The opportunity to talk to people with a completely different business mentality, to broaden your own horizons and get a peek behind the curtain at world-renowned tech companies—this is enough motivation for getting on a plane and crossing the ocean.
From Stanford and the PlugandPlayAccelerator to HP, LinkedIn and the Singularity University—the people we talked to were incredibly open-minded and took time for us, even during the short Thanksgiving week. We were therefore not only able to explore these different companies from the inside, but also to talk with experts about the future of the tech industry and possible coming innovations. Everyone had something to contribute, so our conversations were always illuminating. Although we’re studying in completely different fields and have different interests, in Silicon Valley everyone got insight into the future of his or her industry or discovered an industry in which they could see themselves working.
It would be fairly difficult for any of us to compare all of the different visits with each other and choose a specific highlight. One thing we definitely won’t forget is our Thanksgiving dinner, hosted by Shira Abel, a successful marketing strategist and the partner of our tour guide, Marc. It was something special for all of us to properly celebrate this family holiday, which is so important for Americans and to be welcomed with such hospitality and warmth. We laughed a lot, ate a 15-pound turkey and had animated philosophical conversations about God and the world. By Thursday night, the day before the end of our trip, we realized how much we’d come together as a group and how much input we’d all gathered from our various discussions.
The great thing is that we’ve captured these moments on video, in photos or in writing, and we’ll be able to remember them forever. We also think it makes a lot of sense to share these moments, and hope to give others similar inspiration by doing so. By the way, with the hashtag #UESiliconValleyTour, you can find all the photos from the trip on Instagram.
We spoke with people who are passionate about their work and wake up every day with the desire to change things—this really motivated us all. Also, the realization that mistakes are a part of the development process and should be seen as opportunities for learning will stay with us and encourage us to start something great ourselves someday. It was a fantastic experience, which we would recommend to anyone. Along with all of the impressions we got, we were above all able to form new contacts and friendships within our group. In fact, the first startups were already being planned during our stay. And if anyone needs a tip for where to find a darn good breakfast, or wants to ask whether getting up early to watch the sunrise on the Golden Gate Bridge is worth it (yes!), then come to us!
This is a guest commentary by UE students Linn Jäpel, Finn Köhler und Chiara Naumnann.