Watch: Students Explore Opportunities in Silicon Valley and San Francisco


For the third consecutive year, the College's Center for Innovation and Leadership (CIL) sponsored a high-tech trek through San Francisco and Silicon Valley for students interested in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Coinciding with Extern Week​ (Jan. 15-19)​, the CIL@SF trip provided 10 students the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurial alumni who live and work in the region, to learn about their work and their workplaces, and to engage with start-up, venture capital, and tech communities. The students also explored how the liberal arts can prepare them for a life in tech.

Company visits included Google, OpenTable, StitchFix, Title Nine, DFJ, Stanford's, and

This year, the group chronicled its five-day journey via the College's Snapchat account (@SwatSnaps).

According to Katie Clark, director of the Center for Innovation and Leadership, students were given a wide range of advice from alumni, including "fail fast, learn from it, and move on."

​Upon returning to campus for the start of the semester, several students spoke glowingly about the trip, noting that it revealed previously unknown opportunities in the industry, created networks with alumni in the profession, and inspired them to reach f​or​ their ​lofty ​goals.

"CIL@SF is such a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from interesting alumni leading the innovation of technology. For me personally, it was an inspiring look into the future and a lesson to fully pursue my passions and interests in tech," says Jason Jin '20​ of Union City, Calif.​

"It was really encouraging to meet with alumni who have, at one point, been in our shoes and understand what it is like to be a student, navigating important decisions like courses of study, jobs and internships, and graduate school," says Seimi Park '20 of Virginia Beach, Va.

For Laura Chen '19​ of Fremont, Calif.​, one of the main highlights from the 3,000-mile trip was the bond she formed with her fellow tech-minded classmates.

"What surprised me more were the strong bonds I made with my peers - some of the uniquely entrepreneurial, thoughtful, and creative people I was hoping to learn from were right here at Swarthmore." 

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