6 Pieces of Advice Inspired by Top Tech Companies
By Mimi Thompson
6 Pieces of Advice Inspired by Top Tech Companies
I didn’t truly understand what it meant to be part of the “tech scene” in Silicon Valley until very recently. Over winter break, I began researching ways to expand my professional development and understand what I really wanted to do during the summer, and in the future. I was attracted to the companies whose products I use every day: Facebook, Google, Slack, Uber… the list goes on. And upon further inspection, it seemed that I didn’t have to be a Computer Science major to be a part of these companies or in the technology industry. I could be welcomed in the marketing, operations, strategy, content, design teams… again, the list goes on!
So, I made it my mission to learn even more this Spring semester: I reached out to more alumni, asked upperclassmen going into these fields for advice and am proud to be a part of the Silicon Valley Program this fall, where students undertake an internship during their academic semester. This past Spring break I attended the Bart Evan’s ITAB Networking Trek, where myself and 18 other CMC students visited 13 prominent tech companies (Airbnb, Google, Salesforce, 8VC, etc.!) met with incredible alumni and learned more about what it means to be part of Silicon Valley.
Although I discovered more about technology and business in general than I could ever condense into one article, here are 6 pieces of advice, which resonated with me and can be interpreted in any way you see fit. Here we go!
1. Create a “Board of Directors” of mentors for your life (Inspired by Salesforce)
Who do you reach out to when you need to make a big decision, whether it be personal, social, or professional? One panelist at Salesforce emphasized creating a “Board of Directors” in your life who you turn to for different perspectives about jobs, industries or goals. These directors can be your peers, your family members, and friends, but they should also stretch to alumni or other individuals who have had a lot of experience in your fields of interest. Think about who you currently consider as mentors and how you might be able to expand your board to make it the most rewarding and considerate installation.
2. Data, data, data! (Inspired by Airbnb)
Collecting, distilling and interpreting data is the foundation of how every company operates: data showcases customer engagement, informs financial decisions, and offers insight into relevant market trends. We learned that it doesn’t necessarily matter what you study in college, as long as you know how to handle data. For example, as a Literature and Psychology major, I take Psychology Statistics (equivalent to Econometrics) where my professor puts a huge emphasis on effectively communicating what a number actually means in terms of the research.
3. How to focus in on yourself (Inspired by Zumper)
This advice, given to us by the CEO of Zumper, is about business strategy, but I think it relates to how to market yourself and stand out from other candidates. Focus on 2-3 qualities that truly differentiate you, your interests and your work ethic. Know that your skills or actions likely match many other people, but the way you carry out your tasks, treat other people or think about yourself is how to market yourself as different. On a side note, creating your personal story or brand is where you can incorporate these unique qualities: to start this process, I’ve found it helpful to write down anything I have ever been involved with (classes, extracurriculars, projects), made a note about what I learned and focused on the most important experiences.
4. Push yourself out of your comfort zone NOW (Inspired by Intuit)
Being in college, especially ones as amazing as the 5Cs, is a time to experiment. Although we were told that it is important to take quantitative classes, many alumni regretted not taking that history, math or art class, which sparked inspiration but didn’t necessarily seem practical or required. These random classes will likely be your favorites, as I have been told! There are so many half-credit courses, which fulfill these ideas of trying new things– last semester I overloaded with “Spanish Practicum,” a Pitzer class where students are paired with a host family to meet and practice Spanish each week. I loved the experience because when else in my career will I have the chance to do this for fun? Along the same lines, push yourself to try new social experiences– hike at 4 am, take an improv class or explore the food scene in LA… with CPB, there’s no excuse not to.
5. The key to success is to learn! (Inspired by every single company)
The sign to leave or reconsider the position (or activity, club, company, etc.) you’re in, is when you stop learning. As simple as this sounds, every individual at each tech company told us that they love their jobs because they are constantly learning about themselves, about the company, how to do new things and how to keep growing. I (like most of you, I’m sure) love to learn; never want to stop being surrounded by people who facilitate academic, intellectual professional and personal growth.
6. Tell yourself you can do it… because you can do it (Bonus advice for women in tech, inspired by Apple)
I met some incredible women on this trek. One alumna from Apple told it straight to a group of girls and here are few wise words to end the article… enjoy!
- Work hard, trusting that you are making the right choices. But, it’s still okay to ask for help.
- Find trustworthy and encouraging people to advocate for you in the workplace.
- Do the dirty work! You’ll definitely learn from those challenging or seemingly tedious tasks, which nobody else wants to do.
- Have fun! You can do it.
Mimi CMC ‘21 at Salesforce
Tori CMC ‘21, Mimi CMC ‘21, Linnea CMC ‘20 at Salesforce Tower
Mimi CMC ‘21, Anuj CMC ‘21 at 8VC
Mimi CMC ‘21 at Google