The Silicon Valley TigerTrek is one of Princeton University’s most seminal and influential entrepreneurship programs.
Every year, during Fall Break — which falls on the last week of October — students from departments across Princeton travel together to Silicon Valley, the heart of innovation and entrepreneurial culture. They are embedded with the top minds of the Valley for one week of Q&A sessions — about what the startup lifestyle is like, about how these legendary founders and investors make decisions, about what it means to take an alternative career path and work on high-tech entrepreneurship.
Back on campus, the students spread their experiences amongst the community, encouraging friends to participate. The trip is followed by other entrepreneurship events at Princeton, including a speaker series, a pitch competition, a hackathon, and more. And mentors made on the trip continue to inspire for years to follow. We’ve gathered a collection of blog posts written by students who’ve gone on TigerTrek on this website.
Silicon Valley TigerTrek is brought to you by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club, with its sister program NYC TigerTrek that takes students to visit companies in the Big Apple. The E-Club also organizes many of the other entrepreneurship events on campus. We’re also very grateful for the generous support of Princeton Departments, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students — as well as alumni, for their time and mentorship.
Why a trip to Silicon Valley?
College students have started some of the most groundbreaking companies of the last few decades – from Microsoft to Google. Princeton's students can leverage their liberal arts or engineering education to build great careers and pioneer ventures, yet a life in entrepreneurship can often seem distant to bright Princetonians.
This trip enables participants to:
- Hear the stories of entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders who have been a part of transformative companies
- Gain awareness of different career paths and opportunities
- Build relationships with firms, startups, and alumni mentors
In addition, the trip teaches students to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to other areas of their life regardless of the field they choose to pursue after graduation. Furthermore, the participants on the trip form a close knit community and are very involved in leading entrepreneurial programs on campus once they return from the trip.
Before the trip
Applications for the trip open when the fall term begins in September. The TigerTrek team hosts info sessions in residential colleges to spread the word about the trip; over 250 applications applied for the 2015 TigerTrek.
After a few weeks, applications close and the faculty selection process begins. We have a team of faculty judges who review the applications and select students to interview, ultimately narrowing down to 20 participants. The 20 students we invite to the trip are chosen to be strong representatives of all different parts of Princeton — they are both technical and non-technical — who we believe will be very inspired and will spread their experiences widely at Princeton.
In past years, we’ve asked students to cover $500 of expenses, with financial aid available.
Between selection and the trip itself, we ask the participants to join us for several events to meet others going on the trip and for some training — to make sure students go in with very good background knowledge about the speakers we are visiting and are prepared with insightful questions. We also pair students with a mentor in the Bay Area, who they will then meet during the trip itself.
During the trip
When we arrive in the Bay Area, the students on the trip move into a house where they live and eat together. Each day, they visit a few speakers, usually with an hour-long Q&A and a tour. Some visits include lunch with Princeton alumni working at these companies, giving students a taste of what life after Princeton can be like.