Guest Blog by ELP Graduate Student Rajat Mittal – Robotics – College of Engineering – Class of 2017
For any aspiring tech entrepreneur, spending a summer in the Bay Area is like a dream come true. We spend hours looking for the perfect startup, interviewing, and securing an internship. After securing the internship, I dreamt about the millions of things that I could do in the Bay Area with my time there. From doing good work at your startup, to exploring and travelling around the region, to attending tech conferences and startup events, to getting adequate rest, how does one balance this overwhelming experience?
I am sure many of you, like me, will face a similar situation. I wanted to give some tips, suggestions, and resources on how to make the best use of your summer here. It is ultimately up to you how you want to prioritize your time doing different things. (A lot of the information here can be easily be used by students interning in other cities to access the resources in their particular city).
In order to make the best use of your time interning, try to settle down. Figure out your housing and transportation situation before starting your internship. Achieving this is, in itself, a daunting task and can take a few weeks. You do not want to spend your time during the internship worrying about safe housing and reliable transportation. Get these decisions out of the way as early as possible.
Try to immerse yourself into more of the Bay Area’s startup scene. Check meetup.com and eventbrite.com. Both sites reference events happening every week. When you attend these events, be on the lookout for people who share similar interests or passion about fields like you. These events are a great way to meet fellow entrepreneurs. Be on the lookout for tech events related to your field of interest and try attending these. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you may be more interested in certain fields. It may be difficult to differentiate worthwhile events. I was in a similar dilemma, and decided to sign up for startupdigest.com and garysguide.com. These sites gives you a curated list of startup events happening every week.
Attending tech conferences in your area(s) of interest to gain exposure and more awareness of specific innovations first-hand. Given how great the potential of applying technology in emerging economies, there are many conferences to seek out: the Indo-US conference (TieCon) and China-US conferences are two Bay Area examples. Speakers with insights into the latest trends in these economies and how the US tech industry can play a pivotal role in transforming their economies are opportunities during a Bay Area internship.
If possible, try to set aside a weekend to attend the Startup Tech Weekend. Startup enthusiasts gather for a 2.5 day hackathon to work on their ideas. It is one of the most sought after startup hackathons and one that will give you hand-on experience working on a startup idea from ideation, to development, to marketing. It will also bring you in contact with people from various fields ranging from investors, to developers, to business people.
If you want to listen to some awesome speakers and meetup with other interns, sign up for Internapalooza. It’s the biggest startup event in the Bay Area with over 20,000 interns attending in 2017.
Many of us here will start our internships in a non-entrepreneurial role. I started my internship as a robotics/ software intern. Many startups encourage interns who show interest in learning about other aspects of the company, and are willing to help in those aspects. Try walking to the product manager of your startup or someone from the marketing team and convey your interests in entrepreneurship. Startups give you the flexibility to help other teams since there is always a shortage of good talent.
If your three months are not already over by now, there are a lot of scenic spots and places that you can visit. Depending on your interests there are various experiences that you may want to have. A lot of what I will share next is based on my own opinion:
Some awesome places to visit during your time here are the Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park (check for events there), chill in Dolores Park (watch out for movie nights there), visit Six Flags, the beach in Half Moon Bay, go to Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz. Try water activities like surfing, sailboating, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Enjoy the scenic views that Bay Area has to offer from the water.
If you are in the mood for some more adventurous activities, you can also go for skydiving, rock climbing, go karting, or go to an on open clay gun range in San Jose. There is no dearth of activities in the Bay Area! Try to do the activities that you find interesting. There are hiking spots, and bicycle trails. Try visiting further afield, Yosemite National Park or Muir Woods if you have the time.
A summer internship in the Bay Area opens the door to a plethora of opportunities. Try to get the best out of your time here and to amplify your learning experience. Maximize learning at your intern company, and, outside of it. The path to entrepreneurship is not a straight path; it is a curved one that involves making use of every possible opportunity every place you are in.