Discovered Opportunities, by Christian Mkpado

I thought I knew the career path that I wanted to pursue before I came to Silicon Valley. The tech industry, for some reason, never seems to be in the discussion at CMC where the careers of choice overwhelmingly favor glamorous careers such as banking and consulting. In fact, I was so focused on Finance that I almost took a job at a bank and passed on the opportunity to work at Google. Luckily, I ended up at the latter, an amazing tech company that gives me the ability to explore numerous opportunities and gain insight into products that can change the world.

There are a few things that can be done to maximize the benefit of the Silicon Valley experience but few are more important than educating yourself on the opportunities available in the tech industry. It does not take a Engineering degree or a Computer Science degree to work in the tech industry as many would believe. There are a plethora of opportunities that require no tech degrees.

Some of the most important and most informative discussions I have had involved the potential career opportunities available in tech. Just the fact that I am aware of these opportunities will help me when I come to a final decision on what career path I want to pursue.

Unfortunately, my time at CMC is slowly coming full circle and I will have to leave one of the most fun, exiting and insightful places that I have had the opportunity to experience. Fortunately, Silicon Valley has allowed me to explore an industry that is laid back and less stressful that many other high powered careers, yet also happens to be the most innovative and adaptable industries in the world. I have already made plans to return over the summer and plan on pursuing a career in the area. Exploring Silicon Valley has made leaving CMC much less of a drastic change than expected.

Christian Mkpado
Claremont McKenna
Class of 2015

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Musings on a Caltrain, by Keerthana Nunna

Soon after accepting my internship I started looking for a place in the city. After weeks of searching and getting nowhere, I gave up and decided to live in the college provided apartments 1.5 hours from work. I rationalized my decision by saying that it was cheaper, a nicer place to live, and it would be more fun to live with friends. But in all honesty, my decision was founded on pure laziness.

As far as poorly reasoned choices go, this one turned out to be great. It’s definitely worth the extra couple hours on a train to be able to come home to friends after a long day at work, and all the other reasons already stated turned out to be true as well. And the commute isn’t as harrowing as I originally expected, instead I have come to love it. I spend an hour on a train and then thirty minutes walking (or if I’m feeling lazy I can take the muni). Sometimes I even take the longer train if it means getting a more secluded seat.

Walking in the city is nice. There are all the obvious benefits of walking: exercise, sun, and fresh air. I don’t like the outdoors, so walking in the city is a nice way to get these benefits while still not really being outdoors. But the train is actually my favorite part. I spend all day at work surrounded by colleagues, and then I come home to an apartment full of roommates. I spend all day Saturday in class with professors and fellow students, and many Sundays are also spent doing group activities. I never really get the chance to be alone, which is how taking a break from society on the train has come to be the favorite part of my day. For two hours a day I get to just sit there. And I don’t have to feel bad about not doing anything, because technically I am – I’m commuting. I’m getting from point A to point B; I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

I get to just sit and stare out the window and think. I love that hour. Many a post has been written in that hour. It’s also nice having a break between work and coming home. It’s like a transition period. Sometimes I listen to music or read or do homework. But mostly I sit and stare and think.

Keerthana Nunna
Claremont McKenna
Class of 2015

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Welcome to the SVP Fall 2013 Class

Fourteen SVP students arrived in the Bay Area this week for program orientation in advance of what will be one of the most rewarding experiences of their academic careers. Students enjoyed sessions on Venture Capital, safety, making effective presentations, and a discussion of the Steve Jobs / Bill Gates HBS case led by Robert Day School Dean S. Brock Blomberg.

Opening night dinner featured a gathering with CMC trustees, some alumni advisors to the SVP program staff, some of the SVP:IM mentors, among friends of the College.

The final day of orientation included a photographic scavenger hunt of the Union Square area.

SVP is ready to begin class on Saturday, September 7, and internships on Monday, September 9.

SVP Fall 2013 Ready to Have a Good Day in San Francisco

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Silicon Valley Program Photo Contest

SVP Photo Contest

SVP students past and present may share their SVP experience through photos.  Win cash prizes!  The deadline to submit is Friday, October 11, 2013. Select your favorite “Kodak moments” of the Silicon Valley Program that best captures your time on the Program.

Warriors Game


2013 Spring at Google

Photo contest guidelines:

  • Only two photos per student will be judged.  Send as many photos as you like, but indicate which two you want to be considered for the contest.
  • Photos must be emailed in high-quality JPEG format in their original size.  Do not send your photos in a Word document or PDF.   We need the highest resolution possible.
  • Submit your entries on this form.
  • No photos containing alcohol, bikinis, or extreme sports.
  • Open to all enrolled students at one of the Claremont Colleges, who are current or former SVP participants.


One Grand Prize of $75 will be awarded for the best overall photo.  An additional First Prizes of $50 and/or Second Prize of $25 may be awarded, depending upon the quantity and quality of the submissions.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact We look forward to seeing your pictures!

Submit photos here.

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SVP Articles & Links of Interest

Did you know that the SVP staff keeps a list of articles and links of interest to a technology-focused audience?  Check out the page at  Tell your friends.

Better yet, if there’s an article that interests you, send it our way.


Stephen M. Siegel ’87
Director, Silicon Valley Program

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The Summer 2013 Robert Day School Newsletter Features SVP

The first year of the Silicon Valley Program is a wrap, and the Robert Day School featured an article on the highlights.

Check it out!


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Introductory Remarks at Bay Area Reception in Honor of President Gann, by Shree Pandya

Greetings, world.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to introduce President Gann at a Bay Area reception honoring her service to CMC. Steve Siegel, our fantastic Silicon Valley Program director, has since realized that the speech I gave that night is the closest that I’m ever going to get to writing an actual blog post for the SVP.

Bless you, Steve.

So in lieu of a coherent blog post, you can have my remarks instead. The first part of my speech talks about the Silicon Valley Program. The rest of the speech applauds Pam Gann’s tenure at CMC, embarrasses some of my friends on the program, and includes some boring stuff about me.


Introductory Remarks at Bay Area Reception in Honor of President Gann
Shree Pandya ‘14
April 3rd, 2013

My name is Shree Pandya, and I’m a junior on the Silicon Valley Semester Program. As the video we just saw indicated[*], this is a relatively young program. We’re the second semester of students to participate, so we’re not quite guinea pigs, but we’re close.

There are 11 of us on this program. We represent different members of the Claremont Consortium: 8 of us are from CMC, 2 from Scripps, and 1 from Pomona. We also come from all sorts of academic backgrounds – from economics, to graphic design, to government, and engineering. What unites us all is that we’re attracted to what Silicon Valley represents: innovation. We’re all here to learn.

So, what does our learning consist of? There’s a full-time internship, two classes, and an independent study project. To illustrate, allow me to walk you through a week in my life as a SVPer[†].

I live with three other SVPers in the city, since our internships are located here. From Monday to Friday, I wake up at 6:30 AM[‡] to nature’s version of the alarm clock – the sounds of sledgehammers pounding into concrete.

It’s a 10 minute walk along the Embarcadero to my office, Alpine Investors, a middle market private equity firm.  I’m a rarity of sorts within the group, since the bulk of our students are at technology companies across the Bay Area. Regardless of where we’re at, though, as full-time employees, we have the chance to do some really meaningful work — such as marketing, financial analysis, and programming — across a range of industries. For example, we’ve got two students at eBay’s Geo Expansion Team who will be traveling to Mexico soon for a focus group project, learning about Mexicans’ online shopping behaviors and needs. Since I work in a small finance firm, all hands are on deck. No one day is the same in terms of what I do…or the hours I have. It’s unpredictable, but exciting because I’m guaranteed to learn something new every day[§].

The day doesn’t end after work does. It’s just getting started. See, alongside our internships, we have a semester long independent study project, which is a hands-on opportunity to pursue our passions. In my case, I’m teaming up with one of our incredibly talented Scripps students, a programmer named Briana Smith, to tackle the music industry. (She’s the one sitting in the front row and glaring at me.) We’re both musicians who have always wished that there were more tech-enabled solutions for collaboration…so over the course of the semester, we’ve taken the opportunity to (1) see what services aren’t being adequately offered within the music industry, (2) come up with a product that addresses that, and (3) figure out how the heck to monetize it. Even if our project doesn’t go anywhere, we are growing as entrepreneurs in the heart of entrepreneurship: Silicon Valley.

Now, our two classes are on Saturdays. One, Innovation and Marketing, is taught by Professor Constance Rossum; the other, Industrial Organization, is taught by Darren Filson. Our classroom is at the Google campus in Mountain View and, I’ve got to say it – it’s a cool place. I’m not sure what we love more: the ping pong table or the caffeinated water[**].

And finally, on Sundays, we take the chance to sleep in.

Now, I’d be lying if I said our schedule wasn’t tiring – but it’s worth it. CMC’s motto is: “Civilization prospers with commerce,” and here, in the heart of commerce — of businesses that are constantly innovating and changing – we’re learning every single day. Our environment has practical work experience, intellectual thinking, and creative endeavors: in short, a liberal arts education. It might not be the liberal arts of popular conception, but it is the liberal arts of the future.

And there’s really one person we need to thank for that, the forward-looking and ambitious thinker behind this entire experience: President Gann. During her time at CMC, she has constantly worked to make CMC the innovative college that it is today.

President Gann, as cliché as this sounds: I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for your efforts.

As a first generation American from Sugar Land, Texas, I probably wouldn’t have even heard of CMC if you hadn’t worked tirelessly to promote CMC nationally. I also wouldn’t have been able to come to this wonderful college if it weren’t for the Seaver Scholarship program you created; it gave me the freedom to pursue an education here without having to worry about how I’d pay for it.

Furthermore, President Gann, I also certainly wouldn’t have had the chance to see the world or work abroad if it weren’t for your constant emphasis on global learning. Before CMC, I hadn’t ever really been abroad, save for occasionally visiting my relatives in India. However, with funding from CMC, last summer, I had the privilege of interning at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels. In May, thanks to an opportunity that you worked to create, I’ll be flying to Hong Kong with Professor Pei for a project related to security in Asia.

Finally, President Gann, I thank you for your efforts to recruit students from all around the world — from Korea, the Philippines, India, Mexico, and China – because they are some of my closest and dearest friends today. One of them, Hye Won Chung, sits in the audience today — now she’s the one glaring at me. She’s one of CMC’s best students from Korea, a fellow Seaver scholar, and she never fails to astound me with what she accomplishes. Thanks to you, President Gann, I have peers from all around the world like Hye Won who inspire me to achieve more.

All in all, I wouldn’t be standing at this podium on an amazing program, proudly heading into my senior year at the best liberal arts college in the world, if it weren’t for President Pamela Gann. And with that, I’d like to welcome her to the stage.

[End remarks.]


Here, have a picture of us SVP folks. In case you couldn’t tell from my last name, Pandya, I’m the Indian girl on the left. To the left of me is Chad Newbry. To my right are Danny Serra, Briana Smith, Matt Taylor, and Hye Won Chung.


Shree Pandya
Claremont McKenna
Class of 2014

[*] There was a video. It was adorable. BACK TO POST

[†] Contrary to popular belief, “SVPer” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like “CMCer” does. We’re still trying to figure out a better term. We’ve already ruled out “Silicon Valley-ers” for sounding too much like “Valley Girls.” BACK TO POST

[‡] It has come to my attention that I’m one of the earlier risers on the program. Some of us get to sleep in, sometimes past 9 AM. I’m looking at you, Xiaoyin. BACK TO POST

[§] I’m not even kidding. You would not believe how much I learned about the clairvoyant industry last week. BACK TO POST

[**] I can’t believe I forgot to mention the espresso machine. That’s pretty awesome too. BACK TO POST

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Silicon Valley Philosophy, by Xiaoyin Qu

Silicon Valley is an awesome place. Having been at the Silicon Valley program since January, the most frequent word I have said has been “wow.” When your company is offering free beer and wine every single day (although I am not allowed to drink, since I am underage), when we watch a Warriors game in the luxury suite for free, and when your colleagues constantly show you the most fancy apps from Sunrise to Tinder, from Google Glass to 3D printers, what else can you say other than “wow”? Yet there are times I don’t say “wow,” like now. I am sitting in a techy meeting room, trying to think of answers to a question that I have never seriously considered. What makes me a human being?

Everything started from a random conversation I had with my boss. We were talking about the news of potential HIV cures, and he firmly said, “I believe we can eventually cure all diseases using technology, maybe in 40 years.” He was not simply daydreaming. One of our colleagues has diabetes and he carries a diabetes injector that is inserted into his body all day long, showing him his insulin level 24 hours a day. The appliance warns him every time his insulin level becomes abnormal and tells him it’s time to take his medicine.

Then my boss added, “Think about 20 years later, when we can not only get those injectors, but also insert several chips into our body, each in charge of a different organ. We will be able to cure all diseases eventually, so we could live for 150 years with ease.”

“Can we?” I wondered. “What if we get computer viruses, and those chips break down? Computer viruses will become the real viruses!”

“That’s probably true. And the war … people don’t use weapons anymore. They code to destroy those chips since everybody is using those. When your chips get stuck, you are game-over.”

“And doctors need to know how to debug!” The conversation went on and on as we got so excited and began to imagine everything that is going to happen with those chips. It may sound as though we were writing science fiction, but we felt more like fortunetellers.

The conversation suddenly froze, as my boss asked me, “When we have nine chips inside our body, are we human beings or robots or something in between?”

“Well…” I got stuck. I got silent. I began to wonder what makes human beings human beings. If we are human beings because we have brains, and technology takes over the role of our brains to control how we function our organs, what makes us special then? If those robots, designed by the smartest human beings in the world, have a higher IQ than the average IQ of human beings, is intelligence still the thing that defines us as human beings? If Google Translate is finally accurate and those artificial-intelligence apps can function with the same quality as human beings, what makes us indispensable? What are the real criteria defining who we are then?  Our body, our emotions, or our creativity?

As I ask myself all those questions, I am happy that Silicon Valley challenged my previous immature philosophy. Here I was surrounded by all these technological masterpieces, but I couldn’t solve all those questions only with technology. I need humanities. My geeky colleagues are not only talking about Java or Ruby, but also philosophy. Two months ago I was wondering if I need a liberal arts education for this fast-growing and technological world, and now I realize that I not only need it, but also ought to use it.

Now my mind is full of those questions that make me wonder who I am, what I am doing, and why I am here. I appreciate those questions Silicon Valley has brought to me. Maybe I should take another philosophy class or history seminar when I get back. I was surprised to realize that the technology world in San Francisco, in addition to stimulating my interests in technology and computer science, does remind me of the value of a liberal arts education. I feel lucky: The technology world just motivates me, and I know how to put my next two years to better use now.

Xiaoyin Qu
Class of 2015

Reprinted with permission of The Student Life, Smith Campus Center, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 91711
e-mail: web:

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Introducing the Fall 2013 Interns

Silicon Valley, watch out!  The third semester of Silicon Valley Program interns have been selected.  They arrive at the beginning of September 2013, and are working away on securing their internship placement for Fall.  So, if one of these bright students contacts you, answer the email or pick up the phone.  You’ll enjoy meeting them.

Fall 2013 Silicon Valley Program Interns
Fall 2013 Silicon Valley Program Interns

Next semester, all of the students are Claremont McKenna College students.  We have six women and eight men.  Two sophomores and twelve juniors.  All-in-all, fourteen enthusiastic students.

Another change for the 2013-2014 academic year is that Professor Manfred Keil will be teaching a new course designed especially for the SVP.  ECON 123 CM is titled “Applied Quantitative Methods,” and will be a step between statistics and econometrics, incorporating live corporate data sets from some of the companies who have hosted students in the past.

Professor Keil will join Professor Darren Filson, who will teach ECON 165 CM: “Industrial Organization” again for a second year.

We bid farewell to Visiting Professor Constance Rossum, who taught Marketing and Innovation, inviting leaders from the companies featured in the cases we studied.

Who’s who? Back Row: Lauren Henderson, Christian Hoxsie, Christian Mkpado, Palin Liu, Michelle Goodwin, and Paul Perrone.  Front Row: Ji Young Huh, Michael Elhardt, Kenny Cunanan, Michael Cornell, Tianxiao Ye, Danmai Xiang, Nikki Yea, and Keerthana Nunna.


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Reflections from a New Intern

Sitting at a table outside the cafeteria, my manager asked, “Now that you have been here for a week, how do you like EA so far? How does it differ from your expectations?”

On top of my head, I couldn’t think of anything but how everyone has been so nice to me, which is a pleasant surprise to the “real world” I had in mind. I said my thoughts, but there is actually a lot more to be told, as I took time to unravel what I experienced in the first week of interning with the Analytics team.

Three days before I started my internship, I flew across the country to the opposite coast and set foot in an unfamiliar valley powered by silicon. I began a life with no dining hall and no friends down the hallway. It was like first day of college all over again, but with magnified anxiety. As my friends back at Claremont are probably waking up minutes before class, I wake up at 7:45 am every morning, improvise lunch (i.e. avocado-carrot-lettuce-cereal salad), walk to the Caltrain station by 8:37 am, and transfer to the EA shuttle that brings me to campus by 9:06 am. Walking past countless strange and hurried faces, I reach the third floor where the EA Analytics team is located.

My work varies day by day, but usually consists of both quantitative and qualitative learning. I have done some simple python programing to clean up data before uploading, as well as practicing with SQL tutorials to navigate database. At the same time, I learn about the video gaming market, understand EA customers, and make sense of the data collected. I actually dreamed of excel sheets one night after I saw one with 5 million+ lines.

Going back to my manager’s question, I like the flexibility of the working hours and the casual atmosphere at EA. People at the office are extremely intelligent; their computer screens are filled with lines of intense code or equations or words or graphs that look crazy (sometimes a soccer game playing live in the other window). At the same time, they are very willing to help with any questions I have. They regularly check on me and see how am I doing. My manager is really busy, but he makes time to teach me, walk me through my project and include me as part of the team. It is definitely overwhelming to be pushed out of my comfort zone, and things felt very uncertain especially in the first week, but I have slowly started to feel more at home in my cubicle with the warmth of my manager and co-workers.

Szeyin Lee
Scripps College
Class of 2014

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