I’m super glad my first spring break during college was spent going somewhere fun, far away, and free. Last semester, I submitted an application for the chance to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Austin, Texas for spring break with the college of IST at Penn State. Only 8 students could go and if you got past the application portion, they asked to do an interview with you. Which, of course, I nailed. I have to say, I’ve gotten so much better at doing interviews after doing group interviews and one-on-one interviews for four hours trying to get into the scholarship program that I’m currently in…
Anyways, the whole point of the trip was to meet with tech companies and network with them and alumni from Penn State working in the area. Besides that, we had fun activities and great food places to go to built into our schedule. The days were packed with stuff, but we still had a bit of free time to ourselves, but I was often too tired to even leave my bed!
We flew out of a little airport in State College, Pennsylvania (this is were Penn State is) to Dulles International Airport in VA. Then from there, we flew to Austin, Texas. The flight wasn’t that bad, but unfortunately, I only got the window seat one time out of four times riding on the plane the entire trip! I was bummed, but I did get a cool pic above the clouds! After we landed (on Saturday), most of the day was spent to ourselves. Our hotel room was so nice! I was thinking since they were paying for it, they would just give us a standard room, but NOOOOO. They gave us a full on suite with a bedroom PLUS a living room area, kitchen, and balcony! I was so excited that I would be staying there! For lunch, me and the other students decided to go out on our own and find something. We ended up going to In-N-Out Burger, which was great because I wasn’t able to try it the last time I was in Los Angeles! Personally, I think it was overhyped, but the prices were reasonable and the sauce was delicious and for dinner, we went to 24 Hour diner (yes, that’s the name of it)!
The next day we did a tour of Austin, checking out the capitol building, the downtown area with music and food places, and the University of Texas at Austin. We went to a lot of different parts of Austin and even got to try some of their authentic food from a food truck (which are very treasured in that city)! That took up a decent percentage of the day and that night we went to South Congress where there were a lot of different “Austiny” shops. We went into store after store checking out what the city of Austin had to offer. We came across a cowboy boots and hats shop and we just knew we had to stop in! Let me just tell you, Texas takes their boots and hats very seriously! The prices were crazy expensive (but it might just be because I’m a broke college student)! I tried on hat after hat and came across one I absolutely loved! Did I buy it?? Heck no. It was just a teensy bit out of my price range (note my sarcasm; the hat was around $90). But, that’s Texas for ya.
After walking around a bit and taking a bunch of photos with my friend, Mizzah, we had dinner at the infamous Torchy’s Tacos. One of my chaperones for the trip would not stop talking about the catfish tacos they had! I didn’t try them because I’m boring, but I heard they were amazing! Later that night, me and the other students on the trip headed out for a night on the town to see what Austin at night was like. It. Was. Amazing. It was so lively and there were so many people out going to bars, listening to music, and just having an amazing time. We couldn’t really do a lot because the bars were 21 and over (obviously) so we walked around a bit and talked and I had so much fun!
Monday was definitely a lot different from the days before. It was finally the day we would meet with some of the companies. That day, we met with Google and Indeed. Both were amazing in my opinion. Google was in a really tall building and Indeed was out in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Google had different floors some floors allowed dogs and they had really nice seating areas for you to relax or take a nap if you wanted to. The cool thing about that building was that the rooms on the floors were named after different festivals that take place in Austin! Oh, also they give you free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks! Indeed was pretty similar in that they also gave you free food and snacks and the environment was so warm and welcoming, they actually made me want to work there! Both companies were pretty cool. Google fed us lunch (Torchy’s Tacos again, but I’m not complaining) and Indeed was nice enough to let us take as many snacks as our bag could hold! For dinner, we had Terry Black’s Barbecue! That place was delicious and I don’t eat barbecue. Like, seriously. It really messed up my stomach because I don’t really eat red meat, but it was definitely worth it in the moment!
Tuesday, we meet with the CEO of a company called, Zenoss. It was really insightful hearing his experiences of working with many different start-up companies and even failing at some of them and how he eventually became the CEO of his own company! You could tell the guy was pretty cool because he rode a hoverboard everywhere in the office (*insert laughing emoji here*). The rest of the day was dedicated to our music walking tour and Penn State alumni networking event. I have to say, the walking tour was not my favorite. He kind of just showed us where famous music places used to be and played us some music from people who used to play there. I don’t blame him though, but I wish we could have done something else. For dinner, we went to a bar and had dinner with Penn State Alumni. Don’t worry, we weren’t drinking… One thing I forgot to mention was the fact that we saw these green scooters all over the city. Apparently, it’s a major form of transportation there. Who knew??
On our last full day in Austin, we visited Jask and Dell. They were a bit far away from where we were staying, but it was worth the trip! Jask fed us lunch with some good old-fashioned barbecue and they had the cutest dog there (Zenoss did too)! They were both pretty cool companies to hear about and take tours of. Dell let us have fun in their experience lounge, which was pretty much just a place to play a BUNCH of different video games! Dell is such a big company that they basically had a “campus” of buildings. We had to walk from building to building for the tour to get the whole experience! That night, we had a networking event/dinner with PwC (an accounting firm that is also heavy in IT specialists). Unfortunately, we ran into a bit of a celebrity that a lot of people tend to know. Guess who! Alex Jones. Yes, you read that right. The guy who said that the Sandy Hook shooting was fake and all those parents faked their kids’ deaths… The most annoying part of even seeing his face was the fact that we saw him the next day at the airport!
The next day, we flew home and like I said earlier, we saw Alex Jones again. Luckily, he wasn’t getting on the same flight as us! I had so much fun in Austin and I would love to re-visit one day! If you haven’t checked out my post about the Five Amazing Food Places to Visit in Austin, Texas, what are you waiting for!