(By K Alshanetsky ’17)
Mika Reyes ’17 has stayed busy since graduating just last May, as both a summer fellow with the Horizons School of Technology and a year-long Product fellow with the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) fellowship program. These prestigious programs have helped Reyes jump-start a career in tech.
The Horizons Fellowship immerses university students looking to become leaders in technology in a rigorous summer program that teaches them how to build web and mobile applications and connects them with mentors in the field: startup founders, technology executives, and engineering leaders. Horizons requires no prior programming knowledge and chooses a few members of every cohort for the Horizons Fellowship, which covers the cost of tuition and housing in San Francisco.
“With Horizons, we were coding every single day! By the end of the summer, I was confident with my capacity to build a complete web application, and am now even offering freelance services,” Reyes explained.
The KPCB Fellows program is one of the most competitive internship programs available to students looking to break into tech, providing paid internships and full-time work at startups throughout Silicon Valley, as well as opportunities to network with leaders in the Bay Area’s startup culture. Design and engineering fellows develop technical or design skills over the course of a summer, while product fellows spend a full year working at their startup, which have included the likes of Airbnb, Coursera, Pinterest, and Ripcord, where Reyes is currently employed as a Product Manager.
For Reyes, these technical fellowships have been an incredible supplement to her liberal arts education, even though having a B.A. among a slew of B.S. computer science degrees was intimidating.
“I love Wes for the ideas that are bounced around in the classroom and the way we argue about world events and the theories we discuss in our papers. But what these fellowships offered me were industry-specific skills, knowledge I could only learn through experience, and that was what I wanted right out of college. I’m connected with some of the smartest, most highly motivated people in the Valley. I’m rubbing shoulders with mentors, teammates, colleagues and friends that will last a lifetime!”
Reyes hopes that her experiences will encourage more Wesleyan students to pursue these opportunities, as well as help diversify the kinds of students who are entering the tech world.
“I’m a liberal arts baby (not your typical Silicon Valley CS major stereotype). I’m an international student (struggling 10 times harder to get a job because of visa hindrances). I’m a woman of color (trying to make a difference in a predominantly male industry). But with hard work, lots of LinkedIn stalking, a bunch of cold-e-mails, a huge amount of rejections, and a sprinkling of luck, I was able to land these two fellowships out of college, stepping stones to making my ultimate dreams of improving the tech economy in Southeast Asia come true. I’m lucky to proudly say that I’m the first Wes kid to nab these two fellowship programs. But I would love it much more to say that I’m not the only one.”
To learn more about Reyes’ experiences as a Horizons and KPCB Fellow, check out her blog.