When Rick Song and Vijay Rajaram went off to Silicon Valley last summer as part of the inaugural class of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Fellows, they expected a terrific experience. After all, KPCB is one of the world’s leading venture capital firms, the firm whose seed money is behind such household names as Amazon and Google.
The fellowship program pairs 25 fellows from colleges around the country with start-up companies throughout Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. Fellows are paid for their work and not only get a look at how start-up companies work, but an invaluable networking opportunity.
“The networking was huge,” says Rajaram, a senior computer science major. “KPCB hosted several sessions where presenters would come in and talk to us about trends and what was happening in the start-up industry. Plus, you’re in Silicon Valley with 30 other college students, and you’re all working at these start-ups. It was great.”
Rajaram spent time at Shopkick, a mobile shopping app that offers its users "kicks" for checking into retailers and making purchases while rewarding them with incentives for each series of “kicks.” Song spent his fellowship at Zynga, the force behind many popular Internet games, including Words With Friends.
“The experience really helped me in terms of working on teams,” the senior computer science math major said. “Lots of times computer scientists work alone, but that’s not what happens in a real-world setting like this.”
Song agrees that the networking opportunities, both with fellow students and with industry insiders, was unmatched. And both believe the chance to work with a start-up provided them with insight as to how businesses work, and how many multiple roles people working at start-ups take on.
Both say they were encouraged to apply for the fellowship by Mark Embree, co-director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL), which was founded by funding from alumni John ’73 and Ann Doerr ’75 (John is a venture capitalist with KPCB).
“The program really gets you to the next level of knowledge, that step up from where your education has taken you,” says Rajaram. “You’re really immersed in the start-up world.”
Applications are now being accepted for the summer of 2012. Applications are due on Tuesday, October 31, 2012. See http://kpcbfellows.com/ for details.