5 Things I Learned While Interning in Silicon Valley

July 27, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of blog posts by LinkedIn’s amazing summer interns. Today, we hear from Tiffany Lim who is currently a student at Harvey Mudd College.

Before my internship here at LinkedIn, I had never spent more than three consecutive days in the Bay Area. Now, I’ve been here for almost three months. Not only have I been able to explore the usual tourist attractions, but I’ve also been immersed in the culture and atmosphere of Silicon Valley. So what makes living in this area such a unique experience?

1. Buzz words are used correctly in everyday conversation

For most people, conversation topics revolve around sports, movies, music, and other hobbies. But here in Silicon Valley, I often overhear heated discussions about the cloud, big data, mobile development, and social graphs... and the speakers actually know what they are talking about! Not only is it fun to work with people who live and breathe these popular buzz words, it is absolutely phenomenal to hear their excitement on the train, at restaurants, and on the bus wherever I go.

2. You’re always surrounded by swag, even on the weekends

As a college student, I am hard-wired to collect as much company swag as possible. I mean really, who gives up free t-shirts when you’re on a college budget? But I was amazed last weekend when I saw more DropBox, Facebook, Mozilla, and of course LinkedIn shirts and sweatshirts than I had ever known existed. Even here at LinkedIn, it seems like there is a different “In” shirt or jacket for every team and event we can find an excuse to make swag for.

3. Paying real money for lunch is unheard of

One of the popular perks of Silicon Valley companies is free lunch, either at an in-house cafeteria or via catering and food trucks as we have here at LinkedIn. In fact the practice is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t matter if I leave LinkedIn to visit a friend because chances are their company will have free lunch too. This is not to mention the fully stocked kitchens on every floor either, which is a whole other story... We’ve grown so accustomed to free food that there’s a point where actually paying (in the rare case where we go to a real restaurant for lunch) is the weirder experience.

4. Your daily commute includes seeing license plates like “GITPUSH” or “HTML5.0” (and you know what those references mean)

During my internship this summer, I found myself sitting in traffic behind a car with a Google sticker that read “My other car drives itself”. I’ve seen the famous driverless cars in action cruising around Mountain View. And now when I see cars with license plates like “GITPUSH” parked next to me, I am barely fazed. Here at the heart of technology, it seems like every vanity plate or bumper sticker is a tribute to the exciting projects we’re building and the fun, nerdy culture we live in.

5. You can take a day trip, visit 10 major companies, and still be home for dinner

Finally, Silicon Valley is called Silicon Valley first and foremost because it is home to so many of the world’s largest technology corporations and manufacturers. The best way to explain this last point is by simple demonstration, so follow me as I explore as many companies as I can in one day.