A Summer in Silicon Valley: 3 Key Takeaways

Before this summer, I observed the tech industry from the outside looking in, as an avid user and curious journalist. I had never been to the west coast before. I had never coded a day in my life. All of that changed as I immersed myself in the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley.

This summer I interned at Facebook as an Instagram Product Marketing intern. Surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world, I worked on projects that made impact in the lives of Instagram users around the world.

After my internship, I returned to California to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business Future Leaders Program, where I learned about the possibilities of an MBA. I took a Brand Management class, met alumni, and learned about all the post-grad opportunities of a Master in Business Administration.

I ended the summer at Google for the BOLD Immersion program, where I learned about the innovative ways Google uses technology to solve problems (like the self-driving car!) and the career opportunities within Google.

Not only did I have all of these incredible experiences, but I met interns from other tech companies like Apple, GoPro, SurveyMonkey and EA Sports. I also learned a ton about myself, the companies, and the industry as a whole. Here are my three key takeaways:

1.Nothing is impossible

I’m pretty sure impossible is not in the vocabulary of anyone in Silicon Valley, it just has not been done/created/invented yet. Planes and hot air balloons that provide internet service to third world countries. Self-driving cars that use sensors to detect everything on the road. Cardboard headsets that let you to virtually travel anywhere in the world. These are just a few of the inventions I discovered.

I learned about a concept called 10x thinking, which challenges one to be ambitious with projects and solve major issues. Ten years ago, the technologies that we have now didn’t exist, and who knows what society will look like within the next ten. That’s the beauty of technology.

2. Mission is Motivation

I’ve never experienced a more mission-driven culture than that of the tech companies in the Silicon Valley. Consider these three mission statements, which I embraced as they were ingrained in me this summer:

  • Facebook: Make the world more open and connected.
  • Instagram: Capture and share the world’s moments.
  • Stanford: Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
  • Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Mission statements like these gives people purpose, encourages collaboration, and fosters creativity because everyone works toward the same common goal every day.

3. People, People, People

Great organizations need great people to thrive.

I met so many people this summer who taught me something new, offered career advice, or shared inspiring stories. As an intern, I could access to people in a variety of different fields who were more than happy to meet with me to tell me about their roles and their experiences within the company. I also met interns and other students from all over the world, who I still keep in touch with. A big support system for me this summer was theBlack Valley, a group of 400+ Black tech interns in the Bay Area.

This summer was unforgettable for so many reasons. I grew professionally and personally through my summer experiences nearly 3,000 miles from home on the west coast in the Silicon Valley.

Though it may have been my first time there, I doubt it’ll be my last.

For more about my experiences, check out these blogs and links:

Facebook University for Business

First Impressions

Interns Share Their Story

Stanford Graduate School of Business Future Leader Program

Google BOLD Immersion

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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