‘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.