Every year, groups of Darden students travel the country and the globe on organized job treks to visit companies and geographic areas in which they are interested. Job treks typically include a series of company visits, including meetings with executives and hiring managers, as well as social events with local alumni. While locations vary from year to year, previous destinations include Charlotte, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and more. 

When asked about the value of job treks, Casey Floyd, Director of Employer Engagement and Recruting with Darden’s Career Development Center, highlighted the key insights these trips afford: 

“Job treks don’t necessarily provide greater access to jobs, but they do provide students with the opprortunity to see a firm from the inside. By participating in a job trek, students get to hear valuable information from company leaders, and the companies are able to showcase jobs and roles that may not be available through Darden’s on Grounds process. After the retail tech trek, several students applied for jobs at companies they visited largely because they were able to see themselves at those firms.”

We recently caught up First Year student, Lauren Sless, to talk more about the retail tech job trek that took place in late 2018. Check out Lauren’s answers below!

What led you to Darden? 

I chose Darden for two reasons. First and foremost, I was attracted to the learning approach. I knew the case method would give me broad exposure and allow me to build important skills. In addition, it was clear to me that the administration genuinely care about the students here. I felt Darden was a place where I would be able to chart my own path, and I would genuinely be supported in doing so. In my experience, that kind of individual support is really rate.

How did the retail tech job trek come about?

It was very much a group effort and lots of different people worked to create these opportunities. My classmate, Mike Reed, and I worked closely with Casey Floyd to plan this trip, and the Tech Club and the Retail & Luxury Goods Club also played important roles as we set the agenda.

I got involved because I felt this trip would help students explore companies that don’t have quite as much representation in On Grounds recruiting. There is also a lot happening in the retail and tech space in New York City, and, while this trip was new for Darden, I thought it would lay important groundwork for future students.

How was the trip?

The whole trip was really eye-opening. We had an amazing roster of companies. We went to Google, Anheuser Busch, the wedding start-up, Zola, Coach and Troops.ai, a platfrom that integrates SalesForce and Slack. It was nice, intimate group of students, and participants had the option to choose which company meetings they wanted to attend. Having smaller groups allowed more time for one-on-one meetings, which helped students get a personal feel for each company’s culture.

While you may not think of retail and luxury goods as industries that are really thinking about the application of technology, I was really struck by how the companies were using technology and data to consider and plan the future and evolution of their brands. There are so many different roles and ways to grow for someone with an MBA, and, if you like data, there are real opportunities in retail.