Trekking the World:

A number of students decided to devote part of their winter breaks to “career treks” where they could visit companies and learn about industries that are not necessarily based in the Boston area. Many students returned with new career aspirations and valuable contacts. The Harbus asked the organizers of the treks more about their journeys and what they learned.

Dominican Republic Trek
Lisandro J. Chanlatte (OJ)
One of the main objectives of the Caribbean Business Club is to contribute to the economic development of the Caribbean by promoting increased professional and investment opportunities in the region. To this end, a total of 51 students from both Harvard Business School (28) and Wharton School (23) visited the Dominican Republic from January 6-11th, 2004.
The Dominican Republic Trek started with a welcome reception hosted by the President of the Dominican Republic, Hipolito Mejia, at the Presidential Palace. This was followed by a three-hour meeting with former president (1996-2000) & current presidential candidate, Dr. Leonel Fernandez, a dinner with the Under-Secretary of Tourism, a lunch with the Under-Secretary of Industry and Commerce and a presentation by the Secretary of State and Executive Director of the Center of Exports and Investments.

The trek closed with a dinner with the Secretary of State and President of the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications, and a tour of the largest Industrial Free Zone Park in the Caribbean, which included company visits to Abbott, Nypro, Corning, and Baxter.

During the trek, students were also able to interact with local alumni from both schools at a welcome reception hosted by Banco Popular Dominicano. Senior officers from Citibank, Banco Popular, USAID, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and two local entrepreneurs presented to the group at a “mini” conference.

The group also had the privilege of being assigned a permanent police escort for the duration of the trip and got a chance to meet the General and Colonel in charge of the Tourism Police. At the end of the trip, the group visited Altos de Chavon, which is located in the famous Casa de Campo, and spent two days in Bayahibe, home of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

In addition, a film crew from Univision Channel 41 in NYC traveled with the trek members – and the report will hit the airwaves in February during the Dominican Heritage Month.

Going forward, the Caribbean Business Club plans to rotate the country where the Trek takes place every year and as such, the club is exploring going to Trinidad & Tobago in 2005.

Hollywood Trek
Jamyn Edis (NG)
SCENE – Warner Brothers Studios, Burbank, California
ACTORS – throng of ambitious HBS MBA students, one movie executive
WB Executive: “So, here in Hollywood, we don’t really value MBAs…”
HBS Student: “I’m sorry, did I mishear you? MBA’s aren’t worth anything in LA?”
WB Executive: “That’s right, but we have slots in the mailroom…”
HBS Student: “Pardon me? Mailroom? But we’re from HBS.”
WB Executive: “But everyone here starts from the bottom…”
HBS Student: “I’m sorry, perhaps you don’t understand – we’re from HBS.”
WB Executive: “Listen, you snot-nosed little…”
Repeat ad nauseam…

Well, that was the original script, at least. But luckily for the 60-strong group that headed to California for the Hollywood Trek, there was a happier ending. LA proved very much open for business to HBS, with a great line-up of companies, including Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount, and Revolution Studios in the film industry, Fox and NBC in the broadcasting industry, Warner Music, and the talent agencies CAA and Endeavor.

While traditionally entertainment companies have been lukewarm to b-school students, the upturn in the industry has proven very positive for MBAs. Disney and Warner Music were especially bullish, with multiple full-time and summer opportunities available. Many were also very open to potentially providing unpaid work experience, providing an invaluable foot in the door to a highly networked industry.

The Hollywood Trek looks like a franchise that will reap considerable box office results for HBS students in years to come. And to those who were lucky enough to attend, please remember that what goes on the Playboy Studios tour, stays on the Playboy Studios tour.

DC Trek
Rohit Shah (NI)
This year’s DC Trek proved to be quite a success for the 60 students who went to DC at the end of winter break (Jan 7-9). Over 40 companies and organizations participated in the trek this year from a wide array of industries, including international development (World Bank & IFC), US government (SEC & Dept of Commerce), private equity (Thayer & Darby Overseas), consulting (McKinsey, BCG, CEB), finance (Capital One), and high-tech (Nextel and AOL). In addition to traditional company information sessions, we had three career panels for students interested in international development, government, and social entrepreneurship careers.

The event also proved to be a great chance to meet alumni, including a discussion with HBS alumnus Sen. John Sununu (R-NH). There was a formal alumni networking dinner on Thursday night, at which over 20 alumni met the group, including the President of the Washington Post. We were also graciously invited to a happy hour for young alums the next night by the DC HBS alumni club, where we got to meet another great group of alums. In addition to all of this, of course, we found time to tour the city, see a show at the Kennedy Center, and have dinner and drinks across DC.

A fantastic team of 16 students put the whole event together, which was, by all accounts, a great success.

Heather Fortunati (OH)
WesTrek proved to be of great use to the participating students. 130 students descended upon the San Francisco bay area to visit 61 different companies, meet and network with hundreds of HBS Alumni, and hear the famous venture capitalist John Doerr counsel us on life and careers.

Some highlight events included visits to eBay, Accel Partners, Wal-Mart, Intuit, TiVo, Chiron, numerous VCs, and Bain Capital.

We are redefining our list of companies every year – this year we added 9 bio-tech companies to our portfolio. And next year we hope to target multiple consumer product companies. As an added bonus, 50 students enjoyed a trip to the Napa Valley for a day of insider winery tours, tasting, and lunch. See for a complete list of participating companies and events.