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  • Writer's pictureBaker Institute Team

"I knew it was time to change my mindset."

Andrew Gilbert '19 | Start Up

Major | Mechanical Engineering Minor | Aerospace Engineering and Entrepreneurship Hometown | Greenwich, CT

I chose to apply for the LehighSiliconValley trip because I wanted to take part in an intense college program that is not nestled in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. I was originally very adamant about not studying abroad or doing an immersion program because I was afraid of being too uncomfortable and not having time. However, as I started to listen about my friends' experiences outside South Mountain (whether it was abroad or through a summer program), I started to regret my decision. I knew it was time to change my mindset and take advantage of a Lehigh sponsored off campus learning experience.

When I first heard about LehighSiliconValley, my first instinct was to immediately step forward and apply to the program without hesitation. There are many opportunities I regret not taking advantage of at Lehigh due to fear of change, but this is certainly something I appreciate being a part of. Knowing that LehighSiliconValley is a selective program and you need to prove yourself among other people, I am forever indebted to those who not only pushed me to become the best candidate possible, but to the Baker team for believing in me to be one to represent Lehigh on a grand scale such as this.

Before the trip started, I was hoping to learn some professional development skills and get sound advice from experienced business owners and go-getters. As an engineering student taking elective courses in entrepreneurship, I understand the connection between the two as well as the infinite opportunities that lie within. I wanted to learn about everyone’s path to their entrepreneurial venture, the hardships they faced along the way and unique perspectives/advice that I would not get in a traditional setting.

Today, the LehighSiliconValley cohort had the privilege of going to Adobe’s San Francisco office and listening to vArmour CEO and venture capitalist Tim Eades. To say that I liked him would be a huge understatement. He was by far one of the most charismatic and energetic people I came across on the trip. His no filter and brutally honest opinions about the entrepreneurial journey and his experience in the cloud computing cybersecurity industry really put a spin to everything. He even brought on board a few startups in which he invested in who happened to be in the cybersecurity sector as well. One was an Israeli serial entrepreneur who gained his work ethic from his service in the Air Force. He started seven companies all while raising five children and will stop at nothing. The other was an Indian software engineer who came to graduate school with next to nothing and was told by his research advisor that his venture will not work. The last guy founded a company called tCell which got acquired by Rapid7.

There is absolutely no doubt that LehighSiliconValley has delivered upon my expectations. We are not even halfway through the journey, so I cannot even imagine how much better this trip could possibly get. I am super grateful to be surrounded with everyone on this trip. I feel that I have gotten to know a lot of the participants in the past four days better than some classmates of mine I have known all four years. I look forward to not only forming a stronger friendship with everyone on this trip but the lifelong connections I will be making after. That already started with a little “LinkedIn Party” a few students and I had in the hotel atrium the night before.

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