Computer Science Majors Visit Silicon Valley

Posted On June 11, 2017
Categories Student News

Last March, Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business (RCB) launched a new program called Panthers in the Valley, which sent 18 Georgia State students on a four-day trip to Silicon Valley. The program, known as PiV for short, provides an opportunity for students to meet top executives in Silicon Valley (some of whom are GSU alumni) and experience what the RCB website calls “Silicon Valley’s unique entrepreneurial and innovative culture.”

Five computer science majors (Christopher Duncan, Luis Ferrer-Labarca, Caroline Johnson, Rex Petersen, and Sara Yeh) were among the students selected to make the trip. They were joined by undergraduates majoring in computer information systems, marketing, and finance, as well as graduate students from law, risk management, and CIS. The students were accompanied by RCB faculty and staff, including the dean of the college.

During their trip, participants met with representatives from early-stage start-ups, venture capital firms, and established firms such as Skype, Google, Airbnb, and Thumbtack. Their experiences included listening in on conference calls (from an investment bank’s equity research team, for example) and then having follow-up discussions about the call. Other opportunities included brainstorming sessions and workshops. During a visit to Draper University, students attended a lecture titled “Blockchain: Bitcoin and Beyond.” At the end of the trip, PiV participants were invited to join GSU alums and other industry leaders at a networking reception.

Panthers in the Valley

Reaction to the Panthers in the Valley experience has been positive from both alumni and students. Google program manager Suezette Yasmin Robotham, a GSU graduate, hosted the PiV group’s visit to the Google campus. According to her, “this was such a wonderful and dynamic group of students from the undergraduate/MBA programs, law school, and GSU community. I am a proud alum indeed.”

CS senior Caroline Johnson found the experience to be especially valuable. “Overall, Panthers in the Valley was a truly wonderful experience. I got a lot of insight into the inner workings of several tech companies, but most importantly I was able to make connections with students from across Georgia State University—connections that I know will be beneficial down the line. I would definitely recommend the program to future students! Through the program I learned a lot about the business side of the tech industry, and the experiences I had will be useful when I’m looking for a job.”

Panthers in the Valley will return this fall, with the next trip scheduled for October 8–11.

Story by Jamie Hayes
Photo by Sharry Conroy