Spring break trip gives IST students a glimpse inside top tech companies

Mackenzie Stagnito
March 19, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students traded the snowy Northeast for the sunny Southwest this spring break for a unique networking and professional development opportunity. Eight first-year students from the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology traveled to Austin, Texas, March 2-7 to visit the offices of leading technology companies and network with Penn State alumni.

Hosted by companies such as Dell, Indeed, Google, JASK and Zenoss, students gained an interactive experience and saw their classroom lessons come to life in a professional setting.

For Courtney Smith, an information sciences and technology major, the trip exposed her to the inner workings of the tech industry.

“This experience really opened my eyes to what the tech world is about,” she said. “It felt more like a hands-on experience because we learn about so much in class, but seeing people actually do what they learned in college was very insightful.”

Andrew Pacheco, also majoring in information sciences and technology, used the opportunity to learn the different careers he can pursue with his degree.

“[This trip] enhanced my knowledge of the tech industry because it opened my eyes to the different opportunities that exist for people pursuing technology-related majors,” he said. “Technology is so broad and new that there are endless opportunities for any technical field, all of which are growing at unbelievable rates.”

At each visit, professionals shared concrete actions students can take during their undergraduate careers to enhance their resume and stand out to future recruiters. Students also practiced and strengthened their interpersonal skills by networking with professionals and learning from their individual experiences since graduating from Penn State.

“This trip provided a great opportunity to network directly with the people who work at these awesome companies,” said Mizzah Tocmo, who is majoring in information sciences and technology. “By getting in touch with them, everyone on the trip was able to have valuable insight to better prepare ourselves for our future.”

The alumni and other industry professionals who met with the students were able to reflect on their own past recruiting experiences. Greg Stock, Penn State alumnus and CEO of Zenoss, strived to create a welcoming and constructive environment when the students visited his company.

“I tried to put myself in their shoes and imagine what would have been going through my head,” he said. “I tried to bring them into the Zenoss cockpit and let them see exactly what life was like as the CEO over the past five years, as well as throughout my career progression: full of twists and turns, successes and failures. I am hoping that we made an impression that will help each of them find their paths.”

Penn State alumnus Troy Reish of JASK was impressed with the enthusiasm the scholars displayed.

“Overall it was a great experience,” he said. “[There was] a lot of engagement, questions and genuine interest to learn more about our industry and the opportunities it provides.”

Last Updated March 19, 2019