Site Visit: Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center, by Emily Zhang

The Silicon Valley Program students recently attended a Kaiser Permanente tour, a new event addition among many great offerings of the semester. We spent two hours on a Monday afternoon at Kaiser’s Garfield Innovation Center and saw several displays of futuristic health care plans. The plans were split into two ideas: patients and doctors’ experiences within the hospital scenario and patients and doctors’ experiences outside of the hospital. Written here in this blog post are some amazing concepts that we saw.

Within the hospital, Kaiser Permanente’s innovation team first introduced to us a triangular floor layout that best uses space and provides doctors with the shortest distances from hallways to rooms. Everything from floor material to the wall paint was carefully thought through. For example, the floor’s rubber was made from recycled plastic that requires less harmful chemical treatment for cleaning. Furthermore, the wall’s warm colors help patients get better faster. Within the hospital’s patient room, our tour guides indicated that they perceive it can be split into three sections – the nurse’s section, the patient’s section, and the family’s section. They also revealed several faults with the original design, which were improved upon and utilized in a second sample patient room. We were also shown an operating room, which was amazing because it was like seeing a medical drama set in real life. There were some surprising features throughout the overall hospital experience. An Xbox could be seen in a patient’s room, an autonomous robot could roam the hallways, and human dummies lying on gurneys could both cry and sweat to simulate sickness.

For experiences outside of the hospital, Kaiser Permanente is pushing the message “imagine care everywhere.” Several projects that could potentially bring care everywhere are health spots in retail and office spaces, ‘medicar’, and a connected home. Health spots are basically private cubicles located in populated places to provide easier access to solutions for simple medical problems. One would walk in to the cubicle, meet with a doctor communicating remotely through a computer screen, and receive a diagnosis with possible prescription. A medicar is the same concept as health spots but operated through cars in an Uber-like service. The idea is that one could call a medicar to one’s doorstep and receive treatment easily. A connected home featured multiple digital screens to converse with doctors, receive health updates, and receive reminders for medication intake. While these projects seem five to seven years away from fruition due to high costs and difficulty of execution, I am very excited to see how these futuristic concepts play out and improve health care in America.

Emily Zhang ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Electric Imp

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A Larger World, by Joey Yu

It is always weird to connect CMC with Silicon Valley. We are good at econ; we have strong psychology department; our government professors are top level scholars. Every day, people talk about Goldman Sachs, argue about democrats and republicans. Science? That is nothing but a GE class. For a while, I thought I was going to end up as a consultant, or maybe an accountant. Who knows? Sounds equally good to me. As a result, when I first heard about the Silicon Valley program, I hesitated a lot. It sounded like a good program but did not seem to work for me. I was still not really confident about my decision when I turned in my application. However, things happened without any reason. I got in the program and received an offer from a startup called Orbital Insight.

I arrived in Northern California in the middle of January. Different from Claremont, where the weather had started to get warmer, Mountain View, the city I lived, was still freezing. On the first day of work, I arrived at the office at 10 o’clock. Surprisingly, half of the office was empty and only three people were there. At first, I thought maybe something was going on that day. People may have meetings or other businesses. However, it was not. It was part of the company culture: you may start working whenever you want to and leave whenever you finish. It really took me a while to get used to this style. At first, I always tried to wear a business casual shirt. However, after seeing my boss dressing in t-shirts and jeans to meet his clients, I decided to do so as well. Gradually, I figured out that this culture does not only belong to my company, but belongs to the whole Silicon Valley. People here live a pretty casual life. Sometimes life is so casual that you almost forget you have a formal job!

However, it would be extremely wrong if you take this casualness as laziness. People here are the most efficient people I have ever met! Since we are a startup, we are still developing our businesses; whatever we do is a new experiment. Every day, we have tons of small meetings and brainstorms. Sometimes my supervisor gives me a new project and I ask him how to do it.

“I don’t know. Try to figure it out by yourself!”

I have worked in Silicon Valley for more than a month. I have experienced and learned much from this Program. During the past month, I have met a lot of smart and cool guys. Many of my colleagues came from NASA and Google. Some of them were originally professors from schools such as Princeton and CMU. Every day I spend working with them is a great learning process for me. More importantly, the Program opens up a new world for me. Looking back, I find out there is a Chinese idiom that could perfectly describe my past life: “frog under the well”. Besides from the sky above, there is a much larger world waiting me to explore.

Joey Yu ’17
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Orbital Insight

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Introducing the SVP Spring 2015 Class, by Andrew Yeh

(From Left) Back: Tavin Olarnsakul, Rebecca Chen, Victoria Tang, Joey Yu, and Andrew Yeh Front: Emily Zhang and Jill Rosok



My name is Andrew Yeh, and I’m writing the first blog post for our school’s semester-long Silicon Valley Program.

Our jobs are interesting. This year, with only 7 of us, there wasn’t a lot of diversity in occupations. Most of us are in marketing, but the products and responsibilities behind that marketing differ between all of us and are all equally, extremely interesting. For example, I am flogging through spreadsheets and making PowerPoint slides right now.

Tavin is ruthlessly rejecting applicants to his startup, Esper. He doesn’t read their resumes; he reads their minds.

Victoria and Joey are analyzing satellite data at Orbital Insight to spy on Brazilian corn farmers, honing complex computer algorithms with their human input to figure out what those dastardly farmers are really doing.

Jill is slacking off at Atlassian, learning how to code. In her spare time, she plots world domination.

Rebecca is smashing down brick walls between divisions at her company, Equinix, with her hammer. She says that and the intranet that she’s devising will facilitate intra-company communication. I’m skeptical of the intranet, but I do talk when there’s a hammer over my head too.

Emily is working directly with the executives of her startup. Or maybe they’re working with/under her. My inside contact tells me Emily is evaluating potential replacements for the CEO right now with a talented lady called “Emily Zhang” at the top of the list.

I’m sleeping in at home and at work.

Good morning. Good night.

Andrew Yeh ’17
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Hewlett-Packard

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Technology? It’s All About the People, by Gustavo Pires de Oliveira Dias

The first thing people think about in Silicon Valley is the fact that technology “rules” this part of the country. That is correct, to some extent, but also completely misleading. By saying that, one completely diminishes the value of the people who built and are living in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is not about technology, it’s about the culture. It’s about not being afraid to pursue and idea that you believe in. When you are here you know that no one will throw your idea out the window before listening to what you have to say. It’s just the way it works here, no idea is a bad idea. Take Airbnb for example, it’s the worst idea ever. Getting strangers to stay in your house and paying to stay at a stranger’s house.. who ever thought that would work? Well, it did. And it’s a great business. People here are open to new opportunities and new ways to do things. Every day that I am here I see that there are novel solutions to old problems.

The culture of Silicon Valley is truly unmatchable. A 20 year old kid can give suggestions to a CEO who has sold companies for billions of dollars without feeling intimidated or even ashamed–sometimes being extremely helpful. Here, meritocracy is always the standard. If someone is “big” in Silicon Valley, he/she most definitely earned it. What impresses me the most is that, no matter how accomplished you are, if you are in Silicon Valley, you are never satisfied. You are always constantly trying to innovate, you live for that. In many ways it reminds me of CMC. You don’t only live in Silicon Valley/CMC, you eat, sleep, drink, breath Silicon Valley/CMC. There’s nothing better than that.

Gustavo Pires de Oliveira Dias ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Orbital Insight

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“You Skipped a Semester of College… To Work?!”, by Alec Koh

A few weeks ago, one of my close family friends called me on the phone. The conversation started how it always does; How is college? What do you want to do after you graduate? Make sure you come visit soon! As I explained to him that I am in San Francisco participating in the Silicon Valley Program, his initial response was excitement. He thinks it is a great opportunity, and he wishes he could have done something similar when we was younger. As I explained what I do at work to him, he interrupted me and said, “Wait a minute, you chose to skip a full semester of college to work full time?”.

This isn’t the first time I have been asked this, as many alumni, mentors, and friends have questioned my decision to do this program. While they all think SVP is awesome, they soon realize how much they miss college and what I am giving up by being here. Whenever I get asked the question, I remember how much I miss Claremont and all my friends, and the internal struggle of justifying my decision to leave campus begins.

Alec Koh, Phil Tseng and Bill Mirbach
While many see skipping out on a valuable semester of college to be horrific, I believe this is one of the most valuable experiences you can possibly have in college. Not only did I learn more than I ever have in a semester, but I made new friends that I probably never would have even known if not for SVP. I now also have a lot of connections in the Bay Area, which will make coming back here to work much easier. However, I am missing out on a semester with my close friends, classes from my favorite professors, and ultimately the opportunity to live life like a college kid. While those benefits aren’t the most practical ones, they still mean just as much to me as the experience provided here. I have been lucky enough to visit Claremont twice, and seeing my close friends both weekends were two of the happiest moments of the semester.

I miss my friends so much, but the experience from the last 4 months has been awesome. I also had the opportunity to begin building a social enterprise with Nina Kamath in SVP, as well as two other students back on campus while still participating in everything this program has to offer. The innovation and culture of the Silicon Valley influenced our idea and allowed us to create a great business model, and we plan to continue building out our enterprise. I know that there are mixed feelings about the Silicon Valley Program, both from students on campus and students here, but I don’t think I could have had a better semester off campus experience.

So when I am asked why I skipped a semester of college to work, what is my answer? I did, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience I had.

Alec Koh ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Hewlett‐Packard

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Small and Mighty: SVP Spring 2015 Students Announced

The Silicon Valley Program is proud to welcome a small, but mighty, group of eight students to the Spring 2015 semester.  These students hail from Pomona and Claremont McKenna colleges, and represent economics, government, applied mathematics, psychology, Asian studies, and theater design & technology majors.

We look forward to having them arrive in Silicon Valley after the winter break. Interested employers may still have an opportunity to secure one or more of these talented interns.

SVP Spring 2015
Pictured: Jiaqi “Rebecca” Chen, Yichen Lu, Tavin Olarnsakul, Jie “Victoria” Tang, Andrew Yeh, Zhongyi “Joey” Yu, and Emily Zhang. Not Pictured: Jill Rosok

Stephen M. Siegel ’87
Director, Silicon Valley Program

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Unexpected Moments of Inspiration, by Thomas Hague

Surrounded by people wearing zebra print outfits at a dance party on a Sunday morning, I was handed a card. No, it wasn’t Paul Allen’s card. It was a card with a message. A message that I had absolutely no intention of encountering that day. On one side of the card, (not the neon-disco patterned side), it read:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;
Who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
Who spends himself in a worthy cause;
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
And who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt”

This program has been full of random moments of inspiration. In fact, I might have learned the most while I’ve least expected it – conversations with cab drivers through the city, taco truck lunches with co-workers, and late night excursions through Tenderloin, for example.

The Sunday morning dance party was a unique and wholly unexpected experience – something I’ve learned to value more while on this program. While Claremont’s campus, at times, can be predictable and repetitive, San Francisco has proven to be full of unknowns.

This semester I’ve come to appreciate uncertainty. “What am I going to do after college?”, “What am I passionate about?” , “What am I working towards?” – all questions that used to bother me (and admittedly, still do at times). But I think the Silicon Valley Program attracts people who are willing to go headfirst into an unknown situation, adapting to the challenges they face along the way. It teaches them to appreciate this uncertainty – to courageously embrace it. This kind of attitude largely defines Silicon Valley.

Looking back at the Sunday morning dance party, there was a lot of uncertainty: What kind of a club throws a Sunday morning dance party? Who are these people dressed as zebras? Why are they serving bloody marys at 9AM? Just how deep is this house? But after I read Theodore’s message, I knew there was just one thing to do: shut up and dance.

I was told to have a bias towards action during Freshman orientation. It took a while, but I think that lesson has finally set in. It took being in the “real world” for a semester full of uncertainty, and learning that embracing it gives you freedom. To quote Risky Business, admittedly a step down from Roosevelt, “saying “What the f***”, brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.”

See you on the dance floor, Claremont.

Thomas Hague ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Kairos Society

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A Taste of Real Life, by Surya Sendyl

When I applied to the Silicon Valley Program, I was expecting to get out of my comfort-zone of beautiful and easygoing Camp Claremont and venture out into the real world for a semester. Being a Philosophy-Economics dual major with a passion for learning and teaching, I was considering pursuing higher education in philosophy. I wanted to use my semester in Silicon Valley as a metaphorical litmus test to see how I would fair in the dynamic technology industry and figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life.

After venturing out to Silicon Valley, and immersing myself in its culture, I can say that I am no closer to answering my initial question of what career I want to pursue. I have loved every moment up here. From meeting new and important people to adventuring in beautiful San Francisco, this experience has been a non-stop roller coaster ride of discovery.

The most eye-opening part is that there are so many campus resources at our disposal in Claremont. Resources that we start to take for granted. Working 40 hours a weeks, and taking 7 hours of class on Saturday hasn’t been easy. Without the same resources–like easy access to professors, office hours, tutoring, and amazing services like the dean of students, I have been given a small taste of the real world during my time here.

Being so busy has been an eye-opening experience. For this first time in my life, I am having to schedule leisure time into my day. Although it has been tough, I can honestly say that I have grown up a little and become accustomed to this new, busy way of life.

I feel like I am prepared for anything Claremont can throw at me in the spring—and beyond.

Surya Sendyl ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Orbital Insight

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Cultural Exploration, by Richard Mancuso

We’re half way through the Silicon Valley Program. At this point, we’ve found the delicate balance between work, school, sleep, and fun. Yes, we’re all in this for the incredible experiences and opportunities afforded to us through an extended internship in one of the most exciting and innovative places in the world, but I believe that the Silicon Valley Program should just as much be a cultural experience. Even though Silicon Valley is still California, it’s an entirely different place, and, as such, there are a lot of exciting things to do and see. So, in this blog post, I’ll provide a break from the typical post one might see here (about school or work) by focusing on experiences one should have while in the Silicon Valley.

1) Golden Gate Bridge: It’s touristy, it’s cliche, it’s hard to get to, but it’s amazing. Construction on it began in 1933 and was completed in 1937, $35 million later. It was the longest suspension bridge main span until 1969 and connects San Francisco (in the Presidio) to Marin County (near Sausalito). Since it’s always crowded, the best way to see it is by biking to the bridge and biking or walking across it. So, find a clear, sunny Sunday and check out the Golden Gate.

2) Marin County: Marin County sits on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are two spots to look out for. First, Sausalito; a small town that sits on the bay. Find a good restaurant or coffee shop, or spend an hour walking around and admiring the scenery. The second is Hawk Hill, which sits directly next to the Marin-side entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s a really steep hill that you can either drive, walk, or bike up; it’s worth it, great views await.

3) Ferry: San Francisco sits on a bay. There are a lot of other cool places that border the bay as well; take a ferry from the San Francisco Ferry Terminal to any one of them.

4) Point Reyes: Point Reyes Station is a small town in the northern part of Marin County. If you have access to a car, take the roughly 45-mile drive to check out the small town and seashore. While you’re there, enjoy fresh oysters in Tomales Bay. You’ll see some Redwoods along the way.

5) California Academy of Sciences: The California Academy of Sciences is a science museum located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There are a number of fascinating exhibits. Most notably, it boasts an extremely large planetarium, a multi-story immersive rainforest exhibit, an earthquake simulator, and an aquarium.

6) Golden Gate Park: While you’re at the California Academy of Sciences (which is located in Golden Gate Park), you should check out the rest of the park. It’s a great place to walk, but even better if you go on one of many days concerts or festivals are held.

7) Dolores Park: Take BART or the Muni to the Mission District on a clear day or night and make the short trek to Dolores Park. The slightly higher elevation allows for great views of the city.

Hopefully these seven tips can help facilitate your cultural exploration of San Francisco and surrounding areas while in the Silicon Valley Program. There are a number of additional, equally-interesting things to do and see, so spend your Sundays wisely. Below are a handful of photos I’ve gathered during my own explorations.

Twin PeaksTwin Peaks

Giants World Series Championship ParadeGiants World Series Championship Parade

Sunrise at Hawk HillSunrise at Hawk Hill

Golden Gate BridgeBoat ride on the Bay

Blue AngelsThe Blue Angels fly overheard during Fleet Week

Richard Mancuso ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Augmedix

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Three Tips for Getting Ready for/ Fitting into the Real World, by Chong Shen

1. Utilize your Time.

Make a plan to develop practical skills that you can easily transfer from one place to another. Programming skills like SQL, design skills like Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, video editing skills. Once you have figured out which skill to invest in, make a concrete plan whether by signing up for online classes or self-learning. If it takes locking yourself up in your room for a weekend to know how to use SQL, so be it. The benefits of having a practical skill under your belt far outweigh people’s common expectation.

Hold yourself accountable by keeping track of how you use your time. Build a time log for yourself and record what you do, duration and whether it was of high value or low value to you. Adjust your habits of time allocations if you consistently spend lots of time on low-value things.

2. Learn Soft Knowledge from Work.

When on a job/internship, learning soft knowledge is as important as, if not more important than work-specific knowledge. By soft knowledge I am referring to talking to your senior co-workers about their career development and life experience. Ask them about things that they wish they had known when they were younger. Get recommendations of books or websites to check out and be proactive about following up with them by talking about your thoughts on the resources they recommended.

This is important because not every single internship will end up relevant to your career. Work knowledge is helpful when you are determined to join a relevant industry and field, but more often than not, you are still exploring different options and soft knowledge becomes your transferrable assets that help you along your career development.

3. Start Making Career Plans.

Map out your interests. What type of work are you passionate about? When do you feel most satisfied working? What kind of tasks challenges you? What type of people do you work well with?

List out your skills. Think how you are currently adding value to your organization/group? What is your competitive advantage? What can you do better than your competitors?

Research market reality. What industries are growing? What fields are increasing recruitments?

Fit these three things into one picture and form an understanding of how you can get to the place that matches your interests, skill sets and market reality. Talk about your career plans with close co-workers and your boss, and ask for feedbacks as well as directions.

Chong Shen ’16
Claremont McKenna College
Intern, Equinix

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