If you are anything like me then you are considering applying to TEC with the attitude that you probably won’t get into the program. You might be thinking or even hoping in the back of your mind that you don’t get in because you are a little afraid to be thrown into a startup and into a new city right after you get out of school in the spring. I recognized this feeling in myself and in fact justified the application by convincing myself there was no way I would get in, and I could go back to my same job doing technical support at SolidWorks in Waltham MA, 20 minutes from my house. While I really appreciate what working at SolidWorks has done for me as a mechanical engineer you need to understand that this degree of comfort is in fact your biggest enemy as you look for an internship as a college student.
Even once I got into the program I had myself thinking that San Francisco would be a decent city and that the program would be pretty good, but I also thought that all of the other interns would be people I wouldn’t really want to associate with. I remember sitting in my room at my house in Upper Haight on the first couple of nights out of 10 weeks thinking this is going to be a pretty long summer, although I was already having a pretty good time at my startup. I was starting to get a little more comfortable with the city, having walked 30 minutes to work a couple of times and explored various parts of the city with two of my roommates, one of whom was in TEC. Still, at this point I had absolutely no idea what the summer would do for me. Then TEC started on my third week in SF and everything changed pretty quickly. We started getting exposed to some really cool speakers who were interested in us and what we were doing as much as we were interested in them. Everybody at True was incredibly welcoming to us and we were all enjoying the free drinks and office space at South Park. We were building incredibly good connections not only within our company but with other people in the Bay Area who seemed to be willing to talk to us simply because we were motivated people who were validated by being accepted into TEC. The network of existing professional people in San Francisco that you will take away is invaluable and is essentially handed to you – you’d have to try not to get to know a lot of people.
But the thing that was in all honesty ten times more interesting for me and helpful for my personal growth was interacting with the other interns at True. In all of my life I do not think I have been around a group of people that were as intelligent, interesting, and cool as TEC class of 2012. This caught me completely off guard and actually took some adjusting to. As time went on it became really clear that we were all really different people, but everyone had their place in the group and I think everyone meshed incredibly well together. We also all seemed to gravitate towards each other, and I think more than other TEC classes of the past we hung out as much as humanly possible outside of the program. We had boundless optimists in the group along with brutally honest skeptics, jokers, quiet and outspoken people, and everything in between and when we actually discussed things seriously I was always impressed by the fact that I was able to actually take a nugget of wisdom out of it.
What I’m realizing now is that I need to surround myself with passionate, interesting people who want to do real things in the world. This has truly influenced the way that I’m looking for jobs this upcoming year, and I doubt I would have made this leap without TEC in general. So if you’re sitting out there thinking that you won’t get in, or you won’t have fun, or you won’t be able to live up to what your startup wants out of an intern, just put in the application, because if you are selected for TEC I can tell you right now you’re gonna have a great time.