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A Standard Stanford Summer

(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

As Stanford students return to campus this fall, there’s one question on their minds: what did you do last summer? It’s a way to connect with others, to learn a little more about their peers and to explore possible opportunities. Many Stanford students do not take the summer off — they do not simply return home to lounge on the couch and watch television, despite how relaxing that may sound. Instead, students venture into uncharted waters, exploring new ways to add to their experiences with internships, research and volunteering.

Alyssa London ’12 interned this summer in Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group (WWPG) in Seattle. Microsoft had always intrigued her.

“I grew up in Bothell, right next to the Microsoft campus,” she said. “I’m interested in tech, and Microsoft always seemed like the powerhouse, the model of how things started in tech innovation.”

London worked in the WWPG with a product called SharePoint.

“Microsoft and other companies structure their partner network in a way such that partners can distinguish themselves,” London said.

SharePoint is software designed to help companies make better decisions by setting up websites to share information, manage documents and publish reports.

While working there, London felt that she was an integral part of the team.

“They entrusted me with a real project,” London said. “I did real work. I got to contribute.”

As a part of the team, London lived the corporate life. She flew down to Los Angeles to participate in the Worldwide Partner Conference, an experience complete with rooftop parties, a trip to the ESPYs and meetings with business partners.

“Microsoft went all out,” she said.

While London found it to be an engaging internship experience, she also wants to remain open to opportunities with smaller businesses as she begins her job search after college.

Other students, like Michael Diaz ’13, chose to conduct research at Stanford this summer. Diaz served as a research assistant in the HBREX program for Dr. David Spiegel, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He worked day after day, practically never leaving his desk in order to finish composing a chapter about posttraumatic growth in cancer patients for a psycho-oncology textbook.

Druthi Ghanta ’14 also stayed in the Bay Area. She worked as a research analyst for California Common Sense (CACS), the Stanford-initiated think tank whose mission is to improve government fiscal transparency. CACS is in the midst of building an online data transparency portal comprised of information from California counties and officials. Through her experience, Ghanta explored her newfound passion for computer science, economics and public policy.

“Taking well-calculated risks to follow my passions will give me more fulfillment than taking the safe…routes,” Ghanta said.

Others took advantage of what Stanford had to offer. Kevin Hurlbutt ’14 worked as a counselor with children ages nine to 10 at Stanford Sierra Camp (SSC). Despite suffering a broken leg and sprained ankle, Hurlbutt embraced his camp experience.

“SSC provides an environment in which the staffers are not only encouraged but in fact required to be creative,” he said.

While at SSC, Hurlbutt acted in an improvisation show, performed in a puppet show, researched constellations and wrote an introductory skit with the other counselors.

While Hurlbutt remains a prospective chemistry major, he now strives to explore more outlets for the arts at Stanford.

Sarah Weston ’14 chose to study copies of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” abroad using a grant from Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR). The University, through UAR, funds grants designed to support independent undergraduate research.

For two weeks, she conducted research at the British Museum in London, the Library at King’s College and the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, all while learning the ins and outs of England.

Whether through interning, researching, counseling at camp or going abroad, Stanford students never failed to stay busy.