Silicon Valley is a mindset, not a location
Written by Luke Mansell
Posted Mon, 19 Mar:

Our trip to Silicon Valley has come to an end. What a week it has been. Having the opportunity to network and talk to people in all of these remarkable companies has been an exceptional opportunity to further myself and my goal of ultimately interning or working for a Silicon Valley company.

Having only been back in New Zealand for one day, my LinkedIn messages are already going off as the people I have met offer to help further myself and refer me within their companies for internship positions - even opportunities across the world such as referrals to some of the companies' European headquarters. It is fair to say this trip has been a personal success and what I sought out of the trip has been achieved.

Being indulged within the Silicon Valley atmosphere has been eye-opening, especially when contrasting New Zealand and this experience. Silicon Valley is not a location; it is a mindset. The mindset to assist others even if you draw no personal gain out of it, to happily meet with people who on the "social scale" are much inferior than yourself, to strive to constantly be the best possible version of yourself… the list goes on.

We do not see this in New Zealand and it is a shame. The atmosphere of Silicon Valley is a give, not take environment. This does not seem to parallel within our New Zealand culture. We had some of the most influential people more than happy to donate their time to us. To talk to us. To help us. New Zealand has a culture of putting down people who choose to step out of the box and do something new. In Silicon Valley, being different and doing something extraordinary is what the whole culture is about. This mindset could be applied anywhere. The Silicon Valley mindset could be applied anywhere.

This trip has transformed me for the better. It has opened my eyes that studying in New Zealand will not pose as a forthcoming disadvantage. All companies we met with kept reinforcing that they do not care what university or walk of life you have come from.

If you as a personal brand are worthwhile to their company, they will hire you. They are more interested in what you can bring to their organization rather than where you studied, and just looking through TradeMe jobs this is something which New Zealand is yet to realize. Degrees are not everything. Practical experience through your own personal projects not only shows your drive within your chosen sector, but also demonstrations practical experience over the theoretical experience we encounter throughout our university education. Knowledge is not limited, it is infinite. Expanding our knowledge through the invaluable experiences we absorb through our own personal development should be encouraged alongside our studies; yet we find courses where we sit alone listening to lectures instead of being thrown together in group projects which helps to emulate what the real world is about: team work.

This trip has also shown me what is possible. Having been encouraged by many of these companies to personally apply for internships, it has shown me how possible my goals are. Anyone's goals are possible, but many in New Zealand do not feel this way. It is time for this to change. Anyone can achieve anything they strive to do, we all just need to stop putting down each other and work as a community to help each other to be the best versions of ourselves.

There are of course people out there such as Andrew, Jason and Simon who have gone tremendously out of there way to make this whole thing happen and to have an impact on New Zealand as a whole. Andrew for a long time has been a mentor to me, him more than happy to support anyone which I really admire. His investments in the next generation are unparalleled; there aren't many people who have such a drive and passion to help people out and provide them with the experiences and opportunities which allow them to further both themselves, but also their communities. It was great getting to know both Simon and Jason to hear both what they are doing and the sort of impacts that they are wanting to make on the world. They both are very inspirational guys who I would like to thank for making this trip great. And then to the other seven boys who without them being on this trip, it really wouldn't have been a trip. Everyone on this trip was so unique and different, yet we all shared the same quality of wanting to help New Zealand, our communities, better ourselves and also make an impact on the world.

I look forward to seeing where this takes us all. Not only the students on the trip, but New Zealand as a whole. It is time for New Zealand to apply the Silicon Valley mindset. Let's work to make that happen.