Silicon Valley Program gears up with exciting fall curriculum

As CMC’s Silicon Valley Program (SVP) begins its fifth year, it can look back on major successes. To date, 115 students from CMC and other Claremont Colleges have interned and studied in Silicon Valley, working in start-ups, established companies and nonprofit organizations, and learning what it takes to be successful in areas like product development, communications/marketing, human resources, and finance.

The list of companies offering SVP internships is a who’s who of tech, including Microsoft, Fibrogen, Genentech, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, and Equinix. Many SVP participants have turned those internships into full-time employment after graduation.

But here’s the thing: the SVP isn’t resting on its laurels. It has expanded and enhanced the internship program for the upcoming academic year.

Students can still take advantage of high-impact internships, related coursework, professional development and networking opportunities in Silicon Valley. But new this semester is the program’s expanded four-credit academic course offerings with three of the credits counting toward the Leadership sequence. And that’s not the only innovation.

During the fall semester all SVP academic interns will live in community with each other in Redwood City, one of Silicon Valley’s most thriving, central areas. They will live in a new furnished apartment complex, Marsten, featuring multiple lounge spaces, a business/study center, a fitness center, and easy access to public transportation and freeways.

According to SVP Director Andrew Ceperley, the program will continue its partnership with technology incubator Plug and Play Tech Center, where classes will be taught and where interns will have opportunities to engage with entrepreneurs developing new products and services.

Ceperley, who became SVP director in February, says he was drawn to the program for two reasons. “First, as a long-time career development practitioner, I am an advocate for high impact experiential practices, such as internships,” he says. “Students gain so much from professional experiences that connect them with the workplace. They build their resumes, strengthen their networks and most importantly are able to make decisions about their best professional fit after graduation. The second reason SVP deserves broadened visibility is in its intentional alignment between liberal arts education and the needs of companies dedicated to innovation and technology.”

As Ceperley says, the root of the SVP is that it’s an experiential learning opportunity. The SVP staff works with students to fine-tune resumes, establish LinkedIn profiles, and apply proven strategies to landing a semester-long internships with companies that can appreciate their talent, passion, and aspiration.

The academic component of SVP is customized to the internships. Professor Darren Filson is the SVP’s academic program director and teaches Innovation Management/Industrial Organization (ECON 065 CM/ECON 165 CM). A new Leadership sequence course, Special Topics in Silicon Valley, will be taught by Professors Jay Conger and Ron Riggio. It will provide an overview of leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship theories and constructs, with applications and implications for leading in cutting-edge Silicon Valley organizations. These courses will be complemented by ECON 198, an independent study in Organizing for Innovation. Each of these courses is applied directly to what students will be learning and experiencing on the job. In essence, the internship serves as the ultimate “laboratory” to bring the classroom to life.

In addition, the SVP is buttressed by numerous professional development opportunities -- special class speakers, evening networking receptions, athletic and entertainment events. It is all geared to immerse students in the heart of Silicon Valley while helping them establish and develop personal and professional relationships with CMC alumni, friends, and employers, who can help them land successfully after graduation.

Ceperley says he can’t think of a single peer institution that offers a semester off-campus experience combining full academic credit with career-building work experience.

“The SVP internship becomes a true laboratory for what our students are learning in their classes,” he says. “Additionally, SVP faculty, staff, and a campus strategic planning group have devised a variety of ‘learning and connecting formats’ that are sure to enliven the students’ experience while in Silicon Valley.”

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