, students sat with individuals whose companies they were intrigued by sometime during the previous two days. Jordan Johnson (Physics Major) sat by an alumnus who works at Mei Wei Acoustics; James Kennedy (Art/Physics Major) sat by the graphics designer at Knack, as so on.  I was fortunate enough to sit by John Fields, the owner of a venture capital firm specializing in financing water and energy efficiency programs.  I’m extremely interesting in investing, and having some background knowledge on venture capital through my father, John and had talked for most of the night.  I’ve stayed in touch, and have a call with John on Friday afternoon.  I also spent a great deal of time talking to one of the founders of Profusa, a startup company with a product that helps read blood sugar levels without pricking ones finger for those with diabetes.  We discussed the business process they’re going through as a startup company.  It was exciting to see the development that goes into starting up the business side after a great product has already been developed.

The men had a packed day, but that didn’t stop them from staying attentive during all of their scheduled meetings

Overall, the trip was a great experience.  In talking with individuals from all kinds of businesses in San Francisco, students were able to learn outside of the classroom, and certainly learned more than they do inside the classroom.  I’d recommend the trip to others in a heartbeat, and will carry memories, knowledge, and connections from the trip for years to come.

Haffner ’16 Gets the ‘Little Giant’ Treatment with SF Alumni

By Michael Haffner ’16

Fortunate to have been selected for the immersion trip to San Francisco, I was surprised to find such a supportive and abundant Wabash community throughout the Bay Area.  We met and interacted with the companies of multiple alums, along with a few others, all of whom generously let us observe their workspace.  We discussed the ins and outs of life after Wabash and more specifically life as a San Franciscan.

We spent the first day of the trip in Silicon Valley visiting Shutterfly, Mei Wu Acoustics, Google, Red Rock Coffee, and Knack.  The second day we observed various companies in downtown San Francisco including: Indiegogo, Twitter, Wikimedia, AON, and Calypso Technologies.  Each company differed in the way they functioned.  For instance, Wikimedia and Red Rock Coffee are non-profit organizations with philanthropic goals in mind while Google, Shutterfly, Twitter, and others were for-profit companies focused heavily on growth and earnings.  What fascinated me was that each company attracted and sought out employees with specific personality types.  Wikimedia was filled with workers who sought to make a difference in the world, regardless of how much money they made.  Their goal was to be able to allow each person in the world to have online access to the same educational tools.  Calypso technologies, a for-profit organization, on the other hand, attracted hard working people who, because of the potential for higher pay, were willing to spend a lot of hours traveling and working in various demanding positions.

Wabash men were in SF for only two days, but that didn’t stop them from seeing a good deal of the city and the wonders it had to offer

Furthermore, we were able to observe the work environment in both established companies as well as a startup company, Knack.  Knack strategically designs games that shed insight into the psychology of a person.  In future years, Knack hopes that other companies, and possibly even colleges, use their games to measure the likelihood of success of  candidates for employment or a student at a particular school.  The main difference I noticed between Knack and more established companies was the type of discussions that were occurring among employees.  At Knack, the atmosphere was loose and encouraged creative thinking while at Google, everyone had a task and the employees were haphazardly winding through the Google campus with a mission.

To wrap up the trip, we attended a networking dinner at a unique Argentinian restaurant in the city, Lolinda.  Listening to the alumni talk about the path they took after Wabash was intriguing.  Many were working in a field in which they had never expected.  As a biology major, I often find myself being narrow-minded and thinking that health graduate school is my only logical path after Wabash.  However, I was assured by multiple alumni that the possibilities after Wabash, regardless of my major, are endless.  We talked with Psychology major, Jonathan Walsh, who now works at Calypso Technologies and Philosophy major, Mike Berry, who now works at Shutterfly.

I will sum up by saying that after this trip, I have never been more proud to be a Wabash man.  When talking with each alumnus, none of whom I had met before, I felt as though I had known the person my entire life.  Each person I met reached out and was willing to help me with anything.  It assured me that even after Wabash, I will still be a Little Giant when any other fellow Wabash man reaches out to me.

Schroeder ’15 Gets Feet Wet in Law with Career Test Drive

By Jackson Schroeder ’15

As part of the Career Services Test Drive Program, I spent a week at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville during winter break.  The Legal Aid Society provides free legal services to people who fall below the poverty line.

During the week, I spent the majority of the time calling previous clients and asking them to complete a client satisfaction survey.  Yearly client satisfaction are done to show the donors of Legal Aid that the practicing attorneys are doing their job and completely satisfying the people.

When I wasn’t doing client satisfaction surveys, I was at the courthouse shadowing the attorneys of the Legal Aid Society.  The first time I went to court was an eye opening experience because the attorney had three domestic violence cases.  While prepping the clients to enter the courtroom, the attorney had to make sure they were ready to answer the judge’s questions clearly and truthfully.  The clients were visibly upset by the fact that they were seeing their alleged attackers for the first time since the incident.

Two of the three cases were continued to a later date with the final case culminating with exciting closing arguments by the two attorneys.  After the Legal Aid attorney won her case and got a domestic violence order against the client’s husband, she told me how the case was very unusual.  In the beginning part of the hearing, the opponent’s attorney was very argumentative and angry with the judge.  I was very surprised by his actions and was later told that he could have gotten a contempt of court charge if he continued in his disruptive manner.  Overall, I was impressed by the attorney’s ability to think on the spot and make solid arguments for her clients.

On my second visit to court, I was able to witness Veteran’s Court, which is a new venture by the state of Kentucky.  The purpose of Veteran’s Court is to make veterans enter a program meant to rehabilitate rather than punish.  As part of the program, the veterans do not spend jail time but have random drug tests and see a psychologist to help treat their PTSD.  The court is structured to provide support to the members who often have unsupportive families or families who do not understand what they have been through.  During the weekly meetings, the judge makes sure to act as a friend and supporter who want to see them succeed.

On my third and final visit to court, I visited Evictions Court.  Prior to entering the courtroom, I was told that Evictions Court is like the fast food of law because each case takes about 10 seconds.  The attorney for the landlord calls the name of the person getting evicted and if they are there, then they come up to face the judge.  The judge asks if a payment was made.  If not, the judge signs the eviction form and the next name is called.  The only arguments against getting evicted are if you have receipts proving you paid or if the landlord did not maintain the housing while one was living there.

Overall, I learned a lot about the Legal Aid Society functions as well as the general court process in domestic violence, veteran, and eviction cases.  The weeklong internship has furthered my interest in law and opportunities to help others within the field of law.  I am especially grateful to Jeff Been for allowing Wabash students to gain experience in the field of public law and also the hospitality he provided.

Guess What Andrews ’15 Did Over Break

By Tyler Andrews ’15

Silicon Valley and San Francisco are every bit as cool as you have imagined. And better. If you didn’t already enjoy the aspect of being in a relatively warm temperature year round, or the fact that the geography just outside the city is phenomenal, or the fact that you have a million different locations to travel to for pleasure, you can definitely take pleasure in the thriving, driving mind that is Northern California. (Might be part of why the price tag is so up there, but it’s worth it).

Andrews ’15 and Patrick Kroll ’16 take in the natural sights after seeing some professional ones

Over winter break, I was part of a phenomenally lucky group of 12 Wabash college students. We were all Sophomores and Juniors, excited to be getting away from the snowpocalypse, or polar vortex, or whatever you’ve come to call it. We knew it was going to be beautiful scenery and trips to some prestigious companies. But being there in person made it all the better. On our trip, we visited a couple of small places called Google, Twitter, Indiegogo, Wikimedia, and Shutterfly, to name a few.

Since I’m sure not many of you have seen it, Google is intense beyond anything you can imagine. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the location in Silicon Valley, brace yourself. We met with a Wabash alumnus who was part of the design team for Google Instant, Google Glass, and numerous other applications and programs. Every which way you turned was the Google yellow, red, green, and blue. Their philosophy was to promote creativity through interaction and community thinking. There were gardens and beach volleyball courts and even a giant dinosaur covered in pink flamingos. And don’t get me started on how amazing their food court was…

The thing to know about Silicon Valley is that it is an absolutely incredible area for tech companies because it isn’t bustling with people on the roads like the big city. There are dozens upon dozens of office buildings with large corporation logos on the sides, and slid in between are ponds and different landscapes to brighten the place up. In Silicon Valley, we visited Shutterfly, Mei Wu Acoustics (a noise and vibration consulting company), Google, Red Rock Coffee (a church run coffee shop that has made over $1 million in revenue in the last two years alone…), and Knack (a software company that is designing games to help companies evaluate potential employees). Every visit brought a different twist, but each had bright new ideas and was inspirational to us as students.

We started the next day off by going straight to the heart of San Francisco, and getting a taste of the commuter experience, riding the BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit. We kicked the day off by visiting Indiegogo and getting a more in depth understanding of the online crowd-funding world. Our host, Bre, was wonderful, and provided us with lots of tips on how to start our own crowd-funded ideas. We then visited Twitter, Wikimedia, AON Consulting (who just sponsored Manchester United), and Calypso Technologies. The big difference about companies in San Francisco versus companies in Silicon Valley is the privacy. Walking down the street, you would have no idea where Twitter, Indiegogo, or any of these companies were located. Knowing the address of each, we got through security at each of these areas and proceeded up to the offices of these awesome companies. And let me tell you, the views were just as incredible as the production that these companies were kicking out.

All in all, I would have to say that Twitter and Google tie for the coolest locations on my visit. Google is just, well Google, and is on a whole different level of corporation status. Their idea of how to run a company is mind-blowing…mind-blowingly successful. And Twitter, ironically started by a Google guy, is just as exciting. Their view of San Francisco was the best we saw, and was viewed from their huge patio overlook 7 stories. Twitter has some excellent ideas circling right now, and are looking to expand even more, so I’m especially excited to see what they do. Personally, my goal is to land an internship with Twitter this coming summer, but we’ll see what happens!

Thank you to the Wabash College Career Services and to one of our great alumni, Mr. Schroeder, for making this event an opportunity. It was an incredible event, and I look forward to going on future events potentially like it. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the trip, or just check out Wabash College!