Working at Hewlett-Packard, by Philip Suzukawa-Tseng

I never would have thought that a study abroad experience could mean going from a little east of Los Angeles to a little south of San Francisco—venturing into the world’s start-up capital, Silicon Valley. My time in the center of technology began with an internship at Hewlett-Packard Company in their Sunnyvale office for the first few weeks, and then a transfer over to HP’s headquarters in Palo Alto for the remainder of the Silicon Valley Program. This move, however, was more than just switching offices. Earlier this month, my co-workers and I found out via breaking news that HP was splitting into two companies (HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise). For a company determined to restructure its business lines, sooner rather than later, it seemed inevitable to trim down and confront cutting costs—having over three HP office venues positioned just in the South Bay, at least one had to go. While the move for me was for the better, as I now have the chance to experience HP from its global hub, the transition signals that drastic shifts are forthcoming. But nevertheless, it’s exciting to be a part of a long-standing company and witness a transformation of this magnitude. From a corporate standpoint, a break-up of this stature untangles two Fortune 50 companies that can thrive in its own right and contest in its own direction—with one operating on the consumer level and the other for enterprises. HP’s split unsaddles the to-be disruptive enterprise group from their mainstay printer and personal systems business (stifled by low margins and slow growth), as the former looks to emerge by developing software, providing client solutions and competing for space in the cloud market.

Despite what the critics may say, this company division at this pivotal point in time is all about focus; HP is allowing for two companies to be independent, nimble and efficient—working symbiotically to grow the HP legacy and spur a turnaround in the company’s fortunes. Surely, technology has changed, and one group may seem antiquated in comparison to the other, but I believe that both firms will continue to advance. The move for HP certainly does not inhibit the hardware business from innovation (hint: 3D printers), but provides breathing room to derive new products and services organically, from a more committed and aligned business force. My internship at HP has allowed me to work closely with a very modern-thinking, device-oriented Consumer Mobility group that introduced HP into the markets for tablets and phablets. Yet, as the rate of technology companies entering the market does not look to be slowing down anytime soon, making competition ever so stiff, existing firms must realize their strengths and concentrate on delivering quality.

Start-ups in Silicon Valley have proven to us that it is not simply and solely size that matters, but that it is crucial to hone the ability to bring something new into the markets to keep being successful in technology today. Coming in to SVP, I had wondered what all the hype was about when it came to start-ups, but I soon took an interest in what was going on underneath it all. There really is more to Silicon Valley than the trend of start-up businesses, albeit making most of the headlines, and it takes some time being here to realize that—as there remain many titans of technology making sweeping efforts to stay top of the line.

Philip Suzukawa-Tseng ’15
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Hewlett-Packard

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Preparing for the Future, by Austin Teece

How can you prepare for corporate America while you’re in college? I went to boarding school before enrolling at CMC grew accustomed to the idea of living on a campus and the rhythm of classes, studying, and athletics. The Silicon Valley Program is a sort of crash course in the society most of us will experience once well leave cozy world of institutionalized education. There are teething problems, varying in severity for each individual, which we are thus exposed to on this program and which worry me. Assuming the issue is not unique to myself, I’ll endeavor to address challenges that we are often aware of but have not found need to come to terms with while at college.

There is as issue of professionalism. As students we have a choice to go to class or not, to put effort into our work or not. It quickly becomes evident that it is possible do well without going to every class or reading assignments. In an office, this luxury is significantly diminished. As students, how can we learn to be professional in our work?

During no regular period in college does anyone expect to find you studying with commitment in the same chair for eight hours. To do this five days in a row at college sounds draconian. We are used to 11am class and long procrastination sessions. Imagine you are studying, lets say on a Tuesday afternoon with no tests or papers until at least Friday, how many minutes out of each hour do you spend working intently? Procrastination in a cubicle is acceptable but on the level we do it at school (or the blatant manner in which we procrastinate) it could lead to missed promotions or being fired. As a student, how could I find the commitment to work contently for eight hours?

Instead of heading to Collins at 5pm you will be getting into some sort of vehicle for a commute – or you will still be in the office working. When you get home there will be time for two activities. For most people one of those will be preparing/eating dinner. So you have one left. What is the one thing you would like to do every day to add flare to the monotony of the workweek? You have to know yourself well to answer this question, watching NetFlix several times a week for years will leave you unhappy. As students, with so much free time, how can we learn what we really value?

These three issues – professionalism, commitment, and limited freedom – are the ones that I have found most difficult over the past six weeks.

The obvious solution to all these issues is to have a job that you adore, but I’ve learned from the several networking events we’ve attended that this is highly elusive. What you dislike the least can also eventually become confused with something you really enjoy doing. Then, at social events, you can at least feign to be as interested in your career as Richard Branson standing beside his spaceship. It’s frightening how frequently this happens. So, as students, I would urge my peers to do a few things. This first is to throw off any pressure you feel to pursue any specific career. Not because it is wrong to be influenced by those you respect, or to prioritize financial security, but because you are likely to fail or be marginally successful if those are the foundation of your career. Second, work to be a professional student. I feel that college is teaching us new things without providing a strong incentive structure to commit us to our studies. Without that, college exists on a small scale, taking up only a fraction of our lives, and we struggle to realize that it is leading us towards jobs that will define our lives. Suppose, perhaps, that grades did not exist and your teachers were your boss. You proceed to the next semester if they give their approval.

Austin Teece ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Berkeley Research Group

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Life at Unitus Impact, by Pitra Harun

The work Space at the Unitus Impact Office. 637 Natoma St, Apt. 2, San Francisco, California

It’s 7:00 in the morning here at San Francisco. In about one hour I start my day at the office of Unitus Impact, just two blocks away from my apartment. It’s a lovely small office that used to serve as a residential apartment, decorated nicely with fake-grass rugs, modern furniture and off course, a full-size shuffleboard table (and Yes, we play on it… a lot).

There is never a typical day at the office working for a small start-up company. Today I’m scheduled to listen in on a phone call with a potential portfolio company at 8:45 AM, but that’s about it. The rest of the day is left open to finish up any necessary work that needs to be done. Whether it’s running over to FedEx to ship over any necessary documents, running to Target to fill in the office stationery inventory, or dropping by the Chinese embassy to pick up the CEO’s passport, it’s just part of the job.

But off course my work is not limited to those tasks!

The first major deliverable of my internship was a broad market analysis on the waste management, organic food, and aquaculture industry in Indonesia. Now that I’m done with these projects, I get to dive in the juicy stuff. Today, I’m working with Samir who leads our India investments. I’ve been doing some research for him on an India-based B2B supplier that works with rural producers in India. It offers similar services as AliBaba, but rather than supplying technology-based products, it supplies textiles and crafts to other businesses and its supply chain is India’s rural population rather than small to medium enterprises. Later on this week, we’re scheduled to make a phone call with Jayaroopa, our associate at the India office to begin making contacts with the entrepreneur. At this call, we will try to establish three things: (1) do we like the entrepreneur and believe that he has the capability to expand the business? (2) Can his business generate healthy profits for our investors? (3) Will his business improve the livelihoods of the poor? And if all goes well, we should be looking to get into the company within the next few months.

Later on today, I’m going to attend the Gen Impact workshop sponsored by Unitus Impact. The workshop will focus on tools and best practices for self-led development to strengthen networks, promote professional development, and further knowledge sharing among emerging social impact investors as they build their careers. It’s just another one of those unique opportunities that I didn’t expect to encounter during my time here.

Really looking forward to it!

Pitra Harun ’15
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Unitus Impact

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Adventures Ahead in Silicon Valley, by Kelsey Gohn

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, by Jennifer Smith

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

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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

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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!

Julia Keinan
Intern, Equinix
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2015

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