Students immerse themselves in Silicon Valley startups

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By Simon Greenhill and Casey Miller, Counselors-in-Training

The era of stuffy boardrooms and claustrophobic cubicles is decidedly over. That was more apparent than ever for Newsroom by the Bay’s Year 2 students Wednesday as they explored Palo Alto startups on the program’s Silicon Valley field trip.

Students visited Stanford’s Institute of Design, Ideo and Issuu, meeting with executives and touring facilities for a glimpse at the Bay Area’s famous culture of innovation.

“It was really interesting to see how journalism is used in so many different fields, and the innovative ideas circulating around Silicon Valley. It was a really enriching experience overall,” Year 2 student Ankita Bhanot said.

Ideo, a product design consultancy that often partners with the Institute of Design, emphasizes principles of “design thinking” and creativity to solve complicated design problems. The firm’s employees work on design projects ranging from developing needle-less vaccination methods to making popular toys.

“They are so diverse in the things that they tackle and the fact that they make real change are the things that I found valuable in their company,” said Year 2 student Jordan Winters. “It’s not just about one thing, it’s about making something and then moving on to another and making the world better in so many different ways.”

Winters earned an interview with an Ideo employee for her website. She said, “I was really lucky to get an interview with one of the people that gave us the tour and that’s really invaluable that they’re willing to talk to young journalists like us, and being able to really explore their personal experiences is so incredible.”

At Issuu, a digital publishing company, students sat down with CEO Joe Hyrkin. The conversation included Issuu’s latest updates, Silicon Valley startup culture and internet privacy.

“[Hyrkin] had some really interesting insights on where journalism was headed and the future of digital publication.  I’m really glad we got the opportunity to tour these innovative companies,” Year 2 student David Wu said.

Hyrkin’s company specializes in giving small publications a chance to get online easily by adapting PDF files to Issuu’s online reader. With over 8 million monthly users, Issuu facilitates the digitization of print media.

“For me it became really clear that there’s a lot more that can happen digitally,” Hyrkin said. “And just because it’s digital that doesn’t mean you can’t have human interaction as well.”

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