QUEST Takes Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is known for its tech innovation, engineering culture, and startup ecosystem, but to QUEST students, it’s also known as the destination for the annual spring break trip. Each year, a group of QUEST students enrolled in BMGT438G/ENES489Q travel to the Bay Area on an enriching journey full of knowledge, career insights, and fun.

But with all of the travel opportunities available at UMD, why choose QUEST2SiliconValley? Ankita Sahoo from Cohort 30 explained that she wanted to see Silicon Valley from a QUEST perspective since it would help her actively network with and learn more about the lives of QUEST alumni on the West Coast. Having been on other trips through UMD, she said, “QUEST2SiliconValley stood out since it was a lot more career-oriented and students were able to build meaningful connections with employees at companies like Uber, Google, and Tesla.” On the other hand, Michael Khizgilov from Cohort 29 said QUEST2SiliconValley was his first trip through UMD. He chose the trip since he’d never been to the West Coast and wanted to “experience firsthand how companies in Silicon Valley set themselves apart and innovate successfully.”

QUESTees exploring Google’s campus

The trip this year consisted of various site visits, brunches and dinners with alumni, and free time during which students could go sightseeing in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Visits included Uber, Compology, ABC News, Autodesk, DoorDash, Genentech, Facebook, Ideo, Ford, Google, Verizon Media Group, and Tesla. Each student was responsible for researching one of the companies and planning out the logistics for that company’s site visit. Ankita Sahoo (Q30) was in charge of planning out Genentech. She discussed plans for the visit with the Genentech point of contact beforehand, went over the types of discussions and activities to be done that day, and made sure that QUEST students could take a tour of the office. Students were also responsible for analyzing each company’s development processes and recording their findings in a final report. The class ended with a final presentation to the QUEST community to showcase how fun and insightful the trip to Silicon Valley was.

The main purpose of the trip is to let QUEST students experience what the corporate culture of the West Coast is like. It gives students a great opportunity to see Silicon Valley from the eyes of those who actually work there. It’s also a great opportunity to visit the West Coast and see what it’s like before you choose to work there full-time. Dan Selzer from Cohort 27 will be working with Amazon in Seattle starting this July and said he learned a lot since he was able to “visit companies that could potentially be [his] future employers.” He explained that the site visits “made [him] more comfortable about [his] decision to work at a tech company on the West Coast.”

All in all, QUEST students had an amazing time on the West Coast this Spring Break. Be on the lookout and sign up for Design and Innovation in Silicon Valley next Spring so you too can join in on the fun!

To view more photos from the trip, click here!

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