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CMC Considers Semester-Long Silicon Valley Program

October 14, 2010

Anna Pan
CMC Considers Semester-Long Silicon Valley Program

Claremont McKenna is considering the creation of a semester-long program in Silicon Valley, multiple administration and trustees confirmed. If the program is approved, students will live in Silicon Valley for a semester, interning during the day and taking classes at night. The project is modeled off of CMC's established Washington D.C. program. The College is also looking to begin a similar program in the Middle East, for a total of three distinct offerings of this kind.

The program is designed to provide CMC students with new internship and employment opportunities, as well as to widen CMC alumni and parent connections in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Silicon Valley is unquestionably a center of high-tech leadership for the United States and having a program there has always seemed a natural fit to me,” Barton Evans '70, Trustee and chair of the Information Technology Advisory Board (ITAB), told the Forum.

The program would accept between 16 to 18 students, who would have a full-time internship and take three classes.  Program participants would use the location to their advantage and meet prominent figures in different fields. Evans said that although the internships and classes will be structured based on the existing Washington D.C. program, his vision is that they are “separate and distinct.”

The program will focus on technology and include topical courses such as organization and finance, but will most likely be designed to be open to all majors, to “make sure that the program is a gateway for as many student interests as possible,” according to Gregory Hess, Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Faculty.

Students have responded positively. "I am eagerly looking forward to this opportunity myself. These internships will give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-world environments and to develop skills which will provide useful in future employment," said Orlan Davies '13.

The new program was inspired by the current ITAB Silicon Valley Networking Trip, organized by Cynthia Humes, Chief Technology Officer, Linda Tuthill, ITS Business Manager, and Stephen Siegel '86, Associate Vice President of Development. Students on the trip spend a week in Silicon Valley networking with alumni at leading firms such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Meebo, Cisco, and Lockheed Martin. Siegel has been on the trip several times, and said that the students learn “not only about internship and early career opportunities, but about corporate strategy, latest business developments, markets, and other important topics.”

Students have been offered numerous full-time jobs and internships as a direct result of the ITAB trip, now in its sixth year. Elliot Godzich '12, a Computer Science major, landed an internship with enterprise software company Atlassian as a result of the trip. “The trip allowed me to witness firsthand how tech companies grow from ideas in the minds of a handful of entrepreneurs and engineers to multi-million dollar successes," said Godzich, "In one week, the ITAB trip completely changed how I think of business in the tech world. I cannot imagine how valuable an entire semester in Silicon Valley would be.”

A small committee is still in the process of determining the program's logistics, and narrowing down a course list. If the program were to continue, it would be an extension of the CMC Off-Campus Study program and would be funded out of CMC’s general fund. Dean Hess is optimistic. “The soonest we would possibly start the program is in the fall of 2012," he told the Forum, "Of course, we still have a lot of planning and review to undertake before we make the decision to go ahead.”

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