Earlier this month, the entire first-year MBA cohort had the opportunity to spend the first week of April in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting with top executives in a wide variety of companies.
In just four days, we met with Levi Strauss, Blackrock, Strava, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve, Farmland LP, Capital One, LinkedIn, Google, Women’s Startup Lab, Interwest Partners, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, RSF Social Finance, Clif Bar and Sierra Nevada Brewery! We also had a little time to explore downtown San Francisco, take pictures under the Golden Gate Bridge, and spend the evening playing in the Exploratorium.
While I was excited to get insight into the inner workings of some incredibly successful companies, I was also thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area for the first time in a few years. I did my undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was eager to show my new friends around all of my old favorite spots in the city.
It would be hard to pick my favorite experience from our week in the Bay, but I was able to narrow it down to a list of my top three:
- Clif Bar
Going in to the trip, Clif Bar was the company that I was most excited to visit, and the office tour did not disappoint. Between the rock-climbing wall in the employee gym, bike parts repurposed as door handles, an endless supply of snack bars, and a program that allows employees to volunteer for an unlimited number of paid hours, it would be hard not to want a job at Clif. Our group was lucky enough to meet with the CFO, who shared stories about what it was like to work for the company 15 years ago when the CEO turned down a $120 million offer and decided to keep Clif Bar private. As far as authentic companies go, Clif Bar is the real deal.
- RSF Social Finance
One of the primary benefits of the experiential learning trips is the opportunity to be exposed to an array of companies in many different industries. While I am not personally interested in a career in impact investing, I really enjoyed learning about RSF Social Finance. RSF is a nonprofit financial services organization dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. The visit with RSF drew together the interests of all three centers (finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability) in attendance, as we had the chance to talk about social responsibility, financial analysis, and innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.
- Net Impact Meet Up
My third and final highlight of the trip was our meet up at UC-Berkeley’s graduate chapter of Net Impact, a nonprofit organization of students and professionals dedicated to using business skills for social and environmental causes. On Tuesday night, students from our chapter at UO met with students from the chapter at UC-Berkeley. We compared professional interests, internship prospects, and our plans for the Net Impact conference in Seattle, Washington in November. Of course, we also told stories about our experiences in grad school and laughed over local brews. This highlight might be biased, but it was eye-opening to see my college campus through the eyes of my new friends.
Despite feeling slightly nostalgic for my college days in Berkeley (who isn’t nostalgic for their alma mater), my biggest takeaway from San Francisco was a renewed appreciation for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. The experiential learning trips are just one of the many benefits of the Oregon MBA, and I feel really lucky to have a cohort full of intelligent, passionate, collaborative and enthusiastic students with which I can share these trips. Until next time, San Francisco!