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Notre Dame-California launches new Summer in Silicon Valley program

| Tuesday, March 30, 2021

This summer, students will have the opportunity to take courses, network with Notre Dame alumni and experience the California Bay Area through the new Summer in Silicon Valley program.

Summer in Silicon Valley welcomes students of all majors who are interested in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The program will run for six weeks in the summer, from June 14 to July 23.

Plans for the program remain in place despite the recent cancellation of Notre Dame’s 2021 summer study abroad programs, since Notre Dame-California programming is not a part of Notre Dame International.

Director of Notre Dame-California Sarv Devaraj said the program is great for students who are looking to have a productive and fun summer. 

“If students have an interest in working with entrepreneurs, there are so many exciting opportunities here,” Devaraj said. “It’s really like the world of startups and companies coming to you.” 

Students can choose from two of three Silicon Valley-based, three-credit courses. These include Product Management, Tech & Innovation Ethics and Design Thinking. Classes will be held in person.

Dierre Upshaw, program manager for Notre Dame-California, said the courses are taught by Silicon Valley leaders and innovators or focused on Silicon Valley topics. 

Notre Dame-California has offered a similar semester-long program in Silicon Valley since the spring of 2017. Students in the semester program take three courses and hold a part-time internship.

Devaraj said an internship requirement for the summer would be too intensive, but he expects that some students would choose to work with companies on small-scale projects on the side. 

Upshaw said there are a large number of Notre Dame alumni in California who are eager to network. 

Connections are made in a number of ways. Individual alumni visit and talk with students, alumni clubs host events and forums, alumni take students on outings such as sporting events and the group goes on company visits, Upshaw said. 

“The alumni here, they’re really hungry to be engaged with the campus and engage the students,” Upshaw mentions.

Senior Julia Gately, who participated in the Silicon Valley Semester program in the spring of 2020, said she felt there was potential for growth in the new environment. 

“It was a lot of information, a lot of experiences really quickly, but I enjoyed the pace of it really well,” Gately describes. “I thought it was fantastic.”

Senior Olivia Barnard, who also took part in the program last spring, said she loved the community aspect and the relationships she formed with the other students.

“You just very much become a living community, where you are all in this program together and trying to learn new things,” Barnard said.

Students are housed in the Oak Street Apartment complex located adjacent to Stanford University. The complex includes tennis and basketball courts, a theater room, swimming pool, gym and walking trails.

The Summer in Silicon Valley program emphasizes exploring the Bay Area’s attractions and California’s natural beauty.

Gately said she remembers especially enjoying the trip to San Francisco. The group went on a couple of company tours, got food and played miniature golf.

“It was just, like, a really long day but it was so much fun,” Gately noted. “There are a ton of good memories.”

The application for the program is composed of a form, brief essay and personal reference. The deadline to apply is April 15, and students are admitted on a rolling basis.

Devaraj said he encourages students who have taken limited credits this past year due to travel or visa restrictions to apply.

Upshaw said companies and startups in Silicon Valley are looking for a variety of kinds of students, not only computer science majors.

“What we’ve been doing the past year is we’ve really been focusing on expanding our programs to all students … interested in entrepreneurship, tech innovation, startups, venture capital, anything related to Silicon Valley or tech,” Upshaw said.

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