Students from the SAA's 2015 Networking Spring Break in Seattle.
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SAA DuckFunder

Tours at Google, lunch with LinkedIn, coffee tasting and networking at Starbucks; this sounds like the dream for any undergraduate soon to enter the professional world. The Student Alumni Association is making this fantasy a reality for UO students, with the second annual Networking Spring Break trips.

This year, the SAA is facilitating two trips over spring break—one to Seattle and one to the Bay Area—for a week packed with career prep events, opportunities to connect current UO students with Duck alumni and parents, and visits to cutting-edge companies. Sixteen students were selected from a competitive pool of applicants for this unique opportunity.

The Seattle cohort will be leaving for the Emerald City on March 23, accompanied by two UO staff members. Their week includes visits with insiders at Amazon, Zillow, Starbucks, Microsoft, Expedia, and more, as well as networking events with the UOAA’s Seattle Ducks chapter and a brunch with advocates of the Parent and Family Association.

Ducks bound for California will similarly spend time working on career prep activities, reflection, and cultural exploration in the midst of a schedule packed with visits to Silicon Valley giants such as Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, in addition to Stanford Health Care, Clorox, and more. This group will have the opportunity to enjoy a networking lunch with the UOAA’s regional chapter, as well as an intimate dinner hosted by Duck parents in Woodside.

“These trips do so much for both students and alumni,” Susan Burton, assistant director of student and alumni relations, said. “These are incredible professional development opportunities for undergraduates, but they also give alumni a chance to connect with the UO, despite being away from Eugene. Our hosts are so happy to see a little green and yellow in the middle of Husky country or Stanford territory.”

Burton recounts that one student who attended the 2015 Networking Spring Break said the experience changed her opinion about graduating. “Because of the professional skills she gained throughout the experience, she said she no longer felt scared to graduate," Burton said. "She was excited to join the professional world.”

This year, alumni who wish to support the students traveling to Seattle and the Bay Area to network and prepare themselves for the professional world can contribute to the SAA’s new DuckFunder campaign. DuckFunder, a crowd sourcing platform specifically for University of Oregon projects, launched this academic year and has already helped Ducks achieve fundraising goals for eight diverse projects.

The money raised for the SAA through DuckFunder will help with a number of expenses, including the cost of meals, travel tolls, and student supplies. If the SAA and its generous donors are able to reach their goal of $5,000, they will be able to offer all students attending a discounted rate on the travel fee. Offsetting the travel fee, which students pay to cover lodging and transportation, would be a hugely beneficial to students paying their own way.

“The Networking Spring Breaks are tremendous opportunities from alumni involvement," said Burton. "Whether Ducks are supporting students financially through DuckFunder, attending networking events in person, or hosting dinner or brunch for these students in their homes, their involvement makes opportunities such as this possible.”

That’s the strength of the University of Oregon network.

To follow the progress of the SAA’s fundraising efforts or to learn more about the Networking Spring Breaks, visit duckfunder.uoregon.edu.