Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering students experienced what life is like in Silicon Valley, and gained valuable insight into the area’s technological possibilities, during the recent Luddy Living Learning Center Tech Tour.
They did so, said freshman computer science major Jennifer Johnson, by “talking to those who are in the midst of the battles.”
That was highlighted by meeting with Fred Luddy, our benefactor, as well as other seasoned tech professionals.
“They talked about their journey of not knowing what to do,” Johnson said, “but pushed through it and didn’t let fear consume them.”
The six-day San Francisco-area tour -- which began with a March 11 3 a.m. Bloomington departure -- combined professional-growth opportunities with personal exploration for 60 LLC students. They visited Luddy’s ServiceNow company as well as accounting firm Grant Thornton, Stanford University, Google HQ and Apple Visitor’s Park.
One key piece of advice, said Tiana Iruoje, director of student engagement and success, was to learn from failure and take risks.
Ahmad Abdullahi, a freshman informatics major, said he was motivated by industry leaders speaking about overcoming struggles to become successful.
“I learned how unique everyone is, and how they strive to do what’s important to them.”
Students spent time with Luddy, a former Indiana University student who founded ServiceNow and turned it into one of the world’s most innovative and successful companies.
Johnson said Luddy’s speech was especially meaningful because of his tremendous success despite hardships.
“Fred Luddy assured me that no matter the failure, I can soar again,” Johnson said. "He talked about knowing your strengths, and also the strengths of those around you.”
ServiceNow employees set up information sessions to inform students about the company and available positions. Luddy School Dean Joanna Millunchick provided networking lunch remarks.
Luddy, Google Ventures CEO/Managing Partner David Krane, an IU alumnus, Battery general partner and renowned venture capitalist Roger Lee, and Stanford associate professor Ge Wang inspired students with their stories, insights and push-through-uncertainty examples.
Johnson said the overall message was, “Life is confusing, but if you keep dancing, the music will come.” Stay persistent and learn from struggles. Work on what you love, and purpose will come.
Addison Owens, a freshman computer science major, said she met industry professionals and learned about companies such as ServiceNow, Grant Thornton and Google.
“I was surprised that the companies we visited catered a lot to what we wanted to know,” she said. “They made it a super positive experience to ask questions.”
Highlights included a cold swim in San Francisco Bay, a trip to Alcatraz Island, the site of the former notorious prison (mobster Al Capone was among the inmates) which had spectacular views of San Francisco, visiting Chinatown, Union Square, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Palace of the Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge, and even playing euchre with Iruoje.
San Francisco’s hilly terrain -- particularly the famously steep Lombard Street -- surprised students.
“I learned never to walk Lombard Street unless you are prepared for a hike,” Johnson said.
Owens said she’s making a video montage of the trip to highlight the great memories she made with friends.
Abdullahi was especially impressed with Wang, a leading researcher at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.
“I didn’t know it was possible to use coding language to make music. That was fascinating.”
Luddy School tech trips began in 2018. The pandemic cancelled them in 2020 and ’21. Ten students who missed out on the 2020 tour attended this year.
Students told Iruoje, that the trip helped them focus on what they want to do with their technology careers.
“They told me this was a trip of a lifetime,” she said.