November 12, 2023

Lewis & Clark Students Visit Meta in Seattle

Two Meta employees, who are also Lewis & Clark alumni, welcomed students to Meta’s Seattle office and shared their career stories.

Students standing outside the Meta offices in Seattle. Sixteen Lewis & Clark students visited the Seattle offices of Meta as part of the Career Trek series organized by the Career Center.

In October, 16 Lewis & Clark undergraduate students visited the Seattle offices of leading technology company Meta, formerly Facebook. They were welcomed by two Meta employees who are also Lewis & Clark alumni, John Hadidian-Baugher BA ’06, and Alaina Scherer BA ’12. Hadidian-Baugher, an engineering manager (internal tools), and Scherer, an engineering leadership recruiter, shared their experiences and offered current students a glimpse into the world of work and life after Lewis & Clark.

Meta, according to the company website, builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. They are “moving beyond 2D screens and into immersive experiences in the metaverse, helping create the next evolution of social technology.” In addition to Facebook, Meta owns and operates Instagram, Threads, and WhatsApp. The company is among the 10 largest publicly traded corporations in the United States.

Interior of Meta offices showing a display of Sasquatch sitting on a bench. The Seattle offices of leading technology company Meta.
Credit: Jennifer Leahy
Hadidian-Baugher made the initial outreach that resulted in the visit. Lewis & Clark’s Career Center organized the trip for students.

“I feel like it’s important to pay it forward. Plus, I loved my experience at Lewis & Clark,” says Hadidian-Baugher. “I made lifelong friends there. I met my wife there. The smaller size worked for me. It felt close-knit, like I wasn’t just a face in the crowd.”

In addition to sharing his career journey, Hadidian-Baugher also arranged an informal panel of a few fellow employees to talk about their experiences and answer questions.

“I wanted to give an unvarnished look at what it’s like to work here and to share how we got a foot in the door,” says Hadidian-Baugher.

Nina Olken, senior associate director of the Career Center, says that the Meta visit is part of a Career Trek series. Additional “treks” are being organized and will be announced at a later date. Among the Career Center’s goals in offering these visits, says Olken, are for students to get exposure to the work world and to venture outside the classroom and see how what they are learning is put into practice.

Sara smiling at the camera, wearing sunglasses and a green button-up shirt. Sara Purkovic BA ’25“The highlight of the trip was definitely the eye-opening encounter with L&C alumni who’ve successfully navigated into the tech industry,” says Sara Purkovic BA ’25. “As a humanities major focusing on psychology and international affairs, I’ve often wondered if the tech industry was a viable path for someone with my academic background. The moment we met alumni who not only shared my academic journey but also successfully transitioned into roles at Meta was like a beacon of hope illuminating my career path.”

Scherer wanted to participate in the student visit in order to give back and to demonstrate that there are many different paths from college to post-college professional life. She provided students with insight into landing jobs at a technology company in areas such as computer science, as well as in departments that the students might not have thought of as career options at a company like Meta, such as human resources and marketing/communications.

“In addition to the computer sciences majors, I was also pleased to meet students on the visit who were non-CS majors, as someone who graduated with a degree in sociology and anthropology myself,” say Scherer. “Despite not having a direct or obvious career track at the time I graduated, I left Lewis & Clark with a foundation of critical thinking, writing, research, and working well with others, among other things, which made me a well-rounded young person entering the workforce.”

Students and alumni talking at a table over food and drinks. The students met up with Seattle-based Lewis & Clark alumni for a networking event.The atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork also made a strong impression on Purkovic.

“It was reassuring to find that these professionals were not only successful in their respective fields but also genuinely interested in sharing their experiences and insights with students like me,” she says.

After the visit, the students met up with 10 Seattle-based Lewis & Clark alumni for a happy hour networking event. It was a full day of making connections and learning about future career possibilities. The chance to interact with alumni working in different fields was of particular value to Elie Al Khoury BA ’26.

Elie smiling outside wearing a black shirt and black jacket. Elie Al Khoury BA ’26
Credit: Nina Johnson
“Hearing from different alumni about their experiences allowed me to gain some insight into the ways of making the most out of college” says Al Khoury, who is a biochemistry and molecular biology major, minoring in entrepreneurial leadership and innovation. “People shared different extracurriculars they were involved in, spots around Portland they loved, and classes they recommended taking.”

While Olken joked that the highlight of the students’ visit was seeing the Meta office’s make-your-own, 24/7 coffee station, she knows that the lasting impact of the visit will likely be the students’ understanding of the solid foundation that their Lewis & Clark education provides.

“Critical thinking, processing information,” says Olken, “these are the kinds of skill sets that employers can’t teach. That’s what you learn here.”

Career Center