Posted on July 1, 2022 by Wendy Frost

A group of 25 Carlos Alvarez College of Business students traveled to San Francisco last month to participate in a domestic immersion hosted by the college’s Alvarez Student Success Center. During the four-day trip, students networked with leading companies, engaged with professionals and college alumni and immersed themselves in the city’s culture.

San Francisco trip

With the college’s travel programs put on hold because of the pandemic, the domestic immersion program was created to allow students to experience a variety of business environments around the United States. Advancing the university’s classroom to career initiative, the college’s global immersion programs and treks provide students with valuable experiential learning opportunities.

“Domestic and international immersion programs allow students to build business proficiencies from a cultural and geographical standpoint,” said Krishna Garza-Baker, assistant director of experiential learning programs. “These types of programs are valuable because students can develop business connections and relationships that will benefit them professionally and personally.”

The San Francisco trek included corporate visits to Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development as well as cultural visits to the German Consulate and Alcatraz.

Mexico native Joana Gallardo’s most significant takeaway from the trip was the opportunity to engage in career exploration. As vice president of membership for Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting honor society, Gallardo has participated in professional development activities but learned more about potential career paths during the trip.

“As a senior graduating this summer, the experience was valuable because it opened my eyes to career possibilities,” Gallardo said. “The visit to the German Consulate was one of my favorite moments because it helped me realize that there are professional opportunities in my field beyond public accounting.”

“Our business alumni were integral in helping us plan this experience,” said Garza-Baker. Advisory Council member Jordan Walder ’84 managing director at Wells Fargo in Los Angeles, California, utilized his connections within the company to help organize the students’ San Francisco Wells Fargo office tour.

“I was pleased to coordinate a tour for some of the best and brightest UTSA’s business school has to offer,” said Walder. “Internal feedback on the tour was overwhelmingly positive. The students were fully engaged and asked great questions. More broadly, while UTSA has historically not been a target recruiting school for Wells Fargo, I hope this event put UTSA on the map, and that it will lead to UTSA gaining greater exposure in our recruitment efforts. I also hope that the tour generated interest in the banking space, and particularly Wells Fargo, and that it will result in some good internship candidate conversions!”

Daisy Flores, a junior majoring in accounting, enjoyed networking with business professionals and UTSA alumni as well as gaining a sense of belonging with her peers that was lacking due to the pandemic. “As a non-traditional student and mother, I challenged myself to get outside of my comfort zone this year. Because of this experience, I made valuable connections with companies and with my peers,” she said.

In addition to the tours and cultural visits, the students participated in a networking mixer with UTSA alumni in the San Francisco area.

“I enjoyed mingling with the students,” said Robin Fernandez ’11, reality labs accounting manager at Meta. “Thanks to UTSA, I had opportunities that I never dreamt of, which is why I think it’s important for me to give back. It was great to be a part of this experience designed to help students take the next step into the workforce after college.”

Kwadwo Sam, a senior accounting major, expanded his knowledge of San Francisco business operations and the city’s culture as part of the experience. His desire to participate in experiential learning experiences motivated him to apply for the domestic immersion.

“This was my first time traveling within the United States and visiting San Francisco,” said Sam, who will intern with Valero Energy this summer. “I enjoyed the city tour, learning about business relations at the German Consulate and connecting with professionals. The program allowed me to set more career goals and improved my industry knowledge.”

While each student had unique takeaways, collectively they valued the chance to interact with their peers, build business connections as well as lifelong friendships.

— Wendy Frost