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Spotlight on Student Life: Industry Trek Experiences

Join our online chat to hear from current students and their most recent trek experiences. Students participate in industry treks each year in the US and around the world to learn about the industries of interest to them by meeting with alumni and professionals in a wide range of fields. Industry treks are coordinated by the student groups and expose students to top jobs all over the world.

Chat Transcripts

 Guest: Fit is an important criterion when evaluating a company. How helpful were treks in assessing fit (both your fit within the organization and the organization's fit within your goals)? Did you come away with a good sense of company culture?

* Viviana Limon: Across the board, Booth does an excellent job bringing companies on campus to recruit students prior through which you're able to meet company representatives prior to your Trek. This helped me target certain companies during my Trek and connect with specific people at each firm, which did help give me a good sense of each company's culture.


Guest: Hi. Thank you for hosting this today. Can you please talk a little about how you were able to keep in touch with the people you met after the trek? Thanks!

* Herbert McClary: The representatives from each firm will have all of their contact info available. I always followed up with someone who took the time to speak with me or I felt like we made a strong connection.


Guest: Hi Gustavo, What was the most beneficial thing you learned and/or experience you had during your recent industry trek experience?

* Gustavo Centeno: I think the most beneficial part of the trek was getting to meet Booth grads in all the companies we visited and ask them about the experience, their current jobs and expectations of applicants and future colleagues. Their answers were candid and everyone in the trek found the small group setting to be a great way to connect and network


Guest: Hi all, I had a question on the PE industry treks. How strong is the Chicago Booth alumni network in the industry and how approachable are the alums for a prospective interview?

* Gustavo Centeno: PE is a networking intensive recruiting process and the network of alumni and current students is really the best way to tackle the process. The network is extensive with a geographical bias towards the Midwest. A lot of the PE alumni network is happy to chat with current students intersted in pursuing positions in the industry but many times, PE firms don't know their summer/full time needs until later in the cycle. Some people land their internships/jobs during the last week of class!


Guest: Can you tell us about any industry treks related to real estate and/or entrepreneurship?

* Herbert McClary: We did a real estate trek to NY early in Winter Quarter (we actually just got back), where we visited about eight of the leading real estate investment shops to listen to their strategies and walk through a few case studies. 


Guest: Hello! Where did you go for your industry trek? How would you describe your experience?

* Herbert McClary: I went on two treks (real estate and investment banking), both of which took place in NYC. The experience can vary a great deal depending on the industry. Banking as you can imagine was much more structured and the majority of the firms we visited had come to campus at least once prior to the trek. Real estate on the other hand was much more informal and was more of an opportunity to learn about the specific investment strategy of each firm.


Guest: Are there industry treks available in Education?

* Viviana Limon: There was a Booth Education Tech Trek in San Francisco this year hosted by the BoothEd group. There's also a Social Enterprise Initiative that will provide you a number of resources to help you during recruiting.


Guest: Hi! In retrospect, what are the most important steps to get the most out of a Trek?

* Viviana Limon: The goal of most Treks is to reconnect with people in-person whom you've likely connected with via email and/or phone and get answers to lingering questions that'll help you get a good sense of the company's culture, all of which is to help you obtain an interview with that company and have specific reasons why that place is a good fit.


Guest: Hi. Where can we find a list of the treks available?

* Kim Masessa: Hi! Thank you for joining us today. There isn’t a public list available of the treks, as they evolve on a regular basis, depending on students’ and faculty members’ interests.


Guest: Hello and thanks for hosting! Can you tell us a little more about which specific treks you were on, how long they lasted, and what kinds of companies/people you were able to observe?

* Gustavo Centeno: I was on the Investment Management West Coast trek that lasted a week. We spent a day and a half in the San Francisco area, a day in Pasadena, a day in Newport Beach and our last day in Los Angeles. We visited roughly 12-14 companies in fixed income, equity as well as a real estate firm. We saw companies that recruited for research roles, account management roles, business development and general portfolio management. We met with Booth/Chicago grad as well as with senior people at each firm.


Guest: Can you provide a little more insight into the general structure / format of the trek itself? It seems like a relatively short time to be visiting with the host companies and I'm curious as to how the content is delivered / connections are made in that time (especially interested in the international treks).

* Gustavo Centeno: I'll tackle the Treks within the US, if you'd like to ask again specifically about the international ones please re-submit. The way the treks work is that many companies have a standing relationship with Booth when it comes to recruiting (full time and internships) as well as with specific industry focused groups at Booth (think IB Group, Tech group, etc). The treks build on that relationship and corporate presentations done during the fall to bring Boothies interested in specific companies for onsite visits and conversations. In Investment Management, the visit usually was between 1-2 hours where we met with different teams, had a company presentation and had a chance to chat ask what we were curious about and inquire more about the opportunities in a company, summer internship expectations and career opportunities. We tried to meet primarily with Booth grads at each company.


Guest: Can you tell us about any industry treks related to Investment banking/ wealth management?

* Viviana Limon:  I went on the Investment Banking Trek to New York this past winter and had a great experience connecting with people at banks who weren't specifically from Booth.  It gave me a strong sense of each company's culture and whether I saw myself working at their offices.


Guest: Are students able to organize treks that are "off the beaten path" or are the Booth treks, by and large, standard I-Banking, PE, Tech treks? E.g. what if I'm interested in organizing a trek to East Africa to meet social enterprises using my own network (and perhaps tapping into Booth's)? Is this a possibility?

* Viviana Limon:  Absolutely. For investment banking, there was a small group of people who went out to recruit at firms in the West Coast. There was also a small group of people who went to recruit at start-ups in the bay area. If you already have a network, you're encouraged to use it and incorporate your new Boothie network to it as well to maximize your recruitment efforts.


Guest: Thanks Gustavo. Very encouraging. Do people go on more on one industry trek? To explore industries they may have an interest in but which might not be their primary target?
* Gustavo Centeno: Plenty of people attend more than one trek within their industry and between industries. I had peers that went on the IM London and West Coast trek and Herbert (here in the chat) did the IB East Coast as well as the Real Estate Trek. You find out about the treks primarily through the industry groups you join.


Guest: What is the sign-up process like for treks? Can anyone join most of them or are some group-specific? Also, is a full list of treks posted for students upon matriculation?

* Gustavo Centeno: Treks are primarily offered through the industry groups you join once at Booth. For example, I am part of the Private Equity, Real Estate and Investment Management groups and all three hosted treks during the fall and winter. You can opt to attend any treks that you feel match your interests and if a group you’re not part of is leading a trek and you’d be interested in joining, I’m sure you can always approach the group leaders to ask to join them.


Guest: Booth obviously has a very strong network in the Midwest, but I'd like to keep my career options across the entire country. Could you discuss the availability of treks on the west and east coasts?

* Gustavo Centeno: Sure! I went on the West Coast trek for the Investment Management group and found a robust network of Booth grads in many different firms and in roles ranging from recent grads to very senior positions. We also have treks that go to the East Coast and from what I’ve discussed with the East Coast crew, they had a very similar experience. I visited between 12-14 firms on the West Coast and found at least one Booth grad at very senior levels of each of the firms we visited plus a large network of Boothies that did internships on the west coast.


Guest: Are the industry treks scheduled specifically prior to the main on-campus recruiting or is it based off availability of Booth alums? How would you characterize the value of the trek compared to some of the networking events on-campus?

* Gustavo Centeno: Treks are carried out throughout the year, mainly determined by each industry/student group and what they feel best fits the group’s recruiting timeline. Investment Management for example had treks during the fall corporate conversation season but mainly focused on the week after finals in December. At that time, it fit right between corporate conversations and the deadline for applications. It’s a great way to show your interest in companies you’re applying to and get to meet more members of the team or even people that may be interviewing during the recruiting process! I think the trek, if you take part of one that visits the firm or team you're interested in, is very valuable in connecting and showing your commitment. I'd say even more valuable than on-campus networking.


Guest: Are there opportunities to sit down with those people with whom you've already connected in advance one-on-one while you are on a trek?

* Viviana Limon: Yes - I was able to connect with several people who I hadn't spoken to at all, as well as some who I had only connected with via email and/or phone.  Additionally, I was able to connect with people who weren't from the Booth network, given that most people who come onto campus to recruit tend to be Booth Alumni. This opportunity gave me a good sense of what the people at the firm were like; not just from the Booth perspective.


Guest: Hello everyone! How long does a typical trek last? Do you just spend a few hours at each company over a couple days, or is it more involved?

* Viviana Limon: The Treks usually last from 3 to 5 days. The companies will typically have a presentation and an opportunity for you to network with employees. Another component of the Treks is to set up individual informational sessions, during which you sit one-on-one with people and ask more targeted questions that will give you a better sense of the company.


Guest: HI there, how long does it normally take to organize a trek and what is the sign-up process / time-frame like?

* Viviana Limon: If the Trek is already sponsored/organized by a campus group, such as the Investment Banking Group or Tech Group, then the process just involves you signing up and coordinating flights and accommodations. However, if the Trek is not a standard one, then it might be more involved and you'll likely have a bigger say in what companies you visit.


Guest: Hey Herbert, could you please tell us a bit more about the Investment banking trek? How useful was this trek to help you zone in on a bank and/or a specific role within a bank?

* Herbert McClary: I’d be happy to. The banking trek is part of a larger process specific to investment banking recruiting. The banks come to campus throughout fall quarter and you have opportunities to build relationships with the bankers prior to the trek. The trek is the culmination of all of your efforts where you will attend a presentation at banks and try to schedule coffee chats with people who couldn’t make it to campus earlier in the fall. At that point you should have a rough idea of which banks are on your target list, but you’re primary goal during the trek is to make the last push towards securing an interview spot. I hope that answers your question, please let me know if anything is unclear.


Guest: What preparation should be done prior to the trek in order to best utilize the opportunity? Thanks!

* Herbert McClary: It depends, for real estate just showing genuine interest and making as many contacts as possible. For banking, really trying to build strong relationships and learn as much about your target firms/groups as possible is key.


Guest: Can you comment on how the clubs at Booth play a role in preparing you for the treks and ultimately a career in the respective industries?

* Gustavo Centeno: I feel the clubs/groups are essentially in preparing you for the treks and your career within an industry. Though the degree of importance may vary from group to group, the clubs are the main source of feedback and informed advice. They prepare resume books, the groups are the first place recruiters/grads reach out to find talent and a lot help is given in preparing stock pitches, case prepping, modeling or even finding constructive criticism of your CV, interviewing style/skills, etc.


Guest: Hi all thank you for taking the time to chat with us today! I was hoping you could describe what a typical industry trek experience might look like (tours, interviews, networking, post-mortem discussions, etc.)

* Gustavo Centeno: I'll copy what I answered before to a similar question but expand it a bit as well:

I was on the Investment Management West Coast trek that lasted a week. We spent a day and a half in the San Francisco area, a day in Pasadena, a day in Newport Beach and our last day in Los Angeles. We visited roughly 12-14 companies in fixed income, equity as well as a real estate firm. We saw companies that recruited for research roles, account management roles, business development and general portfolio management. We met with Booth/Chicago grad as well as with senior people at each firm. Many of the people we met on the trek were also part of the interview/recruiting process so it’s a great opportunity to have a personal connection with your future interviewers. Nothing shows commitment to a firm like showing up during your winter break to a company, meeting people and then genuinely being able to say, “Nice to see you again” when you show up for interviews!


Guest: What about industry treks abroad? What are the benefits and differences in experience compared to domestic ones?

* Viviana Limon: Given that many Treks happen right after the winter quarter, you're not going to be able to go on every Trek, so you'll have to be strategic in your approach. A couple of friends went on a Trek to London for Investment Management and they were able to visit several firms.


Guest: Do the treks happen only at prospective recruiter companies or is it a broader list?

* Gustavo Centeno: Treks take place at a variety of firms. They may be looking for summer interns, full time hires, may not be hiring but want to be part of the firms that engage with Booth or perhaps the firms have dedicated grads that want to make sure they help current students get exposure. During my trek, I visited 3 companies that were not currently recruiting but had an interest in building a relationship with Booth and its students.

Guest: Hi, How would you suggest someone making the best out of industry trek experience related to investment banking role?

* Viviana Limon: The Investment Banking Trek is very involved in the sense that you'll have something scheduled every day. Your goal during the Trek is to maximize your time and make sure that you schedule meetings with people at firms that you have a strong interest in during your available time. The Trek offers you a very unique opportunity to meet with a number of bankers, so make the most of those meetings by having specific questions that will help you perform well in the interview.


Guest: How are the companies on a Trek determined? Are students able to influence the Trek locations in advance?

* Herbert McClary: With some of the more nontraditional treks like real estate, most certainly. The students drive a lot of that process.


Guest: I noticed the treks are hosted by student groups. Do you have to be part of specific student groups to go on treks that they are sponsoring?

* Herbert McClary: Yes, coordinating the treks is one of the primary functions of the student groups.


Guest: Since the list of treks is constantly evolving, is it difficult to create a new trek if one doesn't cover a specific industry/area you're interested in? Have any of you had experience doing that?

* Viviana Limon:  Booth encourages people to leverage their network and interests go on Treks, hence why the list is constantly evolving.  I personally don't have experience setting up a Trek, but did see friends who went on a start-up Trek, during which they targeted specific firms that they knew the group was interested in.


Guest: How are the treks financed?

* Viviana Limon: Usually an on campus group will support a Trek and help connect with people at specific companies to coordinate people. However, your flight and accommodations are covered by each individual.


Guest: Did you experience any issues with the size of the groups? I imagine some of the treks can become quite competitive in terms of participation.

* Herbert McClary: No, if someone is interested in a trek, there is no cap (at least with banking and real estate), some firms may have an "invite only event" that can be a one off situation, but everyone that is interested can join


Guest: How many treks does a typical student do? Also how do you fit treks into your overall schedule? Are you missing class or do you typically organize treks over breaks?

* Viviana Limon: Depending on where you're recruiting, some of the Treks might be during your break or they may overlap with a couple of classes, but you'll likely be able to make up the class.  If your Trek is on the smaller side, you can coordinate with the other people on the Trek to schedule times that are convenient for everyone. However, with more general Treks like Banking, you'll have to stick with the schedule they provide.


Guest: Are there consulting treks to the west or east coast, or do most of those visits occur in downtown Chicago?

* Viviana Limon: Typically, consulting firms will come on campus to recruit students, but you'll need to network and reach out to people on your own if you're looking to recruit with offices outside of Chicago. A list of people who you can contact is typically provided early on.


Guest: Herbert, on the real estate trek, were the eight firms all investing directly into the asset or was it a mix of financing, asset management, development, etc. as well? And domestic/international strategies?

* Herbert McClary: It depends on the size of the firm, but if I remember correctly only one firm focused primarily on financing, the rest were primarily direct investment. The larger firms have multiple arms that cover all of these areas but the principal investing team would be the ones walking us through case studies, etc.


Guest: How structured are the treks? Are there opportunities to set up time and network with folks in advance (or following) the trek?

* Gustavo Centeno: The treks are pretty structured/jam packed. However, there was flexibility to set up your own one-on-ones while traveling and we even had a few trek participants do their first round interviews while on the trek due to their networking prior to the trip. Unless you have a strong affinity for a specific group or a strong connection with someone at the firm, I’d say the trek is sufficient to give you a good idea and a good networking opportunity at each firm.


Guest: Hi, how many students are typically attending treks in standard industries and how many Booth alums are you generally interacting with at each company?

* Herbert McClary: For the banking trek in New York I believe there were about 80 of us in total, with 45-50 visiting at each bank. There were generally 10-15+ people at each firm we visited with on average. But students are also setting up one-on-one coffee chats on their own as well.


Guest: Are there limited spots for some of the popular treks? Or does everyone interested get to go?

* Herbert McClary: No, from my experience everyone that wanted to participate had the opportunity to attend.


Guest: Could you please give some insights into international treks? Logistically speaking, how difficult is it to follow up and go through a recruitment process for an international opportunity starting with the trek?

* Kim Masessa: Internationally speaking, our students have met with firms and recruiters on treks to Hong Kong, London, India, Dubai, Shanghai, and Latin America.


Guest: For the investment banking trek was it primarily focused on bulge bracket firms or does it include middle market and boutique firms as well?

* Viviana Limon:  Both bulge, boutique, and a couple of middle market firms were included in this past investment banking trek, including J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Evercore, Citigroup, Perella Weinberg Partners, Lazard, PJT, just to name a few.


Guest: Can you describe the outcome of the trek you participated in? Did it lead to an interview?

* Viviana Limon: Yes - the Trek definitely helped me secure several interviews with firms that I was interested in.


Guest: What, in your opinion, is the general success rate of treks? i.e the proportion of students who actually land an internship in the companies they visited during the trek. How critical are treks for your internship/job?

* Viviana Limon: It really varies by industry, but most Treks are optional. However, for some Treks such as Investment Banking, it's somewhat mandatory because firms will take your lack of participation as a lack of interest.


Guest: I know the Social Enterprise Initiative is very involved with the global practicums, lab courses, and competitions. Are they also involved with treks? Have students in the past leveraged SEI's connections with foundations, social enterprises, impact investors, and social entrepreneurs-in-residence to organize a trek?

* Viviana Limon: I'm personally not aware that they sponsor any treks, but overall, SEI strongly encourages people to utilize their network to secure an internship.  If there are a number of students that are interested in a Trek, I'm sure they'd facilitate meetings and company visits for the group, but much of that recruiting is done independently.


Guest: Hi! Is there a hedge fund specific trek too or that is "included" in the investment management one?

* Gustavo Centeno: There is a separate Hedge Fund Group here at Booth and I believe they might have their own trek. If there isn’t, any group member is always welcome to try and organize and get a trek on the calendar! In short, Hedge Fund and Investment Management have different groups and carry out the treks separately.


Guest: For international treks, are those usually for individuals from that country or are there opportunities for US students?

* Kim Masessa: Our treks, international and domestic for all students at Chicago Booth, no matter what country they are from.


Guest: What resources are available to you if you would like to plan a Trek? Does Booth help sponsor? Do you need any kind of approval to organize a trek?

* Herbert McClary: The student groups organize the treks. They leverage their existing relationships with the firms (in large part alumni that were previous members of the groups while at Booth) to make the schedule of events. But it really depends on the industry, nontraditional industry treks are driven largely by the interest of current students


Guest: Based on your experience, how open are alumni/people you meet during a trek to connecting after the trek and, to some extent, to mentoring you through interviews or generally through career decisions? [Understandably, some industries have lesser scope for this considering work hours are long and there may simply be little time for additional support/mentorship once the trek is over.]

* Gustavo Centeno: Everyone is welcoming and open to chatting pre/post trek. However, (this is posted from a previous question) the treks are pretty structured/jam packed. There was flexibility to set up your own one-on-ones while traveling and we even had a few trek participants do their first round interviews while on the trek due to their networking prior to the trip. Unless you have a strong affinity for a specific group or a strong connection with someone at the firm, I’d say the trek is sufficient to give you a good idea and a good networking opportunity at each firm.


Guest: Do the industry/student groups usually provide prep work such as understanding any nuisance or subtleties of that industry for career switchers (e.g. non-finance pursuing a switch into IB)?

* Herbert McClary: The Investment Banking Group has a number of resources available for students, the majority of students going into banking are industry switchers 


Guest: Any insight into typical locations for the PE trek (both domestic and international)?

* Gustavo Centeno: It depends. Trek destinations usually follow a pattern of visiting firms that had an interest in hosting treks in the past but also, it's highly dependent on current group members, their interests and industry network. The locations/firms may change from time to time so my advice would be to get involved with our industry/student group and be part of organizing those treks!


Guest: Since flights and accommodations are paid for by the student, do students usually fly and stay together or are students more on their own in terms of arrangements?

* Viviana Limon:  Yes - it's common for students to coordinate on travel and accommodations during their stay. During my Trek to New York for Investment Banking, I stayed in an AirBnB with a friend who was also recruiting with me.


Guest: What would be your advice on networking and preparation prior to the trek?

* Gustavo Centeno: Prior to treks, I would do two things: reach out via email to a few people at your top/target firms and share with them that you’ll be in town and at their firm. This can lead to a good connection and possibility of some additional face time. As well, read up on the firms and maybe even start thinking of questions ahead of time. They are simple things but it can really make you stand out at the firms you’re most interested in. Other than that, get to know your trek mates! They’ll be your best resource before, during and definitely after the trek!


Guest: How would you describe the atmosphere on the trek? In your experience, does it become too competitive among the students or is it collaborative?

* Viviana Limon: My experience in the Investment Banking Trek was very much a collaborative and we usually had dinner or grabbed drinks after events. However, the Trek itself was very busy and a bit stressful from that perspective.


Guest: Gustavo, could you please elaborate on trek mates being one's best resource before, during, and after the trek?

* Gustavo Centeno: Absolutely! Using Investment Management as an example, your trek mates will be the ones that help you perfect you stock pitches, give you additional information about the firms, share contact info from those you’ve met or even give you interview tips. Also, you’ll continue to have them as a resource all throughout your recruiting process and ultimately, they will be your colleagues at firms, your competitors (good to get to know them) and industry contacts!