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Yale SOM's First Job Trek to Seattle

Looking out on to the lights of the skyscrapers from downtown Seattle, we could feel the excitement for what was ahead of us. Our group of first-year MBAs had arrived for our first job trek in Seattle.

We kicked off the job trek by visiting Amazon. There, we first had a very intimate conversation with a fantastic group of SOM alumni. We toured the different buildings of Amazon, learned about the work of employees at the firm in the elevators, and got to choose a complimentary book from Amazon’s publishing business. The one I picked: Moving Day by Jonathan Stone.

After Amazon, we headed to Pike Place, one of the most iconic sights in Seattle. We had the opportunity to see how the fish-sellers prepare orders for customers (throwing the fish!), and also went to see the first Starbucks store.

Next, we visited Microsoft.  We started our visit by chatting with SOM Alumni, who shared their experiences and perspectives about the firm with us. From the 32nd floor, we saw a great view of Seattle, with the sunset painting the whole sky with impressive colours. Even more impressive was our conversation with Allison Watson, the President for Marketing and Operations of North America. She shared with us the new vision of Microsoft and the different challenges and opportunities that come with it.  As much as we did not want that meeting to end, we eventually moved to Ivar’s Salmon House (a restaurant you should not miss if you ever go to Seattle) where we met with a number of Seattle-based SOM Alumni. The SOM alumni network truly is everywhere!

The next day, we started at Nordstrom. It was incredible to see the passion that each employee has for the company and for the fashion industry as a whole. After an informative corporate presentation and a case presentation – which as Yale MBAs, we obviously cracked flawlessly – we went to visit the flagship store. We all had been in Nordstrom retail stores before, but never had we paused to think why the different clothes and fashion departments are organized in a certain way or how the brand image is included in every little detail. At the end of the visit, we all just wanted to stay and shop!

One of the most eagerly-awaited visits was our appointment with Starbucks. The smell of fresh coffee, the positivity of the environment, and the collaborative spirit among the employees were all pervasive. Our tour was led by a Yale College alumnus – a true testament to our business school being so well-integrated with the greater Yale University and the One-Yale culture – and we all felt like we were part of the same family.

Zulily was our next stop. We had the opportunity to see how they produce their own images for their web page, howthey tailor each experience to each customer through a strong analytical approach, and how teamwork and commitment with a positive attitude can create a billion-dollar company in roughly 5 years.

Finally, we visited Alaska Airlines and had the opportunity to tour their operations training facilities. Just as we’ve seen in movies, there are over 100 screens that track all of Alaska Airlines’ flights – such an impressive sight!  We even had the chance to experience one of the flight simulators that pilots use to train – such a cool company visit.  

We got to end our time in Seattle sweetly with a tour of Theos’ Chocolate Factory. If you’re ever in Seattle, it’s definitely a site not to be missed.

The Seattle Job Trek was a great success, and I hope to be back in Seattle soon for even more exploring.