San Francisco

One Young World and Under 20 Summit- Two amazing leadership conferences to check out

Last week, I was checking out other blog posts on Students Gone Global and learned about an awesome leadership conference called One Young World, which is a “UK-based not-for-profit that gathers together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change.” I watched the film for last year’s conference and it just sounds amazing.

I wanted to share it because you can apply now to attend this year’s conference which will be held in Dublin, Ireland from October 15 to the 19th. Unfortunately, the cost of the event is around $4,500 plus tax, which is a little hefty, especially for a college student. The good thing- there are tons of scholarships out there that may be used to fund you to go!

The other conference I want to mention is the Under 20 Summit conference. The conference is put on twice a year-once in San Francisco and once in New York and it’s put on by the Thiel Fellowship. The Thiel Fellowship is a fellowship for under-20 adolescents who are motivated and ambitious and want to change the world. They’re” given a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education.” Even though the fellowship is for students under-20, the conference is open to all ages and it’s free! As long as you pay for yourself to travel to San Francisco or New York,  the conference itself is free to attend.

I found out about it last summer while interning in San Francisco. I met someone in my hostel who was attending and she invited me to go. At the conference, I met hundreds of young, bright individuals with ambitions of changing the world. I also heard from many inspiring and motivating speakers and had a wonderful experience overall. I would definitely encourage attending the conference if you have the opportunity.

Well, that’s it for today’s post! Hopefully this is new and helpful information to you! Thanks for reading!

P.S.- if you’re from Arizona, help support computer science education and take two minutes to send a message to the senator by filling out this form here! If the bill passes, computer science will count as a high school math course!

Credit to Ellen for sharing about One Young World on her blog post 

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Make Something Cool Everyday

man standing on water with green circle

The Man on the water

While staying at The Embassy Network, I met one of the nicest guys ever. His name is Bernat Fortet and he is a designer from Barcelona, Spain. I talked to him about design and he introduced me to a super fun project idea called Make Something Cool Everyday. 

The idea of the project is that you create something everyday and experiment with new elements. He recommended that I take a look at a well-known designer named Mark Weaver who completed the project in 2010 for inspiration in my own project.

Although I only took two years of graphic design in high school and I don’t have a lot of experience outside of those classes, I think it’s a great way to learn and explore my creative side through design with this project. I believe the ability s to design well is extremely versatile because you can apply it to numerous areas of life. I use Pixlr photo editor for this project. It’s a great knock-off of Photoshop and you don’t even have to download anything! 🙂

Another fantastic tool for learning more about design is hackdesign.org. I stumbled upon it months ago but just recently started following the lessons. They’re a great start for anyone who is curious about design in startups and businesses. I thought I’d share this project with you guys because it piqued my interest and I thought it might do the same for you!

Feel free to share any thoughts about MSCED, design, or personal projects below! 🙂

24 days, 313 emails, 6 trips to Safeway and 1 sailing trip in San Francisco

san francisco, california, verbling

Today, was my last day of my internship at Verbling and tomorrow, I leave San Francisco. I have learned SO much from being here and I want to share my reflection and insights with you in this post. I’ve split it up into two categories to specify what I learned directly from my internship and what I learned from outside my internship:

What I learned from my internship:

 Customer Support is more important than you think technically I learned this from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh but the idea is that customers will always be the most important aspect to your company(in my opinion). It’s important to help them out as much as you can and make sure they’re happy. If you happen to be placed in the customer support sector, learn to enjoy it! It may sound hard but assisting other people find solutions to their problems can make you happy 🙂

Everyone’s opinions are valid- I really loved this part about my team. Even though I wasn’t an engineer or a co-founder, my opinion still mattered and my team members listened to what I had to say. If I had an idea and explained it, people listened. I felt extremely lucky to have the ability to share my thoughts as an intern.

You can work outside of your “field”– I mostly did customer support and social media management but one day, I asked if I could try coding a little bit and I actually got to! It was beginner stuff but at least they gave me the chance to try it out and I enjoyed it! I also had to do research statistics for my boss for a meeting with an investor and that was something I felt inexperienced in. However, I did it to the best of my ability and succeeded with the help other team members!

You won’t always be told what to do- I think this is especially true with startups who are still at an early stage but I imagine this applies to other jobs as well. A lot of the times, I had to find my own projects because everyone else was busy doing their own thing. One project I completed was a press release. I wrote up a press release for the first time and my journalist friend edited it, and I sent it out to a few blogs. I haven’t received any replies yet but it’s now I have an idea of how to write one!

40 hours is A LOT per week-  I felt so relieved when they told me I didn’t have to commit 40 hours a week if I didn’t want to. Working six hours everyday drained me- I can’t even imagine putting in 70 or 80! It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the work but rather some days were long and repetitive and others were exciting and dynamic.

What I learned from living in San Francisco:

Co-living spaces are definitely better than a hotel or regular hostel– living at The Embassy Network was, by far, the best decision I could have made as far as accommodations. It’s hostel/co-living space. I created strong friendships with the permanent residents and met a wide variety of unique people who stayed in the hostel. The community in this house is so welcoming. Every Sunday night around 7pm there is communal dinner where up to 50 people come  to eat and we prepare the food. I can’t wait til I come back to San Francisco and stay here again. Oh, and on the floor below the main floor is a bowling lane 😉

Learn from people- From each person that has lived at or visited The Embassy Network, I have learned something new. Whether it’s about bitcoin, cognitive science, hacking, or decision making, I’ve gained new knowledge that I wouldn’t have if I had been elsewhere. It’s fun and exciting to learn about new subjects or subjects I haven’t studied before. Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest abilities ever 🙂

Strangers may help you- I wasn’t directly helped by a stranger but one guy I met came here from Spain and didn’t know anyone and found a job from talking to a random stranger. He was on his bike, waiting at a red light when he asked the guy next to him how his day was going. After that, they talked and my friend explained his situation and the guy said he knew someone who could help him out. Next thing he knew, a company employed him as a designer. Now designers from amazing companies such as Google and Twitter mentor him and he loves the culture. You never know what can happen- you could put a smile on someone’s face or find a job!

From my parents, to high schools teachers, to professors, to mentors- they all have reminded me of how important it is to reflect on activities and events in our life. I try to practice this exercise with anything that involves learning because it helps me remember what I’ve learned and apply those things to other areas in my life. I hope my reflection and insights have encouraged you to at least visit San Francisco for a week! You can definitely learn a lot! I plan to come back after Argentina and continue learning as much as I can.

Lastly, I want to thank the University of Arizona Honors College for the extremely generous scholarship. This experience would not have happened without that scholarship because San Francisco is WAY too expensive to live here regularly. And, thank you to The Embassy Network for letting me stay for four weeks 🙂

What methods do you use to reflect on different life experiences?

An unexpected conversation on the light rail home

Yesterday, the coolest thing happened on the light rail on my way home from SoMa, the area where I work.

I hopped onto the light rail near AT&T Park and sat down next to the window facing one way, while the train took off the other way. I opened my book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and divided into the world of lean startup production. As my journey in the book continued, more people filled the train at each stop.

Before the second or third stop before my stop, a young man around his early twenties boarded the light rail and ended up next to a lady who was reading a magazine in front of me.

“Hey, so what are you reading?” He said in a half-joking manner and then laughed to himself. I couldn’t keep in my chuckle because she didn’t reply and nobody ever talks to one another on the light rail. I think people think it’s weird or awkward.

He noticed my chuckle and then decided to say, “So what are you reading then?” I didn’t even think twice and immediately started talking to him about The Lean Startup and the travel website that I’m working on with two friends.

He actually seemed interested and even gave me a few suggestions, which I may end up using. I couldn’t help but notice at least four people listening to our conversation-not because it was particularly interesting to them but because we, two strangers, we’re having as semi-in-depth conversation and that wasn’t “normal.” It amazed me because I felt like he was breaking a mini social norm.

We were still talking when the light rail arrived at my stop and unfortunately, I had to get off.

“My name’s Joe by the way.”

“Jake. Nice to meet you, Joe.”

We shook hands and I hopped off the train. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

You’re probably thinking, “It’s really not that big of a deal. There are always random strangers who will strike up a conversation with you.” And you’re right! It wasn’t the first time ever but it was the first time on the light rail in San Francisco.

I’m not 100% sure why I felt so moved after it happened but I still think it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to share it with you guys because of how it made me felt! It also made me realize, “Hey. Why am I not that guy who starts random conversations?”

I think most of us are scared. I know I am. But I want to at least try and change that. I’m not saying everyday I’m going to try and start a conversation with a stranger but I’m going to take advantage of more opportunities like that guy Jake did. He made me laugh and he saw me reading-a puurfect opportunity to start a conversation. You should try it to- at least once. See what happens and let me know! When I try it, I’ll share with you what happens.

Have you ever been approached or talked to by a stranger that made you feel positive afterwards? Feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear about any similar experiences 🙂

P.S- If you’re from AZ, please “like” this page for David Garcia’s campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction: https://www.facebook.com/pages/dg4az/492602880810729

Differences in San Francisco

Before I start this post, let me apologize because I’m a day late! I simply forgot that yesterday was Wednesday because Monday was memorial day and I mixed up my days of the week-oops!

As of today, I’ve been living here in San Francisco for 13 days and I’ve started to notice a few things that are different compared to living in Phoenix and here there are:

Public Transit

Since San Francisco is a city where everything is close together and the public transportation system is well organized, it’s easy to get from one place in the city to another place in the city. I take the light rail(Muni) every day to work and I love it! It’s so much better than driving to places like I have to in Phoenix. The other cool thing is that I can read on my transit to work! I read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh last week and this week I’m reading Learn Startup by Eric Ries because about a 40 minute commute to-and-from work. I’ve used the public transportation in Phoenix but the buses do not come as often as the light rail does in San Francisco(which makes sense) which is why I don’t use it.

Public Chairs?

I thought this was a little strange and maybe it’s only near the neighborhood I live in but there are chairs that are meant for the public. They look like this-chair in the street of San Francisco

I think they’re more there to match the style of San Francisco but I wouldn’t know because I’ve have done any research or tried to look deeper. It’s interesting though because I don’t think people in Phoenix would react the same way-I bet they wouldn’t use the chairs at all. Who knows!

Walking and Bicycling

More people tend to walk or ride a bike in San Francisco- I think this goes back to the whole “everything is closer together” in San Francisco. I think it’s awesome and I wish there was a way to make it more feasible for everyone to walk or ride bikes to work. I’m sure one day we’ll get there one day though.

Another weird thing is that since walking is so common in San Francisco(and I don’t have a car) I feel more inclined to do it. I live closer to the grocery store in Phoenix yet I always drive there-always. But here, I don’t think I would drive even if I had the ability to. It made me realize that I don’t really need a card. I could use the public transportation system in Phoenix as well if I had too.

B.Y.O.B(Bring your own bag)

I was told that this was made a law recently in California(like before, I haven’t researched so I’m going off what someone told me) and now grocery stores must charge per paper bag a grocery shopper needs if he or she does not bring their own. I know the do this in Spain and other parts of Europe and I think it’s a great idea! We could save so much plastic by buying and bringing our own cloth/plastic bags for when we grocery shop. The hard part is simply getting into the habit of bringing in the bag every time you go shopping. Nonetheless, it’s another thing different about San Francisco than Phoenix.

I thought I’d share these with you because I’m always intrigued by the little things like these subtle differences in activities, customs or whatever you want to call it in these two cities that I’ve compared briefly.

If you’ve ever lived in another city or state, what are some interesting differences you noticed compared to your hometown? Feel free to share below! 🙂

From a cold email to an internship in the heart of San Francisco

My journey with Verbling started almost two years ago when I sent this cold email, hoping to find a job working for this amazing language learning platform. Tomorrow, I set off for California to start my month-long internship with the company next week. I hope this blog post inspires you to let go of the fear of rejection or failure, and pursue a job related to your passions.

Screenshot 2013-05-15 at 11.29.16 PM

 

(Click to enlarge)

I had used the website a few times to practice my Spanish with people from Colombia, Mexico and Peru. I LOVED the idea of Verbling- connecting native speakers with language learners-and I wanted to be a part of the team. Not thinking twice, I quickly wrote up this email and sent it to a jobs link not knowing what exactly would happen. It wasn’t until January of 2012 when I received a response from one of the co-founders. By that time, I had completely forgotten about the email I had sent during the first semester of my last year in high school.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought certainly it was a mistake. One of the co-founders of Verbling, Jake, wanted to Skype with me, an average high school kid?

I replied back with more excitement than a little kid visiting Disneyland for the first time. After I Skyped him, he offered me a job as an administrator on the website. I didn’t sleep for the next two weeks.

Life seemed too good to be true. I felt giddy as can be at the fact that I was getting paid to work with the engineers and speak Spanish and English with people from all over the world. Right then, I knew I had the most awesome job in the world. I became so passionate about language learning and learning about other cultures. I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be and that my desire was to make this company succeed.

After a few months, I hired a few friends from high school, which grew into the administration team that I lead. We were a great team. There were 7 of us and we were fantastic. We made sure the site was working properly and kept the Verbling community safe for all the users.

Then in November, I moved up to start teaching English. I felt so grateful to be given the opportunity to teach. I fell in love with it and it hit me! Whatever I end up doing after I graduate from college, teaching will be involved. It’s such a rewarding experience to teach and inspire students who are thirsty for knowledge. Languages are my passion and my job allows me to earn money for sharing that passion. I feel extremely appreciative.

Tomorrow, I begin a new path in my voyage with such an amazing team-an internship right in the heart of San Francisco at Verbling. I will fly out of Phoenix and into Laguna Niguel to spend a day with my family before heading to San Francisco on Friday. On Monday, I will start my first day working as an intern at Verbling. I cannot explain the joy and excitement built up inside of me to be able to participate in the early stages of a company that will change language-learning education forever.  It wouldn’t even be possible with the generous monetary award I have been granted by the University of Arizona Honors College. After I return from Argentina, I will share my experience with others at the university because I want to give advice and tell stories that will encourage others to embark on similar journeys.

I decided to write this post because most people don’t know how I ended up where I am. They think I got lucky. However, that’s not the case. I took a leap of faith and sent a “cold email,” not knowing where it would lead and here I am- about to embark on a month-long learning experience in San Francisco. This is my story that I have created for myself. Now it’s time for you to create yours.