Claremont McKenna College

Life on the Silicon Valley Program, by Eric Yee

Hello world. 

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!

Eric Yee
CMC
Class of 2014

About Brown, William -14

I'm Locke Brown and I'm a Junior at Claremont McKenna College. I am double majoring in Math and Econ and am currently "abroad" participating in the first semester of the Silicon Valley Program. Check the blog to see how it's going!
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