Alumni in California shared their career and life experiences with current Birmingham students in autumn 2019, to increase their awareness and aspirations of an entrepreneurial and international career.
Part-funded by alumni, the students visited a range of businesses in and around San Francisco.
In what was the first trip overseas for many, they learned about the activity in Silicon Valley and the opportunities that exist to work in innovative companies, including visiting Stanford University and the headquarters of Google, Apple, and Uber.
The group also met with successful alumni based in the region, including Paul Denton (BSc Chemical Engineering, 1981), Chief Financial Officer at OpenGov, which delivers enterprise management software to local and state governments across the USA.
Paul says: 'Having spent 25 years in Silicon Valley as part of various venture-backed technology start-ups, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned to help them think about their own career as an entrepreneur, and give them encouragement to take risks.
'My key message was that there are lots of opportunities throughout a career to take some bold and risky steps, so don’t think that you have only one chance to do something entrepreneurial,' he adds.
'No-one has the same set of experiences, so I hope the students were able to take what they collectively learned during the week to help them make the best decisions for themselves.
'Birmingham has lots of passionate and smart budding entrepreneurs. The future is bright if the University can continue to inspire and teach young students how they can make a difference in the world.'
Suez Dirie (BSc Physics, 2019) is currently studying for a Masters in Computer Science at Birmingham and says: 'The experience has opened my eyes to a world of opportunities that I once thought were out of my reach. As a result I am now looking for graduate software engineering and data science roles.
'Thank you to everyone we met for letting us pick their brains and for inspiring us with their journeys. Meeting them all gave me a brighter outlook on life and the impressions you made will definitely stay with me forever.'
Suez and her fellow travellers will now become ambassadors to students back at Birmingham, sharing what they learned and, as mentors, encouraging others to consider entrepreneurship as a career path.