An integral part of the BC MBA is our emphasis on real-world experience and field study. Students at the Carroll School learn through a rigorous curriculum and impactful experiential learning opportunities, including the Graduate TechTrek. With unparalleled access to the BC alumni network and under the direction of Professor John Gallaugher, MBAs tour some of the nation's most distinguished tech firms and participate in master classes taught by venture capitalists, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. Here, Professor Gallaugher elaborates on the distinct advantages of the Graduate TechTrek at BC.
Professor John Gallaugher is the Associate Professor of Information Systems at Boston College. He is the founding faculty member of BC's TechTrek programs, and is the former co-lead of the school's graduate field studies in Europe and Asia. As an active researcher, Professor Gallaugher's work has been published in Harvard Business Review, MIS Quarterly, and other leading publications.
What is the Graduate TechTrek and how is it run?
Boston College has an extremely strong presence in the tech industry. We’ve got alums at firms from Amazon to Zynga, from large firms to startups, and there are programs to bring them together. The Boston College Technology Council is an alumni group with a presence in Boston, the Bay Area, and NYC. The Bay Area group helped us get TechTrek off the ground, making initial introductions to alums who helped us reach out even further. We’ve run over 20 TechTreks and today, all of our on-site visits are coordinated by a BC alumnus partner. As an alumnus of both BC’s undergraduate and MBA programs, it’s a particular honor to be able to work with our community to build such a high-impact event. And we strengthen that network each year. One of our grad alums runs a meet up in San Francisco during an evening in town, for even more networking. We visit the Napa vineyard of another alum. The Eagles are fantastic!
What makes the TechTrek at BC stand out from others?
Our TechTrek runs as a course, rather than a student field trip or a job-hopping jaunt. The pre-travel classwork is pretty rigorous. Students participate helping their classmates prepare, seminar-style, before traveling to the West Coast. They gather, post readings, and give presentations; everyone studies how the tech industry works, about competitive forces, and there’s a pretty intense exam that happens before we travel to make sure everyone has their insights down. By the time we arrive, everyone in class has studied the firms and execs we’re scheduled to meet with, so we can maximize the special opportunities we’ll have on site. Visits function more as master-class sessions, rather than resume drops and a showing of standard HR videos. While learning is the focus, having access to BC alums working for firms can be useful in helping our students network and get a deeper view at what it takes to be hired by a firm.
Why is it important for prospective MBA students to know about TechTrek, and what should they be looking for (related to the event) as they deliberate between schools?
BC TechTrek really underscores the competitive advantage of the BC MBA program. BC is a high-quality boutique program wrapped around the resources of a large, world-class university. We meet with both undergrad and MBA alums. Eagles see no differentiator by program—if you’re maroon and gold, they’re down to help.
Those considering BC should also know there are local offerings, as well. TechTrek Boston and TechTrek NYC are non-credit experiences that give students an opportunity for even more on-site field visits. These programs are coordinated by grad and undergrad students. Boston programs bring students into town each week, visiting with tech firms, startups, accelerators, and investors. Boston is the nation’s #2 TechHub, and our geography provides us with a special advantage to get on the trolly and be at the offices of giants like Google and Amazon, local standouts like HubSpot and Wayfair, and BC-founded startups that have been through the TechStars accelerator program. Boston visits are on most Friday afternoons. TechTrek NYC is a single-day event where students spend a full day visiting the NYC Tech Scene. Past participants include Etsy, Google, Rent the Runway, Tumblr, and Twitter. The learning and network students gain from these experiences is significant.
What is one example of BC giving its MBA students an edge unlike any other?
BC alums range from the C-suite and partner level to new hires. The access this provides is extraordinary. Perhaps the most memorable event was when Boston College Trustee, Phil Schiller, had the Graduate TechTrek class at the launch of the first iPhone. We were there, a few rows back from Steve Jobs, holding aloft a device that most would agree has changed the world. On a typical TechTrek, students may meet alums who are venture partners, alums who have founded and raised capital for their startup after graduating the elite Y-Combinator accelerator program, and alums at all ranks at firms like Facebook, OpenTable, Twitter, and Uber. The lineup may vary a bit, but students invariably walk away feeling they’ve had unprecedented access and gained an incredible learning experience.
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