What’s Next for Silicon Valley?

This is the first in a series of posts by recipaints of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  

This first blog is by Emily Sun, CAS ’15

This summer, I was one of the lucky few who had an internship in Silicon Valley. I am not sure of the exact numbers or rates of acceptance for these internships, but I know they are extremely desirable. Gourmet and ethnic cafeteria food, company buses, and free concerts; these tech giants in Silicon Valley offer their interns amenities far greater than any top ranked university. My internship was a bit different since my employer was not a tech giant but a nonprofit. Joint Venture Silicon Valley is a leadership group that tackles the major challenges facing the region. A few of its initiatives include sustainable buildings, wireless communication, economic development, and climate prosperity. Recently, Joint Venture published a Silicon Valley Index which has been greatly influential and helpful for understanding Silicon Valley’s economy.

My internship was with Kara Ann Gross, the executive director of Joint Venture’s Economic Development Alliance. During this experience, I gained a deeper perspective and understanding about a nonprofit and how, in Joint Venture’s case, essential was collaboration. Every Monday morning we had a staff meeting where the president of Joint Venture would basically check in with everyone and update us on what he was doing too. In my previous experience with nonprofits, there were a lot of meetings to attend regarding planning, city policies or programs but we never had just staff meetings. Staff meetings felt personal but at the same time it was about the organization and staying on top of the work.

In the beginning, I had to do some background reading about Joint Venture, Silicon Valley, and business development as an introduction. Kara gave me a lot of materials including reports and business journals which I was to read for my benefit, but also keeping an eye out for interesting articles for our newsletter and up and coming real estate brokers for our broker database. My primary project was to update this database by merging some different lists and adding new contacts. Another project that I worked on was collecting interviews from member cities and making that information available on our website. Although I was working for on economic development in Silicon Valley, somehow a large part of my role was editing and developing the website. I also had to update content on the website regarding co-working spaces and advance manufacturing in Silicon Valley. I didn’t realize how much nonprofits like Joint Venture value and emphasized information, research and innovation. It must be part of the Silicon Valley culture.

Perhaps my favorite part of my internship was the site visits to the member cities. Kara introduced me to the economic development directors of cities such as Fremont, Sunnyvalle, and Palo Alto. Some cities housed tech giants while others had substantial residential development. The needs of the member cities varied just like the character of each city. Regional economic development is becoming more important for local governments and I am excited to see Joint Venture and similar nonprofits exercise their leadership.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.