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!
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015