A group of 21 Syracuse University students landed in California’s Silicon Valley over the weekend, marking the start of the 8th annual Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip, organized by the School of Information Studies (iSchool).

The group will spend the week heading all around the Bay Area touring start-up technology-focused companies while meeting—and learning from—the people who work there. Of the 21 site visits the group will have, 16 are hosted by Syracuse University alumni.

“In fact,” notes Julie Walas Huynh, the iSchool’s director of student and alumni engagement, “not only are the majority of our hosts for site visits alumni of Syracuse, many of them are past participants of a Spring Break in Silicon Valley trip or another iSchool immersion trip, too.”

“This was our first, and our marquee immersion experience,” notes Walas Huynh, “but we now have immersion trips in New York, the Pacific Northwest, and Chicago, and we are currently making plans to launch a trip to Dublin, Ireland in the fall.”

The immersion is open to students across all schools, colleges, and disciplines at Syracuse, who must complete an application process which includes making a video in which they describe what they would consider an ideal company or organization to visit. 

During past trips, students have visited organizations such as Google, Tesla, LinkedIn, Twitter, Evernote, Tilt, Cisco, GE, Stanford University, Coursera, Leap Motion, Livefyre, MobileIron, Splunk, the Computer History Museum, and more. 

“The immersion has proven to be popular with students, and with the organizations, as well,” said Shay Colson, an iSchool alumnus who helped to organize many of the visits for the first several years of the trips. “We now find ourselves in the fortunate position of having companies contact us to visit them.”

In addition to several company visits each day, evenings are spent meeting with alumni groups, and attending networking events. This Thursday, for example, students will join an evening alumni event featuring two faculty guest speakers addressing issues of fake news and fact vs. fiction on social media.  iSchool faculty member Jeff Hemsley and  social media expert Jennifer Grygiel from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications will discuss how social media affects the way the public consumes news.  

“It’s a very busy schedule, all week,” notes Walas Huynh, “as we keep the group going from morning through late at night. But there’s no better way to learn about the culture of Silicon Valley than to be immersed in it like this.”