Before diving right in, I just wanted to thank everyone who made this trip life changing. Professor Kane, Professor Doyle, Kelsey and Matt– thank you for guiding us to the direction where we can get the most out from this trip. Without your decisions before/throughout the trip, the experience would not have been the same. TechTrekkers– thank you so much for being such amazing people you are. As I’ve said this already multiple times throughout the trip, I could not have asked for a better group to share the amazing time.
Re-reading my first introduction post, I wowed at the fact that I got the answers to all of my questions, but also my experience from the TechTrek went beyond the expectation.
On one Wednesday afternoon in January, I entered a room in Cushing, clueless of what is ahead but well-knowing my burning body suffering from 103 fever. I thought, “Wow, this is great, hope this fever is the worst thing that happens during this course.” And it was. For the next six weeks, nothing but the best luck happened to us. From beating the snowstorm by a night to getting the best group of people and panels, nothing could have gone better. (I even lost my contact lens and found it in the sleeve of my jacket- really, can anything go better?)
At first, not having business background, I felt a little bit out of place whenever I walked into the classroom. Literally everyone in the class was so smart and knowledgable in all fields that professor mentions, and there I was, a little confused. The confusion gradually grew as a motivation. I started going on the Twitter more, reading blogs more, googling more on companies we were going to visit. Being surrounded by such smart people drove me and started feeling comfortable talking and asking questions. On the last night of the trip we gathered around and each talked about the TechTrek experience, and little did I know, a lot of people in class felt the same way!
You only see what you know: I could not agree more with this because without the preparation, the understanding of each companies would have been so different. For example, in the media the concept of blockchains and cryptocurrency are constantly brought up. Without the discussion in class or class blog I probably would not have been able to keep the conversation with Jesse on the first night or ask a question related to that field. Having sufficient knowledge and preparation is key to getting the most out of any experience!
During the Trip
Different startups at Different Stages
Silicon Valley has been known for the hub for tech startups, what is less known or sometimes taken for granted is how diverse the fields/stages of starts up are at. Some companies like Salesforce are at the stage where their revenue multiplies every month or quarter, and some companies has only a couple employees dreaming to be the next Facebook or AirBnB. Visiting Ouster and Oracle on the same day was especially interesting because they are obviously going through different stages and probably dealing with very different problems. This made me think whether I want to work in more established and structured setting or more flexible setting where I can do more hands-on experience.
Hearing People from Different Positions
Silicon Valley is not comprised of just engineers or super computers only. We talked to the Vice President of product design at Facebook, and we also talked to the recent graduate and software engineer at Google. Hearing a wide range of people from both horizontally and vertically different background was definitely an interesting experience, for their perspectives can offer us different answers to our questions.
Some Advices I Would like to Take Away
- “Be in the ecosystem. Surround yourself in the system where innovations happen.”
- “Don’t half a** on two things, you’ll lose one!”
- “Always have a couple of questions in mind in things you do. “
- “For every company, only reason companies will hire you is when you’re low maintenance and high performing. Be a self-starting and self-driven person.”
- “Experience different career paths in your 20’s, but don’t forget to enjoy your life.”
My first encounter of TechTrek was, as I mentioned, was from the alumni panel hosted by KSA. The question I posed was “what made him so sure that he doesn’t even take a second to think and say that TechTrek was his favorite class during his time in college?” My question before the trip now has an answer, and if someone ever asks me what was my favorite class was during college, 100% I’m going to say it was TechTrek.
It has broaden my horizons of understanding of Silicon Valley. As much as it sounds like a cliché, learning in class about what’s going on in Silicon Valley is a lot different from actually going to the place and talking to the people. If it wasn’t TechTrek, Silicon Valley would have stayed as a fairy tale in my head, but in more high tech version.
Another reason is TechTrek is a literal life-changing experience. Before TechTrek, I always had a set career path in my mind: getting a job in either in New York or Boston, working as a software engineer, going to business school after, etc. . . . However, this trip has taught me that it is O.K. to try new things as most of the entrepreneurs we met during the trip had experimented and flexible to do something else in the next chapter of their lives. In other words, I have learned to become more open to something that I never anticipated.
Again, I would like to thank everyone for making the journey so special and lifelong. I’m curious as to what our future has in store for each and every one of us!