Hey everyone! I'm Linsey Sledge, a sophomore in Kogod specializing in management and information technology.
This Road Scholar Seattle 2009 Blog will give you an inside look at everything I got to do on the Road Scholars trip. Initially, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to go; but, the choice Seattle and big name company visits or sitting at home doing nothing for a week. I picked Seattle.
March 9, Day 1: Alaskan Air and Pike Place Market
I've never flown across the country and fitting all my stuff in one bag was a challenge (I'm not one to pack light). But, a 51 pound bag and six hours on Alaskan Air later we were finally in Seattle! After a quick stop at the Watertown Seattle Hotel, making a few new friends and meeting my roommate Hannah, Allison and Tracy led us off to the Pike Place Market for the Savor Seattle Tour. Pike Place Market is amazing! With over 150 vendors, it was one huge farmers market (I love food). Our tour guide, Tom, took us all around the market to taste food from nine different vendors and learn about the history of the market.
Here's only a partial list of what we had: cinnamon sugar doughnuts from Daily Dozen Doughnuts, cinnamon-orange tea from MarketSpice, alderwood smoked salmon from Pike Place Fish, fresh fruit from Frank’s Quality Produce, crab chowder from Pike Place Chowder, chocolate covered cherries and salsa from Chukar Cherries, macaroni and cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, piroshkies from Pirposhky-Piroshky, and triple coconut cream pie from Etta’s Seafood.
And of course we stopped by the first Starbucks.
March 10, Day 2: Costco and Starbucks
Our first stop of the day was at Costco. On the way up to the boardroom, we rode the elevator with Jim Sinegal, the CEO! He is in the office only twelve weeks during the whole year (the rest of the year he visits Costco’s around the world)! Richard Galanti, the CFO of Costco, told us everything there was to know about Costco.
Costco marks up products only 11% and is the 5th largest retailer in the United States! Galanti made me a Costco lover after saying, “If we can’t save our customer money, we don’t sell it.”
After the presentation, we toured the Costco right across the street with Betty Pien, American alum, and had the famous $1.50 foot long hotdog and large soda for lunch.
A quick bus ride later we were at the Starbucks Headquarters. Before starting a presentation, Chris, a Coffee Ambassador (coffee expert), showed us how to properly taste coffee. We tasted the new VIA instant coffee (right now only on the west coast…sorry) with dark chocolate salted covered almonds.
Tiffany Heuy and Kelly Kipkalo, both American alumni, talked to us about Shared Planet. Shared Planet focused on Starbuck’s Corporate Social Responsibility. Starbucks is working to source its products ethically, promote environmental stewardship, and increase community involvement.
Ben Mullins, the Senior Recruiter at Starbucks, Kelly White, and Kim Nicholson, both Starbucks recruiters and American alumni, talked to us about resume tips and how to get a job at Starbucks. We ended the visit with a private tour of the building and got free tumblers from the Starbucks gift shop.
March 11, Day 3: Microsoft
The Microsoft Campus is huge, over 300 buildings and they're still expanding. First, Peter Bateman, American alum, led us to the Visitor Center. We played with phones, computers, Xbox games on a big screen, and the new Surface. Next, we meet Jorge Cruz Rubio, American alum, who introduced us to Daren Mancini the head of the Microsoft Mobile OEM who talked to us about the new MyPhone (Microsoft's version of the iPhone). Then, Dana Manciagli, the General Manager of the OEM Division, talked to us about the importance of networking.
During our busy morning we took advantage of Microsoft's free sodas and coffees. Just be careful not to leave your coffee in the cup too long, or you'll have a pool of coffee on your desk since all the cups and utensils are biodegradable.
Then we traveled all the way across the campus to the Executive Briefing Center where we toured the "Home of the Future." A one story model home is equipped with the technology of the future; the home (Grace) talks to you, the lights are motion activated, the kitchen can make a grocery list for you, the television can help you study for your tests, and the wall paper can immediately display Paris with the tough of a button. RFID tags and LED lights are more powerful than you would imagine.
After our tour, a quick stop for lunch: the Microsoft cafeteria is twice as big at TDR, and of course more free drinks.
The second half of the day, we talked to four recent college graduates about how to land a job after graduation. All of them had held several different positions within Microsoft and are encouraged by their manager to continue experiencing new things within the company. Jenna Shaffin, American alum, presented Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services, which included infrastructure, security, delivery, and environmental awareness.
Our last presenter of the day was Trish Lincoln, a Microsoft recruiter. Check out the heygenuis website to learn about having an internship or job at Microsoft.
To finish the day we had an amazing dinner on the water with a few of our alumni. We networked and enjoyed listening to our alum talk about how they had come from American all the way to Seattle. After talking business, Jenna Shaffin told us all about her black belt in karate, and her love of all things chocolate, and how she meet her husband at American.
March 12, Day 4: Amazon.com
Jeff Barr, an American Alum, led us through the Amazon.com Headquarters (the building was once a hospital) and gave us a presentation on the ins and outs of Amazon. Amazon hopes to have the world’s largest selection of products, be the most customer-centric company, and appeal to consumers, sellers, and developers. Amazon creates new products and strategies every day.
Jeff left us with great words of wisdom: Be strong, be flexible, be useful, be aware, be excellent, be somebody, be visible, and be connected.
Every elevator has whiteboards on which to write ideas; by the end of the end of the day the comments expand to cover the entire inside of the elevator. We were sure to write a thank-you note to Amazon.com from American University on the white boards as we were leaving! On our free afternoon Aditi, Ellen, Hannah, Steph, and I roamed through Pike Place Market. I bought so many things: tea, cinnamon honey, tay berry jelly, hazelnuts, cabernet dark chocolate covered cherries, Italian pasta, spices, and then a bag to carry it all in! We walked from the Puget Sound waterfront, through the market, to the Space Needle. We passed the building where Grey’s Anatomy is filmed; it’s actually news station!
We took the 41 second elevator ride up to the top of the Space Needle; the view was incredible. After a long day of walking we sat down at the top of the needle; turned out we were in the middle of a food tasting! There were samples of salmon and lamb, we got cheese and crackers, and chefs taught us how to make the dishes and fillet a fish! We were definitely in the right place at the right time. To finish our mini meal we got $25 gift cards to eat at the Sky City, the Space Needle Restaurant, and we got pots of herbs! (I carried mine on the plane back home).
For dinner Aditi took us to a Curry, an Indian Restaurant, and taught us how to eat Indian food with our hands.
March 13, Day 5: Qwest Field and Boeing
Qwest Field is the home of the Seattle Seahawks and the new professional men’s soccer team, the Sounders. The view of the city from the field was stunning. On a tour of the stadium, we got to watch a private soccer game from the press box and the 12th Fan box seats (a special box reserved for 8 random picked fans each game). But, even if you aren’t a sports fan, the stadium hosts dozens of other events including proms, corporate meeting, special shows, concerts, and even weddings!
Our last visit of the week, Boeing! We got an inside look at the Boeing Operations Center with tour guide Steven Guzilo, whose son is a sophomore at American University. Two recent college graduates described the Information Systems Career Foundation Program and the Business Career Foundation Program. The programs last two years and allow participants to rotate through different parts of the company. Bruce Rund, the Senior Manager, gave us a tour of the operations center. Staffed 24x7, the operations center watches every Boeing plane in flight and ensures they safely get to their destination. Check out newairplane.com to look at all the planes Boeing has to offer.
Day 6: Free Day!
We had one day to completely roam the city on our own. I went back to the market; others went on ferry rides to small islands, rode duck boats (a boat with wheels), explored at the Aquarium, went shopping downtown, or went on the underground tour. To finish the day we got gelato from the Chocolate Box, everything in the store was chocolate, and I absolutely loved it. I felt like I had fully experienced Seattle.
Day 7: Back Home
Back to the airport and a few souvenirs and hours later, we were at American University.
I probably would never have been to Seattle if I hadn’t gone on the Road Scholars Trip; but now it’s one of the places I would consider living. Everything I brought back was edible and gone the second I got home (I brought back lots of order forms to make sure I could get more). I still get together with the friends I made on the trip to talk about all the fun we had.
I wonder where Road Scholars will go next year.