By Ed Hannush
I never thought that a five-week program could go by so fast. It feels like this past Monday that we were visiting Intuit at their headquarters and doing innovation workshops with their SVP & Chief of Staff, Lindsey Argalas. It was an amazing site visit, and started what was going to be a series of unique and engaging experiences for all of us Duke undergrads.
In the companies that we visited—like LinkedIn, Intuit, and PayPal—it was amazing to see that they were so big but still were so committed to an open, inclusive, collaborative, and extremely innovative culture. They had extremely broad like solving the international problem of unemployment, or ending the everyday problems of small businesses. The companies were loaded with passion, and all the while, they remained innovative. Their cultures were positive, and their hearts and minds were all aligned with the respective company missions. It was a very similar story with all of the startups that we visited. One startup, Win-Win Fantasy, was an innovative company that plans to help athletes’ philanthropic organizations in a massive way by taking advantage of America’s love for fantasy football. Win-Win founder Mike Brown (another successful Duke alum to join the all-star list of alums that we met) explained how he was combining sports, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. Again, it was enlightening to see how the people we were engaging with were so passionate about what they wanted to do, and what they were doing.
Looking back on the program as a whole, one of the best things was that I was able to meet a diverse group of people that I would not have met otherwise at Duke given the university’s social structure. The group of twenty-three of us—who are made up of engineers, computer scientists, political scientists, and psychology majors—all became close because we were able to spend our free time together having fun on the weekends or in our group projects.
Duke in Silicon Valley was truly an amazing opportunity for all of these reasons, and it helped many of us find what we were passionate about. This is a major deal because some of us did not know what truly “got us going.” I’m very happy to say that thanks to the past five weeks, we definitely have some new passions that were ignited by the awesome experiences we shared.