Angels, entrepreneurs and alumni

In addition to Fortune 500 company visits like Cisco, Shell and Google, the trek featured opportunities to tap into the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that characterizes the region, beginning with a venture capital panel discussion with Silicon Valley angel investors and Purdue alumni hosted by Jackie Magno (MSM ’87) and Ed McGavin (MSM ’90).

“I found the venture capital panel to be very inspiring,” says Zhao. “I learned the process of pitching to an angel investor, the struggles of a Silicon Valley startup, and what type of ideas they were seeking.”


Participants in this year’s career trek learned about successful corporate global operations and integrated supply chains, networked with Purdue and Krannert alumni and explored one of the largest regional economies in the country. (Photo by Kris Knotts)

The group’s venture continued with a visit to the Plug and Play Tech Center, a global accelerator that specializes in growing tech startups. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Plug and Play’s network includes more than 300 tech startups, 180 investors and a community of leading universities and corporate partners.

There, students networked with Purdue alum Art Norins (BSIE ’92), a successful entrepreneur who has built multiple businesses from concept to reality. His latest enterprise is Nor1, a hyper-growth Internet startup headquartered in the tech center.

“The experience helped us understand entrepreneurship and stretched our imaginations to be entrepreneurs ourselves,” says Paul.

Another highlight of the week for Paul and her classmates was an alumni event that provided networking opportunities with successful Purdue people from throughout the Bay Area. Attendees included guest speakers Rusty Rueff (BS ’84, MS ’86) and Krannert dean P. Christopher Earley, as well as many of the alumni students met on company visits.

“The best way to learn more about career opportunities in West Coast companies is through Purdue alumni who work there, and this experience helped us make those connections,” says Paul. “Their stories are inspirational and their loyalty to Purdue is very strong. The biggest takeaway was that the relationships we cultivated are for life.”

Plans already are underway for a 2013 trek to Atlanta, says Mullens. “Purdue has strong ties in the Atlanta area and our students are eager to tap into that network.”

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