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.
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.
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.