Class of 2014
I don’t have any idea who, if anyone, will read this post. So with this in mind I’ll try and capture the essence of the first monthish of the Silicon Valley Semester Program in an interesting and insightful way.
For the first month of the Silicon Valley Semester Program I had one pair of shoes. This wasn’t a problem for me but as one of my classmates stated “Joe, if you have more monitors that pairs of shoes it’s time ….to get another pair of shoes”. I have since purchased another pair of comfy nikes. (See photo on left)
On a slightly more serious note my work as a product management intern at Zynga is going well. Farmville will never be the same. End of story.
For those of you who are wondering, the perks at work are great. Like many other companies in Valley there is a free gym on site, free lunch and dinner, and free massages. And yes anyone can bring their dog to work.
The only downside to all this is my 2 hour commute from Mountain View to San Francisco and from San Francisco back to Mountain View. Day after day this hour in and hour out business gets tiring.
Tourist side note: if you want to experience the diversity that San Francisco can offer take the Cal Train out of the city right after midnight…
And now a shameless plug for the program I’m on in poetic form:
Selling virtual cows and sheep
Take a break to pet a poodle
Homework hurried; in a heap
Great lunch: noodles
The poem above should highlight three things. I shouldn’t write poems late at night, I equate writing poetry with rhyming a few words, and I’m having a great time on the program!
Class of 2014
SVP Fall 2012 students pass along an iPad to tell the SVP Story.
Check out this great video: https://vimeo.com/51713178
Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the Silicon Valley Program. Friends and employers often approach me to get my thoughts on the culture, the people, and the program’s expectations. For those who have been accepted to SVP or are considering it, I’m here to clear the air and give you some of my perspectives.
First, the culture here is unique. Upon my first day working at Intuit, I was immediately surprised by the number of people. With a campus of more than 2200+ people, my initial feeling was that I was just another number, a small one at that being one of a few interns. While at times overwhelming, I believe this is one of Silicon Valley’s many strengths, particularly if you work at a well-established company. As an industry that thrives on innovation, more often than not you will be thrust into a team. Having said that, each team is like a watch in which every role player represents a different moving part. Subsequently, the work environment requires a great deal of collaboration, communication, trust, and commitment. While you may believe these concepts are easy to execute upon, I have found that these are actually the most difficult hurdles to overcome. As a Product Management & Marketing intern, it is not rare to get a great deal of constructive dissent and opinion, both from your peers and customers. For that reason, the SVP gives you a unique opportunity to hone your negotiation, compromise, and persuasive skills often not utilized in a classroom. If you want to get into technology, consulting, or banking, these are universal skills you will surely improve upon here.
Second, the people here are some of the most diverse you will meet. Before I joined SVP, I was a bit concerned about the type of people I would meet. Often being the most boisterous and enthusiastic person, I was under the impression that I would meet only coders who were constantly dialed into their computers and headphones. Rather, my work office is more comparable to a scene in the TV show “Workaholics.” Heck, just last week I witnessed some of my cubicle neighbors playing table football with “Chiclets” gum as their ball of choice – smack talk included. Beyond the fun and games, the people in Silicon Valley thus far have been nothing short of genuine and respectful. For example, one of my managers rocks double earrings and bracelets. Oftentimes I will ask him how his day is, only to get the response, “just tryna’ keep it real.” Beyond the fun and games, you will quickly establish relationships with individuals and gain plenty of new perspective.
Lastly, if you’ve made it this far in my post, I want to talk about the SVP’s expectations. First, you WILL miss your parents – their cleaning, cooking, and everything else in between. When you live in an apartment with three other male counterparts, it can get messy quick. All jokes aside, SVP forces you to manage your life – your priorities, your daily routines, and your schedule. While you may get a few hours of downtime here and there, SVP will challenge you beyond a normal classroom setting. With at least 50 hours of work during the week, 10 hours of schooling on the weekend, and at least 20 hours of homework put in (that’s what I do at least), you are looking at 80+ grueling hours a week. Despite the long hours, employers will be impressed by your commitment to excellence. I say this not to deter you, but to set realistic expectations on what you will face. While you will get sprinkles of fun, SVP will change your perspective and your appreciation for the little things. Unfortunately, this IS real life, and SVP has really challenged me to become a better, stronger, and more efficient worker and person. For that, I am grateful for this opportunity and I hope you will all consider joining the SVP in the future!
Class of 2014
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