Thirty-four ESTEEM students will spend Spring Break in Silicon Valley, where Notre Dame’s California Initiative is establishing new opportunities for networking and learning. Students will hear talks from startup CEOs, incubator/accelerator founders, and venture capitalists; pitch their own ideas; shadow entrepreneurs; visit leading tech and life science companies; and have time to schedule their own encounters and interviews with employers in the area.
“The main purpose for this trip is to immerse students in an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Sunny Shah, assistant director of ESTEEM, who will lead the trip. The on-site experience complements the classroom learning that the students have experienced since the summer when classes began. Silicon Valley was also last year’s destination for the annual Spring Break trip, which has included visits to Research Triangle Park, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Dublin.
“To be able to go there and view it in person, see what they have learned implemented and used on a daily basis, they greatly appreciated it,” Shah says. “Now with the Notre Dame initiative in California, it was an easy decision this year to have the trip again back in Silicon Valley to promote this kind of networking opportunity for future jobs.”
The visit, March 8-13, includes targeted lectures by leaders about the culture of Silicon Valley, unit economics, and leadership. Student teams will have a chance to pitch their thesis project ideas to venture capitalists and receive feedback. Pairings with leaders for a day or half-day of shadowing will show day-to-day-life of entrepreneurs and leaders in Silicon Valley. The group will tour some life science and technology companies, both startups and larger corporations, near the end of the week.
“We’re looking into making this trip to Silicon Valley our annual tradition with future goals of increasing the presence of ESTEEM when Notre Dame has a space and continues to expand its network in the Valley,” Shah says. “We’re hoping our annual trip continues to gain momentum and keeps building up while providing a great platform for our ESTEEM students to network and engage in this strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Check out former ESTEEM Student, Keith Marrero's reflections on the Spring Break trip last year: