Kai '17 Takes on Silicon Valley [3/21]

Students visited Facebook to meet with Lingyuan Keh' '13 and Kate Zyskowski '08. They also had dinner with Nina Chen '10 (Amazon) and Adam Smiley Poswolsky '05 (best-selling author). Tuesday's reflections are written by Gelsson Ortiz '18 and Maximo Lipman '20.

Gelsson's Reflection

Gelsson Ortiz '18 is a junior majoring in Economics but also completing certificates in Applied Data Science and Informatics and Modeling. Even though he's not a film major, Gelsson hopes to some day make films and express his artistic side that Wesleyan's community has helped grow. In addition to filmmaking, he hopes to publish a few books in his lifetime and has already finished a rough draft of a fiction piece that he hopes to publish right after graduating from college.

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I truly appreciated the opportunity to visit Facebook on Tuesday. Having Lingyuan Ke and Lisa Sy from Facebook show us around created a more intimate environment than if we had another employee who wasn’t a Wesleyan alum show us around. I appreciated having the opportunity to get to talk to them about what they had studied at Wesleyan and their recommendations for what I should do starting now if I hope to work for Facebook someday. I wish we had more time to look around and ask more questions but I did appreciate visiting the Facebook campus in addition to having the space to ask questions and hear what Lingyuan and Lisa had to say about their experiences at Facebook. It was good to know that one could land a great job without having a college degree at Facebook since before the visit I expected almost everyone there to have a master’s degree or PhD. I knew that Facebook was a successful company but I didn’t how much the employees benefitted from the company’s success.

    What I really like about the dinners is that we can ask the questions that we wouldn’t be able to ask in a professional setting. We, as well as the speakers, can be upfront about our concerns or anything that piques our interest. Because of my own aspirations and plans, I really liked talking to and hearing what Adam Smiley Poswolsky had to say regarding his experience as a writer and what he did to become successful. Nina Chen from Amazon also instilled us the idea that we shouldn’t stress so much about finding a job or internship as we are right now because things will eventually work out in the end if we are working on something we are passionate about. Adam especially accentuates this in the talk we had that night and in the first few pages of his book which has allowed me to consider other career or job opportunities in addition to the ones I already have in mind now that I know that it’s all right to not have a traditionally stable career path. I felt like we heard more from Adam towards the end but I appreciated how we both broke off into two parts so that the people who wanted to ask Nina more questions had the opportunity to do so and the people who wanted to keep talking to Adam also had the same opportunity. I’d recommend Kai Wesleyan to reach out to all four Wesleyan alums for next year’s trip because these four alums have made this trip worth it.
 

Maximo's Reflection

Maximo Lipman is a First Year expecting to major in Sociology. He is curious about how sociology and other social sciences and humanities based disciplines can become integrated into the entrepreneurial and tech world. He looks forward to continuing to find creative ways to bridge his academic interests into business. 

Facebook was one of the most unique companies our group visited on our trip.  Unlike most of our company visits where alumni gave us brief tours of their offices, Facebook offered us a full hour long tour with a tour guide, April.  Rather than providing information on exactly what Facebook does, April’s tour seemed almost like a recruiting tactic, showing off all of the perks that Facebook offers its employees.  Nonetheless, I gawked as I walked through the campus marveling at all of the free stuff (Really – EVERYTHING is free).  I was really happy that Lingyuan and Kate were able to accompany us on the tour and answer all of our questions not addressed by April.  It was so fulfilling to hear how each alum has transferred their own experiences at Wesleyan to their work in Silicon Valley.  I was particularly happy to get to speak to Kate, an anthropologist, who’s field of study is similar to that which I hope to pursue, sociology.  While many of the alumni we met majored in economy or computer science in college, Kate was a refreshing example of the fact that you don’t necessarily need to major in those fields to get a job in tech.
 

Our dinner later that night was one of my favorite parts of our trip.  It was really informative to have a meeting with different alumni who were not familiar with each other before that night.  While working in vastly different fields, I was happy to see that Adam and Nina shared very similar opinions on the job market.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say that they helped settle our jitters around finding work and discovering our passions.  It was also really beneficial to hear just how important networking is.  I was fascinated by Nina’s story of reaching out to random alumni by scheduling meals with them.  Shortly after that meeting I actually made a LinkedIn account and have been trying to develop my page and grow my network to get in contact with alumni like Nina did.  It was also fun to get to speak with Adam about his experiences at Wes and seeing how much campus has changed since he graduated. I look forward to reading his book to learn more about finding a career path as a millennial.  
 
    Overall, my experience on Kai’s Silicon Valley trip was very fulfilling and educational.  Each company and alum offered a unique perspective on the tech world and showed the diversity of opportunities available in Silicon Valley.  I learned about the advantages and disadvantages of working at a large company like Facebook and Apple and smaller companies such as Slack or startups.  However, for me the most rewarding part of this trip was getting to learn how Wesleyan alumni have made it to the positions they hold now.  I really look forward to taking the skills I learned over this trip with me in the future in hopes of finding summer internships and eventually careers post-graduation.