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Alex Zhu: Peak2peak

Steering the Boat for the First Time

Editor’s note: in this piece, Alex reflects on his experience on Peak2Peak, one of the many Immersion Experiences the iSchool offers. Applications for the spring 2019 trips – EntreTech NYCSpring Break in Silicon Valley, and TechTrek Chicago – are open now!


Before getting started about the highlight of my Peak to Peak (P2P) experience, let me tell you about my “awesome” flight to Seattle first…

Getting there

I had originally planned to fly home to NYC from my internship in Pittsburgh to catch a little break before heading to Seattle. However, life is always full of surprises. My flight back to NYC (JFK) was cancelled, but I managed to get put on a later flight that flies out to NYC (LGA) instead… And yes, that flight also was cancelled (I found out after I went through the TSA check-in.)

Fortunately, Alaska Airlines allowed me to change my flight and fly directly from Pittsburgh to Seattle. This is only the short version, if you want to hear the full story catch me in the iSchool sometime and I’ll tell you all about it. I had some expectations of Seattle when I got into Peak2Peak, but this experience made me realize that things don’t always go as planned, so I was cautious not to set my bar too high.

First thoughts

I had expected Seattle to be just a regular city, similar to Pittsburgh. I thought that living here would be unpleasant due to its odd weather patterns. After visiting the Pacific Northwest I realized, I was wrong…

The Final Seattle Visit

Day 3 of the trip was the highlight of my Peak2Peak experience. The early morning routine was just like the previous 2 days: wake up, get breakfast, and depart at 7:45AM. Our last visit on this day was a company called PMI (Pacific Market International.) The CEO and founder of PMI is a Syracuse alumnus, Rob Harris. Rob is a pretty awesome person. He’s not one of those stereotypical mean CEOs like in the movies, he’s more like your friendly neighbor. During the company visit, he told us how he moved from New Jersey to Seattle and started PMI. He made me realize that sometimes taking a leap of faith and moving to a new place can lead to new opportunities.

Lake Washington

This was my best night ever. Not “one of the” best, but “THE BEST”. Thanks to Rob’s hospitality, our entire Peak2Peak group had a chance to visit his home and tour Lake Washington on his yacht. I am a first generation college student who comes from a low income family, so riding on a yacht is definitely not a common day-to-day activity for me (this was actually a first)! I’ve never pictured myself in such a beautiful area, and casually riding a boat behind Bill Gates’ backyard, but IT HAPPENED! During that ride I had an opportunity to steer the boat and take an awesome photo with Liz Liddy, dean of the iSchool, and Rob together.

Key Takeaways

Being a part of the Peak2Peak trip was definitely one of the best choices I made this summer. I met a lot of people, made new friends, and expanded my professional network within a short duration of 5 days. I also learned that “being true to one’s values” is something that’s common in all companies, especially PMI. PMI would never waver from their company’s ethical and moral values for profit, because it acts as the backbone of the company, and a reason why they can produce high quality products for the global market as well.

For those of you who are still reading this, thank you so much for spending some time out of your day to read about some random dude’s experience in the Pacific Northwest.

Alex Zhu

Alex Zhu

My name is Jiebin (Alex) Zhu '20 and I am from Brooklyn, NY. I am currently studying finance and information management and technology in Whitman and the iSchool. A fun fact about me is that I didn't know how to use a microwave until college.

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