During three days in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Clark Jacobson ’14 (Harvard, Mass.) learned how start-up companies begin and grow, and just how helpful Macalester alumni can be.
Jacobson, an applied math and statistics major, was one of 11 juniors and seniors chosen to participate in MacConnect: San Francisco 2014, a college-sponsored networking event for students interested in technology and entrepreneurship. Accompanied by Career Development Center (CDC) associate director John Mountain and principal gift director Rebecca Schubring, students shadowed alumni at tech companies, met informally with alumni and trustees, and visited some of the Bay Area’s most exciting companies.
The first day was devoted to shadowing alumni. Each student was matched with an alumnus with common interests. Jacobson, for example, spent the day with Nathan Dintenfass ’97, founding director of Nicenet, who took him on a tour of five start-ups and one “communal workspace,” where entrepreneurs and young companies share amenities such as conference space. The day culminated in a visit to Twitter.
The second day, the whole group spent the morning at Facebook, learning from Macalester trustee Rebecca Van Dyck ’91, head of consumer marketing. Lunch and a midday session were with Wildfire, a social media marketing company that Victoria Ransom ’99 and Alain Chuard ’99 sold to Google in a $450 million deal in 2012. Nick Weininger ’98 then led the group on a tour of Google.
Evening activities included a session on Bay Area business climate, led by Macalester Trustee Emeritus John C. Robinson ’71, and a reception hosted by Jim Migdal ’86 and Victoria Thorp of Palo Alto. “At the reception the networking was more casual and I met alumni from the 1970s through 2013 grads,” says Jacobson. “I was surprised at how willing they were to offer advice and connections.”
Although not majoring in a tech field, Madeline Stone ’14 has a strong interest in marketing and social media, so CDC assistant director Mary Emanuelson encouraged her to apply for the program. Afraid she would stand out as “the English major,” Stone prepared well for the event, talking through her resumé with Emanuelson and rehearsing how to tell her story in a succinct and interesting way. She shadowed Lexi Abrams- Bourke ’11 at Hearsay Social “and she was wonderful,” says Stone, recommending other people the Mac senior might talk with. Stone returned with tips on “skirting the resumé screen” and “pushing every opportunity all the way to the offer.”
The alumni were just as impressed with the students as the students were with them, says Mountain, “giving them the inside scoop on what can be a scary process—taking the next career step—and helping them realize they’re better at it than they think they are.”
Students applied for the experience and were selected for the program based on their career focus, resume, and references. Participants’ majors included fields as diverse as computer science and political science. The college covered hotel and certain other costs; participants were responsible for their own airfare well as some meals and local transportation.
Alexandra Bassen ’16
Clark Jacobson ’14
Rebecca Kane ’14
Audrey Kohout ’14
Mitchell Kutis ’14
Yulun Li ’14
Bryan Martin ’15
Petar Petrovic ’14
Madeline Stone ’14
Zixiao “Ken” Wang ’15