Spring break means many fun trips for students in college, and for some of our QUEST students, it meant a trip to California’s Silicon Valley. On this trip, our students got to explore some Fortune 500 companies and startups to see how QUEST themes and ideals apply to them. The design thinking process was evident and a sense of innovation was ever-present.
Prior to going on the trip, students prepared informative dossiers on all the companies they would visit. Praneeth from Cohort 29 studied Redfin to study their design and development process which resembled that of many other Silicon Valley companies. He got to learn that “ideation starts with product managers and then goes through an iterative testing process to finalize specifications that are sent out to developers who build the product.”
Students visited many companies in order to study their operational ways and to understand their design processes to see how they compare to one another. Students got to visit Uber, Autodesk, Facebook, Cisco, and Google to name just a few! One company they visited, Compology, was actually founded by QUEST alumnus, Jason Gates, from Cohort 16. The visit to Tesla was a popular one. QUEST students got to see the factory and ride the Model X. Jeff Zhao (Q28) enjoyed it, saying, “Going from 0-80 mph in less than 3 seconds is something that I will never forget.”
QUEST trips to various locations, such as our most recent trip to Silicon Valley, teach our students in a unique way outside of the classroom. They not only got to interact face-to-face with people that work for these companies, but they also got to see them in their work environment. A special part of the trip was that QUEST alumni were working at many of the locations visited and getting to see them give back to the program felt great and inspired Jeff Zhao to think about a future with the program beyond graduation. All of the alumni that our students got to talk to were keen on sharing career advice and the best places to go to in San Francisco.
With that said, being in Silicon Valley meant that there was exploring to be done. In their free time, QUEST students had a chance to explore the local areas and all the tourist attractions. Jack Sturtevant from Cohort 29 loved bonding with everyone in the evenings after the visits were completed. Praneeth liked sightseeing, especially when it came to seeing and experiencing things unique to San Francisco. While they were learning, students were also provided with the opportunity to get to know each other better and bond with students outside of their cohort.
The takeaways from this trip are endless. From the opportunity to network with many people leading and working for these great companies to forging new relationships, the QUEST students that went to Silicon Valley have brought back great experiences and stories to share with our community. Anyone that went on the trip would recommend it! Jack (Q29) was grateful that “the trip gave [him] great insight into the area of California and how different companies and life are out there. It gives you opportunities to make business connections outside of the DMV.”
Praneeth recommends the trip strongly and described it as “a unique opportunity that every QUEST student should take advantage of, if possible. We were able to get an inside look at companies that come up in every major news source on a daily basis. It’s an incomparable way to understand problems at a deeper level which ultimately helps you discover your passion. Whether that’s going behind the scenes of Tesla’s factory and watching the largest machine in North America press down on sheets of steel with enough force to be noticed on UC Berkeley’s seismograph or playing games in the arcade of Facebook’s headquarters while thinking about creative ways to connect people across the globe, it’s these unique environments that this trip gives you exposure to that helps you find your passion.”
QUEST students love the “QUEST2” trips. The adventure is unlike any other and getting to see different parts of the world while better understanding design is unmatched by any other trip. For more photos of the trip, click here!