Exploring a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship

image of Philip in front of Chapel wearing Duke shirt
Group of students at Netflix headquarters

Studying Away Story

Exploring a hub for innovation

How one program led a student to connect with alumni at big tech giants.

Group of students at Netflix headquarters
image of Philip in front of Chapel wearing Duke shirt

Job shadowing at Google, Apple, and Facebook is one of Philip Liu’s ’22 favorite experiences during his time at Duke. Through Duke in Silicon Valley, Philip and approximately two dozen other undergraduates gained hands-on experience with entrepreneurship and innovation.

Each day in Mountain View, California offered students eye-opening insight into work and life in the world-renowned innovation hub. In the morning, students took classes with an instructor who is both an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. “It was really awesome to hear his perspectives and learn about entrepreneurship concepts as well as case studies and how they are applied in the real world,” Philip says. In the afternoon, students did site visits to companies in the area, where they met with Duke alumni, toured the facilities, and explored career opportunities. In just one month, students visited 24 companies, from startups to big tech.

Philip’s favorite part of his time in Silicon Valley was his ability to experience its culture firsthand. “It was just phenomenal to be truly immersed in the overall environment and energy of the area. I loved exploring Northern California with my friends, and having organized, behind-the-scenes opportunities made it super special. For example, the visit to Apple Park was really memorable based on our discussion of Apple’s impact, the company’s future plans, and even the intricacies of the building,” Philip says.

Philip’s experience in Silicon Valley helped transform his studies when he returned to Duke, as he decided to pursue the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate. Students in this popular certificate program learn about key concepts in entrepreneurship, gain practical experience through pursuing their own ventures, and receive mentorship from entrepreneurs in the community.

“Duke in Silicon Valley overall really encouraged me to be ambitious, especially if I have an idea and want to pursue it,” Philip says. As a result of the program, Philip is doing an independent study with one of his classmates, where they are creating a low-cost robotics kit to make robotics more affordable and accessible to more students across the country. “Duke in Silicon Valley was just an amazing experience to kind of kick start that drive and really show me and open me up to the world of entrepreneurship.”