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.