Alex (Li) Zhao ’15, Juniper Networks

It was an unusually cold and dark morning; although that was probably because I hadn’t woken up that early in a while. I took the train to downtown Manhattan and walked to the Starbucks at 35th and 8th, where I found a man in an orange shirt with a beaming smile. My host was Hal Stern ‘84, Chief Architect for the Developer Business Unit of Juniper Networks. After brief introductions, we started immediately; Mr. Stern gave me an overview of his company as well as a crash course in computer networks. It was a field that I was rather unversed in, but as I soon found out, had everything to do with my interest in computer science and technology.

We first visited Christian Martin, a network modeling and simulation expert. In addition to enlightening me on computer networks, he also gave me a great amount of advice about college. The point that struck me the most, however, was his emphasis on the importance of “learning how to learn.” My host himself was a testament to that statement as he had only dived into networking rather recently. But with a strong background in Computer Science and the skills acquired at Princeton, that transition was made much more manageable.

I had spoken to Mr. Stern about my interest in startups, so he introduced me to two companies he was currently involved with. We had lunch with Campbell McKellar, the founder of Loosecubes. Her site was designed to “connect people who have great workspace with people who need it.” Listening to her speak really brought to life the numerous, frustrating challenges every startup faces as well as the even greater pride in overcoming those challenges. After having explored her site and listening to her talk, I became very interested in the concept of “co-working” and offered to intern at her office for a week, a proposition she happily agreed to.

For our last stop, we visited Hotlist, a social network/event coordinating site, located in what may very well be the coolest studio-turned-office space in SoHo. We spoke with Gianni Martire, the co-founder of Hotlist, who gave me invaluable advice on entrepreneurship and the tech-world in general. His excitement and passion for his work rubbed off on me, as I left fully convinced that I want to work at a startup after graduating.

Throughout the day, Mr. Stern and I talked about everything we found interesting; some was informative, others less relevant, but nonetheless extremely interesting. Although it was but just a day in New York, it was quite the day. Having the opportunity to meet such interesting and knowledgeable individuals was an invaluable experience and introduced me to a much larger world outside the Orange Bubble.

Erica Portnoy ’15, Juniper Networks

It’s nine o’clock on a Friday, Guillaume and I shuffled in…
…to the Starbucks in New York City where we met with Hal Stern, our Princeternship host. (My apologies to Billy Joel.) There, we spent some time introducing ourselves and discussing the technical challenges involved in network operations.

We then walked over to the Juniper Networks offices in NYC to meet with one of Mr. Stern’s coworkers. Our discussion at Juniper was less technical, ranging from stock dilution to evaluating the benefits of working for a company that allows you to travel before you are tied down by family obligations. I gained valuable insight into the world of tech startups, and how regularly the process of mergers and acquisitions occurs.

Hal Stern, Erica, and fellow Princetern Guillaume

 

Down in SoHo, we met with another acquaintance of Mr. Stern’s, the founder of the “figure out what to do” website, hotlist. He explained, based on his experience, what it takes to found and maintain a successful startup, including how to choose a business partner, the merits of failing, and how to respond to user interests. Overall, I gained valuable insight into the world of technology businesses that I might never have had the chance to encounter otherwise before being plunged directly in during a full-blown internship or full-time position. This gave me the chance to experience it for myself, in order to help me evaluate better where I would like to eventually fit in. My Princeternship was a wonderful experience, and I strongly recommend the experience.

Guillaume Delepine ’14, Juniper Networks

I originally signed up for the Princeternship program because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had done a lot of biology/medical things in high school, but then got to Princeton and realized there were so many more options here. The Princeternship gave me a preview of where the engineering track would take me after graduation. I was not even necessarily interested in a particular career at this point, I just wanted a sense of the industry.

I got really lucky to have Hal as my Alumnus. Erica (another first year) and I, found that Hal went out of his way to make our experience a good one. We met him in a New York coffee shop, where he explained what he does and where he thinks Juniper and the high-tech industry are headed. We got a rudimentary introduction to networking and a fundamental education on the company we were going to be shadowing and meeting people from all day.

Hal Stern, fellow Princetern Erica, and Guillaume

We next went to the New York office of Juniper Networks (Hal normally works at the one in Bridgewater). After looking around the office for a while and chatting with some of his co-workers, we went to another meeting Hal had arranged – with Gianni Martire, co-founder of Hotlist.com. We talked over lunch, which we were treated to! Everyone who spoke with us was really outgoing and helpful. At the end of our experience, we connected with wonderful alumni who will likely serve as mentors in the future!