It just marked the forth weeks since moving to Silicon Valley, yet I already felt living here for a while. Before living here, I only had been to California once: During my spring break back in junior year of college with my Japanese and Saudi Arabian friends. We visited Los Angeles and San Diego, which was supposed to be awesome, but then turned out to be probably the worst trip ever.
We didn’t drive. In California, tourist destinations are widespread, and public transportations like bus and subway can’t be too much of help. Basically, we needed to rent a car to go from point A to point B. After we did research in car rental, the price suggested us otherwise. (Due to safety concern, the cost of car rental is much more expensive for drivers under the age of 25, and we were all below that age.) It was 2007, no Uber, no Lyft, no nothing. Plus taxi everywhere wasn’t an option. We decided to take subway. Yes, subway, and yes LA, I am not joking. We didn’t realize how notorious LA subway commuters were until we took one ride…
Since then, my memories of California largely reflected upon that trip, and they haven’t shaped much until I moved to Silicon Valley three weeks ago…
How about now?
My answer is: A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Driving on highway with local hip-hop radio songs plus indefinite views, I feel as if I could own the entire world. Houses are flat, roads are wide, and sky look tremendous. I got to see many things that are advertised on media.l For examples, I spotted on Teslas on the road and electric charging stations in parking lots, and also visited tech empire such as Google.
Google is not the only big player of tech industry in Northern California. As a matter of fact, the list goes on and on and on. Companies as famous as Facebook and Apple, both based in this area, Palo Alto and Cupertino, respectively. Other companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Intel, Cisco…etc, all located within one hour of driving distance.
These world-class companies become the best advertisements for Silicon Valley, and they help to build a healthy and powerful ecosystem of entrepreneurship. They recruit the best talents of the world to come and work for them. After a period of time, some of their employees stay, and others leave. Those who leave bring their amazing experiences to the next destinations: Some join startups and play important roles in the organizations, while others team up with people sharing same ideas and visions and create their own business.
What’s surprised me thus far is the equivalent interests and respects that people show toward working for startups or for fortune 500 companies. That is dramatically different from my knowledge from the past. In business school, I was taught and encouraged to pursue a career in big companies, because they are the ones that can provide with decent salaries, better resources, and more steady career development. But in South Bay, this is not the case. People here jump back and forth in the bigger or smaller firms without problems. To some degree, it is not a matter of capabilities, but rather a way of choice between work and life.
The second surprise that I have encountered is the willingness to help for one another. Here, being entrepreneur is highly encouraged. It is supportive for any person, I mean any person, with business ideas to go out creating his/her own business and becomes the next entrepreneur. Many institutions offer free access to foster business mindsets for those entrepreneur-wanna-be. At some points, it almost sounds too good to be true. But it is happening right here, not just now, but for decades. I think, the idea of entrepreneurship, create and expand your own ideas against the wall, is deeply rooted and instilled here.
Living in the motherland of entrepreneurship doesn’t mean I need to be an entrepreneur, yet it gives me ample opportunities to closely learn business in this rapidly changing environment.
From Los Angeles and San Diego to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, from 2007 college junior dreaming about California to 2014 grownup MBA graduate, the California skyline remains the same, but the sunshine just looks much brighter now than it did 7 years ago!