I have seen the future and it is bright.
This first installment of the Claremont Colleges’ Silicon Valley Program blog is a story of firsts. The first students, eighteen in all, this past week inaugurated our new Silicon Valley Program separated by a mere 400 miles from the geographic center of Claremont, CA. This is the first off-campus study program run by CMC since the venerable Washington Program celebrating its 40-year anniversary next year. This is also the first program of its type in Silicon Valley.
For the uninitiated, the Silicon Valley Program is an intensive semester-long experience marrying the 5C’s world-class liberal arts education with the real-world innovation that put Silicon Valley on the map: street view, satellite view or otherwise.
We kicked off the first day of orientation last Tuesday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It was a fitting location to launch this program, surrounded by so much of the history that defines Silicon Valley.
In its essence, Silicon Valley is defined by individuals taking calculated risks with the expectations that they will change the world.
Six months ago, these and other students applied to the Program with little to go on but their own daring. At that time, we couldn’t exactly proclaim that all of the details of the program were nailed down: the students didn’t know what courses would be offered, what companies might hire them, where they would live, or whether this significant investment of 1/8 of their college careers would be worth it.
These students remind me of Claremont McKenna College’s Pacesetters that I have met over the years. The CMC classes 1948, 1949, and 1950 arrived in Claremont following World War II, with not much more than a dream, and were led by a group of individuals with the vision and determination to make the College a success. Seeing these students pile into the museum’s meeting room, I couldn’t help but draw parallels.
Juniors from both Claremont McKenna and Pomona colleges descended upon Silicon Valley from all corners of the globe. Some fresh from internships arrived from Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seoul, and yes, Mongolia. Their majors are just as diverse as some of the far-flung locations from which they arrived, representing economics, finance, computer science, government, and PPE.
They are interning at Addepar, Applied Materials, Avinger, Edmodo, Electronic Arts, Equinix, Google, Intuit, Retail Next, Square, Steelcase, Travelzoo, and Zynga. We appreciate the executives and internship hosts at these companies for taking on these students.
I am dedicating this first post to the Silicon Valley alumni who had the vision to make this program a reality. Bart Evans CMC’70, CMC trustee and the godfather of CMC’s ITAB networking trip and the Silicon Valley Program; Jonathan Rosenberg CMC ’83 and Laszlo Bock PO’94, the two Google executives who have rolled out the Google red carpet by hiring three interns, hosting our classroom, and organizing a mentorship program featuring early-career Googlers from the Claremont Colleges; Carol Oliver Hartman CMC’86, CMC’s Alumni Association president and extaordinarily talented executive recruiter, and Jim McElwee CMC’73, CMC trustee with vast experience and contacts in Silicon Valley. Not only have these individuals advocated for this program, but they continue to serve as invaluable resources to the Program students and staff.
This post is also dedicated to CMC’s President Pamela Gann, CMC’s Dean of the Faculty Gregory Hess, and the Dean of CMC’s Robert A. Day School, Brock Blomberg. Without their vision and support, this program would have remained just a good idea. And, of course, there are countless individuals who have played invaluable roles in many ways: Michelle Chamberlain, Kat Endert, Cynthia Humes, Kristen Mallory, Barbara Nanning, and Linda Tuthill. Their thoughtfulness and talent can be found all over the Program.
This blog is intended to provide insights into the entrepreneurial culture in Silicon Valley. Except for this post—and a few well-placed interludes—this blog will be written by the students of the Silicon Valley Program as a way to comment on topics of their choosing resulting from their experiences in Silicon Valley.
I trust that you will enjoy getting to know these students through their writing, as I have enjoyed getting to know them on the program.
The future, indeed, is bright.
Stephen M. Siegel CMC’87
Silicon Valley Program