Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Plan a Booth Career Trek in Five Easy Steps: West Coast Marketing Edition

My name is YaoYao Wang and I’m a first-year MBA at Booth.  This past quarter I helped organize a West Coast Marketing Trek for my classmates over Winter Break.  The trip provided great opportunities for Booth students to get a leg up in internship recruiting, get to know the great companies which hire Booth talent, and spend some quality time with classmates.  As I found out, organizing a trek is hard work, but a rewarding way to engage with the broader Booth community and give back to your classmates.  Here are my five easy steps for organizing a trek:


1.       Decide where you want to go and why
In the weeks leading up to Winter Break, first-years are faced with many difficult decisions: go home for break, relax in Chicago, go on the Ski Trip, or go on one of the many career treks for future bankers, venture capitalists, marketers, retailers, techies, and entrepreneurs. As part of the Chicago Booth Marketing Group, my classmate Joanna Wung and I were excited to lead the West Coast Marketing Trek.   While the Marketing Group had traditionally offered an annual Brand Week on the East Coast, and the annual Tech Trek visited large tech companies on the West Coast, we felt that we could offer something to first-years that was a combination of the two. Since Joanna and I are both originally from California, we knew that we could show our classmates around while also pursuing our professional interests in marketing.

2.       Learn Trek best practices from the experts!
Joanna and I met with Anna Sukenik, one of the Marketing Group Co-Chairs who had led the previous year’s Brand Week, to learn how to organize a trek. This was just the beginning of many helpful interactions we would have with the second years. We also met with various members of the Career Services team to learn about their experiences with Career Treks, their resources and where they could help us. We learned that the alumni network is a great place to start reaching out to people. It was great to get support from so many Booth resources who could give us the benefit of their expert experience.

Trek participants at a SF alumni
networking event
      3.       Get companies signed up!
Our goal was to get companies to set aside some time for us to tour their offices, speak with alumni and current employees, and listen to a company presentation. We created a target list of CPG, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, tech, and retail companies with marketing roles to visit and split up the research to contact alumni. On our radars were some of the largest and most well-known tech companies and mega-retailers, but also some smaller, niche consumer companies. We were amazed by the willingness of Chicago Booth alumni to help out with our trek, even though we had never met any of them before. Some even referred us to their friends at other companies so we could visit them as well! Such a strong showing was a testament to the power of the Booth network.

      4.       Get classmates signed up!
With a list of companies we were working with in hand, we set out to get trek attendees. Joanna and I publicized the trek to our classmates via email blasts and word-of-mouth, thinking that a week in California wouldn’t be too hard to sell to anyone. We got a great group of first-years interested in careers in marketing at California-based companies who were excited to pound the pavement during their Winter Break.

5.       Go on the trek!
Ok, so maybe I skipped a couple of steps (and massive amounts of emails) here but I learned that you can plan out every single minute and still forget some detail. For example, one company had an enormous campus and we ran around trying to find our way out of the maze.  As a result we had to rush to our next meeting. The best you can do in a situation like that is use your best judgment and roll with the punches.


The Trek group outside Google, one of the companies on the Trek
While there are hundreds of companies that give us the convenience of recruiting on-campus with job postings and interviews on-site, there are hundreds more that want to hire Booth MBAs. The trek taught me the importance of reaching out to companies for off-campus opportunities. With so many great resources at our disposal – including second years, student groups, Career Services, and of course the Booth alumni network – the sky’s the limit for our professional goals.

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