Boston Trek 2001 Highlights

Last week – while much of the September RC students were shuffling through Harvard Square in their suits, EC students were enjoying some time off, and January RC students were adjusting to new sections – over 300 HBS students participated in Boston Trek.
The organizers of Boston Trek have been hosting panel presentations for HBS students since November on subjects including biotech, wireless, venture capital, e-commerce and the Internet. The Trek began with a dinner on Wednesday, January 30th in the new Spangler Center ballroom, which was followed by three days of HBS students visiting 72 participating companies in the Boston area.
Wednesday night’s dinner was very well attended by students who bid for seats at tables with the participating companies. The event was hosted by Polaris Ventures. Jon Flint, Managing Director of Polaris Ventures spoke briefly about the changing environment for venture capital firms and high technology, providing advice to entrepreneurs and job seekers alike. Participating companies included StorageNetworks, eCredit, Akamai, Avici, Bowstreet, Celarix, CommercialWare, GiantLoop, HighWired, Lucent Technologies, and SmartEnergy, among others.
Company presentations were intimate, often limited to around 15-20 students per company visit. While frustrating for some students trying to attend company presentations like Akamai and Sycamore Networks, Scott Requadt, co-chair of Boston Trek 2001, explained that companies wanted more intimate discussions with HBS students. This provided for very informal discussions and a great opportunity to talk one-on-one with senior management teams.
This year’s Trek unfortunately conflicted with the September RC’s Hell Week, preventing a significant number of students from participating in the Trek. Requadt explained that there were few long weekends to choose from and that in order to help the most students with networked job searches, this past weekend was the only one available until late March or early April. Additionally, in years past trekkers have not overlapped much with those students seeking investment banking and consulting jobs. This year however, many students hedged their bets and are participating in both types of job searches.
I am in the minority of students in the September RC focused on the high tech industry for a summer job. While nearly convinced last week to join two people from my study group on a last minute trip to Paris, I ended up finding the company visits informative and very productive. The intimate discussions were a great way to see the types of people at each company and understand the markets in order to better determine whether the industries were of interest to me.
I was also impressed to see a large number of HBS alumni hosting the company presentations. Many recent graduates were amused that the B2C and B2B phenomenon had come to mean “back to consulting” and “back to banking” on campus. Many explained that it is important to pick an industry that is right for you, and not to follow the herd. David Porter (HBS ’00, Section B) at Yantra gave some great advice about the job search in general, explaining that friends and classmates who were unhappy with their post-graduate job decisions were so generally because of three reasons: “First- they picked a company with a weak business model. Second – they were not able to find out enough about the person they were going to work for or the culture in the office and are now unhappy with the work environment. Third – they took a job that involves work they really don’t enjoy on a daily basis.” Whether you participated in Hell Week, Boston Trek, or flew to Paris for the weekend, those are golden words.