From Silicon Valley to Hollywood

Every year Assistant Headmaster Mark Siegel takes business seminar students on a ten-day field trip, either to tour businesses in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas or to San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. The tours, interviews and interaction students get to experience on the trip give them a better understanding of the business world and help them make better life and career decisions. 

Mark has been conducting these​ ​trips​ since 1995 with the purpose of ​helping ​students​ ​evaluate their​ ​life​ ​and​ ​career​ ​goals. Mark said, “Students learn about ​the​ ​personal​ ​values​ ​and​ ​goals​ ​that​ ​have​ ​allowed​ ​​successful people to​ ​overcome obstacles​ ​and​ ​succeed​ ​where​ ​others​ have ​failed. These ​trips​ inspire students to explore a wide range of career options and see different ways they can make the world a better place.”

This year, seminar students visited businesses in northern and southern California. The following account is from Form 6 student Daniela Porras-Sholes, who attended this year’s business seminar field trip for the first time.

We visited so many companies. I can’t possibly talk about them all, but each visit was fantastic. Form 6 student Maya Lonstein spoke for all of us when she said, “Before this trip, I had no idea how many different jobs and people are needed to make a business succeed. This trip changed my life. I can now think more broadly about what I want to do!”

   We started off very early on Thursday morning, stumbling sleepy-eyed onto the bus. Even though we were tired, you could feel a buzz of excitement. Twenty-eight students and three chaperones flew to San Jose, California for our first visit at LinkedIn. 

   After learning about the company, each student was paired up with an employee to create LinkedIn accounts. Form 6 student Kabir Mann said, “At LinkedIn, I learned that everyone has a brand: themselves. I got to work directly with a LinkedIn employee who showed me the best way to present my brand to the world.” It was really exciting to learn to make our own brand stand out when applying for a job. 

  After LinkedIn, we visited with Amit Garg, a venture capitalist at Samsung Next, and got a new view of what a venture capitalist does on a daily basis.

   Jay Zaveri at Social Capital changed our lives by discussing his companies that are working to solve the world’s biggest problems. He told us, “You can’t predict the future, but you can always build it.” Many students realized they could reorient their careers and lives to do what they love while helping the world. I personally realized that I want to help solve some of the world’s most dire problems. The visit to Social Capital made me believe I could actually accomplish it.

   Our visit to Google was incredible, mind-boggling, and even life-changing. We had no idea how many people it takes to create a search engine. Some students came back to Delphian and immediately joined the coding seminar! 

   One of our most interesting visits took place at a podcast studio for a show called This Week in Startups, where we met the host Jason Calacanis. We asked Mr. Calacanis questions during the podcast and he did his best to answer them for us right there. Mr. Calacanis invests in early startups. During the podcast, he listened to entrepreneurs’ two-minute pitches and gave them incredible feedback. I learned a lot of new things about analyzing a business from watching and listening to him. 

   It was amazing to recognize that so many of the things he was talking about in his podcast were things Mark had taught us in the business seminar. Form 6 student LouElla Taufer said, “I never knew about the many different businesses around me and how they got started. This opened my eyes to so many different industries.”

   On Saturday we visited Delphi Academy of Campbell. We heard from parents who work in a wide range of high-tech careers. In listening to each of them share their personal stories, I was happily surprised to see the importance of ethics and integrity in achieving business success.

   At Swarm Technologies, Founder Sara Spangelo talked to us about the future of tiny two-way communication satellites and how they will change the world for the better. 

   We also met with Aaron Kyro, founder of Braille Skateboarding, and Delphian alumna Jennifer Gendusa Latch who runs Braille’s social media accounts. We learned about entrepreneurship through social media and heard their experiences in starting and running a company. Form 6 student Claudia Prado said, “One thing Aaron talked about was the willingness to fail, and how this willingness is so important, because we will encounter many challenges and go through so many failures until we finally reach our final goal.”

   Over the weekend we also visited the Intel Museum and the new Apple Headquarters. Plus, Delphi Academy of Los Angeles graduate Zack Gainsforth gave us an incredible tour of the UC Berkeley Space Science Lab.

   Monday, we visited the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm and learned about the interaction between high tech businesses and the field of law. We went to Zoox, an automated car fleet company. Much of their work is confidential, but we got to see their fully autonomous cars and sit down with key employees there. Form 6 student Emiliano Posselt commented, “Zoox showed me an incredible future that is being built today and the thousands of people who are working every day to achieve it.” 

   The trip could have stopped there, but there was more!

Before we flew to Burbank, we had lunch at SurveyMonkey and learned about their online software and business model. On Tuesday, we visited the Extra TV set. Later, we met with Ring founder Jamie Siminoff who shared his work on making communities safer, as well as the exciting news that his company had just been acquired by Amazon! Emiliano said, “To achieve something as great as Ring, I need a purpose that is more than wanting to make money or having time to sleep. I have to want to improve the world in some way. I know that to achieve a purpose I truly believe in, I would be willing to risk many things and work very hard.” 

   The next day started at WET Design, a water feature design firm started by former Disney employees. This company has created some of the world’s most famous fountains such as the one at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and at the Wynn Palace in Macau. Later, we visited AireSpring and heard from Delphian parent and AireSpring Founder Avi Lonstein. Mr Lonstein spoke about how to start and build our own businesses. That same day, we had lunch with showrunner Stacy Rukeyser and met with Jim and Tamara Meskimen at the Acting Center.

   The next morning we visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and went to Age of Learning, where they develop online educational programs for young children such as ABC Mouse. We saw how they are impacting children’s futures for the better and had the pleasure of personally meeting with Age of Learning Founder and CEO, Doug Dohring. 

   Mr. Dohring’s enthusiasm for changing the modern educational system was inspiring and made us all feel fortunate to be attending Delphian. Form 6 student Jax Lutton said, “Age of Learning utilizes technology to teach kids how to learn properly. The number of new accounts signing up every day was awe-inspiring, but more amazing to me was the drive of every team member to educate children better.” 

   We visited Studio 3 Marketing (founded by Delphi Academy of Los Angeles graduates) and then spent time with Boingo CEO David Hagan.  

   On our last day, we enjoyed an interactive visit to Gensler, an integrated architecture, design, planning and consulting firm. After an incredible tour and a great presentation about their work, we split into groups and participated in a design competition with Gensler architects assigned to each team. Delphian student Haleigh Simington really enjoyed this visit and said, “Our team designed a vegetarian restaurant and bakery. I enjoyed doing this so much! I felt like I actually worked there. I was so happy with our product, and we ended up winning first place. Design could be something that I might do in the future.”

   Our last visit was to the Harley-Davidson Flagship Store in Orange County. We had the honor of meeting Karen Davidson, the great-granddaughter of William A. Davidson, co-founder of Harley-Davidson. She runs the Harley-Davidson fashion and clothing division. It was interesting to see how much promotion and marketing is needed to make a business successful and gain loyal customers. Form 6 student Lila Pollack said of this visit, “Before this trip, I believed that creating a successful business was mostly luck. Now I know there is so much more to it. If you have a good idea and you go after it, adjust it to your customer’s needs, advertise it, and make it accessible, you will succeed.”

   Overall, each of us grew on this trip. We were inspired to pursue our education with new purpose so we can make a bigger, positive impact on our world. I certainly intend to apply the information and knowledge I gathered on this whirlwind trip to my daily life and my future career choice. Like Jay Zaveri at Social Capital said, “You can’t predict the future, but you can always build it.”