The trip to Silicon Valley, California, has been not only a fun trip with lots of laughter, but also an extremely beneficial and educational trip that has opened my eyes to the business world and the world around me. The long flight on Thursday morning “flew” by as we admired a plethora of scenery below us and landed in the beautiful state of California. Seeing the city of San Fransico from the airplane was amazing, but up close, it was even better. The Golden Gate Bridge was absolutely jaw-dropping and is definitely something I will never forget. San Fransico was a mixture of a busy city and secluded scenery that made it the best of both worlds. The seals at Pier 39 did not disappoint, and neither did the food. There’s something to do at every turn you see in San Fransico and is a place you could never get bored in.
On Friday, we had the privilege of touring Inuit and meeting the Brad Smith, CEO of the company. Mr. Smith was born and raised in West Virginia and was excited to teach us, as West Virginian teenagers, the ins-and-outs of the business and world and gave beneficial tips for our futures in general. Our time with Brad Smith was incredible, and we all felt warmly welcomed. As we walked through the building, all of the employees at Intuit were smiling and talking to Mr. Smith as if they were friends. The workplace at Intuit felt positive and encouraging, not dreadful and demanding as most people would expect a large business to be. The Intuit building was creatively designed and had pictures of real employees and customers, not actors or models, and even had robots roaming around! The genuineness of Mr. Smith and the Intuit workplace truly changed my perspective on the business world. Getting to ask questions, eat lunch with, and receiving advice from Brad Smith was an amazing opportunity that I won’t forget and will incorporate into my near future as college approaches. The same day, we got to learn about ShotSpotter, a program used to detect gunshots and details about them that otherwise may never would’ve been known about unless a 911 call was made. ShotSpotter has saved multiple lives and made law enforcement’s jobs significantly easier, faster, and safer in many cities. Learning how this amazing technology works was mind-blowing and showed me how important this device is, especially in high-crime cities. We also got to see the many Google buildings and got a few souvenirs from the gift shop. It was a truly beneficial day that I’m so thankful I got to experience.
On Saturday, we hiked 5.7 miles at the beautiful Yosemite National Park. Although I love the mountains of West Virginia, the mountains of Yosemite were unlike anything I’ve seen before. The enormity and detail of it all is unexplainable. The scenery we saw was worth every step (we took around 20,000 steps), and the pictures truly don’t do it justice. We interacted with a luckily friendly deer up close and even had a bear scare. Yosemite was breathtaking, literally and figuratively, because we had to take a few breaks to catch our breath. The sore legs and nose bleed that came after were still completely worth seeing the waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife of Yosemite!
Overall, I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to venture out to California with StandWatch Academy and will miss this beautiful state. This trip brought me even closer to friends and classmates and allowed me to make new friendships that will continue after the trip is over. I learned valuable information about the business world and advice for my college life and future career. The scenery and new place I got to see were far beyond my expectations. We also took a group Tesla count while we were here, and 78 is the total number. This is an experience I will never forget. Thank you to every who made this trip possible and to StandWatch Academy! -McKenzie