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Honors students spend Spring Break visiting with tech companies in Austin, San Francisco

 

By Fran Broderick

 

During this year’s Spring Break, five Golisano College Honors students traveled to the Bay Area, while a separate group of seven Honors students headed to Austin, TX, with each group visiting with companies to learn more about future opportunities and what it’s like working in the computing industry.

Students representing a range of disciplines that included software engineering, computing security and computer science, spent the first day of their California visit exploring the Chinatown and Japantown areas of San Francisco as well as the Financial District. Advisors joining the students on the trip made an effort to carve time out for students to explore the city. “It is one thing to see potential companies you will work at,” explained Academic Advisor Megan Fritts, “but knowing the culture and environment of the city you would move to is critical as well.”

During the following three days, students visited with some of the biggest names in the Bay Area tech scene, as well as emerging startups. Students explored office spaces and spoke with employees at companies that included Cisco Meraki, Palantir, SmugMug, Box, and Google.  “We were impressed with the thoughtful conversation that would follow every company visit,” Fritts added. “We would get into the car, and instantly the students would start discussing their impressions and the positives and negatives of each.”

In addition, the trip provided advisors and students the opportunity to reconnect with RIT alumni that now work across the Bay Area and Silicon Valley in positions ranging from junior engineers to the C-suite. Fifteen RIT computing alumni joined students for dinner during their trip to discuss their experiences both inside and outside their respective offices and what it was like to make the transition from RIT to the professional world.

Students traveling to Austin’s emerging tech scene gained similar experiences, visiting with major tech firms like IBM, Indeed, Blackbaud, Panic Button, Electronic Arts and uShip. “The trip was not only successful in exposing the student to a spectrum of companies from entertainment to research but also showcased various work cultures and the expanding tech scene that Austin has to offer," said software engineering lecturer and Austin trip chaperone Kenn Martinez.  "The students were fully engaged and appreciated the opportunity. After every company visit they instinctively debriefed and commented on pros and cons. The companies were impressed with the talent pool and even followed up with onsite interview for at least one candidate.”

RIT Honors students are presented with similar opportunities each semester and have taken trips to cities such as Boston, New York and San Francisco in an effort to help them make informed decisions about their futures.