Not many people can say they have an affinity for Airbnb because it reminds them of home. After all, the online rental service is all about other people’s homes. But Ema Pasic Reid comes from an unusual background: born in Bosnia, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky at age 6, her family the first Bosnian immigrants in the city. There, her parents assisted subsequent new arrivals from Bosnia, by running “a de facto refugee center out of our living room,” Pasic Reid recalls.
“I just kind of developed this love and passion for engaging with people in my home, showing them around my neighborhood, introducing them to my friends,” she says. “I’d always be the first one to offer up my spare bedroom.”
As a Tuck tech boot camper, Pasic Reid visited Google, Facebook, and a number of other technology companies and startups. But, she says, working at Airbnb remains “a slight obsession,” and one that was central to her application to Tuck. “My entire application was like, ‘Here’s a thousand reasons why I want to work at Airbnb, and can you help me in any way?’” says Pasic Reid, who has a BA in political science and international studies, with a minor in business institutions, from Northwestern University.
The boot camp, however, allowed her to see some other possibilities beyond the object of her obsession. “It might help me consider companies that I didn’t really consider before,” she says, adding that she found a talk at Google’s home-tech Nest Labs enlightening. “Nest is a company that in the past I probably wouldn’t have had much engagement with. Learning more about the company, it kind of sparked my interest, and now it might be a company that I would consider during recruitment.”
LESS INTIMIDATED BY LOOMING RECRUITMENT PROCESS
Pasic Reid, 29, spent four years in social media marketing for Brand Networks in Boston, after two years at another marketing firm and a year as co-founder of an adventure-tourism charity. She’s traveled to nearly 50 countries.
Before coming on the Silicon Valley trip, Pasic Reid found the impending recruitment process “incredibly intimidating,” she says. “A lot of my friends went through the recruitment process at Google and Facebook, and unless you have an ‘in,’ it seemed very unachievable.” Talking with Tuck students and alumni working at Google, and visiting the Googleplex in Mountain View changed her view, she says. “Coming and meeting students and having access to this company in a physical way makes it seem more achievable, makes it seem like something that’s within reach.”
The boot camp’s meetings with students, alumni, and other players in the Silicon Valley ecosystem provide an excellent networking opportunity, Pasic Reid notes. “This type of a program allows you access to all of these groups.”
One message came through quite clearly, early on in the boot camp. “A lot of smaller startups don’t necessarily value a business degree,” she says. “If I decide to work for a smaller place I look forward to learning how to position myself to these employers to actually stand out, to prove that I will actually be worth it.” And, she says, those smaller companies aren’t the ones coming to B-school campuses to recruit. “You’re going to have to really go out and target a company and sell yourself.”