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Experiential Learning

TechTrek Chicago

What is TechTrek Chicago?

TechTrek Chicago is one of the iSchool's immersion experiences.

Chicago is unlike any city you’ve explored before! The city’s culture is strongly focused in community building and social responsibility in comparison with the hustle of Silicon Valley and the bustle of New York City.

It is home to promising startups like GrubHub, Peapod,, Groupon, Uptake, MATTER, and Basecamp, as well as more established firms like Walgreens and Boeing. Chicago (and its surrounding cities) also host offices for Salesforce, Google, Yelp, Uber, Linkedin, CareerBuilder, Orbitz, Redbox, Motorola, and many more.

What Does A Typical Day on TechTrek Chicago Look Like?

  • 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. - Wake up and eat breakfast at hotel with Syracuse University alumni
  • 9:30 - 11:00 a.m. - Visit Company 1
  • 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Visit Company 2
  • 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. - Lunch and visit Company 3
  • 3:00 - 3:30 p.m. - Coffee break
  • 3:45 - 5:00 p.m. - Visit Company 4
  • 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. - Interactive activity that may include snacks with Company 5
  • 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. - Dinner and nighttime cultural element
  • 9:30 - 10:30 p.m. - Debrief at the hotel

Why is TechTrek Chicago Important?

For students to:

  • Learn what you want in employment
  • Distinguish what you like in a city
  • Learn what recruiters are looking for
  • Connect within a company
  • Deepen connection to Syracuse University through alumni networking

For alumni to:

  • Show off where you work
  • Pay it forward to students who were once in your shoes
  • Meet potential interns and hires
  • Establish relationships within the University after graduating
  • Have a source for focus group studies within your company

For sponsors to:

  • Create a groundbreaking learning style for Syracuse University
  • Foster the connections between alumni and students
  • Pique the interest of alumni in other cities to participate in an immersion program
  • Spread the Orange influence everywhere
  • Influence a current student’s trajectory toward their future careers

What Students Say About TechTrek Chicago

"Not many freshmen even think to apply to trips like this because they might think it is too early to be out in the field and doing things like networking, but I feel that this trip is the best thing I could have done in my young college career. I am thankful that I was able to realize the importance of establishing my network and I am so glad that I shifted my goals for TechTrek Chicago because I now feel that I have made connections that will lead to a future job or internship, and I feel that I am now ahead of the game and set up for success in the rest of my time at Syracuse University." - Braden Racey ’21, Information Management and Technology
"Chicago has been one of the first networking trips I have truly felt like I don’t have to pretend to be someone else to impress companies or alumni. Their friendly atmosphere and laid back culture makes it a city I will strongly consider when applying for jobs." - Canela Corrales ’19, Public Policy Analysis
These companies helped demonstrate that Chicago truly is a hub of innovation through Chicagoans’ culture which focuses on process disruption, collaboration, and strong work ethic. This culture is extremely admirable and promotes an atmosphere that welcomes newcomers and makes it difficult to imagine living anywhere else. - Mike Leo ’19, Accounting
"This trip was the first time I visited a major city besides New York. During my week there I really saw it as a place where I can work and live after graduation. It was interesting to see how big the tech scene was in Chicago. I did not expect companies like Facebook or Google to have such a large presence in the area. For example, Google’s office in Chicago is one of their largest in the country and is home to a large section of their sales team that sell their products to their corporate clients." - Junior Cabrera ’19, Information Management & Technology
"I loved breaking up into smaller groups during the visits and being able to have one on one conversations with the employees of different companies. I'm often too afraid to ask questions in front of a big group of people so getting to talk in smaller groups allowed me to ask the questions that I might otherwise keep to myself. Additionally, I really liked de-briefing at the end of the day as it forced me to think about the lessons and realizations that I had come to that day. Additionally, hearing my classmates' thoughts helped me synthesize my own ideas and give meaning to my experience." - Marina de la Cuesta ’20, Magazine & Information Management & Technology

TechTrek Chicago Course Description

The TechTrek Chicago cohort travels to Chicago and spends 5 days meeting with information-based organizations. Daily visits provide the cohort with a well-rounded vision of the innovative ecosystem and its cultural context.

Accordingly, students are required to study the subject ecosystem and its companies prior to the trip, need to record their observations during the trip, and provide a reflection piece upon their return. Students are required to synthesize their observations by reporting back best practices to a local Syracuse firm.

This course involves travel and significant dedication. In addition to the approximate 100 contact hours during the trip itself, there are several mandatory pre-meetings, one required local company contact session, several writing assignments and a final presentation required.

Program Fee

The program fee is $750. However, the Rob Harris '77 G'79 Fund for Student Immersion Experiences provides a $500 scholarship to all accepted applicants that results in a final out-of-pocket cost of $250.

The $250 fee covers meals, lodging, and transportation for the duration of the trip. Harris believes that all students should have the ability to attend iSchool immersion programs, regardless of ability to pay.

Admissions Information

Applications for TechTrek Chicago open in the fall semester and the week-long immersion program takes place in May each year.

TechTrek Chicago is a competitive program with limited space.

To be considered for admission, you should have, at the time of application, a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale. In addition to GPA, we place a strong emphasis on your Experiential Learning statement, to be submitted as part of this application. We are also asking for applicants to submit a short video describing what they envision as the ideal company or organization to visit on this trip. These details are all contained in the application.

Students who participate in this program are expected to not only represent themselves well, but also act as strong ambassadors for Syracuse University. In order for this opportunity to be made available to future students, current students must work to ensure that we are invited back to the companies who host us during this event.

Admissions decisions are based on a full review of the application file, including the transcript, resume, the Experiential Learning statement, short video, and any disciplinary records. Once admitted to the program, you must remain a student in good standing (academic and judicial) to stay eligible to participate in this program.

Please note that the generous support for the program indicates what an incredible opportunity this experience is. As such, the Board, the iSchool, and Syracuse University expect students to maintain attitudes and behaviors that represent themselves, and their institutions, in the best possible light. Please work to ensure that you put your best foot forward, and perform such that those who are hosting and funding this visit will look forward to doing so again in the future.

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