The Silicon Valley Program Finds its Balance

The mission of the Silicon Valley Program is to provide students of The Claremont Colleges with an off-campus study alternative that marries the liberal arts to challenges facing technology firms in Silicon Valley. While it takes a lot of coordination and effort to accomplish this mission, most of all, it takes time.
Students are now halfway through the inaugural semester of study in this global technology hotspot, and have been busy exploring organizational structures and applying classroom lessons to tasks associated with their tech internships.
Writes Eric Yee ’14 in the SVP Blog: “It 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-plus grueling hours a week.”
No surprise then that, “balance is the key word,” says program director Stephen Siegel ’87. “All of the students are learning to strike a balance between work, class preparation, and fun.”
The dynamic of Silicon Valley life is very different from that in Claremont. And as such, students and faculty have had to tweak their expectations as the nascent program takes root. Some students have had to talk with their supervisors about adjusting work hours, while professor Constance Rossum (Econ 197S: Special Topics in Economics Innovation and Marketing) has swapped out at least one lengthy written project for a well-reasoned, and thoroughly-researched PowerPoint presentation.
Flexibility has been vital to the program’s success during its foundational first-year.
Brock Blomberg, the Peter K. Barker ’70 Professor of Economics, George R. Roberts Fellow, and dean of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, has offered an innovative project for the independent study that will capture all of what the students are learning in classrooms and internships, and apply it to an important marketing matter.
“Students are moving into exciting stages on their projects,” he reports. “It astounds me to hear what some of them are doing: real-world projects, and real responsibilities.
“I believe Silicon Valley is the perfect opportunity for those students who want to add practical and professional experiences into their academic careers quite a potent cocktail,” says Blomberg.