Real Life, by Sarah Chung

At this point, we’re approaching the end of week 2 on our internships and I’ve had the honor of writing the first blog post of our semester. It’s already been a wild ride and seems like I’ve been here for years considering all that I’ve accomplished at Samsung so far.

My Silicon Valley Program experience didn’t start out the way I’d imagined.

When I arrived in San Francisco—full of eager anticipation and at the last stages of my internship search—I was robbed of everything. This experience taught me that life can sometimes give you some really sour lemons and knock you back, making me want to crawl back to the love-filled sanctuary we know as the Claremont Bubble. Yet, somehow, I was able to find the strength within to not let circumstances dictate my life.
Although the hard skills we learn on the internship that let us analyze business trends, conduct market research or develop business strategies are valuable for our career goals, I think that what we gain from the experiences that allow us to better understand the world—and more importantly, ourselves—is at the heart of the value of an internship experience.

Speaking of life skills, I made some spicy seafood Korean tofu soup that brought the house down last night. I naturally sent a picture to my parents, who were pleased to see that there’s still hope for me to be the domesticated Korean housewife I’ve always wanted to be when I grow up*.

I hope life’s treating you well, dear Reader. You can write to me for my recipe if you think you can handle not just “spicy” but “Korean spicy”.

You can never predict what life has in store for you, and the skills you develop from being on your own in the “real life” are invaluable traits that neither the workplace nor Claremont can teach you.

*=insert sarcasm here

Sarah Chung
Intern, Samsung
Scripps College
Class of 2015

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Silicon Valley – Tech and Sports, by Michelle Goodwin

Silicon Valley… high tech and high energy. I am officially half way through the program here in Silicon Valley and I think I am really living off of residual sleep and free food. Working in the legal department of a South San Francisco tech company has its perks. I have been inducted into the “pranking crew” at SuccessFactors and had the pleasure of bringing home over 3 pounds of mashed potatoes to the apartments in Mountain View.

All of those perks cannot beat the chances I have to get involved in the Bay Area community in general. I have always been a huge sports fan, specifically football. Being back in the Bay has reminded me of just how much of a sports center this place is. Two football teams, two baseball teams, a basketball team, a hockey team, and a soccer team, not to even start on college sports. I could not be more set for sports or any happier about it. While working 40 hour weeks, 10 hours of commuting, 6 hours of class, and hours of studying have been great, I have had the chance to add to that time commitment by working for the San Francisco 49ers.

I work for the 49ers on game days and on some of the events they plan. I have had the honor of interviewing Y.A. Tittle, Russ Francis, Dana Stubblefield, and more amazing alumni through this job. Eric Wright now treats me like his daughter, scaring away any boy or player that tries to talk to me. Donna Perry, Joe Perry’s widow, is now my grandmother getting me involved with even more community events and giving me advice when I need it the most. But the icing on the cake is being able to dance like a total dork with Bryant Young and Roy Barker on the sidelines at the 49ers games just because I can. Nothing can beat these experiences.

While many just think of Silicon Valley as the center for tech and innovation, which of course is true, it can be so much more. This is a community built in technology, tradition, and best of all sports! I promise that if you branch out, experience all that the Bay Area offers, and root for the home team, your experience here will be that much better.

Michelle Goodwin
Claremont McKenna College
Class of 2016

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A Change in Perspective, by Palin Liu

Prior to the Silicon Valley Program, I had set myself an ambitious 5-year “career plan”. I was planning to finish my undergraduate degree in Economics-Accounting in 4 years, and complete my Masters of Finance degree in the following year. Afterwards, I wanted to work in a finance or consulting firm for 2-4 years, and then planned on going to business school.

After having worked in Silicon Valley for just over a month, however, my outlook has drastically changed. Undoubtably, careers in any high-powered profession demand intense schedules, as well as invoke increased amounts of stress. In contrast, the atmosphere in Silicon Valley, is nothing like what the “real world” has been described by recent alumni. I do not have over-bearing supervisors that micro-manage every minute of my day. Nor am I required to work more than eight hours per day. Of course, this only applies to my company – but from the general impressions I have been getting from my classmates, most of their work environments are similar, and equally as laid back.

The work experience and classes also only constitute to around 50% of the Silicon Valley Program experience. The other 50% is allocated to networking with many people during the different excursions, networking events, and conferences that you will attend during the semester. While the working experience is definitely valuable, the chances to network gives you the ability to engage and socialize with people that are very experienced within the tech industry – thus giving students greater opportunities for industry entrance, after their four years at CMC have been completed. In the long run, our three month internships will not matter significantly. But, building our career network and foundation will prove to be a timeless asset.

The vast majority of people that I have talked to here in Silicon Valley enjoy their work, and favor it over other salary-comparable positions. It is crazy to think that I have only been here for 5 weeks, yet I feel like I have learned more an entire year in Claremont. My in-depth and intimate look into the tech industry has also given me several academic luxuries that I previously never thought that I could have afforded. Previously, I thought that being an Economics major was a very important factor regarding post-graduate employment, and that the Silicon Valley firms only hire people with computer science and engineering degrees. This is definitely not the case, as I have met numerous people who almost stumbled their way into the Silicon Valley, having never planned to work here during their undergraduate college program.

Looking into the future, I have no idea what is in store for me. However, I believe that sooner or later, my attraction to innovation and entrepreneurship will allow me to return to the Valley.

Palin Liu
Claremont McKenna
Class of 2015

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Tackling San Francisco Public Transportation, by Lauren Henderson

Three of us chose to rent an apartment in San Francisco to be closer to our Silicon Valley Program internships this semester. We are completely separated from the other members of the program six days per week, since they are living all the way in Mountain View. During our first week in the Bay Area we had orientation in Mountain View that started at 9 a.m., two days in a row. The three of us living in the city, without a car, were forced to figure out public transportation in a city that we knew nothing about it.

The night before, I used all of the MUNI, BART, and Caltrain apps, and Google Maps, to figure out exactly what route we would take and when we would need to leave our apartment. We left the next morning at 6 a.m. to meet the bus that would take us to the Caltrain, which would take us to Mountain View. As we were approaching the bus stop, we saw it driving away with no plans to stop and let us on (which was a good thing since we realized the next day that it was actually going the opposite direction than the one we really wanted to take). Thankfully, I had another plan just in case we missed this first bus.

This plan involved a MUNI ride, a bus ride, and the Caltrain. We successfully got on the MUNI, and on the bus, and despite all of the issues earlier in the morning, we were about to make it to the Caltrain station with just enough time to get to orientation by 9 a.m.. But, of course, that was too good to be true, because a semi-truck tried to make a turn that blocked a huge intersection that the bus needed to go through to get to the Caltrain station. The bus driver let everyone off the bus and people started running towards the station. Having no idea where the station was, we decided to follow everyone else. By the time we had run about 2 blocks, the bus had caught up to us, and the bus driver stopped to let us back on.

We eventually made it on the Caltrain and arrived to the Mountain View train stop at 8:40 am. We almost made it to orientation on time, but we walked 10 blocks in the wrong direction and didn’t make it to orientation until 9:15am. We traveled over 3 hours that morning and the rest of our classmates simply walked from their apartments across the street.

While many people joke about my obsessive planning, everyone benefitted from my having a back up plan, in this situation. We may have tackled the route from our apartment to Mountain View by day 2, but since then we have chosen to rent a car every Saturday in order to be on time for class.

Lauren Henderson
Claremont McKenna
Class of 2015

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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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