New York City: May 2015

The Spring 2015 Tour to New York City was a success!  Eleven students, plus Associate Dean Molly Brown, and Finance Professor Elias Semaan, and I enjoyed a whirlwind week of visiting finance firms across NYC.   We visited JMU alumni at: DBRS, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Invesco, CVC Capital Parters, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank HSBC, Barclays and Och-Ziff.  Thank you to all who hosted us!  And, a special thanks to JMU Alumnus Justin Quaglia, for setting up our visits and networking events!  We look forward to returning next year!

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Northern Virginia/Washington, DC: Day Three, March 24, 2015

Today all the students on the trip split up into three tracks: Finance, Marketing/CIS, and  Entrepreneurship.  I was on the Marketing/CIS track.  In the morning of few of us traveled on the Metro to Chevy Chase, Maryland where we visited WeddingWire.  WeddingWire is a tech startup with a very fun atmosphere!  Their offices had some neat perks for employees such as a massage room, catered breakfast, a speakeasy, and multiple types of working stations.  All of the employees were young and energetic and were happy to share their stories with us.

We then traveled out to Reston to visit Upper Quadrant where we learned about the company’s data analytics services and new apps they are developing.  JMU alumnus Bill Vance, Executive Vice President of Upper Quadrant, was a wonderful host.  He and his staff gave a terrific presentation and treated us to a great lunch!

Our last visit of the day was to BRMi, a consulting firm founded by JMU alumnus Mike Battle.  It was great to be able to compare a smaller consulting firm to the large firms we had visited the day before.

We rounded out the day with a dinner in Arlington with an incredible group of JMU alumni.  Overall, the trip has been amazing.  We were so grateful to be able to meet and learn from so many JMU alumni from the Washington, DC Metro area.  It is an experience that we will always remember!

Posted by Madison Fazio

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Northern Virginia: Day Two, March 23, 2015

Today we were able to compare and contrast many of the big consulting firms in the Washington, DC area.  We toured the Accenture offices first.  The offices provide a variety of different work environments for employees.  They can sit on the open floor, be in a private room, or even walk on a treadmill while doing their work.  We learned about their business strategy and JMU alumni at Accenture answered our questions about their journey from JMU to their currents roles at Accenture.

We then traveled to Deloitte where JMU alumni gave an informative presentation about the company and the responsibilities of the technology consultants at the firm.  We then took a break for lunch and then interacted and learned from another group of JMU alumni.

Later in the afternoon we traveled to Booz Allen Hamilton where we learned more about life at a consulting firm.  It was great to meet so many JMU alums at all these firms!

That evening we continued with our networking at a College of Business Student/Alumni mixer at the Deloitte offices in Tysons Corner.  Over 50 JMU alums came to the event to network with us.  It was a great event to make connections!

Posted by Madison Fazio

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Northern Virginia: Day One, March 22, 2015

On Sunday afternoon twenty-two JMU College of Business students packed up and headed to D.C. We arrived at our hotel and were greeted by two JMU alumni Dan Dziuba and Jeff Mullen, who along with Sam Collier of JMU coordinated the trip. This evening we attended an alumni networking event at the Boulevard Woodgrill. Thirty-five JMU alumni who work in various industries in the D.C. area attended the event. We enjoyed talking to recent graduates about their transition from JMU to the working world. We gained some great advice and insight on a multitude of career paths. Now it’s off to bed to prep for the long day ahead with Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture, and Deloitte. Posted by Tory Zehnder and Madison Fazio

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Preparing for the New York City Trip

Planning is underway for the New York City Experiential Learning Trip.  Twelve College of Business students will be visiting companies in New York City from May 10-15, 2015.  More details will be available later this Spring.

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Getting Ready for the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia Trip

Today the CoB Office of Experiential Learning is preparing for our Washington, DC/Northern VA trip.  Twenty-two students will be visiting companies in the DC area from March 22-24, 2015.  More details will be posted soon.

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Final reflections on our week in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley

The week is over and after a day of recouping I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on the week. Some of the students have written personal reflections on their experience. And, Josh Gordon made a video capturing highlights from our trip! It can be viewed here.

I personally feel very privileged and humbled by this experience. The kindness, hospitality, and generosity shown to our group by JMU alumni, and even the other employees who are not JMU alumni, was incredible. Every place we went to and every person we met was genuinely interested in getting to know us, answering any questions we had, and helping each of us pursue a career in whatever way they could. In addition to the great people we met in California, I was impressed to see that each of the companies we visited were influencing important change and innovation in business, technology, and philanthropy. I am also especially thankful for the faculty (Molly, Carol, and Sam!) and their patience and encouragement throughout the week! Thanks to JMU for making this trip possible, the alumni for making it worthwhile and adding value, and the other students on the trip for the laughter and memories.

Pat Nolan:
My trip to Silicon Valley was a truly incredible experience that allowed for an inside look of what work, culture and atmosphere the Bay Area held. Thanks to JMU and the College of Business, I left San Francisco feeling inspired and driven towards the start of my professional career as a JMU graduate. Meeting with JMU alumni living in the Bay Area was very special. If it weren’t for such a strong and tight-knit alumni program like ours here at JMU, trips like this would not be possible. Meeting with JMU alumni out in the Bay Area was an incredible and humbling experience, as they toured us around their respective companies, allowing us a front row seat to learn about their company culture and work life in the Bay Area. Being a resident of New Jersey and Virginia, being able to travel and soak in the work and company cultures of the West Coast was an opportunity I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am humbled and highly appreciative of the Experiential Learning Trip to Silicon Valley/San Francisco and the windows of opportunity it has opened for myself along with my colleagues on the trip as well! I look forward to the opportunity of working in the Bay Area alongside JMU alumni and hearing stories from future Dukes as they participate in the experiential learning trips to come. I would like to say a big thank you to our trip faculty members; Molly Brown, Samantha Collier and Carol Hamilton. This special experience couldn’t have been done without your help, coordination, and guidance and we appreciate the opportunity you have created for us!

Genna Bestercy:
I’m incredibly thankful for this past week. It was an amazing experience visiting Silicon Valley with 9 other JMU students.The trip highly exceeded my expectations. I loved getting to know other JMU students and the professors, while also meeting JMU alumni. I had never thought about working for a tech company or even leaving the East Coast after I graduate. After talking with many successful JMU alumni who work out in California, I realized how many doors just opened for me. All of the companies we visited I found to be highly desirable to work for. These companies valued a collaborative work environment, treating their employees well, and striving to make the world a better place. They desired to make new discoveries and to help others, which is something that I want to do in my career. I am so grateful for the Experiential Learning Trip to Silicon Valley. I have made incredible friends, memories, and opened my eyes up to a potential career path on the West Coast!

Taylor Lesinski:
The trip to Silicon Valley was such an eye opening and incredible experience. Not only did we get to tour offices of Fortune 500 companies, but we had the opportunity to meet and connect with extremely accomplished individuals in the area. Every company mentioned the importance of networking and connecting and this week we were given the opportunity to do so. This experience made the idea of packing up and moving out to California after graduation a lot more realistic. It was a week I will never forget and I am so happy I took advantage of the opportunity.

Caroline Cook:
On Sunday I packed a bag and boarded a plane with a group of strangers, and on Friday I decided to move to California the second after I graduate. As I’m sure you’ve read by now, we had an amazing time this week and got exposure to companies other students can only dream of. There are many things I’ll be taking with me in my back pocket after this trip, but what I believe to be the most valuable is a little motto I like to call, “sit at the kids’ table.” In your life you’re going to visit companies, and you’re going to want to network as much as you possibly can. Do not believe that you have to go through the top to get in. Every person you meet has something to offer, a story to tell, and they deserve your equal time, and attention, as much as the CEO does. You may find yourself competing for a spot at the top of the table, but if you sit at the kids’ table, you’ll have a good time too. This week I made a point at each company we visited to talk to the person who maybe wasn’t getting the most attention. I wanted to learn more about them and their story. People are good to those that are good to them. When you treat everyone like a CEO, and give them the time and attention they deserve, they can do some pretty incredible things for you. I’m now being connected to people all over California, across the country, and even across the globe. San Francisco is a very generous, and a very well connected place. So, if you’re going on one of these trips, or really any time in you life, just remember: don’t be afraid to sit at the kids’ table. You never know, the food might even be better over there.

Emma Kusi:
I am so grateful for being a part of this trip to the Bay Area. At every company, everyone was so welcoming and wanted to lend a helping hand to those who needed it. From this trip, I have learned the power of networking and that there is no limit for any of us as long as we work hard.  My absolute favorite experience was visiting Airbnb, because their culture was so captivating and beautiful to me. There are so many things that I have learned through this trip that I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere and I will forever be thankful.

Neal Vespe:
On Sunday I boarded a plan to go to a place that I had never been to before and that I didn’t know much about. However, as soon as I arrived in the Silicon Valley, the west coast culture and lifestyle were now a reality. Being from New York, I was amazed to see how different the work environment and culture was on the West Coast. Originally, I felt that the “laid back” culture of the West Coast would take away from productivity in the workplace, however this was far from the case. I quickly realized that the collaboration and teamwork that the West Coast work environment focuses on really leads to success. Not only was I able to get a better insight on all the companies’ cultures and operations, but I was able to network and build relationships with many JMU alumni. One thing that especially stood out to me was when one alumnus said, “Never underestimate the value of a connection.” I really thought about that statement and realized the truth and value behind it. We should embrace and value every relationship that we make, big or small. Furthermore, all of the JMU alumni were so welcoming and helpful in all the advice they gave us. I want to thank JMU and all the companies for making this trip possible, especially the great faculty that included Samantha Collier, Molly Brown, and Carol Hamilton. The entire trip was a life changing experience and it gave me a new perspective on the business world and life. I am definitely considering a career in California and hope to be in the Bay area again in the near future!

Skylar Wolen:
Having never been to California before, I knew from the moment I applied for this trip that it would definitely teach me a few things. From the moment we stepped into the conference room for our first trip meeting we were all strangers, until the time we stepped off the plane we were already all close friends. Touring these top Fortune 500 companies, sitting down and hearing their story on how they ended up where they were was priceless and really changed the way I think about my career. These people didn’t go to Ivy league schools, or were the best in the class. They were all hard workers with great personalities and interpersonal skills. And, at the end of the day, it’s not about your experience, but who you are as a person. All of the employees at these companies worked there because of their passion to make a difference and have a real impact on society. Business culture in California is quite different from most places because of how relaxed and casual most people are. It works, though, because people want to work, they want to make progress and finish what they are doing. One thing to take away from these trips are the people you meet and the connections you make, because at JMU no matter how old you are or when you graduate, JMU alumni will always have your back and be willing to help you out when you need it.

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