The following post is from Anne Marie Suchanek, a Syracuse University sophomore. Photo credit joherob.

When presented with the opportunity to visit several different companies in Silicon Valley over Spring Break, I knew this was one I had to take. Not only would the inside look at these companies be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but to take such a trip at such a critical time in my life would greatly impact the rest of my life.

Upon acceptance to the program, I solely expected to learn more about information technology companies. However, this trip has taught me much more than anything that could be taught in a classroom or taken down at a board meeting. I’ve learned tremendous amounts of information that I can carry with me through the rest of my life. From experiencing the lifestyles of Americans on the West Coast to seeing the plethora of companies in the Bay Area, I’ve seen a completely different side of the IT spectrum. Some companies are just starting up and starting to develop, while Google has an incredible campus and is making billions of dollars.

We had the opportunity to meet with many SU alums, which made talking to people at these companies so much more valuable. It’s striking to hear conversations with these IT professionals start up by asking, “Is Kimmel still around?” The connection that is immediately formed based on the SU experience creates a comfortable and engaging atmosphere. These professionals: project managers, sales representatives, and engineers were once in our shoes. The next great engineer at Google could very well be sitting in Dellplain Hall right now, coming up with the next big idea.

If there’s anything I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that students have much more power than they think they have. It all starts with an idea. If that idea is followed up with a substantial foundation, room for growth, a support team, motivation, and passion, anything can happen. Great ideas are waiting to be found. Once they are, it’s the job of the students to propel them into platforms that millions of people can access.

Although I’ve mentioned nothing specifically about the companies we’ve visited, I feel as though the general takeaways were much more valuable. Sure, I could tell you how to make your LinkedIn account much more impressive and about the opportunities Google has, but learning more about the qualities of a great and successful professional have meant more to me. I’ve learned to never underestimate yourself, to take risks, and to feel free to do lots of different things.

As cliché as it sounds, this trip has really changed my life. I now have many different ideas about where life could take me. Silicon Valley is an excellent place for people interested in information technology to explore their ideas, and the area is a wonderful place to live. I always knew that I wanted to move out of New York City post graduation, but was worried about finding a job in an area that I’d like to live in. This trip has left me yearning for more San Francisco/San Jose/Mountain View experiences, and I cannot wait to come back and see what the Valley could offer me with a degree in information management and some more experience under my belt. This trip was most certainly just the beginning of a very interesting future in information technology.