By Tyler Andrews ’15
Silicon Valley and San Francisco are every bit as cool as you have imagined. And better. If you didn’t already enjoy the aspect of being in a relatively warm temperature year round, or the fact that the geography just outside the city is phenomenal, or the fact that you have a million different locations to travel to for pleasure, you can definitely take pleasure in the thriving, driving mind that is Northern California. (Might be part of why the price tag is so up there, but it’s worth it).
Over winter break, I was part of a phenomenally lucky group of 12 Wabash college students. We were all Sophomores and Juniors, excited to be getting away from the snowpocalypse, or polar vortex, or whatever you’ve come to call it. We knew it was going to be beautiful scenery and trips to some prestigious companies. But being there in person made it all the better. On our trip, we visited a couple of small places called Google, Twitter, Indiegogo, Wikimedia, and Shutterfly, to name a few.
Since I’m sure not many of you have seen it, Google is intense beyond anything you can imagine. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the location in Silicon Valley, brace yourself. We met with a Wabash alumnus who was part of the design team for Google Instant, Google Glass, and numerous other applications and programs. Every which way you turned was the Google yellow, red, green, and blue. Their philosophy was to promote creativity through interaction and community thinking. There were gardens and beach volleyball courts and even a giant dinosaur covered in pink flamingos. And don’t get me started on how amazing their food court was…
The thing to know about Silicon Valley is that it is an absolutely incredible area for tech companies because it isn’t bustling with people on the roads like the big city. There are dozens upon dozens of office buildings with large corporation logos on the sides, and slid in between are ponds and different landscapes to brighten the place up. In Silicon Valley, we visited Shutterfly, Mei Wu Acoustics (a noise and vibration consulting company), Google, Red Rock Coffee (a church run coffee shop that has made over $1 million in revenue in the last two years alone…), and Knack (a software company that is designing games to help companies evaluate potential employees). Every visit brought a different twist, but each had bright new ideas and was inspirational to us as students.
We started the next day off by going straight to the heart of San Francisco, and getting a taste of the commuter experience, riding the BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit. We kicked the day off by visiting Indiegogo and getting a more in depth understanding of the online crowd-funding world. Our host, Bre, was wonderful, and provided us with lots of tips on how to start our own crowd-funded ideas. We then visited Twitter, Wikimedia, AON Consulting (who just sponsored Manchester United), and Calypso Technologies. The big difference about companies in San Francisco versus companies in Silicon Valley is the privacy. Walking down the street, you would have no idea where Twitter, Indiegogo, or any of these companies were located. Knowing the address of each, we got through security at each of these areas and proceeded up to the offices of these awesome companies. And let me tell you, the views were just as incredible as the production that these companies were kicking out.
All in all, I would have to say that Twitter and Google tie for the coolest locations on my visit. Google is just, well Google, and is on a whole different level of corporation status. Their idea of how to run a company is mind-blowing…mind-blowingly successful. And Twitter, ironically started by a Google guy, is just as exciting. Their view of San Francisco was the best we saw, and was viewed from their huge patio overlook 7 stories. Twitter has some excellent ideas circling right now, and are looking to expand even more, so I’m especially excited to see what they do. Personally, my goal is to land an internship with Twitter this coming summer, but we’ll see what happens!
Thank you to the Wabash College Career Services and to one of our great alumni, Mr. Schroeder, for making this event an opportunity. It was an incredible event, and I look forward to going on future events potentially like it. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the trip, or just check out Wabash College!