Adventures Ahead in Silicon Valley


So far I’ve spent 12 hours on the Caltrain. It’s only a very small fraction of the 160 I plan to spend on it this semester. I elected to live in Mountain View and commute to San Francisco. Everyone, including my boss and my peers, thinks I’m crazy, but instead of thinking of my commute as dead time I wanted to leverage the commute everyday as a built-in study period. I get between two and three hours each day to study, but also just to slow down and think.

I definitely need this time given that my internship, in day 5, is already so fast-paced and exciting. Everyone at Augmedix is so excited about the amazing service we are able to provide for doctors. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into a start-up. They have some of the characteristics I expected like colorful sticky notes all over the wall and a common goal to change the world (of healthcare, at least). However, I didn’t expect there to be so many people, or a giant 12ft dinosaur in the office. They have roughly doubled in size since I interviewed.

The next few months will be incredibly challenging I have no doubt. Even though it’s been less than a week, I feel like I’ve been here for a long time. I’m still getting used to the autonomy that Augmedix gives me, which is so different from any other environment I’ve ever worked in. It’s a good challenge and I’m glad that they trust me, but also stressful because projects I work on really will shape the company as they grow. I’m still learning how to navigate this new environment.

It’s going to be a crazy semester and we haven’t even had our second class yet, but that’s what we signed up for.

Kelsey Gohn ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Augmedix

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SVP – The Semester Kick-off

Last week we began our orientation week for SVP Fall 2014, which was filled with a wide range activities. Everyone moved into their apartments on Labor Day Weekend and orientation began on the following Tuesday. We began orientation by reviewing expectations for the semester and then a safety seminar by both a police officer and fire fighter. Although we’ve all been briefed on safety many times in our lives, it was nice to have someone explain Mountain View and its areas for those of us who were unfamiliar with it.

In the afternoon, we had a Stanford Business School guest lecturer, Christopher Lipp, come in and speak about the ins and outs of public speaking. I know that this lecture was many students’ favorite part of orientation. Aside from speaking about posture, eye contact, and pauses, he spoke about how to set up a lecture/speech and elements it should always contain.

Dean Brock Blomberg came in on Day 2 to discuss the expectations of one of our classes (ECON 198) this fall. Then, closing out Day 2, we discussed logistics for our trip up to SF for our last day of orientation.

On Thursday morning, we all woke up early to catch CalTrain into the city. We ended up at Clash Scavenger Hunt’s headquarters right next to Union Square. Normally when you think scavenger hunt, you’re not thinking of anything that could get 18 20-something-year olds excited. We all were. We spent an hour roaming around Union Square completing the scavenger hunt and then had a nice lunch all together.

NextDoor logo Remy Guercio interned at NextDoor this summer and set up a meeting for us there after our lunch. Their headquarters is beautiful and everyone who met with us was able to give us a unique perspective on what NextDoor is and what their goals are.

We had our first class last Saturday and are prepping for our second class this weekend!

Jennifer Smith
Scripps College ’16
Intern, Looker

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Reflections on ITAB’s Founder, Bart Evans ’70

CMCAA President John McDowell '79 presents Bart Evans '70 with the John P. Faranda Student Service Award

  • Your name badge is to be worn on your right side.
  • Men should learn to tie a double Windsor knot.
  • When presenting a gift formally, hand the gift from left-hand to left-hand, while shaking from right-hand to right-hand. Pause to look directly at the camera. Take charge of the situation with your host.
  • Always carry calling cards and present them to individuals with whom you have had meaningful conversations. At the end of the evening, it’s the only evidence that you were at the event.
  • If you promise to provide something to someone you’ve met, follow-up immediately.
  • When asking a question, never say “you guys.” Rather, use the company name in the question, such as, “When considering privacy issues, how does Google protect individuals and collect useful data?”

These are just a few “Bart-isms” from “Bart’s Boot Camp” related by Bart Evans ’70 to the Silicon Valley Networking Trip students during the first night of the trip that he created, now heading into its tenth year. Bart insisted that mastering these and other social graces would cause students to stand out—in a good way—and would serve them well in life.

  • My name is Steve Siegel, and I have the pleasure of administering two of the Silicon Valley programs Bart inspired over the last decade at CMC. “My name is…” and not “I’m…” is another Bart-ism.  As he would say, “You are far more than just your name.”

Inevitably, during a corporate visit Q & A session, a student would ask a “you guys” question (see bullet 6, above). I would turn to Bart just to see the look on his face: a mixture of amusement and disappointment that revealed both the understanding that “kids will be kids” and the determination that “I’ll get them all on the same page by the end of the week.” Sure enough, by the end of the week, most students who witnessed a “you guys” transgression would also turn to Bart to share his bemusement with the offending student.

Bart insisted that students wear dark business suits, white shirts, and neckties (for men; see double Windsor knot in bullet 2, above)—even in Silicon Valley—as a show of respect for our hosts. Picture Col. Evans leading his platoon of Claremont McKenna College undergraduates through pre-IPO Facebook—all of us in dark suits—looking either like lawyers or bankers.  Facebook heads would turn and wonder, “who are these people?” Bart could not have been more pleased…except for the time when the CEO of Sun Microsystems mistook the CMC undergraduates for Wharton MBAs based on their appearance and the quality of their questions.

Bart repeated both stories, with joy, every year.

Just like CMC’s eponymous trustee Donald McKenna, Bart loved CMC students. He challenged them, regaled them with stories, provided loads of invaluable advice, drank with them, responded to their questions, and simply cherished being around them. Even in January 2014 as his fight against pancreatic cancer was in full swing, Bart rallied and attended every session of our 5+ day excursion.  Except for the occasional moments of brutal honesty, you’d never know Bart was in a fight for his life. He simply loved being with those students on that trip.

I have recounted a number of characteristics that made Bart Evans a great friend to CMC students. What I appreciated most about Bart personally is that I always knew where I stood with him. When he thought there could be improvements, he would be direct, and would offer constructive criticism—often in the form of detailed observations set out in outline form with the precision of an engineer / Army colonel. He would invite critique, and listen to comments, as well. When programs went well, he would be quick with a kind word—and then move on to tackle the next objective.

I count myself among the fortunate who had an opportunity to work with Bart.  His lessons will live on for some time to come in the minds and the hearts of the students and staff who took the time to listen.

Stephen M. Siegel ’87
Director, Silicon Valley Program
Claremont McKenna College
steve.siegel@cmc.edu
www.cmc.edu/svp

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In Memory of Barton Evans ’70

Bart Evans

Yesterday, Claremont McKenna College lost a great leader in Bart Evans ’70. A trustee of the College for nearly 15 years, Bart gave his all to every committee, sub-committee, and organization that called on him to serve. His vision inspired the College to form the Information Technology Advisory Board, which provided ITS with sound counsel, while developing the hugely-popular Silicon Valley Networking Trip, now heading into its tenth season. The success of the SVNT prompted the College to start the Silicon Valley Program, a semester-long off-campus study program for students of the Claremont Colleges.

Bart served on numerous CMC Board of Trustees’ committees. He and his wife, Andrea Neves, funded the Barton Evans and Andrea Neves Professor of Literature, held by Professor Robert Faggen. He also served numerous community organizations including the San Francisco Opera and Opera San Jose. He and his wife, Andrea Neves, were justifiably proud of the program in social justice that they funded at Sonoma State University.

I had the privilege of getting to know Bart during eight of the nine ITAB trips, and as we began planning for the Silicon Valley Program semester. His exacting standards – honed from his engineering, Army, and corporate COO roles – have influenced every aspect of the ITAB trips and the Silicon Valley Program. Generations of CMC students have been exposed to “Bart’s Boot Camp,” a “mission critical” primer on how one should conduct himself in a business setting. All along the way, Bart inspired excellence from the students and staff, alike.

The entire CMC community has lost a dear friend, but we are grateful that his legacy and largesse will live on to inspire future generations of students for decades to come.

Stephen M. Siegel ’87
Director, Silicon Valley Program
Claremont McKenna College
steve.siegel@cmc.edu

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The Best 4 Years of Your Life, by Bailey Masullo

As a college student, I’m constantly hearing how I should enjoy the best four years of my life, take advantage of it while I can, and how you’ll wish you could go back to college. I can see where they’re all coming from, the Claremont Colleges are amazing. Creating a schedule where you don’t have class until the afternoon, constantly surrounded by friends, and the ability to always be learning something new each day. It’s not a bad life, but “real” life isn’t as bad as you might think, as long as you’re at the right company.

I’m thankful to be one of the five interns at Atlassian this semester where I’m joining quite a few Claremont alumni. Atlassian really knows what it’s doing, from the products they are designing to it’s company culture. The technology industry is changing and expanding every day giving me the chance to constantly be learning something new and exciting. Atlassian also understands that people work differently, and allows flexible hours which is perfect for someone still in college and not used to those early mornings quite yet. I could go on and on about the perks at this tech company, but that’s not really why I love it. It’s the culture and the people here. Everyone is incredibly friendly, inspiring, and really works as a team. I’ve worked at other companies in the past, and none of them incorporate the values like the employees here. If you think about it, work takes up a large majority of your life, so you better enjoy it.

This program allowed me to see what the real world is really like. Because I’m here during the spring, I’m treated like an employee, not a summer intern. This is just one of the many valuable experiences I’ve had on this program. Similar to many Claremont students, I wanted to go into consulting after college, but now I’m in love with the tech industry. It’s so different than I expected, and I’m happy to learn that I don’t need to be a computer science major to work in tech. Overall, this program has completely changed my career path and has taught me things I could’ve never learned back in Claremont. I’m incredibly thankful for this program and would encourage anyone mildly interested in tech to check it out. It’s more fun than you think!

Bailey Masullo
Intern, Atlassian
B.A. Mathematics and Economics
Pitzer College
Class of 2015

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It Feels Like it was Just Yesterday, by Mayowa Ige

Although it has been exactly four months since I first stepped foot into our lovely Mountain View apartment, it feels like it was just yesterday.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I accepted my offer of employment at Equinix.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I met the most energetic African born, Australian raised, James Bond look-alike, dedicated swimmer, chocolate-lover that would soon be my boss.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I got lost trying to find that really good Chinese restaurant (Hong Kong Bistro) in downtown Mountain View five minutes away from our apartment.

It feels like it was just yesterday I started my first day of work, greeted with a laptop, coffee, and the view of a beautiful lagoon.

It feels like it was just yesterday that I met my three roommates, singing (err, screeching) “Mister Illll make a man out of youuuu!” That’s Mulan for all you non-Disney singers.

This semester has flown by so quickly, and I write to you as I calmly eat my Snickers bar.

In all honesty, participating in the Silicon Valley spring semester has been by far the best thing that I have had the pleasure of experiencing as a sophomore. From the first info session Steve held on Pomona’s campus, to the SVP interview, to fine-tuning and sending out my resume to different companies, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience that has allowed me to mature in so many different ways.

In terms of working at Equinix, it is an interesting oxymoron. Equinix is difficult to decipher. Let me explain: Equinix is a data center company that pretty much stores the internet data of – and facilitates transactions between – other companies. Think of a company like Amazon. They thrive off online sales, and thus their internet data is unbelievably important to them, so they utilize a company like Equinix to keep these internet data safe and secure in many different locations. So on the outside, it looks like a typical “Corporate America” setting, but on the inside, it’s a different story.

As for the people, Equinix is the best. Period. The team that I worked with this semester is fantastic! Everybody is diverse (and old), but they are honestly young at heart. My boss knows almost all the acronyms/songs that we “young folks” use these days. I was surprised to find him singing “Get Lucky” by Pharell and Daft Punk (like I don’t even know the lyrics to the song!) So, even though many of my peers were working in the typical start-up companies with a younger employee demographic, I honestly felt at home at Equinix.

Cool fact: my boss and I have a thing for chocolate. We’ll take a Snickers break on occasion, but we prefer the finer German chocolate! So after every lunch (5 days a week), we would split imported German milk chocolate with hazelnut! If you ever get to work here, just eat the chocolate. It’s the best you’ll ever have. Trust me. Thankfully, I will be working for Equinix through the summer, so our chocolate lunches shall continue!

I have met some great people in Silicon Valley. Yes, you might get overwhelmed with classes and work, but make sure you really tap into your people resources. I took my bosses to lunch on occasion (bring some good German chocolate, too), and just asked them some simple life questions, getting to know their story. I was lucky in the sense that my boss was very open with me, and his insights definitely helped me clear up some gray areas that I was feeling between choosing a path that balances my passion but also help me reach my goals in life. Talking to mature adults really help you put things in perspective.

Overall, I have felt like a sponge this semester. I started off new, fresh and shrunken, and now, I have absorbed so much knowledge and experiences that have made me grow immensely. (Ok that was kinda a weird example but you get the point).

Non- CMC students: don’t be scared. Apply to the best semester of your life, and never look back!

It feels like I started this journey yesterday, and I am proud of myself for taking the risk to apply because I’m happy (clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…)

With that, I leave you with The Sound of Music!

So long, farewell, I hate to go and leave this pretty blog
But I must go to work tomorrow
Goodbyeeeee, goooodbyeee, ggggoooooooddddbbbbyyyyeeeeeeeeee!


Much love, singing, and chocolate,
Mayowa Ige
Economics Major
Pomona College ’16

PS: There is always a dessert on Saturdays. If they don’t give you sugar, don’t go back to class! But really, those are yummy, so EAT THEM!

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A letter from a current SVP student to future participants, by Julia Keinan

Dear SVP Fall 2014 Participants,

The months between getting accepted into the Silicon Valley Program and actually starting the semester are incredibly stressful. While your friends are filling out study abroad paperwork and planning their trips to Oktoberfest or Croatia, you are sitting at a computer fine-tuning your resume, drafting cover letters, connecting with companies, and preparing for interviews. Your primary concern is getting the internship you want and everything else gets put on the backburner. I know the feeling because although I had talked to students who had done the SVP in the past, our discussions usually circled more around how to get an internship and less on day-to-day life while on the semester. I hope that this letter will shed some light on my personal expectations of the program and how I was very pleasantly surprised by the reality.

My primary concerns pretty much centered on living in a real apartment with people I had never met and the intense workload that everyone warned me about. Having not spent any time in the Bay Area in the past, I was worried that Mountain View was too far from San Francisco and that I would feel trapped in my apartment with a ton of work to do all the time. I was worried that the transition from no Friday class and a three-day weekend in Claremont to only Sundays off would be torture. While I was excited for this experience, I grew increasingly nervous as the semester approached.

These concerns mitigated quickly. The other students are great – I have been getting to know juniors and sophomores from CMC, Pitzer, Scripps, and Pomona that I never would have met outside of the program. In Claremont, it is easy to get into a comfort zone and being on this program really introduced me to the more diverse group of students at the Claremont Colleges. Additionally, as the program grows each semester (there are only 12 of us here now and will be 19 of you next semester), the group will become increasingly interesting and dynamic. Finally, living in the Mountain View apartments makes life relatively easy because we have a small, fully-equipped kitchen as well as access to a pool, hot tub, gym, tennis and basketball courts, and more.

Coming in, my biggest worry was the workload and how it would affect my free time. However, I have found that is definitely very manageable. Although our final projects are coming up in these last few weeks and will be very time consuming, the time before finals is stressful no matter where you are and at least we do not have any final exams to worry about! Over the course of the semester, we have short tests every Saturday and a few small, scattered assignments throughout. While this schedule ensures that Friday nights are usually dedicated to studying, it is definitely possible to study earlier in the week and create some free time on Fridays. We are able to do this because the professors are great about setting expectations for our weekly examinations and the material covered each week is significantly less than the midterms we take at school. This means that the classwork is not volatile, with crazy amounts of work some weeks (midterm week, ugh) and very little the next. Instead, we are able to spread out the smaller, weekly workload into very manageable chunks. It also means that after class on Saturdays, you have all of Saturday night and Sunday with very little work to worry about. Personally, I have fallen in love with San Francisco and go into the city most Saturdays and Sundays.

All in all, yes, I am very excited to return to CMC for my senior year. I definitely miss the luxury of finishing a week on a Thursday afternoon and being with my friends on CMC’s campus. That being said, I have been very happy with how manageable and fun this semester has turned out to be. This experience has definitely made the prospect of graduating from CMC and entering the “real world” much less daunting and I have made some new friends along the way!

You all should be looking forward to a great upcoming semester! Good luck!

Sincerely,
Julia Keinan
Intern, Equinix
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015

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Unexpected, by Jacquelyn Zehner

It’s mid-way through the semester and my internship is not what I expected.

At school I am studying Computational Neuroscience and Economics. However, I have a background that heavily favors the lab-science end of my major. Naturally I expected my internship to fall somewhere within the realm of biotech.

Instead, I’m sitting on the first floor of a converted warehouse in downtown San Francisco learning about database warehousing. I couldn’t ask for a better internship. I am part of the Business Platform Analytics and Integration team at Atlassian Software Systems. ‘Business Platform’ roughly translates to ‘IT department’ and ‘Analytics and Integration’ means that we are responsible for debugging and refining Atlassian’s internal database warehouses to ensure quality data. We also monitor data for abnormalities, and create and deploy new data models when needed.

Initially, I was skeptical. An internship in IT? I thought, ‘That’s not what I was looking for. I don’t want to answer phones, what a dull semester’. In reality, I have spent the two months learning how software infrastructure functions (or, maybe more accurately, what parts of the infrastructure are most liable to break, and how to fix them).

Last week I learned how to develop a tool to visualize client account data for customer analysts. I first had to pull the data from our database, then piece together the code needed to display it in a browser. I had to create new tables in different database schemas, join the tables so the information was universally accessible, and write a script to update the table every day. The end result was a webpage full of easy-to-read graphs and charts that can be changed to reflect different parameters with toggles at the top of the page.

I love what I’m doing. 3 months ago, I would not have guessed that I would spend large chunks of my day building web pages and writing SQL queries. But now that I have some experience in the software world, I think it will change my career.

Jacquelyn Zehner
Intern, Atlassian
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015

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“Free Time” in the Real World, by Alex Chang


Editor’s Note:
The SVP students are on “Spring Break” as we post this, which means that they are sitting in class all day on a Saturday working on Python exercises, getting ready for their Saturday night and Sunday off, then back to work on Monday. In other words, the “real world.” –SMS

Dearest SVP Blog,
Wow, this semester has flown by. A week until Spring break and I couldn’t be more excited! The one negative thing about SVP: it’s sure to keep you busy.

That being said, I am thoroughly enjoying my time in the bay area thus far. I am one of the 4 fortunate members of the group to live in the City, which has proven to be very exciting and a whole lot of fun. Coming from Hawaii (non existent City atmosphere / made up for by the surrounding of beautiful beaches / no complaints there), city life is certainly a new experience for me.

Our apartment is perfect – less than two blocks away from work and affordable… something not so easy to find these days in San Francisco. Though the occasional homeless appearance is not uncommon on our side street, I find that I feel relatively safe in San Francisco in comparison to other cities that I’ve briefly stayed in.
Through working full time, studying and keeping up with my football workouts, there is little time to spare. However, Saturday nights have proven to be a great unwinding opportunity. Our group of students in the program have grown pretty close in our short time here. And though we will all admit that probably the only things we have in common are ambitions to enter the business and tech world following school, we moved past differences very quickly and are pretty tight knit. This has been awesome, as we mob the city by night. Thanks to us city-goers, we all also have a spot to crash (to the dismay of our landlord… if he actually knew).

We have explored a few different places, with the clear winner being the Marina. The Marina consists of a few blocks of shops, bars and restaurants in one of the nicer areas of the city. What seems like a casual area by day turns into a pretty happening spot at night- so much so that it becomes very difficult to snag a cab ride home. Our other go-to spot we’ve checked out is Polk St., which has also provided good times (including our first night out as a group!).

So, all in all, despite the program being hectic, I am definitely finding time to experience San Fran, and enjoying my free time. As this was one of my defined goals coming in, I feel like I am well on my way to accomplishing it, and could definitely envision myself ending up here at some point in my life.

Yours Truly,
Alex Chang
Intern, Atlassian
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015

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Warriors, by Kevin McNamara

The Silicon Valley Program has afforded me a number of awesome and rewarding experiences outside of work and the classroom in my time so far here. As a big basketball fan, once such experience has been our trip to Oracle Arena to see the Golden State Warriors take on the Houston Rockets. What made the opportunity particularly special was the box seating, courtesy of CMC alum Jonathon Rosenberg. We got to enjoy the game comfortably, complete with catered food and drinks, a private bathroom, a coat check, and more.
While this was my first ever time enjoying an NBA game live from the comforts of a suite, for many of my fellow students, some of whom were born and raised in distant countries where basketball is merely a faint blip on the radar, the game meant their first ever time watching the NBA, in any capacity. While this ended up meaning that the chatter in the suite was more about which player was the most attractive and not about either team’s chances in the playoffs, it was an entertaining experience for me nonetheless to try explain as much about my favorite sport as quickly as I could.

Of course, the game itself only proved to be a part of the fun. I had heard that Warriors’ home games were an experience unlike anywhere else in the NBA, and I wasn’t let down. Every timeout meant another fun game for the fans to take part in, from shooting contests to a competition for who could come up with the best play-by-play commentary of a highlight. Even the pre-game introductions had more energy, excitement, and actual fire than anything I’d seen at Staples Center. A large group of young fans, who couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11, occupied the suite next to ours and seemed far more interested in torturing whatever poor soul from our group was seated closest to the large window separating the two boxes. Alex in particular was forced to suffer through their wrath on a number of occasions, but all in all it was in good fun.

For the most part, I just enjoyed a rare opportunity to see everyone from the program together in a setting other than day long Saturday classes. The San Francisco residents in particular I mostly see just one day a week. I was glad to be able to get away from the some of the stresses of work every day and classes on Saturday to enjoy some of the great opportunities that the Bay Area and the Silicon Valley Program have to offer.

Kevin McNamara
Intern, Trinitas Partners
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015

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