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.