Tech Trek Aids Employment

Experience, Networking Has Aided in job Search, Alumni Said

By Patrick Gallagher

Assoc. News Editor

Published: Thursday, May 6, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Last summer, one of John Gallaugher's students interviewed for a highly sought-after position with technology giant Google. Surrounded by over a dozen of Harvard, MIT, and Yale's best and brightest, Gallaugher's student got the job – and he said that the competition wasn't even close.

That's because, according to Gallaugher, a professor in the department of information services, the competition is now looking up to Boston College, rather than the other way around, when it comes to his line of work.

"We're offering our students a better-than-Ivy-League education at BC," he said. "We give our students an unfair competitive advantage."

Gallaugher said that his department's ability to successfully place new graduates with prominent Silicon Valley companies that specialize in the information services is a direct result of having many well-placed alumni already entrenched in those firms.

"Entrepreneurship is the problem solving growth engine for the economy," Gallaugher said. "BC alumni are on the frontlines of these businesses."

Each year he runs a course for undergraduate and graduate students of all disciplines called TechTrek, which meets throughout the semester and culminates with a class trip to Silicon Valley, where students are able to witness firsthand the revolution that has overtaken the technology industry. The focus of TechTrek is to teach how companies develop from start-up to blue-chip, and everything in between, from creating and marketing a company to recruiting investors.

In 2009, undergraduate students in the program met with over 50 technology executives, including four CEOs, four chairmen, founders, or C-level executives, and 10 executives at the senior vice president or vice president level.

"As far as my experience in it, it was so far outside of the normal parameters of a normal class," said Jim Luo, a TechTrek alumnus and BC '09, who currently works for Summit Partners, a Silicon Valley-based private equity firm. "The whole time the idea was really to learn about and get exposed to people that you might hear about but never really have the chance to meet."

Twice each year, Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, meets with Gallaugher's students – the same Phil Schiller who was the face of Apple in the absence of CEO Steve Jobs last year.

Other prominent names who met with TechTrek students include Digg CEO Jay Adelson; Dan Nova and Peter Bell of Highland Capital; Twitter Board of Directors member Bijan Sabet; Cybersource founder Bill McKiernan; Quattro Wireless Chairman Andy Miller; and Intuit Chairman and former CEO Bill Cambell, who is also on the board of directors at Apple. Schiller, Nova, Bell, Sabet, McKiernan, Miller, and Cambell are all BC graduates.

Miller's company was recently purchased by Apple for $250 million, and will be the basis of Apple's new iAd platform. McKiernan recently sold his company to Visa for over $2 billion. And the successes of Apple and Twitter have been well documented.

Bill Clerico, another alumnus of the TechTrek program and co-founder of the Web payment company WePay – which, in just two years in Silicon Valley, is already starting to take business away from PayPal, according to Clerico – attributed the success of the program to Gallaugher's work.

"He not only does a great job with the undergrads, but he's also tremendously well respected in the alumni community," Clerico said. "To line up meetings with Bill McKiernan [and] Bill Cambell … speaks to how much Professor Gallaugher is respected." 

This article was reported by students in CO3301, Advanced Journalism.


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