Tech Trek connects Jayhawks to Silicon Valley

Getting a job is often as much about who you know as it is what you know. For students looking to enter the technology field after graduation, the Jayhawk network has opened new doors in California’s Silicon Valley. 2015-01-15 14.10.49

This January, a group of about 20 KU students made the 2,000-mile trip from Lawrence to Silicon Valley for the inaugural Tech Trek. Alumni in California’s Silicon Valley arranged a trip of exclusive tours and meetings for the students at some of the most well-known technology companies in the world, including Google, Samsung, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Brad Garlinghouse, a KU alumnus who is a veteran of the tech sector, hatched the idea and offered his connections in the industry to get students in front of executives and recruiters at nine companies in three days.

“I was very fortunate and had a similar opportunity while attending Harvard Business School.  I was exposed to a community and an environment that bleeds entrepreneurship – and almost like a virus, I was infected,” said Garlinghouse (c’94, B.A. economics). “It’s beneficial to both the students and the companies. The students get exposure to interesting companies leading the way in their fields and the companies get exposed to some of KU’s most talented students.”

Many of the meetings and tours were led by KU alumni, including several with liberal arts a2015-01-13 14.58.48nd sciences degrees. Other alumni of the College taking part in the Tech Trek were Brian Drummond, a director at LinkedIn (c’82, B.S. computer science); Marc Ketzel, a vice president at Samsung (c’77, B.G.S. in personnel administration and political sciences); and Brad Murphy, a senior program manager at Cisco (c’89, B.G.S. in theatre).

A piece of advice Drummond shared with the group was to “know your greatest accomplishment.”

“As a manager who conducts hundreds of interview a year, Drummond explained that this particular question was the most telling about a potential candidate,” said Evan Nichols, a senior majoring in computer science in the School of Engineering.