A few months ago, over 200 students submitted their final projects from their Dev Catalyst coding classes to our competition. Out of those, 21 exceptional students were awarded an all expenses paid tech tour of San Francisco. The trip, which is the sixth of its nature, gives students the chance to visit some top companies in Silicon Valley and discover the vast career options available to those in tech.
On June 3rd, the participating students were up before the sun, meeting at 4:00 a.m. in Jackson to drive to the airport and catch the cross-country flight.
Arriving that afternoon in sunny San Francisco, the trip kicked off with a stop at HackerOne, an ethical hacking company that works with businesses worldwide to build a safer internet. Several of the company’s team, including the CEO, took time to talk to the students about making the digital world a safer place. After the visit, students went sightseeing at the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoyed a ferry ride across San Francisco Bay.
Day 2 began bright and early with a visit to Linkedin, where a panel of developers and engineers spoke about how they got where they are now and shared advice they would tell their younger selves. After being treated to a tour of the facilities, students sat down for a lunch Q and A session with a few of the sales team, including Sales Director David Ellis, who was born and raised in West Tennessee. He revealed tips on diving into internships and first steps when starting a new job. Stopping for a quick break, the students played games at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino before heading over to tour Google.
They were met by a panel of “googlers,” which included tech writers, hardware engineers, and developers, who were eager to share about working at Google. One of the students’ favorite questions brought up at the panel was “What should someone do who wants to work at google?” The answers included contributing to open source projects, surrounding yourself with other curious people, and not being afraid to try something new. Other advice involved recognizing that you don’t know it all and learning how to learn, because of technology’s fast-paced growth. When asked his favorite thing about working at Google, one panelist stated that there “It’s totally okay to fail and be wrong.” He described Google’s failed attempts in 2010 to get speech and image recognition into robots. However, now in 2019, voice and image recognition is advanced enough that they can now revisit the idea and succeed. “It was just too soon.” He shared. “Now it works really well and we can go back to bringing these things to robots again.”
After bidding Google goodbye, the students wrapped up their second day with a dinner at Spark Social SF, a food truck park in Mission Bay.
The third day of the trip brought a trip to Pivotal Software, a company that builds software and helps prepare businesses for the future, working with big names like Ford, Boeing, T-Mobile, and more.
Students met and toured with four engineers/developers/designers who described the huge breadth of diverse jobs within tech. To the group’s surprise, Pivotal provides ping pong tables in the building for their employees and students got to play a team-working ping-pong game alongside Pivotal staff.
Next the group headed over to Intercom, a customer messaging platform for business growth. Students were treated to a tour and taught about bot technology. One interesting speaker shared her predictions of the use of bots in the future, saying she believes “we’ll see automation become much much smarter in serving the specific individual.” Lastly came a tour of Salesforce, a company that runs an online platform for customer relationship management. One staff member shared advice dealing with imposter syndrome. She revealed that many new hires in tech struggle with feeling like they don’t deserve to be there and suggested that students “Just remember the way that you see the world and understand the world and the perspectives and experiences that you have are unique and valuable.” The students ended their last full day with a visit to the San Francisco’s Chinatown, which is the oldest Chinatown outside of Asia.
Full of new information on opportunities in tech and the vast career options ahead of them, along with a bunch of great memories, the group bid goodbye to San Francisco and caught their flight home.
This program and trip to San Francisco would not have be possible without our generous sponsors. We would like to thank Launch TN, First Tennessee Bank, Jackson Chamber, 1Tennessee Broadband, Alexander & Thompson Arnold CPAs, Jackson Energy Authority, Murray Guard, and Personnel Placements LLC for making this possible.